Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas

Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season. We didn't get a white Christmas here, although driving home from church last night we saw some scattered snowflakes against the windshield. Not much more than that ever came down, and none of it stuck.

I got some wonderful gifts from the family. One of those "Frogger" arcade style joystick TV plug-in games. The Return of the King extended edition DVD. A new 12th Man jersey to replace my current, well-worn one. A couple of meadmaking books with lots of recipes (I suppose I should take that as a hint, eh?). A very lovely Christmas all around. It's nice to be settled in and not worried about moving or house-hunting or any of that stuff for a change.

Now Playing: The Chieftans The Bells of Dublin

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

If you can dodge a wrench...

Lisa and I rented Dodgeball the other night, simply because it was there and we didn't give ourselves time to think about how stupid the film would be. And stupid it was. Some of the most inane, slapstick, obvious jokes ever put to film. The plot, if you could call it that, was a color-by-numbers David vs. Goliath competition, which was old even when Bill Murray told Chris Makepeace to run like "Woody the Wabbit" in Meatballs. I literally felt my I.Q. dropping with each scene.

And so help me, I laughed my ass off. Lisa too. Sometimes everything that's wrong about a movie can still work. It's funny and it's dumb. So there you have it.

Now Playing: David Lee Roth A Little Ain't Enough

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Promotional procrastination

I'm somewhat ashamed of myself. I'd been pestering the folks at Nebraska about marketing for my book (in a nice way) so they finally said, "Go ahead and send us what you've got--we'll try and incorporate your suggestions." That was something like late October/early November. I just now got it off to them last night.

My bad.

Voices of Vision is an odd bird, as it's the first "original" published in the Bison Books Frontiers of the Imagination series, and is also the first non-fiction. I'm the first live SF author they've published that can go out and promote on the convention circuit. It crosses over the lines from straight genre to "literary criticism" to comics. There are a bunch of potential audiences for this book, all of them small. The difficulty lies in reaching them effectively, because even then it's going to have niche appeal.

My marketing list includes lots of science fiction and fantasy publications, both online and hard copy. Newspaper and talk radio in my immediate area (read: Austin to San Antonio). Half a dozen SF conventions or more that I have pencilled in on my calendar for 2005. A couple dozen independent reviewers that have proven themselves friendly to SF publications over the years. A handful of venues where I believe a limited investment in advertising will have an exponential impact. I also sent contact information for a dozen independent bookstores and small chain stores that are convenient for me to do signings at. The university bookstores at Texas State and Texas A&M are included--and the former has a special section featuring publications from faculty (which I'm technically not, but I hope to crash the party anyway). All in all, it turned out to be a very long list indeed.

We'll see if they utilize any of my suggestions. We'll see if there's any advertising budget at all. We'll see if they arrange any book signings (I expect they'll only manage to secure events in El Paso, Amarillo and Harlingen on back-to-back days, Murphy's Law being what it is). From discussions with other published writers, I expect I'll end up having to do 90 percent of the grunt work myself--I'm already committed to doing the cons, so that's a big chunk of promotional activity there--simply because publishers don't have the resources dedicated to marketing. And Nebraska is a university press, mind you, so they're starting out will less discretionary money from the get-go.

One area that I didn't devote much space to in my suggestion list are comics retailers. There are several comics-themed interviews in the book (Neil Gaiman, Brad Meltzer, Elliot S! Maggin and the duo of Scott Kurtz and Frank Cho) but as comic shops mostly buy through Diamond rather than Ingram or another traditional book distributor, I'm at a loss how to effectively target this market. Right now, I'm thinking directly targetting the local shops in Austin/San Antonio/New Braunfels/San Marcos. And there's the Lone Star Comics chain up in Dallas. But how do you effectively reach a market that's so scattered and fragmentted, particularly one that's not all that likely to be receptive to a book that falls only marginally within their product envelope? I suspect this is something I should take up more fully with the marketing folks at Nebraska. Hello, 1-800-MY-COMIC-SHOP.

On a completely unrelated note, I must be doing something right. Although I know that in an absolute sense, sales rankings mean absolutely nothing, currently Voices of Visions "boasts" a lofty ranking of 445,510. Nothing to write home about, since there's almost half a million books selling better than mine. But considering the fact that my book is coming from a university press, won't even be published for another four months and is still selling better than half a million or more other titles, well, allow me the luxury of feeling smug. Don't worry--grim reality will set in soon enough.

Now Playing: Eric Ringler & Scarlet Rivera Celtic Carols

Friday, December 17, 2004

Amazon ahoy!

Every day holds new wonders, it seems. In short, the great and mighty now recognizes my otherwise insignificant existance with its listing of Voices of Vision: Creators of Science Fiction and Fantasy Speak. Which means you can buy my book at a steep discount from that gigantic purveyor of bookish goodness. Buy through the link above, and this humble author gets a tiny cut through the Associates program. (Which is good, because my little girls need new shoes. Seriously.)

But what if you're British, and are one who prefers to support the economy of the empire, rather than propping up those insufferable colonies? Not a problem! It just so happens that the tea-and-crumpets online bookseller has one too.

But wait, you say. Mayhap I'm not British or American. What can I do? Well, you can hie yourself over to, as the French are also on the cutting edge of my book's availability. Wow. I am certifiably international.

Unfortunately, none of these sites yet have book descriptions or the cover art on display yet. For those, you'll have to go directly to the University of Nebraska Press website.

Now Playing: Hollyridge Strings The Best of Christmas

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Seems I'm an expert on anything

One of the interesting things I've found about having so many reviews and articles published online is that I get emails--on a surprisingly regular basis--asking for all sorts of help with this that or the other with matters the letter-writer assumes I'm some sort of authority on. A few years back, someone--the History Channel? BBC America?--contacted me about arranging an interview with Tolkien biographer Humphrey Carpenter for a documentary. Me, a guy in Texas. The funny thing is, I got them connected, although it took some doing. A Chinese publisher once asked for an introduction to Gardner Dozois, so they could negotiate reprint rights to his Year's Best anthologies. Just last month, a Portugese publisher asked if I knew how to get ahold of Patricia Anthony, as they were interested in Portugese language rights to her works.

Today, I got an email from a one Mrs. McGuire of Derbyshire. That's in England. Seems that she attended a local theatrical production of an Arthurian-themed play recently, and was quite surprised that the "original production" appeared to be based extensively on Mary Stewart's Arthurian cycle of books. She wanted to know if Lady Stewart was still alive, and if I had contact information. Again, I'm in Texas. As far as I know, she's still alive, but I don't have her phone number in my Rolodex or anything like that. After a bit of Googling, however, I determined that as of a decade or so back, she lived at House of Letterawe, Loch Awe, Scotland. Does this constitute a legitimate address in the U.K.?

In any event, plagiarism is bad. If the playwrite lifted whole sections and dialogue as Mrs. McGuire suspect, said playwrite should be sent to her room without any supper, among other things. However, I must confess a degree of sympathy. I've long felt that Lady Stewart's Arthurian cycle lends itself dramatic presentation. Way back in high school, I adapted scenes from The Wicked Day for solo and duet acting for drama competitions. They worked very, very well, despite my meager acting talent. I'd very much like to take a crack at a full-blow script of that book (as well as the others) some day, so if Lady Stewart is ever of a mind to test the Hollywood waters, I'm easy to get ahold of.

Now Playing: Vince Guaraldi Trio A Charlie Brown Christmas

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A Wizard of Barfsea

Many fantasy fans out there who've become spoiled in recent years by excellent, fairly faithful adaptations of the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films are reeling in shock at the treatment given Ursula LeGuin's A Wizard of Earthsea by the SciFi Channel. The kindest thing that can be said about the miniseries is that the cheap and superficial Harry Potter knockoff it turned out to be had a bigger budget than most of the other awful films produced by the SciFi Channel. Now, Ms. LeGuin has given up on the idea of biting her tongue, and sets the record straight on her thoughts regarding this "adaptation":
For people who wonder why I "sold out to Halmi," or "let them change the story" -- you may find some answers here.

The producers (not yet including Robert Halmi Sr.) approached us with a reasonable offer. My dramatic agency at that time was William Morris. The contract of course gave me only the standard status of "consultant" -- which means exactly what the producers want it to mean, almost always little or nothing. The agency could not improve this clause. But the purchasers talked as if they genuinely meant to respect the books and to ask for my input when planning the film.

Which, of course, means that the producers are going to remove the religious elements from His Dark Materials and Narnia adaptations, while turning the cerebral I, Robot into a slam-bang actioner regardless of what the authors think.

With the success of LOTR and Harry Potter, I expected a much larger flood of cheap fantasy films to hit the market before this. The fact that Earthsea is reduced to uninspired formula isn't surprising. What continues to baffle me, however, is the continued inability to see that LOTR and Harry Potter succeeded because of their respective faithfulness to the source material. Those books are popular for a reason. The idea that they're spending money to secure rights to novels they have no intention whatsoever of adapting in a remotely recognizable form is lunacy.

In any event, I doubt we'll see many more "adaptations" of LeGuin's work any time within the next century or so...

Now Playing: Various Artists A Classic Cartoon Christmas

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Return of the meadmaker

Recovery from the cold continues, but I'm on the upswing. Yesterday, in fact, I was able to make a run in to San Antonio and pick up some yeast to start a new batch of mead brewing.

Last week I opened a bottle of the mead I bottled back in June. It has a beautiful golden color that is gorgeous in the glass. It still had somewhat rough, medicinal highlights, but they've softened noticably over the last six months. The overall flavor is still bland, but a soft, honeyish aftertaste has developed. And it definitely has alcohol in it, as two glasses were enough to give me a slight buzz. I'll try another bottle again in six months and see how additional aging smooths it down.

The new batch is more ambitious. I'm using 15 pounds of honey for a five-gallon brew, in an attempt to retain more honey flavor and a bit of sweetness. The fermentation is already going very strong, and the sweet, yeasty scent is filling my office. When fermentation settles down, I'm going to rack the mead into my two smaller fermentation vessels--one 1.5 gallons and the other 2.5 gallons. The larger I'm going to attempt to craft into a "holiday metheglin," spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, which hopefully will be ready to drink by next Christmas. The other will probably become a fruit melomel of some sort--I'm debating whether to make it raspberry, passion fruit or something else. Since my current mead has such a weak core personality, I'm thinking these flavors will fill the gap. We'll see. Future projects include a jalapeno metheglin, pyment (mead/wine hybrid) and cyser (mead/cider hybrid). Experimentation is fun!

Now Playing: Sailor Moon Adventure Girls

Thursday, December 09, 2004


I woke up this morning with a sore throat. It went away, as they so often do, after I was active for a bit, so I thoought nothing more of it.

Now, however, I realize that I'm somewhat chilled, even though the temperature in my office is higher than it normally is. My joints are getting that faint ache that comes with all manner of virulent illness. My thoughts are sluggish. And the sore throat has returned.

I picked up a stupid virus somewhere. This might be as bad as it gets (which isn't bad at all, really) but I'm pretty much functionally useless at work. I'm calling it a day, and hopefully can sleep it off and feel better in the morning.

Now Playing: Altan The Best of Altan

Jack Chalker hospitalized

I've learned from the SFWA website that author Jack Chalker was hospitalized on December 7. His son, Steven, posted the following info to Jack's web site,

"Dad has had problems lately with his leg and yesterday he went into the hospital. This evening Mom (Eva Whitley) and me went into his room and he was sleeping. He is in Fair Condition according to the nurse, but I have bad news: He has congested heart failure. His heartbeat has been moderating between 50 bpm and 90 bpm but mostly in between 50 and 65. This does mean that his new book will be delayed but I have the feeling he will not die. Everyday I will be updating his condition and keep you posted. Click here to leave a "Get Well Soon" message/comment for Jack and I'll see to it he'll get all the messages from his fans. I've already got two."

At 2:27pm on the 8th, Steven added: "Condition: Critical Reason: Last night he was in fair condition, and last night he went downhill and got placed on a ventilator. Cannot get off it ever again. I don't think he's coming back to the house unless otherwise."

Now Playing: Jen Hamel Fine Small Storm

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Frustrations of carpentry

Our house has a small den in the front that I'm converting into a formal office for myself. It had an oversized, open walkway and an open "window" into the living room. A while back I put in doors, but other projects have prevented me from progressing further on the project. Until now. I put up some molding along the doors, and intend to put a nice, ornament crown molding construct over a remaining gap between the top of the doors and original walkway (which was taller than a regular doorway. The extra space serves as a CD storage shelf).

I don't have a miter saw, which would make all of the angle cutting quick and simple work. I do have an old Rockwell International table saw, inherited from my grandfather, who died six years back. It works well enough for my needs. Unfortunately, to my chagrin, I've just now realized that the miter gauge that came with the saw, also produced by Rockwell International, has several steel "stops" protruding from the protractor component of the gauge. What purpose they serve is beyond me, but the long and short of it is that the miter gauge I have cannot be adjusted to cut the angles I need. And both Lowe's and Home Depot do not, as policy, stock miter gauges of any sort. To get a miter gauge from them, you have to buy a new table saw. Which, as I've established, I don't need.

So now my project is stalled as I wait on eBay to come through for me. Which is annoying, as this weekend I'd intended to start on the ceiling-to-floor bookshelves which will close up the window into the living room, but can't, since again, there are angles that need to be cut which I cannot make.

That'll teach me to be industrious. I never run into this kind of frustration when I'm lazy...

Now Playing: Silly Wizard The Best of Silly Wizard

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

When bad ideas attack

From our friends over at the New York Post:
Plans are under way at Fox — which wants to make a "Lost" of its own — for a new series about a group of of astronauts who go missing after tracing a distress signal to the dark side of the moon.

When they arrive on the other side of moon — which is cloaked in perpetual darkness and beyond radio contact with earth — they discover a mysterious compound.

I'm guessing the "mysterious compound" is bullshittium, as carvorite would actually be a clever twist and imply that these morons had more than half a brain cell amongst the lot of 'em. (And yes, I know that "compound" refers to some sort of physical structure capable of supporting said castaways indefinitely. Moon Base Alpha? Nope. Again, it's that brain cell thing).

The supposed title for this shipwreck of a series is Darkside. I could make crude jokes about the anatomical "black hole" the series creator is pulling his ideas out of, but I won't.

Now Playing: Vince Guaraldi Trio A Charlie Brown Christmas

Monday, December 06, 2004

Mutual of Omaha's "Fiction Kingdom"

Four more stories set loose in the mail today, two others went out via email last night. That's about a dozen stories released into the wild in the past week. Some are strong, and may find themselves a home in the publishing wilderness. Others will come limping home. A few others, alas, will vanish into cruel month of December, never to be heard from again. Such is the fate of the captive-raised manuscript.

Now Playing: The Kinks Give the People What They Want

Sunday, December 05, 2004

A religious experience

There was a visiting priest at Saints Peter & Paul this morning, and I instantly knew it'd be an interesting mass. Firstly, the priest bore more than a passing resemblance to SF author Samuel R. Delany, complete with a thick white beard. He wore one of those black knit cuffy skull caps, and had an enthusiastic personality, literally bubbling over with energy.

When he began his homily, he caught my attention right away by discussing the creation of the universe during the Big Bang "13 billion years ago," and how the evolution of the universe is evidence of God's majesty. Rather than viewing science as an enemy of theology, he embraced it and used it as an ally. Then he did something I never expected to hear in church: He invoked Max Planck:
"All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this minute solar system of the atom together....We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. The mind is the matrix of all matter." --Max Planck

He finished his homily with a wonderful metaphore. If God is present in the subatomic, quantum physics level of matter (and the point of his arguement is that He is) then we are suffused and awash in God's presence as a fish is awash in water. Of course, his conveyance of these ideas were far more elegant and poetic than my feeble retelling.

Sadly, I did not get catch his name. But I would be more than happy were he to become a regular at my church. Max Planck! Whoda thunk it?

Now Playing: Brian Wilson Smile

Friday, December 03, 2004

Doing my part to clog the mail

I've fallen behind in my story submissions of late for a number of reasons, first and foremost being I'd run out of ink in my printer and hadn't had the cash on hand to buy a refill (what the heck do they make that stuff out of? Liquid gold?). But, this being the new part of the month, with the old paycheck not yet spent, I rectified that last night and printed out a number of pieces that'd been languishing.

This afternoon, I hied myself over to the local U.S. Postal establishment, and submitted five rather hefty short fiction manuscripts to the whims of holiday mail flurries. Actually, one of those five was in truth pretty lean, only seven pages or so. But as that's an anomaly for me, I'll just pretend it was my normal 30-40 page leviathan.

I also submitted a couple of other stories to markets via email, since those markets accept email submissions (conveniently enough). More email subs will follow tonight, and perhaps one or two traditional postal submissions come Monday. The long and short of it is that I haven't yet had my fill of editors telling me how much they like these stories of mine that they're regrettably not buying, for entirely understandable reasons such as, "The predominant color in your story is blue, and we're only featuring burnt sienna fiction for the next year. Alas." I mean, with encouragement like that, how can I resist another ride on the publish-go-round? ;-)

Now Playing: The Kinks Low Budget

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Postscripts 2

I just received my contributor's copies of Postscripts no. 2. This issue features my interview with Kage Baker, which is intelligent, entertaining and endlessly fascinating (more of a reflection on Ms. Baker than any meager skills I bring to the table). Published by PS Publishing, it really is a fine product. The standard edition is nice enough, reminding me somewhat of the old Aussie print version of Eidolon. What's really impressive, however, is that there is also a limited edition hardback, signed by all contributors to the issue. It brings to mind the long-gone Pulphouse: A Hardback Magazine, which unfortunately had gone the way of the dodo before I ever began publishing. But Postscripts is alive and kicking, and it is a lovingly crafted magazine. The production values are top-notch, printed on nice, heavy paper with clean, easily-read type. The interior black-and-white illustrations are well-done, reproducing clearly.

Kudos are definitely in order for Pete Crowther, who has shepherded this project (and PS Publishing as well) to fruition. It's only fitting that he won a World Fantasy Award a month or so back for his work with PS Publishing, in the "Special Award: Professional" category.

I haven't had a chance yet to read much of the content (instead, I'm mostly just gazing at it and occasionally stroking the spine lovingly) but already I can tell you that Jeff VanderMeer's story, "Shark Versus Octopus God" is a favorite. The title alone should clue most folks in that this one's right up my alley. Take the opening, for instance:
A long time ago, when Dakuwaqa the Shark God was young and not so wise, he made all who lived in or near the sea fear him. They feared him for his knives that posed as teeth. They feared him for his relentlessness. They feared him for his speed. They feared him because the bloodlust was buried so deep in him that he loved to fight.

Dakuwaqa could take many shapes, but he enjoyed the shape of the shark the best in those days. It fit him. It fit his aspirations.

A little later, we get introduced to the Octopus God:
The Octopus God had lived for a thousand years, and was said to be slightly mad. Sometimes, the ocean would strobe with emerald-ruby-gold-blue-green phosphorescence late at night and even Kadavu's many nocturnal fishers, from people to eels to crabs to herons, would retire for the evening. They were certain the Octopus God was having an episode. (Others thought he was merely perfecting the details of an underwater light opera he had been working on for centuries.)

It follows the traditional fable style, but VanderMeer throws in his unique brand of strangeness, as evidenced by the "light opera" reference in the above. For the most part, it works, and gloriously so. A few of the colloquial idioms are somewhat jarring and don't fit all that well with the tone and setting, but hey, one of my favorite Joe Lansdale stories is "Godzilla's 12-Step Program," which features a bisexual King Kong, so who am I to quibble?

Now Playing: Ray Davies The Storyteller

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Coming soon: Fender Crop

The December issue of the SF Site is now online, and features my review of Joe Lansdale's short story collection, Bumper Crop. The new collection isn't as good as his previous one, High Cotton, but that's not to say it isn't good. There are some interesting stories on display, and as always, Joe's writing is dazzling.

As I point out in my review, I don't normally read horror. Or watch it. I have written a couple of horror stories, but those were cases where the tale suddenly popped into my head and demanded immediate release. The rush of fear has never really done anything for me. Don't know why. Thrillers, yeah, those work for me. Suspense. And intellectual scares, sometimes. But visceral stuff, particularly gore and the "Gotcha!" approach to fright--nope. Which surprises me, since Joe's stories almost always have that stuff I don't like (Is it any surprise that Zeppelins West is my favorite book of his?) but he just strings words together is clever and interesting ways...

Now Playing: Talking Heads More Songs About Buildings and Food

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Kliper: You know, what it really needs are solar sails

MSNBC has an interesting article up by Russian space expert James Oberg on the unveiling of the next-generation Russian spacecraft, which is optimistically named after the famed "clipper ships" of yore:
Russian next-generation Kliper spacecraft

I find an interesting degree of irony in this picture, as behind the Kliper mockup you can see what remains of the Buran space shuttle, the previous next-generation Russian spacecraft which made several successful test flights prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union, but no manned flights.

I have no idea if Kliper will ever fly, but it's an interesting design. Like some of the designs NASA has toyed with, it's based on the lifting body concept, which I'm convinced will eventually become the preferred approach for orbital vehicles. I'm not convinced this ship can fly as cheaply as the Russians say, but then again it doesn't try to do too much--simply ferry six crew and a modest amount of cargo, as opposed to the U.S. shuttle which tried to do everything, and did everything poorly. The basic approach and design appears sound, but again, the devil's in the details. Venturestar looked great on paper as well, and we all know what a fiasco that one turned out to be.

You can find some interesting schematics and technical specifications for the Kliper at Russian Space Web, and a good visual comparison with the current incarnation of the Soyuz spacecraft at Astronautix.

Now Playing: The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

I am agog

There exists in this world a Sailor Moon Christmas Song Collection. Oh, my. Sailor Moon had merchendising out the wazoo, so how is it that I never heard of any of this stuff? I'm painfully familiar with Power Rangers, which was the cat's pajamas around the same time.

The good thing about this is that as Sailor Moon is in something of a fallow period now, there isn't much demand for that collectible stuff. Even the Japan-only toys and CDs and whatnot are available pretty cheaply on eBay. Some 11.5-inch Sailor Moon action figures cost only about the same as cheaper Barbies, even with shipping costs. The downside is that there is simply so much of this stuff that I'm doomed if Calista and Keela ever find out about it.

Now Playing: Vince Guaraldi Trio A Charlie Brown Christmas

The new catalogs are here! The new catalogs are here!

Forgive me if I sound like Steve Martin from "The Jerk." But I do have a similar feeling of acknowledgement by the cosmos. I just got an email from Tom Grimes, author of the novels and City of God, who also happens to be director of the creative writing program at the university, congratulating me on Voices of Vision's listing in the new University of Nebraska Press spring/summmer 2005 print catalog.

And you know what? It's true. I've got my own copy of said catalog sitting right in front of me. I'm looking at my entry on page 16, following a big four-page spread devoted to The Works of Robert E. Howard. Not bad company. Two pages later, there's the more provocatively-titled Venereal Disease and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Wow. We never studied that in history, that's for sure!

Now Playing: The Chieftans The Bells of Dublin

Monday, November 29, 2004

Sailor Moon mania!

Somewhere along the line, we picked up some kid videos with Sailor Moon trailers tacked onto them, and in due course Calista and Keela became fascinated. They wanted these "Girl Power" super-hero adventures on DVD or tape, so they could watch and enjoy. Well, that was fine with Lisa and myself. I grew up with Starblazers and Speed Racer, so I knew the goofy pleasure of Japanese animation coupled with bad dubbing. And we're going out of our way to give the girls pro-active female role models, so Sailor Moon seemed taylor made. A few months back I picked up the first volume DVD of the edited-for-American-television series, and the girls went nuts for it. Lisa even made a Sailor Moon costume for Calista at Halloween.

Naturally enough, the girls wanted more episodes--particularly keen on seeing more of the other Sailor Scouts, which are featured in the intro, but only Sailor Mercury made it into the first selection of episodes. Last week, for Calista's birthday, I found volume 2 and 5 at Hasting's for $9 each, which gave them a good dose of all five original Sailor Scouts, plus the two talking cats. The general formula of Power Rangers/Battle of the Planets is evident here: Bad guys come up with a bizarre plan to attain their stock macguffin, and after an initial setback, the heroes triumph in the end. Only after watching the last few episodes of volume 5, I could tell there was more of a developing plot arc to these stories. They weren't strictly episodic, even though they'd been edited for American television with some of the more graphic elements obviously chopped out.

I'm passingly familiar with anime, and know how popular Japanese series are usually watered down for American children's programming. I knew Sailor Moon was originally targetted to teens, rather than adolescents. I knew to avoid the "Uncut" versions of the series, which take up far more shelf space in Hastings--there are even boxed sets. I figured that these original versions are indeed better, with more coherent storytelling, but I also know that the girls aren't ready for something aimed at more mature teens. So out of curiosity, I did some googling. Aside from the somewhat disturbing fact that there was recently a live action Sailor Moon series broadcast in Japan, I found two interesting sites with lots of detailed information on just what my girls have gotten involved in: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Universe.

Holy moley! I knew the original versions would be darker and edgier, but... DAMN! Every single freakin' one of the Sailor Scouts, with the exception of Sailor Moon, gets killed off in an epic battle that spans the final five episodes the series. Two of the Sailor Scouts betray the others and join the enemy! There's blood and carnage and nudity. Sure, good triumphs in the end, and these momentous events are 200 episodes down the line, but man o man, am I ever glad I resisted the temptation to grab that uncut boxed set. In five years, the girls will probably eat that stuff up. I mean, they're pretty rough and tumble girls, and Calista thinks the threatened beheadings in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland are downright silly, but right now, seeing their "Superheroes," who they've really begun to identify with, slaughtered and betrayed by the forces of evil... no thank you. They're not ready to parse that level of complexity, which is probably why they're not all that into Babylon 5 and Farscape yet, either.

It just now struck me that I can hold extended, continuity-laced discussion and debate regarding Sailor Moon in all that series' incarnations, and I've only seen maybe a total of nine 20 minute episodes, total. No movies, no uncut episodes, and no (thank goodness) live action episodes. Damn. Am I pathetic or what?

Now Playing: Various artists A Classic Cartoon Christmas

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Wait 'til next year

I won't deny that I'm disappointed the Aggies lost to t.u. 26-13, especially after Jonte Buhl returned a fumble 98 yard for a touchdown to end the first half, giving A&M a 13-6 lead. But considering the fact the sips fielded a team that's ranked no. 5 in the nation, the game was played in Austin, and the Aggies are just one year removed from last season's disastrous 4-8 mark, I'll say the improvement has been remarkable.

Now we get to sit back and wait to see if the Aggies play in the Holiday Bowl against Arizona State or in the Alamo Bowl against Ohio State. Those are both good bowls against solid opponents. Either should be a good matchup for A&M, more winnable than LSU or Georgia would've been in the Cotton Bowl. I'd rather the team's 7-4 record be a bit better (that Baylor loss still rankles) but winning the final game against such a well-regarded opponent would be a good way to end the season. And next year, with another strong recruiting class on campus, I really like our chances against the sips at Kyle Field...

Now Playing: Smithfield Fair Winds of Time

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Get a jump on that holiday shopping

Created solely with the ulterior motive of promoting my forthcoming book, Voices of Vision, I've created a Voices of Vision shop over at Cafe Press featuring a variety of wares you can order for your very own, to hug and squeeze and call George if you so choose.

I made up these things for myself and my family, because when it comes to self-promotion, I'm a complete and total whore. But then the thought struck me, that perhaps some readers of this blog--or, better yet, my book--aspired to be complete and total promotion whores as well? So, hey, who am I to deny you that chance? And if it makes any difference to you, I've set the cost of all that junk at Cafe Press' base price, which means I'm not making one red cent off of any sale. Ooh! I'll bet you're all tingly now, eh? Well, don't just sit there, buy stuff and promote my book!

Now Playing: The Smithereens 11

The Yankee Clipper comes home

On this date in 1969, the command module of Apollo 12, Yankee Clipper, splashed down in the Pacific Ocean around 4 p.m. EST, completing a 10-day mission. Commanded by Charles Conrad, with lunar module pilot Alan Bean and command module pilot Richard Gordon, the mission successfully followed up Apollo 11 by landing the lunar module Intrepid at Oceanus Procellarum. They retrieved instruments from the unmanned Surveyor 3 robot craft, which had landed in the area two years earlier. The mission proved accurate, targeted landings were possible on the moon, and also returned 75 pounds of lunar samples to Earth.

I just thought someone ought to make note of it, is all.

Now Playing: Billy Joel An Innocent Man

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Black Hammer

In the mood for some good, old-fashioned high fantasy? How about high fantasy infused with a healthy dose of Norse hammer-smiting of evil? How about a hot shield-maiden type doing the smiting? We've got one up over at RevolutionSF by Laura Underwood.
The quiet village huddled in terror from the ruins crowning the hill beyond. Arula reined in her horse and cast a puzzled glance over the wretched landscape. Instinctively, she reached down to touch the war hammer hanging off her saddle. The Thunder Hammer responded with a cold, nervous thrum of symbiotic magic, and Arula frowned.

"Not the most inviting place to spend the night, eh, Ham?" she said.

She let her dark gaze shift to the black-bearded Dvergar who dragged his large pony to a halt beside her. Hamlin Gobbler wrinkled his nose. "It's seen better days," he said.

"Do you know this place?" she asked.

He nodded. "Thunor's Hill," he replied. "That used to be a temple to your god up there."

"Those ruins?" she said. "What happened?"

Ham shrugged. "Haven't a clue, Rul. Haven't been here in ten winters or more. Strange. I don't remember that mountain in the middle being so tall."

Arula frowned, not sure if she was more disturbed to think a temple to her god had been deserted or the fact that Ham, like all Stone Folk, could tell if a mountain had grown. The peak he stabbed one stubby finger at did look oddly taller than those around it. It cast a long shadow towards the village. On the road ahead, she saw thralls making quickly for their homes. Since when do farmer folk leave their fields so soon before sundown? she wondered.

It's a fun piece, and I'm glad we're running it. I've been riding Laura for the better part of a year to get it whipped into shape, and I'm pleased with the end result. It's probably not the kind of thing people expect to see on RevSF, but then again, I'm not a genre snob. I don't want RevSF to become pigeonholed as publishing only this kind of speculative fiction, or that kind. Of course, the reality is that writers already have the site pigeonholed. I've been told by some that they haven't offered me anything because they don't write "the right type" of story for the site. Is there any SF site out there that has a more eclectic fiction archive? I think not...

Now Playing: The Beach Boys Endless Summer


I've liked the Beach Boys for as long as I can remember. Even when I was a little kid and listened to both kinds of music (country AND western) the Beach Boys always stood out for me. When I got into high school, and later college, I became more of a Brian Wilson disciple--although this was overshadowed by my ongoing love affair with the Kinks. I bought Brian Wilson's 1988 solo album debut the week it came out in stores. There was some great stuff there--his arrangements and vocals are phenominal--but like others, I was turned off by the pap-psych influence of Eugene Landy. The best song on the disc (which I didn't appreciate as such until some years had passed) was the vocal rhapsody "Rio Grande." That's a song that echoes Wilson's best compositions and complexities, and shares stylistic roots with "Heroes and Villains" from the legendary "Smile" album.

So now Wilson has completed and released a "finished" version of "Smile", and naturally enough, I was compelled to grab it at first opportunity. I mean, really, who isn't curious to hear this most legendary of history's unreleased albums? Granted, this version isn't the same as what would've come out in '67, but listening to it I can tell it would probably have earned more acclaim than "Pet Sounds", and been as influential as the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper." Unfortunately, "Smile" probably would've been the least commercially successful of the lot. It's beautiful, but doesn't sound all that commercial.

I've never heard the Smile bootlegs that are floating around (someone wanna help me out here?) but am familiar with tracks released on ensuing Beach Boys albums like "Smiley Smile" and "20/20". I actually like the new version of "Heroes and Villians" better than the previously released one (which I felt somewhat tedious), and am impressed with the "Song for Children/Child is Father of the Man" sequence. I'm not that impressed with the new version of "Wind Chimes," and the new "Surf's Up" is good, but again, the original is more powerful. "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" is something of a disappointment. I'd heard the original "Fire" first on "The Beach Boys: An American Band" documentary, and really dug the raw intensity of it. I mean, who wouldn't be impressed by the band bringing in burning embers from a huge fire down the streat to enhance the ambience of the recording session? Granted, the drug-addled belief that the song was somehow causing the fire is less impressive, but you take the good with the bad. This new version strikes me as too slick and sterile. Which is probably my biggest criticism of the disc. Too slick and sterile. It's a beautiful album, and I'm glad it's finally out (after a fashion) but maybe without the conflict generated by Mike Love, Al Jardine and the rest, who were pushing for more commercial, less experimental music during the original "Smile" sessions, Brian Wilson was able to spend too much time polishing his masterwork?

Still, this is a worthy effort. The tragedy is that now it is merely a musical curiosity. Were it released 30 years ago, it'd be a landmark.

Now Playing: Brian Wilson Brian Wilson

Monday, November 22, 2004


Around midnight on Friday, thunder crashed and the heavens opened. It rained off and on all day Saturday, forcing Calista's birthday inside our house. Imagine 60-plus people, kids and adults, crammed into a space that'd be cramped with half that many. Sunday it rained off and on all day. Today is Monday, and the downpour has really started. Calista's school was cancelled (why build a school with four roads leading to it, when all four roads have low water crossings?). We've sent out media notices that Texas State University is shutting down at 3 p.m. because of rising waters. Not that this does me any good--I-35 between here and New Braunfels has water over the road, and is closed. Which means I can't get home as of now. I might be putting in some long hours tonight. Joy.

Now Playing: Brian Wilson Smile

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Spirit of Aggieland

The "Spirit that can ne'er be told" has never been stronger than at the Bonfire memorial dedication, which drew 50,000 from across the country. Unless, you count the spontaneous gathering at 2:42 a.m., which drew thousands as well.

Looking in, you can't understand it; looking out, you can't explain it. It simply is. For all of its faults (and it has many) this is what makes Texas A&M the greatest university in the world.

Now Playing: The Kinks The Road (Live)

Thursday, November 18, 2004


The 1999 Bonfire collapse, for Aggies at any rate, is one of those frozen moments in time, like the Kennedy assasination or the Challenger explosion. It's very difficult to express the conflict of emotions that rise when the subject of Bonfire is broached. It's hard to believe that it's been five years already. It seems like a lifetime ago, but also just yesterday. Calista was just a year old, and Lisa and I had discussed taking her to Bonfire the following week. Now, the prospect of my daughters growing up without ever having experienced Bonfire is a sad one, indeed. Five years later, there's still no closure. Nobody knows whether Bonfire will ever burn again, or not.
For many of those students, the longtime symbol of the Aggies’ burning desire to beat the University of Texas during the annual November football game is little more than a tale passed down from previous generations. Some have tried to keep the tradition alive with off-campus burnings, while others argue Bonfire should return to campus or forever be left in the past with its horrifying demise.

Five years after the early morning collapse on Nov. 18, 1999, killed 12 Aggies and injured 27, the legend and future of Bonfire have been stuck in limbo. Meanwhile, the university so closely linked to the tradition has looked for ways to move on.

We make it back to College Station several times a year, and have watched as the Bonfire memorial has taken shape. It's been an emotional experience, watching it go up. There's talk of eventually building a museum to chronicle the history of Bonfire, and house the tokens left by pilgrims to the site in the aftermath of the collapse in a "spontaneous shrine". My family went a month or so after the fall. The construction fence that cordoned off the dismantled stack was covered with flowers, wreaths, "pots," ax handles, crosses and all manner of paraphernalia that'd be meaningless to non-Aggies. We brought along a bunch of packets of maroon bluebonnet seeds, and let Calista scatter them along a nearby drainage channel on the Polo Fields. Then we pinned the packets to the fence.
Current and former students already are calling the Bonfire memorial, which is to be dedicated in ceremonies Thursday, the "Aggie Stonehenge." And while the appellation might seem grandiose, it is understandable. Designed by A&M graduates at Overland Partners, a San Antonio-based architectural firm, the monument is hauntingly severe, arguably timeless.

"It's breathtaking," said Milton "Chip" Thiel, who was seriously injured in the Bonfire accident. "It's absolutely breathtaking."

The administration appears to be--from most outside perspectives--attempting to end the prospects of any future Bonfire through neglect. If enough time passes, people won't care, and the calls to revive it will fade away. I don't think that will work, because, well, Aggies are Aggies and get downright obsessive over things like this. A segment of the student body has recognized this, and responded with a student Bonfire held off-campus. It's small and hard to get to, and anyone associated with the university--from football players to the Aggie Band--are forbidden to participate in any form. It's not the same, but it's grown every year. Hopefully, by the time the 10-year anniversary of the collapse rolls around, differences can be settled and Bonfire can return to campus in a safer, sanctioned form.

Now Playing: Texas Aggie Band Recall! Step Off On Hullabaloo!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Mister Sandman, bring me a dream

My review of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman: Endless Nights is now live over at RevSF.
But the Sandman's greatest strength was always the serialized nature of the ongoing story. Sure, Gaiman was an early practitioner of the extended story arc, a feat that lent itself nicely to the collection of the series in neatly self-contained reprint collections, each one featuring another chapter in the ongoing saga of Morpheus. But these books, whether they collected The Wake or The Doll's House were always part of something bigger. They fit within a greater whole, were a part of a greater tale that grew in the telling. In that sense, Gaiman was a latter-day Dickens, only his Nicholas Nickleby was published monthly in 22-page funny books rather than 32-pagers with green covers in the 19th century.

It's good stuff, although it isn't the best of the Sandman stories. Too episodic for that. Personally, I'm still waiting for the story that explores Delight's transformation into Delirium.

Now Playing: The B-52s Time Capsule: Songs for a Future Generation

After the Battle is over

I finally finished reading Battle on Mercury for the first time in 26 years or so.
Battle on Mercury, by Eric Van Lhin

How was it? Suprisingly, it was pretty much as I remembered it. I'm amazed that I retained such a clear picture of the story--wispies and demons, the frozen oxygen, crashed spaceships, space tractors--many of the details were as I remembered, or close to it. There were flaws in the story that I didn't remember, but suspected. This was a juvenile published in the pre-New Wave period, after all, and there's a great deal of clunky knife-switch and misguided technology choices in the story (why wouldn't a Mercury mining outpost use solar power?), but for when it was written the science is more or less accurate (Mercury tidally locked in its orbit is the most obvious example of obsolete science). The biggest problem is the actual writing style. There's a lot of "tell, don't show," at work here. If you watch the film versions of "Day of the Triffids" or "Puppet Masters," you'll know that as soon as the heroes figure out how to defeat the alien invaders, the movie skips forward past the implementation of said plan, and everyone's patting each other on the back saying, "Wow, that plan sure worked great!" That's at work in Battle on Mercury. There's buildup to a course of action, then said action is discussed in the aftermath, but the action itself often happens off-stage. When action does happen on-stage, it usually gets a couple of sentences, then a page or so of characters discussing what just happened. Fortunately, the book clips along at a good pace, so it never gets boring, and it's always fun. But I read it and see so much potential, and so much missed opportunity because the writer was following convention rather than serving the story.

Although the book's too dated to find much of a modern audience (no way it competes with Harry Potter--Rowling's writing, for all its flaws, is far more accomplished) I'm more convinced than ever that Battle on Mercury would serve as the basis for a very cool movie. It's got a linear race-against-the-clock plot, a straightforward man-against-nature theme, loads of exotic settings and weird aliens and robots. Plus, it's a coming-of-age tale that could be done on a budget. Cross "October Sky" with Heinlein's Have Spacesuit, Will Travel and you begin to get an idea of what this could be. The beats and scenes break themselves down nicely. If Lester Del Rey's estate is looking for someone to work this up into a screenplay, hey, I'm your guy.

Reading the story also helped me solidify some of the ideas I've been mulling over in my head regarding that YA SF novel I mentioned a while back. I'm more convinced than ever now that I could pull it off. It wouldn't be Harry Potter, but it'd be a pretty good book, I think, with an adult crossover appeal akin to Steve Gould's Jumper. And the name of this brilliant as-yet-to-be-written confection of fictiony goodness? Sailing Venus. You heard it here first.

Now Playing: J. Geils Band Flashback

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

You know, Stalin didn't believe in evolution either

It's true. He had the Soviet school system teach Lamarckian theory for decades, crippling science education from the Ukraine to Siberia. But hey, what's good for godless commies is good for God-fearing fundamentalists, right?
"We were very pleased by the science standard that was developed" in Ohio, said John West, associate director of the Center for Science & Culture of the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank active in opposing the teaching of evolution in schools around the country. He added, "I certainly do see more of these policies being pursued" as the No Child Left Behind law prompts states to review their science curricula.

The law requires review of all subjects, and in most states the process is well underway in English and math. The reviews, conducted by state school boards, can lead to changes in curriculum, textbook selection, and standardized test content. School board officials are elected or appointed by elected officials and therefore subject to political pressure.

This movement is frightening to me. Creationists' characterization of evolution as "hypothesis" ignores the fact that scientific theory is, indeed, fact. They're not up in arms about Einstein's Theory of Relativity, are they? Or the theoretical laws of thermodynamics? No, to them it's crystal clear that dinosaurs drowned in the Great Flood, which also carved out the Grand Canyon.

What's next? Do we change geography textbooks to include the theory that the world is flat? Do astronomy textbooks need to start presenting "evidence" that the Earth is the center of the universe? After all, the Bible says Isaiah 45:18: “...who made the earth and fashioned it, and himself fixed it fast...” and Revelation 7:1: "And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree."

I'm taking this very seriously. Sunday night I wrote to each of the members of the local school board imploring them to not give in to any creationist pressures that may come to bear. I haven't heard of anything like this happening in New Braunfels, but my letter accomplishes two things: 1) it's a pre-emptive voice of support for those who would stand up against dumbing down curricula, and 2) it puts those who would pander to the creationists on notice that there are members of the community watching them closely, ready to act if they try anything.

And I will. I'll happily take on the creationists, because the pope is on my side. So while we're waiting for the Bible to hit the fan, let's all relax by watching Inherit the Wind. Spencer Tracy is da bomb, but you know, that Gene Kelly kid really steals the show...

Now Playing: Eurythmics Greatest Hits

Monday, November 15, 2004

It's away

I finished the final review of the page proofs for Voices of Vision last night. Corrected a number of typos, added some lost indentations and inserted some lost quotation marks. On the whole, pretty much what you'd expect from a manuscript proof at this stage of the game.


I found a particularly stupid blunder on my part in Neil Gaiman's interview. Gaiman's discussing how the subconscious plans ahead in series writing, and uses as an example Terry Pratchett's character of Ronnie Soak, who was the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse, only he quite before the group made it big. Pratchett never considered what Soak was actually a horseman of until several books down the line, when he realized Soak spelled backwards was "Kaos." Of course, I spelled it "Chaos." I missed that goof I don't know how many times. Gaiman missed it on his review of the material. No less than two other copyeditors missed it as well. I feel dumb, but it's fixed now.

And the manuscript has been sent on its merry way to Nebraska. It should be there by Wednesday at the latest, if the good folks at FedEx are to be believed.

Now Playing: Christopher Franke Babylon 5 vol. 2: Messages from Earth

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Aggies win. I am happy.

A 32-25 overtime victory over Texas Tech isn't ideal, but I'll take it. It was very nice to see the Aggies win this year. There are a bunch of other schools that count as bigger, more enjoyable wins. The Longhorns, of course. Then you also have to add in the Sooners. Used to be, back in the days of the SWC, Arkansas was great to beat. Around that same time, we were whipping up on LSU as well. I was always so happy after beating those teams. Losses hurt, but you knew that was a quality program that beat you, so there was no shame.

There's much shame in losing to Tech. Longhorns may be arrogant and in-your-face when they win, but hey, they've got the history to back it up. And they generally concede the better team won when they lose. Red Raider fans, though, the majority of them in my experience are rude and uncouth no matter what. A few months back, my wife hosted a La Leche playgroup in our home, and one mother who attended saw we'd graduated from A&M and started in about how stupid Aggies were, and how sorry our football team was. And this woman--who we barely knew--was a guest in our home. That, unfortunately, is par for the course with Tech fans in my experience. So I don't derive that much joy in beating them, but I can't imagine a wose team to lose to.

Now Playing: Styx Greatest Hits

Friday, November 12, 2004

Austin 2006

It's official: Austin will be hosting the World Fantasy Convention in 2006. The dates are November 2-5. Am I excited? You betcha. It was rumored that landing World Fantasy was a done deal several years back, since that would coincide with the Robert E. Howard centennial. But then Melbourne, Australia, decided to put together a bid. Because 2006 was the only year Melbourne could easily organize said convention, Austin was to drop out. Which really stinks due to the R.E.H. angle, not to mention there's no way I'd be able to swing a trip Down Under. But something, somewhere, changed. And that's good news as far as I'm concerned.

The only other World Fantasy I've managed to attend was, obviously enough, the one in Corpus Christi in 2000. That was a great deal of fun, and was one of the best con-going experiences I'd ever had. The same able-bodied crew will be working on the Austin edition, who so happen to be the geniuses who bring us Armadillocon every year as well. Now, I have no more excuses: I have to get my novel(s) finished so I can do some real business there. That gives me a little under two years--I wonder if even I can procrastinate that long?

Now Playing: Pink Floyd Atom Heart Mother

Thursday, November 11, 2004

UNIVAC will conquer all!

Do you ever sit around wondering what a state-of-the-art home computer would look like in 1954? You know, the kind Blofeld and Dr. Strangelove would use to design their doomsday devices? Well, thanks to this image, which I got from Susan Froebel, wonder no more:

RAND Corp. home computer, 1954

Boy, that RAND Corporation was way ahead of its time. Even equipped the computer with a steering wheel, so that users can take it with them on road trips. I can only hope it came with an imperious speech synthesizer that said cool things like, "Die, puny humans!" or, "Hah! I've removed your mouth--let's see you scream now!"

Now Playing: George Strait Strait Out of the Box

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Voices of Vision: We have a cover!

The good folks at Nebraska have been kind enough to send me a mock up of the cover for my forthcoming book, Voices of Vision. Now, I'll be the first to admit that this is in no way the look I was expecting, but it's really grown on me. If nothing else, it's striking and will grab people's attention on the bookstore shelves.

Voices of Vision, by Jayme Lynn Blaschke

I don't know who the cover designer is, so I haven't had a chance to discuss the thought behind the imagery. Are they Neil Gaiman fans, and saw this as an opportunity to illustrate the Corinthian? Or was the juxtaposition of the mouth and eyes inspired by conflating "Voices" and "Vision"?

In any event, it seems clear that Nebraska is putting a good bit of effort into my book. It's being published under the Bison Frontiers of the Imagination series, but with a cover that breaks it out from the style of those reprint novels. I'd be happy to hear the thoughts of loyal (and disloyal) Gibberish readers on the matter.

Now Playing: Ettore Stratta Music from the Galaxies

Monday, November 08, 2004

Insects away!

Yesterday I finished up my final entry for Gary Westfahl's Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy Themes. Insects was a fun piece to research and write (as I expected--which is why I volunteered for it in the first place) and after giving it and my Giants entry a thorough going-over, emailed them both to Westfahl in California.

I suppose I should point out here that they were both a week late. What can I say? I had Turkey City demanding my time, and Turkey City is a priority. Fortunately, Westfahl allowed me the extra week.

The bad news regarding Insects is that once again I had enough material for a solid 5,000-word article, but was constrained to a strict 1,000-word limit. Fortunately, I'm finally getting the hang of writing to specific lengths, and was able to abandon planned digressions before I wrote them. The result was very little of the hack-and-slash editing that characterized the first three entries I wrote for this Encyclopedia, Superman, Clifford Simak's City and Wonder Woman.

Folks keeping score at home will note that I made reference to H.G. Wells' The Empire of the Ants, H.M. Wogglebug T.E., Alien, Farscape, Octavia Butler's "Bloodchild," Them!, The Fly, the Borg from Star Trek, several different Babylon 5 species and Patricia Anthony's Brother Termite. There's even some Stanislaw Lem in there, as well as some obvious SF novels not listed. I'm happy with how it turned out (the Giants entry, too), but as usual, regret some of the cool facts and stories I turned up during research that there wasn't room to include. When the three-volume set comes out next year, you can let me know if I bungled it or not.

Now Playing: The Doors Best of the Doors

The Incredibles

My review of the new Pixar animation spectacular, The Incredibles, is now up over at RevolutionSF for your reading pleasure.
Wow. I've just seen pretty much the perfect Fantastic Four film imaginable. Impossible, you say? No, Incredible. Brad Bird, the mad genius behind the criminally overlooked film The Iron Giant does himself one better with this foray into the realm of superhero action. If Marvel Comics has any sense whatsoever, they would convince 20th Century Fox to fire director Tim Story, tear up the script by Michael France and Mark Frost, and turn the in-production Fantastic Four picture over to Bird to do with as he will. Unfortunately for comics fans, Bird would turn the offer down — why make the same movie twice?

To say I liked it would be something of an understatement. This just may become my favorite superhero movie of all time. Better than Spider-Man (1 or 2) and the X-Men films. Better than any Batman. Maybe even better than Superman, and that's saying something.

Now Playing: Rush Chronicles

Friday, November 05, 2004

One Giant project completed

I finished the GIANTS entry for the Encyclopedia of Themes in Science Fiction and Fantasy, and with only a little bit of hesitancy, I think I'm starting to get the hang of it. This one took longer to write than I'd anticipated, mainly because life kept intruding, but when I finished it up, the piece was only 38 words over the length limit. Not too shabby. Particularly when you consider the fact that a 1,000-word limit is far, far too short a space to do justice to any particular subject.

Still, I think I've managed to give a good outline of giants' mythological origins and use in contemporary fantasy and science fiction literature. Terry Gilliam fans will be happy to note that I did include references to both Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (someday I'd like to write a story titled The Adventures of Baron Munchausen Across the Eighth Dimension, but I suspect that's simply begging for trouble). Other films referenced include the Fleischer Superman shorts, The Iron Giant and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Books you may have heard of include Harry Potter, Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun and Ballard's super-duper cool short story "The Drowned Giant" to name a few. Books that I couldn't manage to fit in were Goldman's Princess Bride (Fezzik's more of a giant in the movie, anyway, which, incidentally, didn't make it in either) and Farmer's Riverworld (which stinks, because I like the whole titanthrops concept).

Now, I get to throw myself full-bore into finishing the INSECTS entry, which is going easier since the topic naturally breaks itself into fantasy and science fiction sections. Hive minds galore! H.M. Wogglebug, T.E.! Brother Termite! Starship Troopers! Hookah-smoking caterpillars! I'd probably have the whole thing finished tonight if I weren't off to see The Incredibles. I'd probably have it finished tomorrow if we weren't going to Riverdance for Lisa's birthday. I'd probably have it finished Sunday, if it weren't for Wurstfest. Uh oh. Looks like I'm running out of weekend...

Now Playing: R.E.M. Out of Time

Thursday, November 04, 2004

To umlaut, or not to umlaut

My last name gets mangled more than anything. People panic when they see it, and have this overwhelming compulsion to insert extra letters, vowels and even syllables in it. For example, I had a teacher one time that insisted on pronouncing it as if it were derived from the name of a 1950s housewife: "Blanch-key." Another popular variation sounds like a negative review of disposable razors: "Blah-shick." There have been others over the years, some quite creative, managing to use almost none of the letters actually present for their pronunciation.

Honestly, I don't get it. Yes, there are quite a few letters present, and it's not a common name that people are going to be very familiar with, so I can see how it would give a person pause on first viewing. But there aren't any silent Zs present as in Czech names, or random sounds made by unexpected letters as in other Eastern European or Slavic names. It's B-L-A-S-C-H-K-E. The name is Germanic in origin, and my immediate ancestors immigrated from Austria in 1860-61. That corner of Europe was one of those constantly in flux, however, and Blaschkes would readily be found in Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia (particularly the Sudetenland) and even Poland.

Blaschke is pronounced almost exactly as it's spelled, with one minor exception. Under English pronounciation rules, the "a" should be a short vowel sound, as in "apple." This is incorrect. Being Germanic in origin, the "a" is pronounced like the "o" in "bother." So the pronounciation is closer to "Blaw-sh-key" than "Blay-sky" or "Blass-key" or other interpretations. The "schke" is pronounced "sh-key," only as one syllable and the "c" giving the "sh" a harder, coarser beat. Forgive my mangled phoenetic spellings, but they get the idea across.

I've been thinking about this lately with my book inching closer to publication. It's a simple, silly issue, but to a degree everyone wants their name pronounced correctly, no? Simple vanity or pride if nothing else. Sure, it's a good screener for telemarketers, but then again so's the phone ringing. Assuming people can get the second half of the name right most of the time, it's that initial "a" that is the stumbling block. It's not a normal English pronunciation, and therefore things spiral out of control from that point on.

So I'm thinking of adding an umlaut.

Yeah, I know. That will most likely confuse people even more. I can't argue with that. But adding a pronunciation guide to the name will at least make me feel like I've made an effort to clarify matters. And I suspect that someone seeing a umlaut-a will instinctively go for a more gutteral Germanic pronunciation. Umlauts being so stereotypically German, after all. More importantly, I think it'd look cool. Pompous, yes. Pretentious, yes. But cool nonetheless. Let's take a look, shall we?





Jayme Lynn Bläschke

Yes indeed, there's no doubt about it. The umlautted name is significantly better-looking than the umlaut-less name. And I hereby decree that I shall immediately and forthwith convert all instances of my last name to this new and improved version... just as soon as my wife quits laughing herself silly over the notion.

Join us next time, kids, when I discuss the hilarity my first name, Jayme, prompts when people assume I'm either A) female or B) Hispanic, not to mention my middle name, Lynn, which has a variety of unfortunate porn star connotations.

Now Playing: Berlin Philharmonic The Ring Without Words: Highlights from Wagner's Ring Cycle

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


Yesterday a freshman at the university apparently committed suicide via self-inflicted gunshot wound. Very sad. When kids have so much life and potential ahead of them, to see it cut short for any reason at all is depressing. Especially if you're a parent and know that your kids are going to have to face these same pressures when they reach that age.

There's not much you can do in these situations. You do your job. You answer the media inquiries. You gather the victim's personal information and a photo for release once next-of-kin have been notified. You hope the area newspapers and television stations are too preoccupied with the election to take much of an interest. You whisper brief prayers for the family, and try to keep an emotional distance without being callous.

You answer phone calls from worried students who've heard through the rumor mill that a gunman has killed a bunch of people in the library. Stupid rumor mill.

Then there's the whole election thing, and the fact that my encyclopedia entries for Giants and Insects are proving more difficult to write than I anticipated. I guess you could say that I'm a veritable barrel of laughs today. Or not.

Now Playing: Emerson, Lake and Palmer Return of the Manticore

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Someone, somewhere once uttered words to the effect that a society always gets the government that it deserves. Since I don't have Bartlett's handy, it'll have to go unattributed. But there is a scary kind of logic in that simple phrase--society doesn't get the best, or the worst, or the indifferent. It gets the government it deserves. Looking back to the turn of century (the 20th century) there does indeed seem to be a spooky symmetry played out in four- to eight-year arcs. Are voters intelligent enough to look beyond oft-repeated talking points and 30-second attack ads to discern the real issues? Are they capable of going beyond knee-jerk, emotional reactions and think through the consequences of their vote? Are they willing to forgo lock-step straight-party voting in order to guarantee the best possible candidate rather than mindless party loyalty?

With luck, we'll know inside of 24 hours. Either way, we'll get what we deserve. Excuse me if I don't find that entirely reassuring.

Now Playing: Franz Schubert Fantasia in C "Wanderer"

Monday, November 01, 2004

Scene of the crime

Turkey City Writers Workshop and Neo-Pro Rodeo, 10/30/04

Here are the participants of the Turkey City Writers Workshop and Neo-Pro Rodeo, October 2004 edition. Pictured left to right are Steve Wilson, Mikal Trim, Howard Waldrop, Jayme Blaschke, Wendy Wheeler, Lawrence Person, Bruce Sterling, Jessica Reisman, Chris Nakashima-Brown and Tam Thompson. Workshop participants not pictured are Lou Antonelli, who was taking the picture, and Don Webb, who left to get decorated as a werewolf, because going to cool costume parties is apparently more fun than hanging around with a bunch of motley writers.

Now Playing: Tangerine Dream The Private Music of Tangerine Dream

Weekend update

Highlights, in no particular order, of my weekend:

Did the whole trick-or-treat thing with the girls. Calista was Sailor Moon. Keela was Princess Annalise from the Barbie "Princess and the Pauper" DVD. Both made a haul on candy from our neighborhood. They had a great time. Once they had so much candy they couldn't carry their bags o' loot anymore, we separated the cheap, yucky candy out and added it to the cache we were handing out to the trick-or-treaters coming to our house. Mixed in with the candy we were handing out were a goodly number of limestone rocks. When the adolescent bullies of the neighborhood came 'round (usually without costumes, just saying "Gimmme candy") we took great delight in slipping the stones in their bags in lieu of the good stuff. Too bad we didn't get the opportunity to see them exclaim "I got a rock!" later on in the evening.

When the hordes of kids tapered off, we went indoors and watched our video of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown followed by the DVD of Young Frankenstein. The latter is not, as the case would have you believe, "The Funniest Comedy of All Time!" It's not even the funniest Mel Brooks film (that would be Blazing Saddles, of course). But it's a darn good riff on the old James Whale films, and is utterly inspired in its lunacy at times. Good stuff.

The Aggies got upset by Baylor on Saturday. This is Bad. Let us never speak of it again.

Turkey City was interesting, to say the least. As usual, some of the comments regarding my story, "Prince Koindrindra Escapes" were quite helpful, others less so. To further muddy the waters, the story prompted the widest variety of responses of any piece of fiction I've ever submitted to the Turkey City meat grinder. Don Webb floored me by saying my piece was by far the best of the workshop, and ending with "I am in awe." Then I was promptly brought back to Earth by Jessica Reisman, who hated it with a passion and lamented that every time she finished one page, there was another after it she had to read. The other responses generally fell somewhere between the two extremes. Needless to say, some rewriting is in order.

Now Playing: The Police Message in a Box

Saturday, October 30, 2004

And away we go

It's late, and I'm tired, but the story's comlete, the rewrite finished and copies neatly stacked for the Turkey City eviceration tomorrow. But before I take my leave, I want to take this opportunity to indulge in a little bragging on my kid sister, competing in the Aggie Invitational Archery Tournament:
COLLEGE STATION, Texas- Freshmen Anna Stratton (Bend, Ore.) and Cassie Raffaelli (Bartonville, Texas) sit in first and second place in the compound division after the first of two days of competition at the Aggie Invitational being held at the Student Rec Center Archery Room this weekend. Sophomore Candice Blaschke (Columbus, Texas) is in third with a score of 560.

My brother, John, was an All-American archer and two-time World Champion in the compound bow division a few years back. Me, I'm not so good. But I've got a really sweet recurve that I really need to take out and shoot more often.

Now Playing: Mannheim Steamroller Halloween Monster Mix

Thursday, October 28, 2004

News from Nebraska

I just got a couple of emails from the University of Nebraska Press that the final page proofs for Voices of Vision have been completed by the production department and are even now, as we speak, speeding my direction via the modern-day Pony Express known as Federal Express.

Or are they? A nagging suspicion at the back of my mind said, "No, they've sent the pages to Bastrop, just like they did with the original proofs." Bastrop, you see, is where my in-laws live, and the address I used for a time when the Temple house had sold but the New Braunfels house hadn't been built yet. I have informed Nebraska about this change, oh, four or five times now, but it never quite manages to get to the folks in shipping. So the in-laws have been alerted to be on the lookout for suspicious packages, and I'll be making a run up there in the near future.

Now Playing: Melissa Etheridge Melissa Etheridge

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A story for the political season

Eileen Gunn is the enormously talented editor of Infinite Matrix as well as a cracking good writer in her own right. Her newest book is the short fiction collection Stable Strategies and Others, and I just happen to be the lucky editor who is running Fellow Americans on RevolutionSF this week in observance of the train wreck known as the presidential election.
Fellow Americans featuring Tricky Dick, by Eileen Gunn

He raises his hands above his head in the familiar double V-for-Victory salute to acknowledge the applause, then gestures for quiet.

"Thanks for the hand, folks." His voice is deep, quiet, and sincere. "You know, I needed that applause today." A catch in his throat. "Right before the show, I was on my way down here to the studio...." He shakes his head slightly, as if contemplating the role that Chance plays in Life. "An elderly lady came up to me, and she introduced herself, and then she said, 'Oh, Dick, I'm so pleased to meet you, you know you were my all-time favorite presidential candidate...." He lets the compliment hang there a second, as if savoring it. "...after Jack Kennedy, of course."

The audience laughs, appreciating the host who can tell a joke at his own expense. When the laughter has diminished, but before it stops completely, he continues.

"Speaking of politics, why is everybody picking on Dan Quayle these days?" He looks from face to face in the audience, as if for an answer. "He hasn't done anything." An artful pause. "And, as I know from my own turn at the job, he probably won't get to do anything in the future, either." More laughter, stronger.

It is, of course, an alternate history, road-not-taken piece. Which, naturally enough, I'm fixating on at the moment with my own writing. But despite the obvious opportunity for cheap jokes and absurdity when dealing with an alternate version of Nixon, Gunn treats the material with a steady hand. Ultimately, the story mixes equal parts comedy and tragedy. Nixon had the potential to be one of America's leading presidents, but undermined all of his positive accomplishments with arrogance, hubris and paranoia. It's fitting that this story of an alternate Nixon be tinged with an air of sadness.

Now Playing: Jimmy Buffett Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads

It's finished--for true, this time

My simple short stories are never as simple and straightforward they pretend to be when they insinuate themselves in my mind. Prince Koindrindra Escapes evolved from a make-it-all-up lark to a research-intensive labor pretty quickly. And the short, punchy sections grew to be significantly larger than could readily be considered "short." All in all, the whole thing blew past my original length target by more than a thousand words. That's my story as a writer--I never met a short-short I couldn't turn into a novella.
It was the gravest of sins to defy the king. Koindrindra was many things, but he was not depraved.

Koindrindra’s younger brothers Rakotondrandria and Siferanarivo--the twins had not yet grown into their proper names--argued that these Europeans held great power in their guns and their ships and their numbers. That they were more worthy than the loyal and brave Malagasy.

Koindrindra’s brothers were fools.

General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck swept through Portugese East Africa with an army of only 30,000, routing the French and Portugese before him. The Germans were celebrated by the natives as a liberators, and 50,000 Portugese, French and South African troops fled the mainland to Madagassikara.

The good news is that the first draft is complete, and I have a viable story to subject to humiliation at Turkey City on Saturday. I'm curious to see how Bruce Sterling would rewrite this into something completely different. I even managed to so some light rewriting here and there, planing down some of the extremely rough edges. A consistent tone is still the most elusive aspect of this story. I'm going to have to make some serious decisions over the next day or so, but no matter what I do, it's still going to be an extremely silly alternate history piece.

Now Playing: Sting Soul Cages

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Feeling overwhelmed

You know that deer-in-the-headlights feeling you get when deadlines are looming, and you suddenly realize you've over-committed yourself to too many projects? That's what I'm feeling right now.

The trip to College Station over the weekend for the Colorado game really threw me a curve. The whole weekend, Friday through Sunday, was a wash. Not that I've got second thoughts, mind you. I hadn't been able to make a game since back when I was still a sportswriter, and I had a great time. But those three days were days I'd planned to finish up Prince Koindrindra Escapes, and devote the bulk of this week to working on those additional Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy Themes entries. So now my schedule's jumbled. I'll finish Koindrindra tonight, but it's very rough. I don't know if I'll have a rewrite opportunity between now and Turkey City. SFFS is holding its annual masquerade ball on Thursday, and as the staff advisor, I'm honor bound to attend and watch over things. The fiction at RevSF doesn't edit itself, and of course, there's the whole Halloween thing coming up, which is a big deal in the Blaschke household.

In all honesty, I've gotta stop putting myself in these positions.

Now Playing: Sheena Easton No Strings

Monday, October 25, 2004

Innocence lost

While driving Calista to school, our morning conversation somehow came to the subject of fire drills. Last week they'd gone through the whole fire drill routine, she informed me. And also a poison drill.

Poison drill?

A railroad track runs right near the school--a hundred yards away, give or take. Union Pacific has had an inordinate number of derailments in and around San Antonio lately, and this summer a toxic cloud of chlorine gas killed a number of people after one pileup. So if there's a train derailment that releases toxic chemicals, all the students go to one particular room, which the teachers then seal up with duct tape around the door so they don't all die. Bear in mind she's telling me this with a combination of matter-of-fact and breathless enthusiasm that only a five-year-old can muster. Naturally, the spectre of a clorine cloud rolling over the school wasn't an image I was particularly taken with.

Then she told me about the "bad guy" drill. Explaining the step-by-step process the kids and teachers are supposed to go through was chilling for me to hear. Obviously, the lessons of Columbine have been taken to heart by the school district. And the counter-terrorism actions they have in place are good ones. But that doesn't make it any less troubling.

My generation grew up in a different time. Kids in the 70s and 80s didn't have to face a major war that killed or scarred ourselves or classmates. The Cold War was too abstract a concept to grasp. Terrorism only happened in other countries, and school shootings weren't an issue. We practiced fire drills every year, and very occasionally tornado drills. That was it for excitement. We had it good, relatively speaking, and had hoped the same for our children. But now they're facing the 21st Century equivalent of "Duck and cover." I'm not happy about that, but such is the world we live in.

Now Playing: ZZ Top El Loco

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Where did the weekend go?

I survived the game at Kyle Field, and the Aggies did indeed emerge victorious, but the overtime thriller I could've done without. Sure, give me a tight game for the first half, but once the third quarter starts, I want a blowout under way. Why does Colorado always play us great in College Station? This was the first loss the Buffs have suffered there in three tries, and was almost a win. I don't get it.

Also retrieved my taped copy of Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars from my in-laws. Wow. When David Kemper said they condensed the entirety of season 5 into a four-hour miniseries, he wasn't fooling. I could see how the mini could've been played out over a dozen episodes, easy. They shoehorned in a lot. No telling what they left out. The mini wraps up the major loose threads nicely, and I can't wait to see what future Farscape projects the Henson company has in store.

Now Playing: nothing

Friday, October 22, 2004


All writing planned for tonight and tomorrow has been summarily cancelled. Into my posession have fallen three coveted tickets to tomorrow's Big XII football game between teh Texas A&M Aggies (Whoop!) and the Colorado Buffaloes (Hissss!). I can't remember the last Aggie game I saw in person... Probably the 1998 Cotton Bowl against UCLA. I certainly haven't been to Kyle since the 1997 season. Wow. This will be Calista's first Aggie game. Good bull. I'm excited. This is going to be great fun.

Now Playing: The Fightin' Texas Aggie Band Recall! Step Off on Hullabaloo

Thursday, October 21, 2004

One play

You have to credit Jim Edmonds. That impossible diving catch in the top of the 2nd saved what likely would've been a game-breaker for the Astros.

Such is the lot of Astros fans. The BoSox have the Curse of the Bambino, which dictates they shall not win the World Series. The Cubs have the goat, and shall always be awful. But the Astros have perhaps the worst burden in baseball--perpetually good enough, but never able to put it together at the right time. They continue to be the winningest team in baseball never to reach the series.

Next year's team should be good. Beltran's probably gone--no one can match the Yankees' checkbook--but Andy Pettite and Wade Miller should be back, giving Houston the best starting rotation in the major leagues. And I suspect Clemens will return for one more year, especially if he takes home another Cy Young. Will that make a difference? I have no idea. The Astros have always been good enough, just not when it counts the most.

Now Playing: Profound Disappointment

Do or die

I've got on my Colt .45s cap. To my left is my autographed Joes Cruuuuuuuz baseball, to my right is my Buzz Aldrin/Neil Armstrong 25th Moon Landing Anniversary Astros Commemorative Astros baseball. My stein is filled with dark brown homebrew ale. On the mound tonight is the Rocket, Roger Clemens, fully rested and ready to go. In the bullpen is 20-game winner Roy Oswalt, with "Lights Out" Brad Lidge ready to slam the door in the 9th. Ready to step into the batter's box are the Killer Bs, the most powerful hitting lineup ever to grace a Houston manager's bench. Backing them up is more than 40 years of history as the winningest team never to play in the World Series. This one's for the Astros fans, the Colt .45s fans, even the Buffs fans. This is for keeping Carlos Beltran, and ending the careers of Bagwell and Biggio on a high note. This is for the Astrodome, the Eighth Wonder of the World. It's for Nolan Ryan and Mike Scott. It's for Larry Dierker and the Toy Cannon. "Crazy" Charlie Kerfeld and Glenn Davis and Alan Ashby. Joe Niekro and Bob Knepper, Daryl Kyle, Ken Caminitti and Cesar Cedeno. It for those glorious rainbow uniforms, and rainouts in a domed stadium. It's for redemption, of finally shedding the underachiever stigma.

It's gametime. Give 'em hell, Astros!

Now Playing: Nervous anticipation

And since I'm on a tear...

I've got a headache now because this Creationism crap has got me so worked up. I', hungry and getting crankier by the minute. So I'll let one of my idols, Galileo Galilei, take it from here, with words far more eloquent than I could hope to manage.
I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

It is surely harmful to souls to make it a heresy to believe what is proved.

Hate to say it, but I'm starting to think the French have gotten it right.

Now Playing: Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1

Camel's back broken... straw everywhere

Okay, this is it. If you don't like tirades, leave now. I don't care if you're a Republican or Democrat, Libertarian or Communist. For the love of Pete, vote for John Kerry immediately, if not sooner, and get Bush out of office! His cozy relationship with the wild-eyed, apocalyptic, fundamentalist "Christian" right wing has thrown even the veneer of moderation and sanity out the window:
In a series of recent decisions, the National Park Service has approved the display of religious symbols and Bible verses, as well as the sale of creationist books giving a biblical explanation for the Grand Canyon and other natural wonders. Also, under pressure from conservative groups, the Park Service has agreed to edit the videotape that has been shown at the Lincoln Memorial since 1995 to remove any image of gay and abortion rights demonstrations that occurred at the Memorial.

These moves all emanate from top Park Service political appointees, in many cases over the objections of park superintendents, agency lawyers and career staff. A number of fundamentalist Christian and socially conservative groups are claiming credit for these actions and touting their new direct and personal access to Bush Administration officials.

Creationist Science

This summer, the Park Service approved a creationist text, “Grand Canyon: A Different View” for sale in park bookstores and museums. The book by Tom Vail claims that the Grand Canyon is really only a few thousand years old, developing on a biblical rather than an evolutionary time scale. The Grand Canyon National Park superintendent went so far as to ask Park Service headquarters for clearance to offer the book for sale at park-supervised concessions.

At the same time, Park Service leadership has blocked publication of guidance for park rangers and other interpretative staff that labeled creationism as lacking any scientific basis. That guidance was supposed to have been issued in 2001.

On these issues, the current Park Service leadership now appears to cater exclusively to conservative Christian fundamentalist groups. As a result, the Bush Administration is sponsoring a program that can fairly be called “Faith-Based Parks.”

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local, state and federal resource professionals, working to protect the environment.

Now, I'm not one who believes all vestiges of religious faith have to be forcibly extirpated from public and governmental settings. "Separation of church and state" comes from Thomas Jefferson, not the Constitution. But the Constitution does forbid the establishment of a state religion, and denying hard science fact while condoning and hawking creationist bullshit damn well sounds like the establishment of an official religion to me. I hope Dubya has plenty of time to ponder that issue, as well as the fallacy of "Divine right of kings" after his infallible ass gets handed to him on Nov. 2.

Now Playing: Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3

Backfill struggles

The flashback sequences have proven to be much more uncooperative than I anticipated. Simply put, they're tending to spiral out of control. The way this story is structured, each episode needs to be short and punchy, conveying just enough information to suggest cause and effect before the next episode kicks in. But the flashbacks are providing the context and backstory for the parallel "real time" events in Prince Koindrindra Escapes, so I'm having to shoehorn not only the backstory into those passages, but also the details and circumstances that give each flashback context--I don't have the luxury of an additional flashback layer to accomplish that with. Coupled with my natural tendancy to write long--boy, can I write long--the flashbacks are growing like kudzu. Wild. Unruly. Not serving the story particularly well. I seem to be spending more time slashing and burning than actual writing. I anticipate the initial draft being finished sometime over the next few days, but a heavy rewrite and all-around pruning will be in order afterwards. But that doesn't mean I'm not making progress:
Koindrindra tried to slip the pry bar through the shackle of the brass padlock. The tip missed with a clank, sending the lock swinging.

He glanced over to the lovers. Dick was now grunting louder than Sweetheart. And she was pretty damn loud.

Gritting his teeth, he tried again. This time the bar caught. With a ferocious heave, Koindrindra twisted the bar, snapping the shackle from the casing with a loud crack.

Things don't go well for Dick and Sweetheart after this, but I guess you kinda figured that, eh?

Now Playing: Tom Petty Wildflowers