Saturday, July 29, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Script

Went to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie with Lisa tonight. I liked the first one a great deal, and it's one of Lisa's favorites of all time. Unfortunately, neither can be said for the new film. The script is utterly nonsensical and illogical. Whereas the first movie was pretty tight, building the verisimilitude so that undead pirate skeletons were a natural outgrowth of the world, this one just throws a whole bunch of weird shit up on the screen and hopes people are dazzled enough not to notice there's no rhyme or reason. There's maybe 45 minutes of plot in the movie, the rest being padded out by big, noisy action sequences that never frellin' end. Captain Jack Sparrow utterly stole the first movie, coming off as addled and out of it, yet still playing all the angles. In this one he's an outright coward in over his head without a clue. Did I mention that everything that actually worked in the movie was overdone until it didn't work anymore? By the third time the kraken appeared, I was thinking, "Oh, jeeze, no the giant squid again!" And I'm someone who's gonzo for giant squids.

For the love of Pete, I can't figure out why this train wreck of a film is blowing past Superman Returns at the box office. I've seen online where folks are calling this one the Matrix Reloaded of the Pirates movies. While I see that relationship, I don't think it's a good assessment of the film itself. Dead Man's Chest is actually Cutthroat Island with sea monsters. Yeah, it sucked that bad.

Now Playing: Various The Best of Dvorak

Friday, July 28, 2006

Writing stuff

I know I've been quiet in regards to my writing, but I have indeed been busy. I've just had nothing that's postable. The transcription of the Peter Beagle interview was finished early in the week, and I've been working on the Helix rewrite since then, as well as spending time on the Armadillocon Writers Workshop, which is coming up in just under two weeks. So, yeah, I'm not slacking.

Now Playing: Various The Best of Ravel

Friday Night Videos

Introducing a new weekly feature here at the blog: Friday Night Videos! Being from a small, rural town in Texas, I never experienced the joys of MTV until I got to college--and then I bored of it fairly quickly as it started moving away from an all-video music format. But in high school, my sole connection with hip music pop culture was the network-broadcast Friday Night Videos. So join me on a nostalgia trip back through time as I revisit some of those fondly-remembered classics courtesy of YouTube. First up, one of the all-time best: The Talking Heads' "Nothing But Flowers."

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Sheena Easton

Now Playing: Talking Heads Naked

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The newest craze in exotic pets!


I've long held a firm belief that the tiny, primitive muntjac deer would become a runaway success in the exotic pet market if only some reputable breeders would recognize their value as such. I expressed this view recently during some online discussions of Slug Tribe, and quicker than you can say "That's crazy talk, man!" Mara Hincher wipped up the magazine cover above. Great stuff!

Now Playing: Modest Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Prickly mead

It's been well over a year since I last bottled any mead, and in the past few weeks I've been feeling a little itch to experiment. Not a lot, mind you, but that faint nagging curiosity to explore possibilities. The trip to Corpus Christi proved to be the tipping point. On the drive down there as well as the drive back--nearly three hours each way, not counting stops--we passed through countless miles of rural Texas countryside, and besides a million zillion butterflies the most striking thing I saw were the prickly pear cactus. They were thick along the sides of the road, growing healthily among the barbed wire fencing that is ubiquitous along Texas roads. And they were dripping with some of the biggest, fattest purple-maroon-black fruit I've ever seen.

Prickly pear fruit is edible. Called cactus pear or tunas, it's got nastly little tufts of tiny spines on the outer skin, but inside is a mass of tiny, dark seeds surrounded by a layer of fleshy pulp. And the whole thing's extremely juicy. Depending on the species or even individual plant, the fruit can be sticky sweet, mild, sour, tart, extremely acidic or anywhere amongst those extremes. The juice is a beautiful, clear burgundy red, and as the miles passed I started thinking more and more how interesting a batch of prickly pear honey mead melomel would be.


Last night after dinner, I invited the girls along for a cactus hunt. We hopped in the PT Cruiser armed with barbecue tongs and leather gloves, and headed off down country roads near our house. I quickly realized there weren't many cactus of any type around us. At least, not thick like those to the south or out west in the Hill Country, so I had to scrounge a bit more than planned. A few here off a scraggly cactus under a hackberry tree, a few more from a fence line a few miles down the road. And many cactus we passed had fruit that wasn't yet ripe. I was actually on my way home when I unexpectedly happened across a motherload--one big, fat cactus sitting on the edge of some farmland, covered in deep purple tunas. This one looked like all those I'd seen the previous weekend. I got more than a dozen big, ripe fruit from that one alone. Now I had close to 10 pounds of juicy fruit--more than enough for my grand scheme.


Back home, I selected one plump, well-ripened tuna and sliced it open. Juice ran out all over the place, but luckily I had it over the kitchen sink. I took a spoon and scooped out some seeds for Calista--the seeds were reminiscent in quantity and texture to passion fruit seeds, although they didn't have such plump arils--and then some of the surrounding pulp. Then everyone else tried some. This particular fruit had a flavor that was very mild, midway between a watermelon and bananna. There's very little sugar--there is a sweetness, but it is faint--but by the same token there is little acid, either. The fruit should contribute a light, delicate flavor to the mead I'm planning, as well as a gorgeous color. I expect it will be lightly sweet as well (semi-dry in wine parlance) and well-suited for casual drinking, or perhaps with fish and fruit.

Now I just need to come up with the cash to buy 15 pounds of honey to get things going. Until then, the fruit's in the deep freeze.

Now Playing: Johann Sebastian Back Harpsicord Concertos 1

A swarm of butterflies

On the drive down to Corpus Christi on Thursday, as well as the drive home Sunday, I was amazed by the swarms of butterflies flittering across the roads. At first I thought they might be leaves or debris being blown by wind, but I soon figured this wasn't the case. They were small butterflies, but what they lacked in size they made up for in numbers--dozens in a cluster, sometimes hundreds, and total volume reaching well into the tens of thousands every mile. They're also in New Braunfels and San Marcos now. I see them on my daily commute on I-35. They're roosting (do butterflies roost?) in the pecan trees on campus by the thousands. Then I discovered this article, and all was explained:
The prolonged drought, interrupted by a few days of heavy rains, has spawned an explosion of American snout butterflies across Central and South Texas, experts say.

"I'd probably say in the millions across the multicounty area is a fairly safe ballpark," said Texas Parks & Wildlife Department biologist Mike Quinn, who is hearing reports of butterfly swarms across the region.

The snouts — named for their flattened noses that help them resemble a dead leaf — started flittering en masse at least a week ago and have been spotted across the region, from Eagle Pass to Hondo, in Kerr County and San Antonio.


Snout swarms aren't uncommon, Quinn said, but one of this scope is unusual. Its likely cause is a combination of the drought and the soaking rains that fell across the area in early July.

The drought probably destroyed many of the parasitic flies and wasps that kill the butterfly in the caterpillar stage.

The ensuing rain then prompted new growth on the area's spiny hackberry trees, providing a good environment for nesting snouts, and tasty leaves for the hungry caterpillars, he said.

So. Millions of butterflies. That's not something you see every day. Even though they're somewhat drab compared to species such as, say, Monarchs or Swallowtails, you've got to admit swarms of this size are pretty darn impressive.

Now Playing: The Kinks The Great Lost Kinks Album

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Direct marketing

"Dear. Mr. Carroll. Thank you for the book you put on my car when I was in Vienna. I read this book and hated it but it was very nice of you to give it to me."

Now I need to get me some Polish editions of Voices of Vision...

Now Playing: Clannad Clannad 1

Surf Titan!

Okay, so there aren't any methane seas on Titan--at least, no permanent ones. But the good news is that Cassini has finally discovered evidence of methane lakes near Titan's north pole:

The radar images Cassini took of the north pole leave little to the imagination--there isn't much else it could be other than methane (or ethane) lakes, and the polar regions were always the most likely location for such formations if there weren't moon-wide seas and oceans. The results have the planetary scientists involved pretty excited, as you can imagine, as evidenced by this Planetary Society article on the discovery:
"The news is lakes, lots of lakes!" said Cassini RADAR team member Rosaly Lopes. The lake-like features are "circular or kidney-shaped and very radar-dark -- the darkest things we have seen. Morphologically, they look much like lakes on Earth. There are drainage features around the sides of lakes."

Seeing these features for the first time was a thrill for Lopes and the rest of the RADAR team. "I think it's been the most exciting pass so far," Lopes said. After it was pointed out that each swath seems to be described as the "most exciting," Lopes laughed. "Maybe we are just like that! But the amazing thing is how every pass is different. Every time we look at Titan with RADAR, the predominant thing on the swath is different from what it was last time. There hasn't been a single case of one of them being like, 'oh, yeah, it's just like the ones we've seen before.' So Titan's surface appears to be very diverse." That diversity hints at lots of fun and challenge ahead for Titan scientists.

Now I supposed the next thing for Cassini to do is image Titan during one of that moon's theorized methane monsoons. Would a massive, worldwide downpour even be detectable by flyby, I wonder?

Now Playing: The Impressions Celtic Journey

Monday, July 24, 2006

Arrow mail!

Via Bookslut: The U.S. Postal Service is issuing a set of DC Comics superhero stamps, and amongst the various Justice Leaguers depicted thereon is Green Arrow! What's cool is that each hero gets two stamps--one a cover reproduction, and another a straightforward character illustration. Good old Oliver Queen is drawn by the great Jack Kirby (albeit in his bland, ugly Golden Age outfit), but also depicted by Matt Wagner in the hip, goateed Neal Adams' costume. This is a happy day to be a Green Arrow fan. The overall set is a good sampling of DC's roster, but frankly, I'm surprised that Captain Marvel (aka SHAZAM!) was left off, seeing as how he's considerably better-known to the general population than Green Arrow, Hawkman or even Plastic Man. Maybe there's a second series of stamps planned for a future date?

Oh, and for all you Marvel zombies, the "House of Ideas" will follow with its own set the following year.

Now Playing: Dr. Hook Greatest Hits and More

Sunday, July 23, 2006

La Leche and SF fandom: A comparative analysis

I'm back after an extended weekend in sunny Corpus Christi. Not much writing was accomplished. Not much was accomplished at all, unless you count swimming, beach combing, hermit crab hunting and other touristy stuff an accomplishment. This was sort of the family's mini-vacation for the year, since Lisa and I took so much time off earlier in the year for Orion's birth. And it was sort of a working vacation, for Lisa, at any rate, because we officially went to Corpus for the La Leche League Texas Area Conference. Yes, breast-feeding advocates have conventions, just like science fiction fans. And you know what? The two aren't entirely dissimilar. There's a dealers' room where the vast majority of things sold are books, along with vendors who have all sorts of interesting wares to sell. T-shirts and bumper stickers and buttons are adorned with witty sayings. There are numerous programming tracks. Keynote speakers/guests of honor. There's a hospitality suite. The passionate hallway debates are similar, albeit focusing on different subject matter.

Of course, there are some notable differences as well. The male/female ratio is reversed when comparing a La Leche conference to SF cons. Also, since nearly every attendee has children (hello? They're nursing mothers) the children's programming is considerably more extensive and better attended than at SF cons (Lisa was in charge of this area, and had fantastic turnout for the events--notably the presentations put on by the Texas State Aquarium). The foodstuffs offered in the hospitality suite tend to be much more health-oriented than that found at SF cons, since nursing mothers in general trend towards the Whole Foods demographic. The biggest difference, though--and this is a biggie--there are considerably more breasts visible at a La Leche conference than an SF con--and I'm taking all the chain mailed belly dancers into consideration her. I couldn't walk down the hall--seriously--without some mother or another lifting her shirt to feed a child. And you know what? Despite what our Puritanical Overlords at the FCC would have us believe, context is everything. The mothers nursing in un-selfconscious manner were just that: mothers feeding their children. The ones that drew attention to themselves were the ones felt compelled to cover up with a blanket when nursing. This is the third one I've attended with Lisa, and the remarkable thing about it is how unremarkable the whole affair is. I suppose a convention is a convention is a convention, down to the mundanes staying at the same hotel who freak out when they discover what perveted gathering is sharing hall space with them. Horrors!

But hey, we didn't hang around the hotel all weekend. Apart from hitting the beach at North Padre Island, we also paid a visit to the afore-mentioned Texas State Aquarium. Dolphin Bay, as seen below with Calista and Keela, is always a popular stop.


Lastly, I'll leave you folks with this image of me entertaining Orion while Lisa attended one of her panels over the weekend. You see, Orion's recently gotten some of his baby teeth in, and takes great pleasure in using them every chance he gets. At this particular point in time, I carelessly allowed my thumb to venture too close to the danger zone. Actually, I believe Orion grabbed it and shoved it in his mouth, lightning quick. Either way, that kid's got some bite on him!


Now Playing: Various The Best of Dvorak

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Sombrero del Muerto!

We visited the in-laws in Bastrop over the weekend, and as a consequence of this, returned home with a copious amount of home-grown tomatoes. When they offered these to me, I jumped at them--it's been six months or more since I made salsa (my "brand" being Sombrero del Muerto), and I was getting pretty tired of the lame, store-bought stuff. So after making a grocery run to pick up the required chipotles, jalapenos, serranos, habaneros and tomatillos for my recipe, last night I set to work cooking up a batch.

Turns out I had more tomatoes than usual, so the resulting salsa is somewhat more tomato-y than normal. And not quite as hot, since the extra tomato is diluting the Capsicum from the peppers. But still. Prior to adding the serranos and habaneros (and the majority of the jalapenos) I bottled up two quarts of "mild" salsa, which would correspond to Pace medium in terms of spicyness. Armed with a bag of chips, Calista dove into a bowl and pronounced it excellent stuff. Lisa opined that it wasn't bad. Then I added the fiery stuff to the remainder in the pot, and after simmering for 30 minutes or so, ended up with a little more than two gallons--most of which went into the freezer for future consumption.

I, of course, sampled a good bit myself. The tomato is a little over-balanced, and there's not quite enough cilantro in the mix. But other than that, it's good stuff, even if it's not as hot as I usually like it.

Now Playing: Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1


I... hmm. What I meant to say is... I, uh... oh, bother. Why do I subject myself to this? I mean, clicking on links that I know will eventually make me despair for all of humanity, much less my own sanity?

There's a rabidly neo-con blog out there (which I won't link to, thankyouverymuch) that aims to make Ann Coulter look like Mary Poppins. And so one of their posts takes Pope Benedict to task for decrying the bloodshed that's broken out in Lebanon. In between rants about how the U.S. should empty our nuclear arsenal to turn all Islamic countries into glowing glass plains and how Catholics were never Christian anyway, one of the arguements offered as "proof" the Vatican is ungodly an un-Christian is the Albigensian Crusade, a particularly nasty 20-year period where the Catholic Church essentially contracted the King of France to exterminate a popular sect viewed as apostate. The slaughter was horrific, even by the standards of the day.

Follow the logic? The papacy is bad, because it won't condone the slaughter of those who don't believe the same as we do. And the papacy has been bad a long, long time, because it used to condone the slaughter of those who don't believe the same as we do. I've been critical of Cardinal Ratzinger here before, scathingly so at times, but I have to admit that he's displayed a remarkably even-handed approach thus far in his reign as Pope Benedict. I'm not entirely happy with it, mind you, but not distressed, either.

At the same time, there are professed Catholics posting at this site, claiming they refuse to listen to the Pope, because he's just a liberal lap-dog that doesn't understand scripture, while at the same time condemning so-called "cafeteria Catholics" because that group doesn't obediently follow the Vatican's more conservative social directives.

Head... splitting! Must not... explode!

Now Playing: Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3

Writin' & stuff

Transcribed more of the Peter Beagle interview last night. Slow going, yes, but it'll be worth it in the end. But I'm not about to jump right back into doing these things willy-nilly. I might break down and do a couple at World Fantasy, but that'll be it. I can quit any time I want to. Honestly.

In other news, Lisa's got a La Leche League conference in Corpus Christi this weekend, so tomorrow we'll be packing up and departing for the sunny Texas coast. I won't be blogging, or writing, but I've printed out the entirety of Wetsilver written thus far--along with the short piece I'm rewriting for Helix--and plan to go over all those written words extensively with my editor's pen and notebook, making copious notes and edits. Ideally, this will map out all the trouble spots with both pieces and next week I'll be in a position where I can get back in the game with them. Ideally.

Or I may just chase sand crabs with the girls all weekend in the surf. It's a toss-up, really.

Now Playing: Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Beagle speaks

The break from Wetsilver is in full effect. I haven't looked at the novel since last Thursday, and won't again for at least another week. Since then, I've done some editor-requested tweaks to one story, looked at the bigger rewrite project for Helix with a mix of consternation and dread, and done a heck of a lot of transcribing on the Peter S. Beagle interview.

I'm quickly rediscovering one of the main reasons I stopped doing interviews. Transcribing the interviews are tedious and time-consuming. I've spent several hours on this thing already, and I'm not yet halfway finished. And that doesn't even take editing into consideration. Here's an interesting exchange we had, pauses and verbal placeholders cleaned up for clarity's sake:
You've said elsewhere that you aren't a particularly huge fan of unicorns. Do you ever feel like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Has the unicorn become your own personal version of Sherlock Holmes?

It's not quite the same thing, although it's a legitimate question. One of my very favorite writers, James Stephens, got so tired of being known only for a very successful novel, The Crock of Gold--it overshadowed several other novels of his which were very good--that he just quit writing novels all together. He spent the last 25 years of his life writing poetry and broadcasting for the BBC, which I'm really sorry about, although he was a fine poet.

I know Conan Doyle came to hate Sherlock Holmes really acutely. He wrote historic fiction which he was very proud of, he wrote a lot of different stories set in different places. He wrote the Professor Challenger stories. And yet there was this goddamn Holmes that was all people wanted to hear about. Doyle really did make a serious effort to kill him off but he was pressured into bringing him back.

No, I don't feel like that about the unicorn at all. The Last Unicorn is dedicated to Robert Nathan, and Robert called me when he read the book. He said to me, "You're going to be stuck with this the way I'm stuck with Portrait of Jennie." Robert wrote close to 40 novels, and Portrait of Jennie is not the best one. But it was made into a movie with Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten about 10 years after he'd written it and it's still considered a minor classic. Nathan said, "There are times when I hate that book, because it overshadowed so much better stuff I did--and I know I did better stuff. You'll do better stuff than The Last Unicorn. Other times I think of all the wonderful things that have happened to me because of Portrait of Jennie, and I know I can't possibly hate it. You'll go back and forth with the unicorn forever. That's just the way it is. There'll be people that know it and don't know that you ever wrote everything else. That's how it is. It's undoubtedly better to be remembered for one book than not remembered at all.”

So, it's a mixed bag kind of thing. It's opened doors, and it's given me generations of readers that I never imagined having. It was a nightmare to write, as I've told audiences often, and there are books like The Innkeeper's Song that matter more to me in a personal sense. In a way, I think of The Innkeeper's Song as my first grown-up book, and that's a personal meaning. I don't know how else to explain it.

So, no overwhelming compulsion to write "This Day All Unicorns Die"?

No, no nothing like that. I do, however, belong to a small, informal group dedicated to writing stories that have no bloody elves in them! That's another matter. The word we use isn't "bloody" either!

I should finish the transcription in another day or so, depending on how much time I'm able to devote to it. It's a good interview, a really good interview, and I'm looking foward to seeing it in final form.

Now Playing: Martin Hummel and Karl-Ernst Schroder 17th Century German Lute Songs

Empire vs. Federation

I got this from my sister, which officially makes me the last person on Earth to see this clip. Clever fun, if a bit rough in places. Behold Star Trek vs. Star Wars:

Back in college I did a similar riff for a piece of Aggiecon program book art. Picture the Enterprise approaching the Death Star, with a word balloon stating, "Nonsense, Wesley. It's too big to be a space station..." Ah, the classics never go out of style.

Now Playing: Holst The Planets

Monday, July 17, 2006


Just so you know, my review of John Picacio's new book, Cover Story, is now live over at SFSite. It's not exactly an impartial review, but hey, at least you don't have to tell me to stop sugar-coating it and express how I really feel...

Now Playing: New World Renaissance Band Live the Legend

Apollocon 2006 photos

Duh. I uploaded these photos nearly two weeks ago, but forgot to post them here. There are more over on my Flickr pages.


Above we have the gathering of Guests of Honor for the Friday night opening ceremonies: (left to right) David Franklin of Farscape, Greg Edmonson, the music composer for Firefly, Alain Viesca, the artist best-known for his "Liquor Fairy" series of prints, and Steve MacDonald, filk guest of honor.


Another panel from the convention, which I have no recollection as to what it was about: Rebecca Elsenheimer, Martha Wells and Chris Nakashima-Brown.


Lee Martindale (left) and John Moore.


Greg Edmonson and Alain Viesca make the rounds during Saturday night's room parties.


Those responsible: Con Chair Mark Hall and Programming Director Kim Kofmel.


M.T. Reiten attempts to ensnare unsuspecting fans with the old "Pull my finger" ploy, while Selina Rosen demonstrates her dexterity with a multi-tool and Martha Wells is ambushed in the hall.


Houston Browncoats descended on the convention, turning Apollocon into a Firefly-friendly hoedown. You can always tell a Browncoat by the bittersweet look in their eyes--they're sad the series didn't last long enough for James "Maverick" Garner to make a guest appearance as Mal's father. But hey, when you have Cedric of the Bedlam Bards (right) singing "The Ballad of Joss," you forget petty worries like that in a hurry.


And what's a con without costumes? Above we have Cruella DeVil and a lethal-looking Nebari.


Who ya gonna call when you need an unlicensed particle accelerator to wear on your back?


I'll admit I was disappointed that she never once screamed "Off with her head!" Ah well, there's always next year.

Now Playing: Martin Hummel and Karl-Ernst Schroder 17th Century German Lute Songs

Friday, July 14, 2006

I call you on the telefone... but you're never home

Remember when MTV stood for "Music Television"? I do, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who loved those great, goofy videos from the 80s. I had the most humongous crush on 80s BritPop sensation Sheena Easton, and still do, a little. She had a great voice, the sexiest little Scots brogue, and was cuter than all get-out. She made some really bizarre career choices at the end of the 80s that pretty much destroyed her career outside of Vegas, but hey, that never stopped me from being a fan.

Her videos were also a mostly hit-or-miss affair, but Telefone is nevertheless one of the all-time greats among music videos. Sure, it's silly and has absolutely nothing to do with the song itself, but man, how can you not love a film that gives you Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, a disembodied hand and King Kong, all chasing after the same Scottish lass? Simply brilliant, I tell you!

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Falco

Now Playing: The Cars Greatest Hits


Wrote 600 words on Wetsilver last night, wrapping up chapter 10. I just discovered two new characters that I hadn't anticipated, who will be interesting supporting players the rest of the way. One, interestingly enough, is a composer in the mold of the great Viennese composers of the 17th-18th centuries. I certainly didn't see that coming.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
32,750 / 90,000

I had a section picked out to post here--in fact, I'm looking at it now--but I've decided not to. I'm not happy with it. I'm not happy with a lot of what I've written on the novel the last two weeks. The feeling's been growing steadily that this train jumped the tracks a ways back, and the increasing difficulty in writing anything that works has convinced me. When I'm in trouble with a story, my tendancy is to flail around, narratively speaking, writing and writing in the vaguely-realized hope of somehow finding the right path again and moving on.

That's not happening. Rediscovering the right path, I mean.

I've written some good stuff, don't get me wrong, but the whole is disjointed and inconsistent. Something's got to give. I just don't know what. It may be that I visualized the opening quarter of the book strongly, but my imagination and planning got fuzzy beyond that, and outlining would help. I'm not convinced on that count, though, since I already know what's coming next. It could be that I'm creatively drained on Wetsilver. I've been working on it steadily for two months without coming up for a breath (Apollocon excepted). I've never pushed myself that long and hard on any single project before, and coupled with the decline in sleep time, well, it's wearing and wearying. And that's certainly possible, although I have no valid personal comparisons for reference. It may simply be a case of all those minor errors and imperfections I noted in earlier chapters accumulating and developing enough gravitational mass to throw the plot off. Which is possible, as leaving trouble spots alone and pressing on isn't my normal mode of operation. I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to deal with the problem.

I don't want to step away from Wetsilver, because I'm more than a week behind my self-imposed schedule already. But I don't want to keep throwing good effort after bad, especially if it adds to my growing frustration. I may put it aside for a week or two, let it lay fallow so I can develop a clearer perspective on what's going wrong. I do, after all, have plenty of other projects that could fill the time--that Peter Beagle interview, a radio script I'm supposed to be writing with Mark Finn, a near-future short I've been discussing with Chris Nakashima-Brown, and two other short stories that would be offshoots of "Being an Account of the Final Voyage of La Riaza: A Circumstance in Eight Parts," which I recently sold to Interzone. And then there's that other rewrite I owe Helix. So, lots of stuff I need to do, and a Turkey City workshop coming up on the horizon.

I expect I'll at least tackle the Beagle interview, since although it's time-consuming, it is relatively stress-free. And there's a paycheck waiting for me on the other end of it. After that, I've no idea. But happily, I've fallen into a good rhythm of nightly work, so I will be productive. Just maybe not on Wetsilver.

Now Playing: Buffalo Springfield Retrospective

Thursday, July 13, 2006


I sat down last night resigned to scratching out maybe a page worth of story, so imagine my surprise when I got rolling and ended up with 900 words--just short of my increasingly rarely-met nightly goal of 1,000. I stayed up somewhat later than usual in doing so, but I'm not hurting as badly this morning as I expected. And guess what? Jachym's finally in Rokanyky!
Ctibor turned them onto an avenue so wide it had a medium lined with winter-bare trees running down the middle. A band of two clarinets, a violin and bagpipes performed a whirling, bouncing tune on the edge of a park filled with naked trees and still-green bushes. A handful of people had gathered to watch, and passers by tossed coins into the upturned hat on the grass.

Jachym turned around to watch them as they passed. He'd never seen a band like that before. But then again, he'd seen more people in the past hour than he had in the entirety of his life up to that point.

"Nevermind that lot. They're just scroungers. Lucky they even know which end to blow into. Where you're going, you'll be seeing real musicians soon enough," Ctibor said. "Turn around now, I want you to see this. You being desert-bred, this ought to be quite a sight for you."

The coach crossed onto a bridge as wide as the avenue. Trees continued to grow in the medium. Flanking the bridge on either side was a low, arched wall of gold-veined ivory marble. Upon this wall, evenly spaced, were elaborate sculptures of dozens upon dozens of women, each one double life size.

"This is the Nádherny Bridge, the largest in Rokanyky--and Rokanyky's got plenty of bridges to choose from," Ctibor said. "We're passing over the Trpytit se Jezero. Glitters like that year 'round, as long as the clouds hold back. The falls over the dam at the far end that are pretty impressive, too. You can get a good view of them from the barge docks."

"What--who--are the statues?" Jachym asked. One woman stood proudly, holding a staff tipped with a znak above her head. Another, leaning on a crutch and missing her right leg, reached out to children gathered about her.

"Those, young Jáhen, are the likenesses of every Mysl that ever was. There's 154 of them, if you care to count," Ctibor said. "The opposite side has statues of the Krev. There's 162 of those."

I also managed to work on that short story rewrite for a good bit last night as well, before I picked up Wetsilver. The rewrite's is something of a challenge, because the climactic scene must be dramatically rethought. I'm having to make some tough decisions with it, so my fingers are crossed that they'll be the correct ones.
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
32,000 / 90,000

Now Playing: Sheena Easton No Strings

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

YouTube is an evil, evil thing

I've been amused by the various blog posts I've seen hither and yon with embedded YouTube videos, but I've never delved too deeply into that site's nether regions. Until now. Dear lord, I've discovered my very own version of Kryptonite! I have no defenses against this insidious amalgam of pop culture.

So I share with you people. It's the only way I can ease this burning desire to relive the 80s without wearing a narrow tie and parachute pants. It may not be as stunning as Bill Crider's "The Hoff" link, but I'm sure you'll agree the late, great Austrian awesomeness that was Falco was in a league all his own.

And yes, there will be more YouTube postings in the future. You can count on it.
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Only around 250 words went down on the page last night, and damned if I know why. This is one instance where I clearly saw what came next in the narrative, and even had fully formed snippets of dialogue forming amidst all that gray matter filling my head, but... The closest I can come to describing it is that the words didn't come out in the right order. Weird, I know. One character would say something. But he hadn't been established in the scene yet. So I had to work backwards and establish him. But then he was addressing something that hadn't been established yet, either. But addressing that issue disrupted the opening of the scene. I'm not allowing myself to be a perfectionist with this first draft, but the prose has to at least be coherent enough for me to understand when I come back through later to fix it. I'll tell you, last night was downright maddening. Hopefully tonight will be an improvement.

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31,050 / 90,000

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I suppose I ought to post my writing progress from last night, lest you folks think I'm slacking. Only about 500 words, but that's not bad considering I didn't get to sit down and work until 11 p.m. or so.
"They killed them all?"

Vondra nodded solemnly. "All of them in the Great Církev. Between Vladislav's betrayal of the true Strelecs, and the confrontation with Mysl Agáta... a single day was all it took to end the line of Strelecs, unbroken since the time of Gert. Eighty-three men died, both true and apostate. Maybe half that number were away in other cities, plotting other blasphemy. The Warrant of Apostasy fell on these, too. When Tvůrce withdrew his Blood Gift, they fled civilized lands. Few were ever seen again."

Jachym thought for a moment. "Were you... were you in the Great Církev with the Mysl?"

Vondra laughed loudly. "I look that old to you? Oh, Jachym, my vanity'll never be a problem with you around!"

Jachym reddened, ducking his head.

Vondra touched his hand gently. "Jachym, no. You didn't offend. I love your innocent honesty."

He tensed at her words.

"No, I wasn't there. The Schism happened ten years before my time. There are a handful of Tsukrs and Knězka who witnessed those days, but they're very few these days. And the Knez are fewer still. They are old men, Jachym, most older than your Knez Borivoj, and when they die there will be no more."

I'm worried that most of this chapter will ultimately end up in the Big Info Dump In The Sky. There's lots of explanation on parade, but more cryptic questions will manifest shortly. Ah well, that's what first drafts are for, right?

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30,800 / 90,000

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Farewell to the Effervescing Elephant

The mysterious, reclusive, legendary, drug-addled founder of Pink Floyd is no more. Syd Barrett has died:
Syd Barrett, who founded Pink Floyd but later lived as a recluse, has died at the age of 60, according to a spokeswoman for the band.

A spokeswoman for Pink Floyd told the Press Association: "He died very peacefully a couple of days ago. There will be a private family funeral."

The singer and guitarist, born Roger Keith Barrett, wrote many of the early hits for the avant-garde rock band, including the 1967 album "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" and the band's first hit singles, "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play."

I've read a number of books on Pink Floyd, one of the best being Nicholas Schaffner's Saucerful of Secrets. Barrett comes across as one of those fragile geniuses, sort of a mod version of Brian Wilson. As his drug use increased, he became more and more unstable, and his bandmates--Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright--took to treating him like shit. Understandable to an extent, but it's still somewhat shocking. It's some measure of redemption that over the past decade or so Gilmour championed Barrett's work somewhat, and was to a great degree responsible for the reissue of all of Barrett's solo work in the nice Crazy Diamond boxed set. Barrett's solo work never quite compares to his early stuff with Pink Floyd, but it's definitely interesting and you have to wonder what he could've accomplished had he not abused himself so. Directly or indirectly, he was responsible for giving the world a lot of great, enduring music, and I will always respect him for that.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

SF authors... is there nothing they can't do?

Jerry Oltion, the science fiction author who already has my undying respect for writing the marvellous Abandon In Place has gone and upped my esteem of him another notch or six. Being a one-time amateur astronomer myself, I just about lost it when reading this article from the Eugene Register Guard:
It's amazing what some guys can do with a rubber ball and a bucket.

Toss in some plastic pipe, a Bic pen shell and assorted hardware, and you have a new way to build a telescope that literally makes stargazing a lot less of a pain in the neck. Thanks to Eugene resident Jerry Oltion's trackball telescope, there's no more bending over an eyepiece at odd angles trying to get a glimpse of Betelgeuse or the Seven Sisters.

"I do almost all of my observing sitting down," Oltion says, perched on a simple folding camp stool. "That's the beauty of it."

And do you wanna know what's really nifty about it, other than Oltion just thought it up and built it his ownself? He's published instructions on his website on how anyone can build one of their very own. You see, he thought it up and built the prototype, but chose to release it into the public domain rather than patent it. Ain't that a nice gesture from an all-around spiffy fellow?

The only drawback is that this makes me feel utterly ineffective for not getting those few screws and brackets I need in order to bring my little 6" reflector back into working order...

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Zero words written on Wetsilver, but that's not indicative of a wasted night. I did get a pressing book review finished for Also handled some other writing-related tasks that needed handling, as well as exchanging email with an editor who has some significant rewrite requests for a particular story of mine. So the long and short of it is that I had a productive night, but Wetsilver languished.

Oh, yeah. Then Calista started throwing up in the middle of the night, so I didn't get much sleep. The joys of fatherhood.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Giddy with good news!

Am I on a roll, or what? First, I sell "Prince Koindrindra Escapes" to the Cross Plains Universe anthology, and now I get word from across the pond that the good folks at Interzone have accepted "Being an Account of the Final Voyage of La Riaza: A Circumstance in Eight Parts" for publication. Payment will be determined on a words per title/words per story ratio.

Jazzed isn't even close to what I'm feeling right now--breaking into this new incarnation of Interzone, the magazine that gave me my professional start has been a mission of mine for a good long while. Seriously, this was the most enthusiastic acceptance I've ever garnered.

Those people out there who've read "Prince Koindrindra Escapes" and noted my zeppelin fixation, well, be advised that La Riaza is all zeppelins, all the time.

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Despite unexpected company and an enormous load of distractions, I had a productive night of writing and have finally passed the one-third milestone. I actually made up a tiny bit of my wordage deficit, although I'm still 4,700 words short of where I need to be. After a disturbingly slow start, I fell into a pretty good rhythm, and could've kept going for a while longer if I hadn't started nodding off. It was at that point I looked at the clock and realized it was 2 in the A.M. Suffice to say, I'm a wee bit punchy this morning.
After dinner, Jachym lay in his bed, wrapped in a warm quilt. Gauthier snored loudly across the room. Jachym stared at the ceiling, unable to sleep despite a full mug of beer and two bowls of barley soup. Sighing, he kicked off his covers and put on his bondsash.

"What're you doing?" mumbled Radek from the bed next to him.

"Gotta piss," said Jachym, slipping out the door.

He did have to piss, he realized as he walked down the hall. But he didn't want to go back and use the chamber pot where Radek and Gauthier could see. And it was too cold to go all the way out to the outbuilding. By way of compromise, Jachym opened the back door of the Kostel and pissed off the rear step. Looking at the muddy puddle he'd made, he made a mental note to watch his step in the morning.

I've mentioned before how this book keeps throwing surprises at me, and last night was no exception. I finished chapter 9 fully expecting chapter 10 to open with Jachym and the rest of Tsukr Vondra's party rolling into the great city of Rokanyky. Nope. Turns out they're stopping at some of the towns along the way for much-needed rest and good food leavened with infodump. Imagine that. And Tsukr Vondra is about hear some news of what's been going on in Rokanyky while she's been gone that she finds quite troubling.

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30,300 / 90,000

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