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|Tuesday, December 10th, 2013|
|The Chronic Rift Network update
I'm horribly behind on updating stuff on The Chronic Rift Network
, so without further ado, here is one big-ass update. It's likely that I missed some stuff, since I haven't updated since the end of September, but these are the high points, more or less (and certainly all the most recent stuff).The Chronic Rift
In Review: Mojo Rising. John S. Drew, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Krissy Meyers, and Michael Falkner host an in-review episode that includes Natalia Lincoln's review of Interrupt by Jeff Carlson, Dan Persons's review of Riddick, and Keith's review of the final season of Burn Notice. Plus Bringing It to the Table and Pop Tops and the usual digressions...Sci-Fi Diner
Classic: British SF TV. From 1993: Andrea K. Lipinski and Keith host a Roundtable on genre stuff from across the pond that includes Prydonians of Prynceton's Gary Blog, Cathy Boudreau, and Sharane McCurry. In addition, Keith examines the Peter David-Todd McFarlane debate moderated by George Perez and Orenthal V. Hawkins reviews Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and seaQuest DSV.
In Review: Can Neil deGrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku Dance? John, Keith, Michael, and Dan host an in-review episode that includes Natalia Lincoln's review of The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron, Dan's review of Gravity, John reviewing The Christmas Stocking podcast, and Keith's review of the new fall TV season. Plus Bringing it to the Table and Pop Tops.
Spotlight: Doctor Who's William Hartnell. The first of twelve monthly spotlight episodes that will highlight each of the twelve people who have played the Doctor, starting with John joined by G2V's Scott Alan Woodard and Arnold T. Blumberg to look at the very first Doctor ("the original, you might say"), William Hartnell.
Roundtable: "1983 Geek-a-Mania in TV & Movies." From Dragon Con 2013, Keith is joined by fellow podcasters Jessa Phillips (Good to Be a Geek), Van Allen Plexico (The White Rocket Podcast), Michael Gordon (New Legend Productions), and Kevin Eldridge (The Flopcast) to look back 30 years to genre stuff on screen in 1983.
-- below is just a sample of recent episodes; check the podcast web site for more
Conversations 91: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Big Bang Theory, Sleepy Hollow, and More. Scott Hertzog, M. Sieiro Garcia, and Raul Ybarra discuss listener feedback on a whole lotta stuff.Cyborgs: A Bionic Podcast
Episode 186: Interview with Vic Mignona. Scott, M., and Miles McLoughlin interview the voice and live-action actor who has appeared in (among others) Star Trek Continues, Full Metal Alchemist, and Dragon Ball Z.
Conversations 92: Gravity Dominates; Walking Dead's Sharknado, Arrow's Starling and Canary. Scott, Miles, and M. discuss listener feedback on a huge variety of topics.
Episode 190: Holiday Special. Star Trek author Dayton Ward and Think Geek's John Fraizer join Scott, Miles, and M. for an episode of holiday fun, including a list of what they want for presents.
)The Batcave Podcast
-- the Parsec Award-winning full-cast audio drama is now part of the Rift
)The Cardboard Jungle
)The Weekly Podioplex
October 1, 2013. Michael Falkner wonders if Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 will be able to retain its top spot at the box office, and other stuff.Cinefantastique Online
October 8, 2013. Michael brings the bionic, as The Six Million Dollar Man's fourth season comes out on DVD, plus box office hits and more.
October 15, 2013. Michael talks about the DVD releases of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, and much more.
October 22, 2013. Michael looks at Gravity's continued reign at the top of the box office, and more besides.
December 3, 2013. Michael looks at The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and other new releases.
Spotlight: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, We Are What We Are, and The Boys Love Mandy Lane. Dan Persons looks at Cloudy 2, then is joined by Lawrence French to discuss the cannibal remake We Are What We Are, while Steve Biodrowski looks at the long-delayed slasher film Mandy Lane.Mighty Movie Podcast
Spotlight: Gravity. Lawrence, Steve, and Dan deem Gravity to be a true masterpiece of science fiction.
Spotlight: Carrie, Escape from Tomorrow, and Cassadaga. Lawrence, Steve, and Dan look at the 2013 remake of the horror classic Carrie, plus Dan reviews Escape from Tomorrow and Cassadaga, plus listener comments on Gravity.
Interview: Eagleheart's Jason Woliner & Andrew Weinberg. Dan interviews the director and co-creator of the Adult Swim cop-show staire starring Chris Elliott, Eagleheart: Paradise Rising.
Spotlight: Frozen. Steve and Dan take a look at Disney's latest animated princess movie, and where it stands in Disney long line of same.
Temple of Bad: Can't Stop the Music. Dan Persons, Andrea K. Lipinski, Kevin Lauderdale, & Orenthal V. Hawkins look at arguably the worst of the fin de 70s musicals, this "secret origin" of the Village People that sets a new low for jaw-droppingly awful.The G2V Podcast
David V. Picker on Musts, Maybes, and Nevers: A Book About the Movies. Dan interviews Picker, who has been the president of United Artists, Paramount, and Columbia Pictures.
Temple of Bad: Blackenstein. Dan, Andrea, Kevin, & Orenthal look at Frank R. Saletri's attempt to cash in on the blaxploitation and the horror craze, to limited success.
Shaul Schwarz on Narco Cultura. Dan interviews Shaul Schwarz about his new documentary about the cult of personality that has grown up around the Mexican drug cartels.
-- this is just a sample of recent episodes; check the podcast web site for more
Episode 15: Geeky about Gravity. Scott Pearson and his daughter discuss the movie Gravity along with astronaut Thomas D. Jones, plus an afterword on Doctor Who's 50th anniversary.It Has Come to My Attention
The War of the Worlds. Kevin Lauderdale looks back at Orson Welles's famous 1938 radio drama adaptation of H.G. Wells's classic novel.Dead Kitchen Radio
Episode 35: Doctor Who. In honor of Doctor Who's 50th anniversary, Keith R.A. DeCandido reads his 1996 Who short story "UNITed We Fall."This and That with Him and Her
"Thanksgiving Menu." Clay & Debby are back to talk about Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and other holiday stuff.Presenting the Transcription Feature
"Wurstfest." Clay & Debby discuss Wurstfest, a ten-day celebration of sausages in Texas.
CBS Mystery Theatre. John S. Drew hosts old-time radio, as all four October episodes (all at this link) highlight CBS Mystery Theatre, plus continuing new episodes of The Adventures of Superman and The Avengers.
You can subscribe to the network at iTunes, or get the episodes from the Rift web site
To comment, you can e-mail john at chronicrift dot com, you can post on the Rift forums
, you can post on the Rift Facebook page
, or you can call us at 888-866-9010.
|Istas doubts your commitment to Sparkle Motion.
I am delighted to announce that Hex in the City
, an original anthology of urban fantasy from Fiction River, is available now from a retailer near you. (I had to do a search on Amazon for the title in quotes, but it came up with both Kindle and physical editions; I'm sure that other eBook retailers will have it as well.) This collection of all-new fiction includes a first for me: an Istas story.
"Red as Snow" is the story of what happens when Ryan gets introduced to Istas's family, whether he likes it or not. It's the first InCryptid story not to feature either the Price family or Rose Marshall, and I am very well-pleased with it.You can see Tara's awesome cover for the story here
This will also, as always, serve as your discussion post. Current Mood: sick
|[travel|cancer] My misadventures getting home yesterday to see the doctor today
There's no real way to make a coherent blog post out of this, so you'll have to settle for a bit of narrative.
Getting home from Omaha yesterday was an epic effort, but I made it. My luggage did not. My irreplaceable Mongolian camel fur hat apparently did not, though there's some hope I absent mindedly packed it into my luggage (which I never do on purpose).
I had five different flight itineraries yesterday. That is to say, at different points in the process, I was booked on five different flights out of Omaha before I finally managed to leave. American cancelled my original route through DFW on Sunday, the day before I was to fly, due to extreme weather in DFW more or less crashing their operations. I was rescheduled to a Monday flight through ORD.
When I got to the airport in Omaha early, they rescheduled me again at the check-in desk to an earlier flight through ORD, to help me make my connection to PDX. That flight began posting later and later, until was both later than the flight that came after it which I had been previously scheduled on, and late enough to make me miss my connection at ORD. It was also clear the later flight was going to be postponed.
I went to the American Airlines
counter agent and said, "Look, I'm a terminal cancer patient. I have two oncology appointments tomorrow. I have
to get home tonight. Can you reschedule me through Denver on another airline, since both Dallas and Chicago are such a mess?"
They're not really supposed to do that when they still have available seats in their own system, but he poked around and was very helpful, placing me on a set of Frontier Airlines
flights that went OMA-DEN, then DEN-PDX. Since I'd already checked in, he called down to the American baggage room and had my bag transferred to Frontier.
The earlier Frontier flight was full, so I wasn't leaving til that evening. Then Lisa Costello
texted me that the evening flight had posted a two-hour delay, which would again make me miss my PDX connection, stranding me in DEN. I went up to the Frontier gate agent and told him the same thing I'd told the American agent. He put me on stand-by, then got me on the plane in their 'stretch seating', which is what Frontier has instead of First Class. I'm pretty sure they're not really supposed to do that, either, especially since I wasn't even a Frontier customer in the first place.
I finally got on a plane leaving Omaha, my fifth scheduled flight out. I have no idea what happened to my bag at that point. My connection in Denver going to Portland was almost two hours late, but I got out of Denver and home last night. Frontier has no idea where my bag is, because I do not have a Frontier Airlines bag check tag, due to the interairline transfer back in Omaha, and they can't trace it through the American Airlines bag check tag. We're hoping it came in overnight from Omaha via Denver, but given the other delays, it may still be languishing in Omaha or in Denver. As me getting home was the critical issue, I am not grumpy about this. I would like to see my bag again sooner or later.
At any rate, on a day when well over a 1,000 flights were cancelled, thanks to the flexibility of two gate agents, one for American Airlines and one for Frontier Airlines, I got home. My first oncology appointment is at 8 am this morning, my second is this afternoon. I will make them.
So my thanks to both airlines.
Now I'm off this morning for some bloodwork preparatory to tomorrow's monthly consultation with my medical oncologist. This afternoon I have a screening and intake appointment for one of the clinical trials I am trying to engage with. Overnight has brought the Portland area radically unseasonal snow and ice, which will make getting around today a lot more exciting than it should be.
But I'm here, and I can make it in to my appointments. Thank you American, and thank you Frontier.
|Why I Don’t Talk About Important Topics More Often
So I had a post burbling today on George Zimmerman’s girlfriend – who, after she called 911 to say that George Zimmerman had stuck a gun in her face, recanted and dropped the charges. And I was writing a post about abusers, and how people are manipulated by abusers, and how the stress of breaking free of an abusive relationship and having everyone knowing what a mess you’re in often makes people want to drop everything and revert back to those simpler days when they didn’t have to self-identify to all their loved ones as “an abused person.”
But that’s a high-wire post, there. Slip a bit to one side and you’re making it seem like Zimmerman’s somehow justified. Slip a little to the other side and you’re implying that the abuse is all the victim’s fault, and a little more gumption would have gotten them out of any bad situation.
Slip a little to yet another side and people are going to miss this very fine distinction that while I understand all the good reasons someone has not to report an abuser, and that I would never blame you if you didn’t want to go through this frustrating and oft-unfruitful bureaucratic PR nightmare, it’s still better if enough people can fight past the system to put assholes like this away. And they’ll accuse me of victim-blaming, when what I’m trying to do is generate sympathy for the terrible plight a victim is in.
And no matter what I did, the comments would be filled with hateful stuff from people who make snap-judgments, saying things like, “Well, why the hell was she dating Zimmerman in the first place? What a dumb bitch!” Which would hurt my heart, because my first instinct is to always go, “There but for the grace of God go I.” And others would debate all the facts of the Zimmerman abuse case, which would require me to come rapidly up to speed on how all this works so I could be sure I was correct.
And everyone would make everything seem simple: When you’re abused, here’s what you do, and if you don’t do it, you’re stupid! When you’re dealing with the cops, here’s what you do, there’s only one right way! And I’d be fighting both sides in an attempt to argue, once again, that the world is full of moral complexities, and goddammit your need to convert a million shades of gray into black and white is not helping.
Between all the flame wars I would need to quash and the danger that someone would misinterpret me, I think of all the effort this blog post would take me. And I’ve got a big project at work to do, and not enough time to manage comments, and so I put this post on the backburner and see if one day I feel it’s worth the energy it would take to shape and manage it properly.
This happens about three times a week.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/359548.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
|Clarkesworld: Year Five anthology ebooks released
Wyrm Publishing has released CLARKESWORLD: YEAR FIVE in ePub and MOBI/Kindle editions. Trade paperback is coming later this month.
Since 2006, Clarkesworld Magazine
has been entertaining science fiction and fantasy fans with their brand of unique science fiction and fantasy stories. Collected here are all of the original stories this Hugo Award-winning magazine published during their fifth year. Included in this volume are twenty-four stories by visionary writers of short fiction, including Ken Liu, Nnedi Okorafor, Robert Reed, N.K. Jemisin, Yoon Ha Lee, E. Lily Yu, and more!
Introduction by Neil Clarke
Ghostweight by Yoon Ha Lee
Perfect Lies by Gwendolyn Clare
Tying Knots by Ken Liu
Seeing by Genevieve Valentine
Salvaging Gods by Jacques Barcia
Laying the Ghost by Eric Brown
The Children of Main Street by A. C. Wise
Diving After the Moon by Rachel Swirsky
Three Oranges by D. Elizabeth Wasden
Matchmaker by Erin M. Hartshorn
Trickster by Mari Ness
The Book of Phoenix (Excerpted from The Great Book) by Nnedi Okorafor
The Architect of Heaven by Jason K. Chapman
Frozen Voice by An Owomoyela
Trois morceaux en forme de mechanika by Gord Sellar
Pack by Robert Reed
Semiramis by Genevieve Valentine
Whose Face This Is I Do Not Know by Cat Rambo
The Taxidermist's Other Wife by Kelly Barnhill
On the Banks of the River Lex by N. K. Jemisin
Signals in the Deep by Greg Mellor
The Fish of Lijiang by Chen Qiufan, translated by Ken Liu
Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee
The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu
Clarkesworld Citizens - Official Census
Trade Paperback Coming Soon
EBook Edition Now Available at:
|Mark of the Phoenix (1958)
I've just been putting up a new entry on my Noirish site for this UK borderline noir. The good news is that it's an adaptation of a novel by the tremendous thriller writer Desmond Cory and stars people like Julia Arnall, Anton Diffring and Eric Pohlmann, with Roger Delgado (of Dr Who's The Master fame) in a minor role; the bad news is that it was made by Poverty Row studio Butcher's. Even so, the movie's quite fun in its creaky cheapo way. I can't help feeling, though, what a colossal shame it was that, while novels by his contemporaries like Alistair MacLean and Hammond Innes were getting A-list blockbuster movie adaptations, Cory was being given the C-movie treatment.
A couple of pix, the inimitable Anton Diffring featuring in the upper one:
1) Dumbledore: “I’d like to welcome our new Defense Against The Dark Arts, teacher, Mary Poppins.” It seems so perfect, doesn’t it? You’d have to file the serial numbers off (or not).
2) “My name is Perry the Platypus, and I used to be a spy.”
3) “My name is Boris Badenov, and I used to be a spy.”
4) In a fantasy city where spells are cast through ritualistic group dance, magic schools vie for power by brawling in the streets. The two most bitter rivals are the Most Holy University of the Shark and the Jet School of the Sacred and Profane, but when a student from each meet on neutral ground and fall in love…
5) Lazarus The Immortal: Raised from the dead two thousand years ago, Lazarus discovers that he can’t die. Fighting crime? Fighting injustice? Fighting wars? He’s done all that. What’s next for a man spurned by death?
6) Here’s your million dollar movie idea: RO-BRO.
7) A rom com with a post-apocalyptic setting (although it might be easier to leave out the “com” part). Actually, I’m sure there’s a whole (minor) subgenre of romance novels for this, sort of LAST OF THE MOHICANS (DD Lewis movie version) in a MAD MAX-style setting.
8 ) A pseudo-Cary Elwes actor announces plans to publish a memoir of the production of a faux-THE PRINCESS BRIDE-type movie, then suddenly goes missing with the manuscript. Murder? Publicity stunt? Something else?
Mirrored from Twenty Palaces. You can comment here but not there.
|[writing|help] The Clayton Memorial Medical Fund is doing a fundraiser
So, the Clayton Memorial Medical Fund
has been a big presence in my life these past few years, helping me financially at times of great need. (I did not need them this year, as it happens, thanks to all your generosity with the Sequence a Science Fiction Writer
fundraiser back at the beginning of the year.) Their reserve funds are running low, and they have asked me to try to boost the signal on a much-needed year-end fundraiser.
Here’s what my friends at the Clayton fund have to say about themselves:
The Clayton Memorial Medical Fund helps professional science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery writers living in the Pacific Northwest deal with the financial burden of medical emergencies. Even with insurance, co-pays can quickly add up to thousands of dollars, and over the past few years, we have faced a heavy draw on our money. The Fund is now down to a few thousand dollars.
The Clayton Fund was founded seventeen years ago by Oregon Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. (OSFCI) in response to the illness of Portland writer Jo Clayton. Our initial money came from a national campaign by writers and fans of science fiction and fantasy to help Jo and other writers. The Fund has since assisted many writers in the region deal with medical and dental emergencies.
As part of OSFCI, the Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations to the fund are tax deductible and often qualify for matching donations from employers.
Donations can be made using PayPal through the Fund's Web site (http://www.osfci.org/clayton) or mailed to:
Clayton Memorial Medical Fund
P.O. Box 5703
Portland, Oregon 97228
Please be sure to include full contact information so we can mail you a letter acknowledging your donation.
I’ll be donating from my surplusage from this year’s fund raising for my benefit. If you’ve got a few extra bucks this season looking for a tax deduction, why not join me? It’s an excellent cause helping writers who often have run out of financial lifelines. It's an organization that has been of great help to me personally. That's two fantastic reasons right there.
|[links] Link salad heads back to the doctor from the comfort of home
Walmart Called – Your Christmas Photos Are ready
— My eyes!!! Not exactly work-safe.Mars lake 'much like early Earth'
— The ancient lake environment found in Mars' Gale Crater could have supported microbes called chemolithoautotrophs - if they had been present.
Remember when the question of whether there had ever been open water on Mars was highly debatable? I love science.“Its (sic) not bigorty (sic), its (sic) biology”
— Ah, conservatives. Incompetent as well as bigoted.Oregon Campaign For Gay Marriage Hits Signature Goal
— Another breath of sanity against the winds of conservative religious bigotry.The NSA Has Been Spying On World Of Warcraft
— Wow, do I feel safer. And this without Moat GunZ!!!™ even.South Carolina Sheriff Deletes Facebook Post About Refusing To Lower Flags For Mandela
— Huh. Wonder why he backed down. It’s not like Republican officials in the American south ever pay any kind of penalty for their racism. The opposite, really.There’s Now A Coloring Book To Teach Your Children To Love Ted Cruz
— Wow. Just wow. I guess stunting their children’s (and everyone else’s children’s) minds with evolution denial and a refusal to teach critical thinking isn’t good enough for conservatives. Now this cult of personality shit?Washington Doomsday Prophecy
— Hahahah.Republican to-do list
— Hahahah. Yeah. No soul-searching for Virginia GOP after losses
— Mullins mocked post-election analysis that said Cuccinelli was too conservative for a changing state. “This is false narrative by false prophets,” he said.
Because, uh, yeah. You know what? Keep it up, GOP. Your Angry White Men are dying out, and pretty much everyone who isn’t an older white man or a member of some deeply politicized church is soooo done with you. All the better for the entire country, your party members included, if you hurtle into irrelevancy guns ablazing.The Punishment Cure
— Now, the G.O.P.’s desire to punish the unemployed doesn’t arise solely from bad economics; it’s part of a general pattern of afflicting the afflicted while comforting the comfortable (no to food stamps, yes to farm subsidies).
That’s actually an excellent précis of most of the Republican party platform. Which arises logically enough from their Angry White Men strategy, itself an impassioned, no-compromise defense of established privilege (or at least perception of established privilege), proudly and self-consciously at the expense of the rights and opportunities of others. (Not to mention more subtly at the expense of their own rights and opportunities.)
?otD: Got oncology?
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 7.5 hours (solid)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Number of FEMA troops on my block forging presidential birth certificates: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)
|nobly born protagonists...
Someone asked me how I would feel if the review in question
had been rephrased as "...(the names of the female and male protagonists tend to start with K and sound vaguely Slavic)..." Would it be better or still weird? Still weird, I think. On the other hand, doing that would at least give passing mention to the women in the book.
But then I got to thinking, could I write a similar one for Pride and Prejudice without mentioning Elizabeth Bennet? I bet I could!"...nobly born protagonists (the males' names tend to include the syllable 'Fitz' and sound vaguely English) plus a few others..."
Or what about A Civil Campaign?"...nobly born protagonists (the males' names tend to start with the prefix 'Vor' and sound vaguely Slavic) plus a few others..."
Or Les Misérables?"...nobly born protagonists (the males' names tend to start with the letter 'J' and sound vaguely French) plus a few others..."
I better stop here, but if you are inspired to write your own guys-only summaries, please feel free to add them in the comments.
I've mentioned a few times (and do not expect anyone to remember, which is why I'm mentioning it again) that I've got this fun novel idea called "Commando Bats"--basically what happens when a bunch of old women get powers.
The idea has been simmering away waiting for an excuse to start it, but with everything else going on, kept receding like a mirage, until I got an invitation to submit something to a proposed anthology called Athena's Daughters
I really liked this interesting bunch of women and their publishing group, Silence in the Library. (One of them is a jet pilot in the military, how cool is that?) I liked the project, and since mine met the requirements--strong women, magic . . . I wrote the beginning of the novel as a short story. (Well, short for me, at 8k words). The story doesn't get much into Hera, who I always thought one of the most interesting of the mythological figures, conflicted as the stories are about her, but my key bats are definitely in it, getting a start to their new careers as superheroes.
If you've hit the link, you'll see that it's a fundraiser, so that we and the artists will get paid. As fundraisers go, it's pretty modest. I hope anyone interested with a few bucks to throw into the kitty will check it out, and be sure to watch the vid, shot in Washington D.C.
At least three or four times a year I stumble upon someone on Facebook or Live Journal or wherever talking about what at great "romance" Romeo and Juliet is.
It fills me with hulk rage. It is the fucking definition of "tragedy" in that death and sadness occur in a climactic ending because of the fatal flaws of the main protagonists.
Beyond that, it makes me wonder if people know what the traditional definition of a "romance" is. It's a story that has a series of small climaxes throughout the story rather than one big climax at the end. Romeo and Juliet is all about the big climax in the final act. The structure could not possibly have less to do with the structure of traditional romantic literature.
Finally, if someone made a movie today that was mostly about statutory rape, forced marriage, suicide and murder - how many people would find that romantic?
The stupid is strong in some people.
P.S.. "Wherefore art though" means "why", not "where."
|food and cooking
wild_irises wrote about
food and cooking. Basically she said she likes cooking more than eating, because it's more involving and takes longer. (That's oversimplified. Read it.)
That runs interestingly orthogonally to my preferences. I rather enjoy cooking, but for me the primary pleasure in it, and the whole point of the process, is that at the end there will be something to eat. This varies. Sometimes cooking is just a chore to get through to provide food. At the other end, I sometimes enjoy cooking things that I'm not interested in eating. I discovered this particular pleasure at summer camp in childhood, when I found that I did not like campfire-roasted marshmallows, but I did enjoy the challenge of toasting one perfectly brown and letting someone else eat it.
I realized my goal-oriented feeling towards food also in childhood, when I was taken fishing. To a true fisherman (or -woman, I suppose), the point of fishing is to spend the day fishing. Making a meal out of the result is lagniappe. I don't feel that way. If I want to expend vast lengths of time doing something enjoyable, I'll read or listen to music, or both. To me, fishing may be fun, but the entire point of doing it is to catch fish, take them home, clean, cook, and eat them. (I once went clam-digging with friends. That was loads of fun, though the clams didn't think so, but it was also more labor-intensive for the amount of food than anything else in the food-prep department I've ever done. Not surprisingly, I've never repeated it. It would be a lot less fun done regularly.)
I'm similar with other things. Writing is sometimes difficult: the pleasure is in having written. I enjoy driving, exploring places I haven't been, or haven't been in a long time, but I never just go out on a drive without a destination. (Cruising utterly baffles me. Who wants to be in a back-and-forth traffic jam for hours on end? That strikes me as the complete opposite of fun.) If I want to go somewhere without a particular reason, I make up a destination, usually a restaurant I want to try.
I'm not a particularly talented cook. Basic competence in the kitchen is my speed; good slugger on a sandlot team but no more than that. Most of my dinners are stir-frys, sautés, or casseroles. Only occasionally, for a special occasion, do I make elaborate from-scratch dishes. Typical of that for me is the quiche I submitted to the Tiptree supper book, and that's not that elaborate. (I don't
make my own pie crust.) Mostly I take recipes from packages and run variations on them. I do like the tinkering. I prefer cooking to baking, because baking demands rigid precision in ingredients and isn't much amenable to improvisation.
Unless I'm taking a dish to a potluck, in which case it has to be something that will keep and carry, which doesn't always work well, B. is usually my only audience. We're not social animals and almost never have anyone over; for us, home is a refuge from the world, not a place to invite it in. I know what B. likes and I enjoy pleasing her; nothing pleased me more than discovering she shares my taste for vastly overcooked vegetables.
|This and That
Busy couple of days around here! We had inn guests over the weekend, a very nice couple who didn’t complain about the cold weather at all. Also we both got a lot of work done; I finished a huge freelance job (got it out the door today), and have picked up a new client, which is awesome.
And, a long-lost friend from Days of Yore sent me a VERY nice email yesterday, to which I responded at length today–hopefully not TOO much length.
It feels very good to reconnect with her.
Mark and I also spent some time working on the Preliminary Wedding Guest List Including Everyone We Know Or Have Ever Known Ever. Yes, this will have to be whittled down…it’s far too many hundreds of people. But! I believe we have a wedding venue, and therefore a date. We’re awaiting final confirmation, but it’s looking good.
The next step will be to firm up the wedding party itself. We’ve got some interesting and unusual choices there, I think.
Weather-wise, it’s supposed to warm up enough to snow tomorrow. That should be exciting!
Oh, and for a while yesterday and today, we appeared to be playing Clumsy One-Upsmanship. He turned on the heater only partway (i.e. blowing cold air for hours); I dumped soup all over the floor (and my foot and my pants); he unplugged the bottom of a salt shaker and spilled salt everywhere; I broke a wine glass…I was scared to let him go out and chop wood for the fireplace, but I’m happy to report that the run of mishaps appears to have stopped with the wine glass.
In any event, it’s time for bed. We should be safe there, right?
Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there. Current Mood: busy
|Monday, December 9th, 2013|
“When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and you're life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That's a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can mold it, you can influence it. That is maybe the most important thing. Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again.” - Steve Jobs
|concert review: Symphony Silicon Valley
I spent most of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto, when I wasn't wondering why the soloist seemed to have such little feel for the music, trying to think of how I was going to describe her distinctive violin tone. Eventually the word "banshee" came to mind. Review.
|Tuesday, December 10th, 2013|
|On Bad Reviews
Originally published at Ben Peek. You can comment here or there.
The other day I read this article on Gawker about bad reviews, and smarm. It was inspired, to a degree, by a notice in the new books section on Buzzfeed saying they would not publish bad reviews.
I thought it was interesting, but sadly, nothing terribly new. For as long as I can remember, people have been caught in a debate about if its right to be negative or not. Some people believe that if you can’t say something nice, you shouldn’t say it. Despite the reference to Bambi that is tossed around – let me assure you that referencing Bambi doesn’t give you any authority in this matter – there is some merit to the thought. If you know the authors involved, you won’t upset them. If you are part of the industry, you won’t burn any bridges. And, sometimes, yes, sometimes, careers can be halted by a particularly bad review, or opinion that forms online (and off) about the work. Nice people get burned in real world ways when that happens. Still, others think otherwise. For some people, reviews ought to kick out, take no prisoners, be both good and bad, and push up the symbol of art, celebrate the superb and challenge weak craft. Some people even enjoy a good take down.
For myself, I have always been part of the latter group. The reason I do is not because I enjoy a good take down – though I do, just as I enjoy well argued praise – but because I recognise that reviews and criticism do not have anything to do with me, either as a person, or an artist. Whenever I see the Bambi line given, I always think that it is in response to a desire not to upset the artist, and the machine that is behind him or her. It is as if the review has stopped being about the work, and has instead become a tool to help advertise – part of the promotional machinery that speaks not to readers, but to this insider group that exists around the book. But a review or criticism is not about communicating with the author or publisher, or at least it shouldn’t be. It is about communicating with the reviewer’s own readers, about beginning a conversation that is born out of the interaction of the individual and the work.
What is often overlooked, I feel, is that a review is an independent piece of work, existing beside the – in this case – fiction that it rose from. It is not the property of the novelist, or the publisher, but rather the property of the novel, and the novel, once it is published, is no longer the property of one individual. It is a communal object, and as a communal object, it will be used in discussions, arguments, essays and whatever – and sometimes, they’re going to be positive, and sometimes they’re going to be bad. Whatever the outcome, the critical work of a novel, I feel, has more in common with film adaptions, cosplay, fan fiction, and whatever else a novel can give birth too, than the novelist and their relationship with the novel.
There’s a whole lot of things in criticism to unpack. You can argue if it is right for a reviewer to cultivate an audience, you can point out the inevitable personal relationships that come from interlinked scenes, and so on and so forth, until you have exhausted each avenue, and found even that some parts contradict others. But for me, I think there is more to be gained by putting aside the Bambi line, which is bad for children, anyway, since it promotes silence over honesty, and just encourage people say what they will say and to say it well.
|Monday, December 9th, 2013|
|On the Question "Do You Take Reprints?"
A few years ago I met an online acquaintance for a face-to-face lunch. He was a writer and wanted the inside scoop on playing essays with The Smart Set
. A genre fiction person, he was not very familiar with querying non-fiction magazines. (Hint: it's usually the managing editor or section editor.) So I gave him a few tips and a name. Then a few weeks later we met again and the guy told me, "I wrote to the editor and asked if they took reprints. He didn't write back." I didn't say anything but I did have a thought, and a prediction:
place anything with The Smart Set
And indeed I was correct. I don't know if leading with the question of reprints was really the reason, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was. TSS pays real money for real essays; why would they want second-hand material? Even in the field of service journalism, where evergreen material is constantly recycled and occasionally reconceptualized, material isn't often simply reprinted. (Reblogged, for free, by the lowlifes at Huffington Post
, sure.) You have to rewrite, localize, whatever.
And in fiction, reprints are generally worth less than original material.
Now, it is true that we are living in what I called a golden moment
for reprint anthologies. It's fairly easy to sell a reprint these days, even for the non-famous, but the markets themselves are generally reprint markets.
What I've been noticing lately is that when I make a note about wanting to see submissions or pitches for various projects I'm working on: The Big Click
, or my day job anthology Phantasm Japan
, people have been asking right away, "Do you take reprints?" Bigger names have simply been sending me
Is this a bit of advice people are getting now? "Always ask if the editor wants to see reprints before offering anything new?" Because if so, it is terrible advice. As far as I am concerned, asking this question is like tripping the editor, dropping trou, squatting over him, and easing out a big snaking turd onto his face, while shouting, "This is what I think of you! THIS IS WHAT I THINK OF YOU!! YOU LIVE TO EAT MY SHIT!"
And needless to say, those authors just talked themselves out of consideration for those projects. If I wanted reprints, I'd ask for reprints. Hell, if I wanted reprints, I wouldn't need to make even semi-public calls. I'd read in the field I wanted to buy from, and contact the authors privately to solicit the reprints. My checkbook is large enough and my projects prestigious enough that I want new material, and I want excellent new material. It's even fairly easy for me to get—when I open things up, it's partially because I'm a little dissatisfied with the material I am seeing, and partially due to the same romanticism that made Haunted Legends
the first Ellen Datlow project with open submissions, and that made Clarkesworld
a magazine with no form rejection letter.
Now some editors may disagree with me about being asked about reprints before being offered new material. Almost surely some editor will pop up and say that they like any sort of question, professionally asked. And I'd like to say: consider the source. I note that the more mental energy editors put into some notion of fairness to writers, the less concerned they are about readers. That is, they don't have very many readers. POD anthologists with 1c a word budgets, CreateSpace publishers with convention dealer's room-only print distribution, micropresses with a 1000-book list with each title selling fifty copies...they may love being asked fancy business questions like "Do you take reprints?" Then they get to give fancy business answers like "Only if it's very good!"
And some of the poor semiliterate dears will even say, "But reprints have a place in publications!" or "What about that reprint you ran once!?" as if I said anything about reprints being unnecessary or forbidden. If you are confused, go back to the top of this entry and read it again until you hit this sentence. Repeat as necessary.
I, on the other hand, am working in a buyer's market. I don't like that kind of thing, and when I was starting out it was made very clear that absent specifics one should submit or query new material, not reprinted material. It should go without saying that of course when you have an opportunity open up before you, you grab at it with both hands! And that means having something ready to go, or making time and space in your life and schedule to produce something new. "Would you give me two weeks?" is a perfectly fine, professional initial question. "Do you take reprints?" is just a way to lose an opportunity so far as I am concerned.
Directed by an email, I logged into student records late last week to find the following:
A sequence of happy gifs would not do it justice. I am happy beyond gifs. I worked very hard and, after seeing the preliminary mark for my dissertation – a merit – I feared I would not get a distinction. My dissertation is indeed a merit (a good one), but all three of my coursework modules are distinctions. COURSEWORK VICTOR.
I got an average of 76 for Alexander’s Afterlife, which makes me want to see the essay-by-essay breakdown. (Fellow UK students will know why that’s quite good.) I got a 70 for S&M – no, not that S&M, calm down, it stands for Sources & Methods – which means my personal reception of Psáppho essay must have got quite a good distinction, or that the one I wrote in two days and finished at 4am on the extended deadline was not as terrible as I thought at 4am. Or both. (I never had the courage to look at the preliminary mark for that one. I am not a good academic writer at speed, but I am perhaps not a terrible one.) I don’t have an average for the Ancient Near East module yet because it was done at UCL, not KCL, but my lowest preliminary mark was 68 and my highest 77 (for the essay on elite Neo-Assyrian women’s roles in the textile industry, whee!), so it’s going to be around 73 or so?
I did well.
I will raise every glass of Champagne/sparkling wine over the holiday period to this distinction.
Originally published at Alex Dally MacFarlane. You can comment here or there.
|My Half Brother And Half Sister
Today my bio-mom sent me a picture of her two other children.
Think they look like me?
UPDATE; Rome Girl put together a series of pictures of me to send to Bio Mom
if that makes it easier to judge.
|in other news....
I now have health insurance -- or, rather, I will for the first time in four years starting New Year's Day 2014.
And there was much rejoicing.
Yay. Current Mood: happy