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January 31, 2004

It's The Little Things, Really

Ha! Dutch police have busted some Nigerian scammers. A small triumph (since there's more where they came from), but still. I've not been so pleased since I heard about how a few unwary ones tried to scam Randolph Carter. No, really. Too bad the Old Ones got him first. Heh heh.

January 30, 2004

Mailbag

While no more returns at the moment (this may change when the mail comes this afternoon), I have been getting some interesting mail of late. Specifically: a handwritten receipt for my purchase of two World Fantasy Con 2004 memberships; my contributor's copy of Star*Line #27.1 containing my poem "Joint Custody" (and stuck inside, cash money for it! yee-haw!); and most amusing, a letter from the Republican National Committee containing the Census of the Republican Party.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. But no, I'm not a Republican. Thanks to Georgia's open primary system, I voted in the Republican primary in '02 because all the Democrats were running unopposed. I wanted to not only vote but to actually choose from several options in my voting. So the Repubs were the only game in town. Anyway, the census questions are most amusing, containing such gems as "Do you think U.S. troops should have to serve under United Nations' commanders?" and "Should we build President Reagan's SDI defense shield against nuclear missile attack?" and "Do you agree that teaching our children to read and increasing literacy rates should be a national priority?" All choices are Yes/No/Undecided. It's actually just a fundraising device. The most important question is obviously the last one, "Will you join the Republican National Committee by making a contribution today?" Your choices are:

  • Yes, I support the RNC and am enclosing my most generous contribution of (pick an amount, noting that a $100 contribution would allow them to mail 250 more "census documents").

  • Yes, I support the RNC, but I am unable to participate at this time. However, I have enclosed $11 to cover the cost of tabulating my survey.

  • No, I favor electing liberal Democrats over the next ten years.
So, even if you don't want to contribute, they still want you to pay processing costs. They don't even include a postage paid return envelope. No wonder they're the party with all the money. Cheap, cheap, cheap.

January 29, 2004

Ooogh

They're doing construction here on campus, putting in another wing to the English building. Which is fine. Considering our enrollment, they probably need it. But do they have to keep pumping diesel fumes into the library? I can smell it on every floor, and it's been getting stronger and stronger over the last hour. Getting a headache and frankly ohnoythgytghgb nnnn

January 27, 2004

State Of Mind

A speedy one week return from Flesh & Blood, made more impressive since it was conducted through snail mail.

In addition to the sudden wave of interviews running through people's journals, another one is the visited states map. Mine's actually pretty good, although it does include a few states where I simply crossed the border briefly then turned around first chance possible. But it doesn't include airport only states, since you don't see much of the landscape. Except the airport bar and those all pretty much look alike.

January 26, 2004

Question-Answer Period

First up: received my third rejection of the year, an eighteen day personal rejection with many nice things in it (altho' not the nicest of all) from Strange Horizons. And now I'll open the floor up to some questions. Yes, you in North Carolina:

Five questions from the esteemed Jason Erik Lundberg:

1. What book or story inspired you to become a writer?

Well, it wasn't the classic version: reading something atrocious and saying, "well, I could do better than that!" I read a lot of spec fic at a very impressionable age, stuff with big complicated worlds: the Lord of the Rings books, my mom's copies of ERB's John Carter of Mars books, McCaffrey's Pern books, the Chronicles of Narnia, and so forth. When I was ten I got into D&D and all sorts of role playing games, and that both helped and hindered the storytelling urge at the same time. On one hand it pulled me in deeper into SF (Roger Zelazny, Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Michael Moorcock, Stephen R. Donaldson, Jack Vance), but any creative behavior on my part went into building characters and worlds for the games. I can't remember thinking even seriously about writing until high school, when I wrote a parody of a Conan story for English class. Wasn't great, but it was around three thousand words and I wrote it all in a weekend, just letting it flow out my fingertips. That same year a writer came and spoke at our school (Tom Deitz; he was a friend of the shop teacher). It was then I thought writing would be a cool thing to do for a living. At the moment it's more of a hobby. But I can't really point to anything in particular and say, "it's all his fault."

2. Where the hell did you get the idea for Tales of the Plush Cthulhu? When I met my wife-to-be in college, she had a very small collection of stuffed animals. Three or four teddy bears, plus maybe one or two others. After a little bit the two of us started calling them odd nicknames, like Red Communist Agitator Bear, and Drunken Homosexual Sailor Bear. The collection grew as we dated and after we got married. Stuffed animals tend to turn up as small gifts or get included in gifts when you're dating. After a while, the collection got fairly big. At any rate, we were visiting a friend in Seattle back in 2002 and came across plush Cthulhu in a store in the Pike Place fish market. As soon as I saw him, it flashed on me as to what might happen if you released what was, essentially, a beanie baby from Hell in with a bunch of ordinary stuffed animals. Wrote itself, really.

3. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, do you have a favorite artist/band?
I actually don't listen to music when I write, since I find lyrics a bit distracting. Bands I do like include the Beatles, Barenaked Ladies, REM, Rush, U2, and Great Big Sea. Anything singable, really, which is probably why lyrics distract me.

4. How big are your libraries (both at home and at work)?
Hard to say, really. The library at work is roughly 600,000 books, not including journals, government docs, and other sundries. Makes it bigger than most bookstores, but it's the smallest library I've worked in so far. My library at home, well, I've lost count. My last accurate count from a couple years ago was about 1,200, and that was just the fiction. Best guess for everything, say, 2,000 books.

5. What's your favorite childhood memory?
Heh. I have a lot of memories that flash 'round from time to time, but I can't really pick one of them as a favorite: sitting in my grandparents' kitchen on Sapelo Island, drinking a coke from a little green bottle; bodysurfing in the Atlantic off Brunswick; sitting out in the yard with my brother and my mom, tasting honeysuckle, while Dad focused his telescope at the moon, Saturn, and parts beyond; feeling the weight of Franklin, my first cat, curl up on my back while I lay on my stomach on the living room floor, watching cartoons waaay too early on a Saturday morning; opening up a book while I was at my grandparents' and reading, entranced at the weird story that was unfolding in front of me (found out later the book was The Stand). Those are the highlights. Do I have to pick one?

Rules to be included if you want to play:

  1. Leave a comment, saying you want to be interviewed.

  2. I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.

  3. You'll update your journal with my five questions, and your five answers.

  4. You'll include this explanation.

  5. You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

January 25, 2004

Cthulhu Espera Soñando

Well, Tales of the Plush Cthulhu is now available in Spanish: Cuentos del Peluche Cthulhu, at the Nueva Logia del Tentáculo. Favorite bit:

- iEsperad, peluches estúpidos! - gritó el Profesor Dinobebé Azul - En su mansión de R'lyeh, Cthulhu espera soñando, no le molestéis o nos devorará a todos.
However, the French translation over at tentacules.net has disappeared. Whether permanently or not, I cannot say. Merde!

Oh, that's right. Almost forgot this, from Making Light: fast food chain Long John Silvers is offering free giant shrimp to America if Mars ever had oceans. It's right up there with Taco Bell's previous offer to give everyone free tacos if Mir could hit the bullseye. Hm. Wonder if they hired the same ad agency?

January 23, 2004

I'd Think Schultz Would Approve

Kudos to BoingBoing for alerting me to this latest guaranteed-to-sweep-the-net: Hey Ya, Charlie Brown, the love child of Charles Schultz and Outkast. My sweetie called it a synergy of new and retro. I call it brilliant! I laughed, I cried, I had childhood memories edited. Update: Mirror location at http://files.funfreepages.com/videos/heyyacb.mov.

No new writing news, as January continues to be, well, damn slow. I am considering crafting a glyph of power to invoke editorial response, but it might be nothing more than an excuse to avoid writing. And on a personal note, it looks like my brother Paul is going to be transferred to Charlotte, NC (job promotion and all that). For the first time in our adult lives, he'll be the son living out of state. I must adjust my brain to this new idea.

January 22, 2004

Recovering English Major

Regarding the evils of powerpoint, we have here two prime examples: Powerpoint Anthology of Literature and the Gettysburg Address in Powerpoint (from Matthew Yglesias). Hamlet rendered in Zork is also pretty amusing (thanks, Derek!). But hey, I'm a Shakespeare geek. Go figure.

January 21, 2004

Converted And Committed

Church of the Big Blue Gorilla Yes, it's a church with a gorilla on top. Sounds like a mixed drink you'd order in a Miami bar after spending the day at the beach baking the brain. It's good that they've put the gorilla to work advertising free childcare and not something more Apocalyptic like "Repent Now!" That'd be my first thought if there was a big blue gorilla in jams on my church roof. But maybe that's just me.

Just bought attending memberships for WFC2004 for myself and my sweetie. There's still hotel reservations to be made, plane tickets to be bought, vacation to be requested, pet sitter to be scheduled, etc etc, but all that's just detail. I'm definitely going now, so: fair warning.

January 19, 2004

Voting

Spent my MLK Day afternoon making my Nebula picks while CNN mumbled in the background about the Iowa caucuses and who might win, place, or show. Ah, the horserace that is politics. Never participated in the Iowa caucuses, even tho' we once lived there in a Presidential election year (2000). A friend from work briefly described the process, and it sounded like a weird sort of all-evening political grouphug. I am a private kind of guy, and my liking is for the old style "step into a booth and make my choice and then walk away." And no, I'm not telling you who I voted for. Screw you, exit poll. So the caucuses didn't seem like they were for me.

I've usually got strong opinions about the national elections, but am often at a lost when it comes to the smaller local and state elections. Which is kind of shame, because those guys are ever so much more likely to affect your life on a day to day basis. Still, I believe in participating in the process. So when it comes to elections when I don't know anything about any of the candidates, I always vote against the incumbent. Or if I have to pick names from a much longer list, I first vote for the women and the people with the most ethnic sounding names. "But he's been the county coroner for forty years!" So what! Turnover is good, says I.

Currently Reading: Neal Stephenson's massive tome Quicksilver.

January 18, 2004

Number Two

Got my second return of the year yesterday, mixed with the junk mail and bills: an eight day form reject from Alchemy. Such efficiency (on their part, not mine in reporting).

This is a three day weekend for me, thanks to the wonder that is a state holiday. Not for Lisa, tho'. I think she's a little miffed about that, but she's far too polite to say anything. However, she did make me cook dinner and clean up all by my lonesome. The holiday also means that there will be no mail tomorrow. Boo, hiss.

Currently Reading: Actually, a number of things. Preliminated short stories up for the Nebula. Randomly selected entries from The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases, as prescribed; it's not meant to be consumed cover to cover. And For Us, The Living, Heinlein's first unpublished (until now) novel. If novel is the correct term. Definitely reads like a lecture series.

January 16, 2004

Technically, It's Called Frankenstein's Monster, Not Frankenstein

Reminded by Kenny's remarks on Underworld (which admittedly I never got around to seeing), I can only hope that Van Helsing holds up on closer, ie, non-trailer-actual-movie, inspection. Looks sleek and stylish, but so did League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But who am I kidding? Even if it's not very good, I'll put down money to go see it in the theater, and Lisa will go along quite happily. She's a huge Hugh Jackman fan, and I like movies with sharp pointy things.

Have been doing some cost calculations. Not going to be able to make it to WisCon (more's the pity), but Lisa and I are likely going to make it to World Fantasy Con in Arizona this year. No, really. Oh, don't look so shocked. Now, if a decent airfare will just come along before October...

January 15, 2004

UK Scientists Invent Artificial Grad Student And Other Stories

My thanks to those who answered my convention conundrum. You're swell. Nothing else to report, but here's some news you may or may not have heard about. Hey, I do what I can.

Interesting: UK Scientists Invent Artificial Grad Student (via CNN)

Amusing: 2004 Voting Device for Florida (via Scalzi)

Delicious: Ketchup Spill in Ohio (via Yahoo)

And Not So Subtle Advice: Can't Write? Don't Write (via Arts & Letters)

January 13, 2004

Enlighten Me, If You Would

Could some wiser soul than I share the difference between supporting and attending memberships when it comes to conventions? If only an attending lets you in the door, then what good are supporting memberships? End my confusion, I beg of you! Drop me a line or make with a comment and you will have my Eternal Gratitude™.

Got my Nebula Awards preliminary ballot in the mail today. As usual, I am prepared not. Of the fifteen novel nominations, I've only read two. Novellas, one of five. Novelettes, none. And of the ten short stories, only one. Greg's. I'm certain I can cover the short stories in time to make a reasonably informed decision, but the novels? Not going to happen. And so I'll be forced to make judgements based on reviews, reputation, general premise, and other surface evaluations. Skipping the category all together would probably be the right thing to do, but what fun would that be?

January 12, 2004

Random Notes

Did you have a nice weekend? I did, although I accomplished very little. Although now I'm well rested, a state I prefer. In current developments, Scott Reilly has returned to writing and online journaling. He also sold a story to Lovecraft's Magazine of Horror, the clever fellow. As for myself, I can now report with some amusement that, in addition to its French translation, Tales of the Plush Cthulhu will soon be available in Spanish (link to be provided when I get it from the translator). I am highly amused.

Currently Reading: Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson.

January 09, 2004

"Television's Warm Glowing Warming Glow"

Apparently I watch too much TV, as I scored a perfect 10 on the Guardian's How well do you know the Simpsons? quiz. I'm paralyzed with shame. Which means I can't reach the remote. Curses!

Oh, wait. I did get something cool in the mail today: Wintering Away, no. 3 in the Holiday chapbook series from Tropism Press. Woo! Thanks, guys!

January 08, 2004

First

Today came my first editorial response of the year: a long (long!) overdue response from Space & Time. 302 days, to be precise. Made it past the associate editor only to be passed over at the end. Ah well.

In other news:

There. Now you're all caught up. No, don't thank me. Just doing my job.
Currently Reading (or perhaps, About to Be Reading After I Finish This Post): Gene Wolfe's The Knight. One lovely thing about working in a library: occasionally they put a list down in front of you and say "what books do you want to order?" And then, when they come, you get to see them before anybody else.

January 07, 2004

Yep

Yep. Today was the first day back for the kids. Yep, yep. Brand new semester and all the promise that it holds. Yep.

59 more days until spring break, 119 until the last day of finals.

Yep.

January 06, 2004

Can't Sleep, Clown'll Eat Me

Clown Dresser from Hell Lisa and I did a little furniture shopping this weekend, spending part of it at a local antique mall. By and large, they weren't serious antiques, from the days of Yore and Yesteryear. More like "collectibles and used furniture at slightly inflated prices." Which is not to say they don't have interesting and eye-catching stuff. For example, this future repressed childhood memory in waiting. I don't know what the person who made this was thinking. It's like it's supposed to be part of the Homer J. Simpson furniture collection. All you need is a little art on the walls and a toy, and boom! All ready for your little boy or girl to chuckle all night. Did I say chuckle? Maybe whimper. Or possibly scream. Something like that, anyway.

Those of you who've bought furniture new may balk at the price tag. And who could blame you? But keep in mind, this is superior craftsmanship (it is very sturdy) and besides, I hear it's hard to find good quality timber in Hell.

So yes, I've given up sweet tea. I've also given up the elevator at work. Happily, my office is only on the third floor, so it's not as bad as it could be. Going to the gym, I can't manage. This, no problem. I'm just a little depressed that walking up two flights will leave me out of breath.

If you hadn't guessed, my general overall non-writing goal for 2004 is losing some weight. Hey, I managed to keep my New Year's Resolution to make some resolutions! I'm already ahead of the game!

(No, that's not cheating. Quiet.)

January 05, 2004

A Favorite Letter

Still with the changing, but I think I've settled on a look I like. I've seen it now at home and at work, with a variety o'machines and browsers, and so now I can say: good enuf. Am slowly propagating it to other pages.

The flytrappers have announced the official lineup for issue #2. I'm in good company, I see, and that makes me smile.

First day back at work, after two fabulous weeks of vacation. It was delightfully warm (upper 60's) the whole time, sunny. Gorgeous day after gorgeous day. Today it was cold and rainy and very very grey. Talk about the weather manifesting your internal mood. Ah well. Kids don't come back 'till Wednesday, but school'll be up and running soon enough.

Have I mentioned that I've given up sweet tea? It's a hard, hard thing to do around here, as I hate the aftertaste of artificial sweeteners more than the bitter edge of black tea. Lots of temptation.

Currently Reading: Le Guin's collection Tales from Earthsea.

January 04, 2004

Stylin'

Observant folks will notice I've finally updated the look of these pages. Yes, it's been...um...six years since I did anything different with the look here. Hey, you know how it is; don't want to rush things. At the moment I'm just trying it out here in the journal, since I'm fairly certain just attaching the stylesheet link to all my other pages will have some unintended results. May do that anyway for a cheap laugh. There are other considerations, of course, such as making certain this thing looks fine to all of you. More tweaking lies ahead, I'm sure. Have no fear. I'm all about the access, whether for PC or Mac, IE or Netscape or Safari. Not you Opera people, tho'. You're on your own.

I'm fairly certain this will lead to more rearranging elsewhere on this site, as things get consolidated, rearranged, or just plain tossed out the metaphorical door. Feel free to share your opinion on the new look, either by sending me an email or making a comment. That's what it's there for, after all, and Buddha knows now is not the time to be shy. If I'm making your eyeballs bleed, I need to know.

Recent Reading: Lord of Castle Black, by Steven Brust.

January 01, 2004

Reset

And a happy new year to you all, assuming you're following the Gregorian calendar and not some other calendar system. And if you are, uh, just have a nice day.

I haven't come up with any precise goals for the new year, unless you count cleaning up my office. And the only real resolution I made was to stop leaving my dirty clothes on the bedroom floor. I'm sure some more will come to me. Ah, that's it! My resolution can be to come up with some goals and resolutions! Yes, that should buy me some time, uh, cover me, um, work nicely.