Friday, March 30, 2012

What Am I Going to Do?


IT'S ONLY TWO DAYS before the beginning of the A-Z challenge and as I’ve mentioned several times in the past week or two, I’m chucking my previous A-Z posts. What am I going to do in its stead?

Yes, it's true, and I hope everyone is ready for this epic 11th hour ditching of a month’s worth of posts. Now I can tell you what I was going to post about, since I’m not doing that anymore. 

The Alphabet.

Yes, I was going to start ‘A’ by talking about the letter ‘A.’ My first post talked about Arsenio Hall and how he would stand just like an A at the beginning of each show.

Really.

‘B,’ well, it was going to be about how the capital letter looked like both a butt, and boobs. Yes, by day two I was already jumping the shark and going for cheap titillation. By the time I got to the mid letters it was just like how much an ‘I’ looks like a lower case ‘L’ and about then I ranted about our lack of creativity and predicted eventually all letters will just be a simple tic mark. Then I think I ended the month with a plea for us all to ban together to get rid of redundant letters.

So, it was for the good for us all that I decided to go for something new. Here are my thoughts about what I might do.

Option A: A sketch a day. My old blogger buddy Les used to have a whole blog dedicated to doing just that. He doesn't really do that anymore, but I figure I can whip up something daily for a month. If I get desperate I can just start sketching letters.

Sunday I could sketch of an Apple, Apollonia, Apollo Creed, Ants… wow, the possibilities are only limited to the letter ‘A!’.

Option B: I could do a star a day. I don’t talk about Astronomy much here, probably because I seriously doubt very many people want to hear me wax poetic about Acturus, Betelgeuse, etc. But my love of the cosmos means I’ve got a pretty good working knowledge of the night sky. The real question… who cares besides me? Again, I’d guess, not many.

Option C: Book titles (or authors) that begin with each letter. It might get tough with some of the less popular letters, but I think it would be fun.

I’ll probably do one of the three. Actually, by the time this post goes live I will probably know already, and hopefully have already begun work. Ooh, the excitement.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Looks Like I Became a TV Snob


THE OTHER DAY my son was all freaked out because he said he had to have this show DVR’d and he wasn’t going to be around to do it. He asked if I would pretty please take care of it for him. No problem.

I whipped out he ‘ol remote and started thumbing the menu options and I noticed something: None of the menus looked right. The font was wrong, the little icons were wrong, the colors of the little boxes were wrong. Was this even my TV?

Technically, it was the cable company that made the changes, not my television, but whatever, I saw the changes through my TV, which makes it my TV that changed… Just, don’t argue with me about it, it’s a minor point.

So, I was there with the control and my hand and I was absolutely flummoxed. Not that I couldn’t figure out what the buttons did, I could still actually work the thing, but it was strange that everything was so different. “When did this happen?” I asked.

My son, who hadn’t been paying any attention to me after I told him I would record his show looked up. I had to explain my whole experience to him again, about how the icons looked weird, about how the fonts and colors were different, the whole thing. His answer?

“A few months ago.”

“You’re telling me,” I said, “that they changed these doobibblies on the TV months ago and I didn’t notice?”

He nodded. “You haven’t been watching TV.”

Was that possible? "I have too!" I might have shouted it. I can't remember. But then I thought for a moment and I couldn't actually remember the last time I'd watched anything.

I used to think that I never wanted to be one of those people that didn’t watch TV, I like TV, I like lots of things about it, it makes me feel warm, it keeps me from feeling sad when I’m alone, it comforts me when I’m scared. Have I been neglecting it for that long?

I don’t think it’s been that long. I watched the Super Bowl on my TV, that wasn’t that long ago. Have I turned my back on my lifelong companion? It makes me want to give it a hug. My perception of people who didn’t watch television are of men that smoke pipes and women who don’t believe in hygiene (oh god, did I just write that?). I’m not either one of those.

So, the new me is going to try to etch out a new bloc of time to watch some TV. Anybody know if anything good is on? And don’t say Game of Thrones, because I don’t have HBO and I can’t watch it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

My Dog Will Eat You!

My wife wanted to give any would be criminals or trespassers fair warning.
The attack dog would have come closer... but  he's scared of the sign.

Guster, the dog of doom, will devour your toes in a fit of fury should you dare to pass through into his domain.

I hope everyone had a pleasant weekend. I suppose I did. Although it was filled with missed opportunities.

However, now that it's Monday, I'm anxious to touch on the Comment Of The Week from last week. I don't have travel too far back in time to look. Turns out Friday's post had lots of great comments to choose from.

I think within a few seconds of the post going live (well, 32 minutes) I had someone expressing their displeasure with my portrayal of Esperanto. Then, a little while later I got this beaut:


After the first poster made his comment I started to backpedal some from my original point, but after I thought about it for awhile I decided I think I will stand by my assessment. If calling it a noble failure makes me ignorant, well, then people don't have wings, or something.

It's beauties like that that make me happy I put up without 1000 spam emails a day that I get (well, maybe 5) with folks trying to sell me coffee beans or porn. I thought I would get tons of people upset over the Chiropractor stuff, not Esperanto.

THIS IS THE LAST WEEK before the A-Z challenge begins. I'm still considering scrapping my whole month's worth of stuff and starting over. If so, I'll have a busy weekend next weekend writing new posts.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Witches, Chiropractors, and Esperanto.. How Can It Not Be Good?


I often play dumb here on my blog, I also tend to take stances on issues that I don’t really support because I want people to like me. It’s part of a great effort on my part not to come off as a jerk. People don’t like know-it-alls. I want people to like me, so I play dumb. Sometimes I write something that is really intended more for comedic effect and may not necessarily reflect my true views on a subject… the real me is still a mystery. So, I figured I’d post about some things and how I really feel about them.

Yes, this does happen sometimes
1)      Ouija Boards: 

My opinion? Crap.

Confidence level? High

Look, how Hasbro keeps conning people into buying them is a miracle of the marketing age. It’s like the Pet Rock craze that overwhelmed America in the 70’s. Seriously. Demons (or ghosts) aren’t speaking to us from the other world. How do I know? Because I used to play with one, for months in fact, alone (movies have taught me since that was a bad idea) and in groups, I actually wrote down the answers to my questions.

After much investigation, let’s just say that I have reason to believe that they know a lot about baseball, like, a whole lot. Coincidentally, their encyclopedic knowledge of baseball seemed to end about where mine did. Yes, it (they, whatever) knew how many games the Tigers won in 1984, so did I, but it couldn’t tell me the lifetime slugging percentage of Roberto Clemente… wait, I might have been confusing the Ouija board with the internet. It probably isn’t supposed to know that stuff – still, if it serves as a conduit to the otherworld, then its populated with a bunch of people who sit around and read baseball statistics in their spare time.

The bottom line? It didn’t know anything that I, or the people I was with, didn’t. It gave crap answers and didn’t know how to spell. I’m guessing that has more to do with the people involved, the ideomotor effect, etc. I’m not alone in this opinion, and controlled experiments have demonstrated time and time and again that there is no unexplainable phenomena happening.

2)      Chiropractors:

My Opinion? Crap

Confidence level? Moderate

I hope I don’t get sued (I hear they’re litigious).  How can a group with the lowest efficacy rate of any health organization on the planet also have the highest level of customer satisfaction? I think it’s because they’ve convinced insurance companies into paying for back massages.

No, that isn’t true, I think it has to do with the psychological effects of having a person actually do something when you visit. Giving me a prescription for something isn’t the same as getting a backrub. Chiropractors tend to be much more engaged with their patients too, again, I think that’s a big deal.

Medicine is not a hard science, sometimes even people who don’t know what they’re doing can hit upon something that works, however, Chiropractic medicine simply does not work when compared to traditional medicine (beyond the placebo effect). Lots of data on this too, however, the data is muddied somewhat and it tends to overwhelmed by positive personal testimonies, huge lobbyist groups and a well-organized campaigns to win over people distrustful of traditional medical practices.

Well, that proves... something.
3)      Numerology: 

My Opinion? Crap

Confidence level? Through the roof.

It’s total crap, but it feels like it should mean something. I have a lot of sympathy for practitioners… but that doesn’t make it not be crap. Case in point, I write this on 3/22/12 at 1:12 p.m. (on my lunch break). Those numbers again, are 32212112. That happens to be a color in the RGB Decimal – a very pretty blue. Blue happens to be an interesting color. Blue symbolizes the Virgin Mary, the Virgin Mary is probably pretty unhappy with Michael Offut’s post about Atheism that he put up today (or yesterday, but today when I wrote this)…. Coincidence? Probably not. Wait, I mean, yes, its total crap. It was a coincidence. Anyhow, I hope you get my point.

4)      Esperanto:

My Opinion? Noble failure

Confidence level? Middle of the road

Unlike the other things I talked about, this isn’t something that has actual data to back up or dismiss the claims made. Esperanto isn’t something that really makes a claim. Esperanto is a language that was invented something like 130 years ago. All sorts of people have invented all sorts of entirely novel languages for a long time. They have conferences and everything, I heard one that was made up of pops and whistles that I thought was amazing. Doubly amazing because people can actually converse in it.
Just what the world needed - another language

Esperanto is different because it was intended to be a common language that people from all over the world could use, it was supposed to be easy to learn, easy to speak, and free from all the baggage that languages tend to pick up over centuries. There are universities that teach it, businesses that conduct their international affairs in it, and it has lots of people fluent in it.

Why is it a failure, well? It has just enough adherents to keep it from dying, but it’s no one’s first language, and there aren’t any places you can go and find yourself surrounded by it. It’s intention – to be the default language international persons would speak when conducting business – already has a language to fill that niche. English.

And there you have it, a window into my soul. Now you can start to really know me. You may disagree with me, but I'm just throwing out what I really believe. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I Bought BOOKS!


I MADE MENTION in Monday’s post that I was back in the writing saddle now. All geared up and ready to roll with that fantasy novel I was working on last fall. I whipped out all these notes I made before I started writing, world building notes, my outline, even a synopsis of events leading up to the story.

None of that matched what I wrote.

I’m not sure what the point of an outline is if I don’t actually use it. But I apparently found some use for it. So, I went back and reread my 50k or so of stuff to see where I left off. Something jumped out at me right away.

I’m not as good as I thought I was.

Granted, I am not coming at this from a great background in fantasy, I’ve only been reading the genre in the past couple of years, and only been reading Epic Fantasy (what my novel is) for the past year. I read Martin’s Game of Thrones books, Sanderson’s Mistborn books, Peter V Brett’s The Warded Man, and maybe one or two more that I’m just drawing a blank on. 

What I have not done, is read much involving Dwarves, Elves, Goblins, Orcs, etc. I have a book or two in my tbr pile that have dwarves and Goblins each with their own covers, so I presume that I’ll be taking a gander at those tropes soon enough.

It’s a well-known truism of science that innovators in certain disciplines are either very young, or are new to that particular branch of science.  The prevailing wisdom is that they have not been beaten to death with history of the greats that came before them and feel free (or na├»ve) enough to plunge headfirst without that baggage keeping them back.

I have peeked my head into the genre enough to know that my concept, which I thought was unique, isn’t so fresh as I once thought. That’s okay though, it’s all about execution. So I thought when I started I'd take my fresh concept and innovate the genre. So imagine my surprise when I go back over what I've written and I find out that it has one little flaw... it's not very good. 

Ah dammit. If there is some consolation, I was at Brandon Sanderson's site looking at what he had to say about his Mistborn books that I read recently, and he mentioned he went through seven drafts of his first novel (over about 6 years I think) before he had it in its final form. 

He also mentioned he's written thirteen novels before he sold his first one. Doubly impressive since his tend to be 250,000 word epics, not the 70k lightweights I've turned out in the past.

Maybe, just maybe. There is hope. I'll just need a whole bunch of work I guess.

SOMETHING FUNNY, I suppose, if anyone recalls, I did a post about Robert Wadlow recently, the poor soul that was about 9 feet tall when he passed away. Turns out, after running this blog for nearly 3 years that around a fifth of the page views I’ve gotten, ever, are from that single post last week. I assumed there was some sort of hacker related event that skewed my numbers, that sort of thing has happened before, although not on this scale. I checked and it looks like nothing more than a lot of people Googling Robert Wadlow led them to my post. That and my short critique of the Harry Potter films I did last December have brought in tons of traffic. I find the whole thing bizarre – especially since I had no idea that thousands of folks have been stopping by to see the giant man. If I’d known it would have generated that kind of traffic I would have A) found a way to tie it into my novelette, and B) spent a bit more time writing the post, you know, making sure it was actually good.

I can’t be expected to put that sort of effort into every post. I feel pretty satisfied if I manage to use there/their/they’re correctly through an entire entry.

FINALLY, my wife has had boxes and boxes of crappy cute romance novels in the back of her vehicle for almost a year. It has taken up the back and I can almost never use it when I need to (it's one of those crossover things, looks like an SUV, really its a car) and I finally told her I was getting rid of them, she thanked me profusely and I went to the used bookstore.

They gave me over a hundred bucks in trade for them! 

I picked up that haul to the right there and still had more than $40 left to use later. I was pleased to find the first two installments in the Thrawn Trilogy, which has been recommended by Andrew and Grumpy both (I could have gotten all three, but they had only one copy, and some other guy was there and wanted the same book... and he found it with me standing right there holding the other two - what a jerk) and I found two Daryl Gregory books, which made my day, as well as a stack of other books I've either wanted, or just realized I wanted after I saw them.

I feel like I've gotten away with something, like I should be in trouble. Combined with the Borders haul I got last year I have enough books to keep me busy for the rest of 2012 if I don't buy anything else. That won't happen, and there will be some of these books that I may not get to, 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday News... And PinkyHell 2012

Way back in January I mentioned some writing goals I had put on myself to complete this year. So far I've done the minimum amount required - but nothing really beyond that. I still have these big, nebulous goals I've not even worked on concerning novel writing. Stupid reality, it keeps dragging me down. 

BUT, I am so about to get right back at it. 

One of those goals was the completion of the first draft of my previous November’s fantasy novel. A more daunting task than it might seem because it’s got many viewpoint characters, an entirely created fantasy world, and a plot that is more intricate than anything I’ve ever written before.

And now, almost four months after I stopped working on it, I’m halfway through the first draft and can’t exactly remember where I was going with it. So I’ve been going back to my notes, notes about the story, about the world I’d made, about the characters, etc.

I can see why it takes George R.R. Martin a decade or so to write a novel. The damn thing can get to be this sprawling epic that is hard to keep a handle on. Of course, his are actually good. But aside from that, I think I have an appreciation for all the work he has to put in. It's really complicated.

Comment of the Week:

Angela won my heart with her mention of Wookies on Friday. Thank you Angela!

PictureLet's see here, what else?I forget sometimes that there is a point to blogging, that it’s not just an excuse for me to express my awesomenity in written form. It’s actually a tool to raise awareness of not only my work, but that of others.

Brinda Berry, who kindly offers encouragement and pearls of wisdom when she comments here, as well as introducing me to the awesome digital painting videos on her blog recently, has released her second novel in her Whispering Woods series. Writing is hard, and I always want to hang on to stuff to do just one more pass, I'm impressed with her for plugging through, it shows real professionalism to be able to write till completion on her stories. I hope it does well. 

I feel like a warrior from a bygone era
Also, PinkyHell 2012 continues to plague me. It’s now been 2 weeks since that fateful day when putting on my t-shirt turned into a tale of overcoming adversity and overwhelming pain. Yes, I still manage to get dressed on my own, but I self diagnose as having some nerve damage, as it tingles still when I try to use it. It makes me happy that it’s pretty much only used for semi-colons on the keyboard, I use it for a few other things, but it can almost be ignored when typing.

And remember - It’s less than two weeks until the A-Z blogging challenge begins!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Comment of the Week! Plus Other Stuff!

I apologize to everyone who visits today that is not Briane Pagel. Because it increasingly seems like he is taking up my spare time. Sigh. Sorry, everybody else, but today I talk about him again. For a couple of reasons.

First, he left this little gem of a comment last week.


Funny stuff. In addition to that, he has been running a Star Wars trivia contest that has, well, suffered a bit from an overabundance of Andrew Leon - as he threatens to win by such a large margin that I'm pretty sure Briane is looking for ways to give out points to anyone who isn't Andrew.

Case in point, he's created a Star Wars Fan Fic Fan Fic and is giving away bonus points for it. Sweet. I need those points because much to my consternation, 'Wookies' is not the answer to every single question. Dammit. I'm like the Hulk that way, he tries to resolve all his problems by smashing things, I answer every Star Wars related trivia question by shouting 'WOOKIE.' Go figure.

So, his rules dictate that I must write a story about one of my characters from a WIP of mine writing a fan fic about Star Wars in 250 words or less:

****

Todd leaned back in his barstool, almost to the point of tipping, and stirred his flirtini – his *apple* flirtini - with its skinny little straw. “Did you read it?” he asked.

I nodded. “Yoda does Yavin. That’s clever.”

He curtsied a bit. Weird how he did that. He looked like a medieval warlord transported through time and planted here in the bar. Big, beefy arms, nearly 300 pounds and way over six feet tall. He was a monster of man – but he hated stereotypical drinks. He’d never have a beer, an ale, a red wine, or anything that made him look like a brute. It was… disconcerting how he felt about his image.

“Did you take notes?” he asked.

“Leia, Padme, Chewie, Luke, R2, The Emperor… C’mon. This is just stupid. The Emperor, R2?”

“I think R2 could serve as a pleasure bot in a pinch.”

“Right. Sure.” I started to say something, continue the conversation, drag it along until he had said his peace. I’m sure he thought he was saying something insightful about the nature of love, of how the Force represents some metaphysical truth about how the universe operates, but I couldn’t do it.

I leaned forward and put my elbows on the pub table, Todd was still making the ice tinkle with his teeny little straw and frowning. He had this ruddy complexion that always made his cheeks glow red, like he was angry.

“Todd,” I said. “A guy in a fedora keeps looking this way.”

****

That ought to about cover it. Go check out the latest in his trivia contest, which is 100 questions in 100 days.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Oh No... I've Been Hit

Tagged actually, Briane Pagel tagged me with the 7/7/7 thing. I go to page 77 of a WIP, scroll down to line 7, then copy and past the next 7 lines. I'm struggling to etch in even a few moments to post right now, so I'll quickly go to the excepts.


From my super old WIP, and the novel for which this blog is named, The Blutonian Death Egg:

“What’s wrong now?” I asked, slamming my book shut and tossing it onto my desk.
Josh paced from one side of the room to the other a few times before responding. “The school sent a note to Granny, told her that I’m going to be sent to a school for problem kids.”
“They said that?”
Josh nodded, “I got caught with Mr. Patterson’s missing billfold and a bag of weed.” I think I’m done for.”
My eyes went wide, “Weed?” Does Granny know?”

And there you have it. I think that was seven sentences. Hard to believe from that excerpt that it's sci fi, but it was a random passage. Every sentence can't have flubodium or cheetah robots. 


You know what, just because I'm tired, I figured I throw in a bonus piece... from the same portion of last fall's unnamed nano novel. This one is a fantasy:

          Jeb opened up the door and saw a workbench to his left, there was a bloody surgical tool next to Lem’s bag. It was dark inside and he couldn’t make out anything further due to the darkness. He heard shuffling.
          “Lem?” It’s me, Jeb. Are you in there?”
          Lem stepped out of the shadows and into the light shining in from the open barn door. He had blood on his hands, his clothes, even his face.

Lookie there, twice what you asked for.... wait, if you asked for nothing then it's probably closer to three times. Anyhow, I do enjoy talking about my own stuff, you'd think I'd do it more often.

And I appreciate Briane tagging me. I think I'll fall back on the old, "if you want to be tagged, then please consider it done, don't make me call you out," defense. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Where I Talk About Nothing... A Lot



In case anyone hasn’t been paying attention, I haven’t posted the last few Mondays. Well, I have a really good reason. I think I complained a bit in my last IWSG post that I’m afraid that I’ll wake up one day and realize that I’ve quit writing.  I went on to talk a bit about how I have a single block of time to do everything I want to do. Well, I think I’ve spend a bit more time blogging than I have much of anything else. Ironic to those of you who must think I do a poor job at visiting others, responding to comments, or anything else. I’m going to plunge headfirst into the A-Z challenge in April, then scale back to maybe two posts a week after that. I’m thinking Monday/Thursday might be a good schedule – with, or course, other days still open if the need arises – and that should free up a least a bit more time.

Regardless, I haven’t posted on Monday’s the past couple of weeks because with the warmer weather, my oft neglected yard needs some attention from me. My wife and I still have the standing agreement that she will handle the yard work if I will handle the laundry. Something I felt guilty about last summer, but after A) she hired people to help do the yard work and B) expected me to continue doing laundry throughout the winter months I feel quite a bit less bad about it.

However, we had a host of storms to come through late this winter that have knocked off giant limbs and destroyed portions of our once lush paradise of a yard. So, I did drag my sorry butt outside on this 70 degree weekend and help clear off brush, collect wood and organize some items that the children have scattered about.

For example, the little ones (long term houseguests that are aged 3 and 6) decided to pull out a couple of cheap, plastic pools we’d stashed away last fall once the weather turned cool. After these were brought out and played with, children came in, and storms followed. Those pools were blown with the wind, travelling over our fenced in yard, and out into the fenced in yard of our neighbors – were the torrential rain filled those pools.

So, I had to find them, empty them, and drag them back to store them. The whole time, working only nine fingers due to the horrid t-shirt incident mentioned last Monday. I grabbed my son (hereafter to be referred to as junior, or jr) and made him and his friends come out to gather sticks, fallen trees, logs, assorted items, and pile them up in the corner so I can build a bonfire. Jr is not a big fan of work, even for brief moments of time. I sympathize, as I’m not that big a fan of it either, but he didn’t complain. In fact, we had gone out on Saturday and watched John Carter. Immediately after he had his headphones in and got this pouty look on his face. Like any good parent, I mocked him for being embarrassed until he agreed I am awesome. I tried to think of what it was like when I was 15 and I went places with my parents. I guess I hated it too then. I’m not sure how much longer I can strong arm him into doing things with me. I’ll be lost if my mockery ever stops working.

Someone hand me my lighter so I can set this baby off
Of course, one of the downsides to all those storms was that wood tends to get wet. So, the part of me that is aware of all the little things I do that contribute to harming the environment cringed as the smoke billowed. It took hours to really get the thing going, but once I did it was great. The gallons of torch fuel I required to get the fire really started convinced me that I had chosen my accelerant wisely. I ended up pulling up a chair and stoking that thing with glee. After it grew to a real blaze I put on headphones and enjoyed a beautiful weekend.

Where was I? Oh yes, trying to build a fire. I did not build it in the Texas A&M style of course, but the smaller, more responsible sized one. I happened to have an ax that I can swing like a superhero, and I managed to make the several tons worth of wood small enough to be thrown onto the fire to create a controlled burn. With my injured pinky, I imagine I was quite the striking figure out there. A hero from a bygone era, braving hardship and the elements to bring home enough wood to keep the fires burning just one more day.

What I didn’t do, was get on my computer, even once. That’s the second weekend in a row I’ve done that. I do kinda like it. I read a bunch while I was outside, and afterwards a friend came over and we watched the Game of Thrones on Blue Ray. Not the whole series, but several hours of it.

So, it was a good weekend, even if a repressive and backwards thinking government stole an hour away from me. Therefore making it one hour less awesome than it should be. In case anyone missed Grumpy’s post yesterday about his book cover for his upcoming release, I was supposed to have done some tweaks over the weekend to it which, again, I did not do.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Again

It's funny that I still love Friday's so much, despite that fact that pretty much every Saturday I'm up and going to work just like a weekday. I would have thought that I would have grown to dread Saturday's as much as Monday's after a while, but I suppose that isn't possible after a lifetime of conditioning. I just really like Friday's.

So, it's Friday, and I didn't select a comment of the week this week. Not from things people commented on during this week, but things people said last week. I really wanted to pick Boopia's comment from my post about death and Briane Pagel's incredible novel, The After. She, among her many talents, works part time as a trauma surgeon, and related a story about how of all the people she's talked to that have been clinically dead yet were resuscitated (5) all of them said it was a pretty pleasant experience. 

I mean, everyone else wanted to talk about baby teeth.

Still, I made a promise that I wouldn't choose a comment from people I know well, because in the interest of making this seem to be fair, I decided that even though her comment was well deserving of this great honor, since I know her quite well, it could still give the impression I was playing favorites. So if I you've been a long time blog visitor, or someone I know well, if I have promised not to pick you, then I won't pick you.

So, with her entry being disqualified  I went through the archives and found this little gem from The Golden Eagle, who seemed to at least appreciate the irony of the situation where I'm discussing the mysteries of the universe and folks are still amazed about my teeth:


Well deserved. I should totally make a button for this.

In other news. Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Insecure Writers: March Edition

I'm running late on this. So today's post will be thankfully short. Several months ago, the great Alex J Cavanaugh created the Insecure Writers Support Group for people just like me - writers who have issues.

Today I want to talk about what might be my biggest fear in regards to my writing. It's my biggest fear because I think it has such a realistic chance of actually happening.

I'm afraid, not that I'll wake up one day and say I quit. My fear, is that one day I'll wake up and realize I've not written anything in so long that I will have quit and not realized it.

I tend to write in bursts anyway. It's very hard for me to write every day. I'd rather write nothing at all than spend 20 minutes a day working at something. I want, no need to have five, six, seven, ten hours or more that I can carve out to write. I want to plow through.

So I spend a lot of time not writing because I just don't want get started. Lucky for me that I manage to get stuff done nonetheless. Slowly, much more slowly than I'd prefer, but still. I make headway.

But if I'm not vigilant, if I'm not always making myself actually sit down and do it. I'll spend my life talking about writing, planning on writing, research for my writing, but not actually writing. Even now, working on book covers, other artwork, reading, blogging, even watching TV of movies all come out of  a single block of time I have daily to do whatever it is I'm going to do. Time is not my friend. I can't do it all.

And I still haven't entirely given up on playing music. Of photography, I want to learn other things. I have other interests. Writing is chief among them, but it requires a greater commitment if I want to excel.

And there you have it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

To Slay the Mighty Giant


People die in strange ways sometimes, if anyone has ever seen an episode of 1000 Ways to Die or read the Darwin award entries then I’m sure you understand. Now, this post isn’t another one of those about death in general, or even my death in particular, but instead is about how weird the real world is in comparison to a fictional one.

Imagine if Saruman was brought down by a hangnail instead of a surprisingly bitter Wormtongue (It was him, right? I haven’t read LOTR since 2000 or so), that just wouldn’t have the same emotional impact. It wouldn’t feel that satisfying, which of course, is why people enjoy fiction: Justice is served. No one is a slave to happenstance. Nope, people are squelched due to their ambitions blinding them to consequences of their actions. There is the occasional ironic cumuppins, but even those had their seeds sown earlier.

Guess which one is Robert.
Which is why I hate hearing the story of Robert Wadlow. As a kid I was quite fearful of being short. I was relatively undersized and that was made worse by being a tad young when compared to my classmates (I started college at 17 – work backwards from there and you should see I was usually the youngest kid in every class I was ever in growing up.)

I was never bullied as a kid, not at all, but I was certainly afraid of it. My favorite heroes were The Hulk, Superman, Thor… big time badasses that couldn’t be bullied. I was obsessed with big people in real life too. - body builders and giants.

Robert Wadlow was chief among the giants. Of course, I was unaware when I was really young that his untreated medical condition that caused him to grow so large didn’t make him any stronger. Many giants in fact suffer from profound weakness that makes doing much of anything physically difficult.

In my head, big meant strong. Big meant mighty. Big meant that you were unstoppable. Turns out being that big meant being unable to stand unassisted. It meant wearing leg braces. It also meant that the brace rubbing against his skin would lead to an infection… and he would die at the age of 22 from it.

I often wondered just how big he would have been if he hadn’t died when he did. He was still growing when he finally passed away. So tall that despite being skinny as a rail he still weighed nearly 500 pounds.

Don't you have a big boy elevator?
Nothing about that death meant much of anything. Except that you can still see wax figures of him in Ripley’s museums and the occasional TLC documentary where his incredible size come up.

Oh, how tall was he? When he finally died, he was within a Jersey Shore spiked hairdo of being nine feet tall. Nine feet. The human form, when scaled up that way, doesn’t work so well. Movies and comics might make it seem like it’s nothing but awesome, but once someone gets over six and a half feet tall, the heart has to do a lot of work, the muscles give diminishing returns, and a person has to struggle to overcome their own weight. It isn’t pretty.


Then again, he ain't tiny
That means folks like Shaquille O’Neal are rare, or, truth be told, unheard of. This was a man of enormous size, that had the mobility and musculature of a much smaller man. He outweighed most of his competition by 50 to 70 pounds when he was young, and by even more as he aged – people his height just aren't built like him - it wasn't that he was so tall, it was that he was so damned strong. He didn't suffer from a malady like Robert Wadlow did, he was just a normal person grown too big. That being said, Shaq was still 2 feet shorter than Robert Wadlow. It makes me wonder how big a human can really get and still be as physically imposing as Shaquille.
More typical 7 foot plus man

Regardless, the largest man in recorded history died from something as simple as a staph infection.  Awful.

Well, like all good stories, it eventually comes back around to something about me. Mondays are days that the gods have cursed, if there really is a hell, I’m pretty sure it feels a lot like Monday morning just after my alarm goes off.

Yesterday, I awoke, cursed the fates that have forced me to actually have to work for a living - well, not work work, just have a job – and began getting ready. I washed clothes this weekend and had freshly folded and neatly stacked t-shirts to wear. I pulled the collar over my head and put my right hand through the sleeve… and right into the gaping maw of hell itself!

Er, or I might have banged my hand against the door frame to the closet, whatever, the effect was the same: Blinding pain and a newly crippled hand.

Even now, the evening after the incident, it hurts. Blood has pooled and clotted in a massive way under the nail of my pinky to the point that typing is a struggle, holding a cup is hard, and cleaning the inside of my ear canal is now impossible (the pinky's most important function). I’m not sure my personal story is over just yet. But it feels like it might be. Done in by a pinky. How sad.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Mystery of the Baby Teeth!

I made an offhanded comment yesterday about still having baby teeth. I did not expect to find that so many people would find that curious. But, in a post about death, privilege, and the plight of human suffering, folks only wanted to comment about my teeth. So, what the people want, people get.

I have baby teeth, they are in my mouth, and they are what I use to chew my food with. I am a mutant.

How many do I have? I have eight of them. four on top, four on bottom. Turns out, all those mushy foods in the modern American diet don't require those big kid teeth to eat. That's pretty much the whole story. I've had 4 or 5 dentists since I was a late teenager and they've all noticed it. None of them seem to think it was that unusual. I asked once how rare that was and my dentist shrugged and said, "I see it sometimes."

So, not too weird, it's not contagious, I won't infect your friends or loved ones with baby-toothitus, I don't need to have my rights taken away, my belongings confiscated, or spend the remainder of my days in a small government prison waiting for death.

No, I'm just like you. A person. Yes, I'm a mutant too, but think of me like a wizened old professor Xavier, I'll only use my powers for the betterment of ALL mankind.

And now you know.