Saturday, January 31, 2009
Here's the deal: I looked up Plainfield, Connecticut Congregational Church online. Why? Because Plainfield is the name of the town it was in. Sounds sensible so far, yes? Okay, except the town is split into four parts. One of those parts is also named Plainfield. My old church was in the part called Central Village and there was another Congregational church in Plainfield. Why a town of 14,000 people needs two Congregational churches is beyond me, but there you go. I'm not the only one to make this mistake. Those National Registry people obviously thought I went to that other church as well.
Now here's the really embarrassing part. First off, the following pictures are from Jerry Dougherty's Connecticut on Fokti.com Check out the other pics in that album if you want to see my childhood stomping grounds. All right, here's a photo of my real church, taken from the same angle as the other one.
I know what you're saying. You're saying, "What are you, fucking high? This church doesn't look anything like that other church!"
And to that I say, "Well, it does, in that it's boxy with a big pointy thing on top."
So I'm an idiot. But the mystery of the Grange is solved. It is sitting there next to the church where it's supposed to be. Here's a picture of the Grange from the same site.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Portrait of the Artist as a young man:
This is in a card on the back of which is written in (royal) purple felt tip marker, "Ye Olde Country Fair!" and then below that, "June 8, 1974."
Which would have put me at all of five years old. Man I wish I had a body like that today, never mind the hair. You can't fully appreciate my cuteness here, I seem kind of goonie looking. As I remember, this was at a church thing, back when we were foaming-at-the-mouth Congregationalists. Actually, if you know any Congregationalists, you'll know that they never foam at the mouth and if they ever began to do such a thing, they would certainly have a napkin at the ready. My membership in the church at this time brought the age of the average member down to about eighty-seven years old.
Edit: This stuff in the upcoming paragraph and photo is just plain wrong. Read it and then check the post after it for the real deal: http://theonethousand.blogspot.com/2009/01/wherein-i-am-revealed-to-be-big.html
I just found an old timey (1940) picture of my actual church online. Apparently the building is part of the United States National Register of Historic Places (they must have found out I used to hang out there). So here's my old church in Plainfield, Connecticut, looking like the classic old New England building that it is. Built in 1816, Architected by Ithiel Town (Yes, that's a guy's name).
And if Ye Olde Country Fair! wasn't a church thing, it was a Grange thing. The Grange was right next to our church, so close I thought it was owned by the church. Is it that white building all the way in the right corner? Thats where I remember it being, but I don't remember it looking like that. All the church members seemed to be Grange members as well, so until a couple of months ago, I thought the Grange was a strictly Congregationalist organization. Thank you Wikipedia, because you know everything.
If my sister, Deb, reads this blog (and I'm pretty sure she doesn't), she could explain everything. Perhaps in the comments! She not only is eleven years older than me with a better memory, but she still lives up there.
Those of you who know me well can understand why I had to leave the church. I'm as anti-social as society allows me to be and if there's one thing those Congregationalists do, it's congregate.
I don't cotton to that.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Aural Delights No 61 Ken MacLeod
Editorial: The Sofa's Gadgets by Tony C Smith
Poem: Our Fallen Do Not Fall by Ann K Schwader, blog
Flash Fiction: The War At Home by Lewis Shiner
Fact: Science News by Jim Campanella
Main Fiction: Jesus Christ Reanimator by Ken MacLeod
Fact: The Sofa Art Cover by Skeet
New Titles: David Williams Mirrored Heavens
Narrators: Diane Severson, Matthew Wayne Selznick, Fred Himebaugh
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
In celebration, I have retained the services of the preeminent musical group of the last century. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you The International Silver String Submarine Band!
Monday, January 26, 2009
The former wife, my daughter and I took their pug for a walk today. You wouldn't believe how much poo can be kept inside of a dog that small. It was like Christmas day with a new Play-Doh Fun Factory.
Today io9 has this headline:
You'll Never Guess Which Mutant Plays A Key Role In Wolverine!
I'm going to say . . . um . . . Wolverine?
I took the daughter to the library today and grabbed A Clockwork Orange for myself. Saw the movie when I was a teen, but never read the book. I just read a few pages into it at the library. I'd often heard about the language thing, but didn't realize it was so thick. This might require a second read. Here's something embarrassing: When I read William Golding's The Inheritors, large chunks of it went right over my head even though the language is quite simple. It's told from the point of view of one of the slowest of a small group of Neanderthals as they encounter their first Cro-Magnons. It's a hell of a time to figure out what the protagonist is seeing as he describes technology beyond his ken using his limited vocabulary. He sees boats as trees and oars as leaves and so on. That's a second-reader to be sure, but I haven't yet jumped into its second reading.
Just a reminder: This is the last chance you'll have to read this sentence for the first time. See. Told you. Next time you'll listen to me.
Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book won the Newbery Award today. Son-of-a-who-cut-your-naval-string! (That's a Trinidadian expression, of course. You people need to get out more.) Congrats to him!
Truth in advertising: The Hanes Beefy-T should really be called the Hanes Fatty-T. And by the way, if it really was the Beefy-T, these would not be the models for it. I mean, one guy is actually dressed like Gilligan. Nobody thinks, "Look at that Gilligan. God, but he's beefy!"
And I'm spent.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
The boy called me on the way home and wanted the new Angry Whopper from Burger King. I was talking to the former wife on the cellphone when I ordered the Angry Whopper. The guy said it was $4.57. I said, "It better be pissed for $4.57!" (For my foreign friends, in America, pissed means really angry, not really drunk).
So the guy at the counter said, "What?"
And I said, "I said it better be pissed for $4.57!"
And then the former wife said, "What? It better be what?"
And I said, "Pissed."
And she said, "Why?"
And I said, "Because it's the Angry Whopper," and by this time I was just wishing that the joke would finally be over so I could go home and think about my regrets.
The boy said it was the best Whopper he's ever had, possibly because he didn't have to hear that joke four times. (For my foreign friends, in America, we really do eat nothing but burgers.)
New Stuff! My latest story, "A Spork in the Road," is available for your optic digestion in issue #128 of Antipodean SF. Check it out. Now, for some reason every instance of a hyphen in the story was replaced by a question mark, which makes the story seem even more confusing and surreal than it was meant to be. You'll notice the divorce and my shitty life was on my mind when I wrote it. Click on my name for a special bio. Enjoy!
Friday, January 23, 2009
My boss reads this blog, so I don't want to mention her name (Camille), because she's probably plenty embarrassed as it is (Delgado), but it was a fun story, so I thought I'd relate it.
Also, Debbie Macomber gave me some lovely recipe cards.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
If you haven't read it yet, please do. I hope you enjoy it.
FLUFF AND BUTTONS ON THE TEDDY BEAR RANGE
by Matthew Sanborn Smith
Death comes swiftly on the teddy bear range when the night devils' silhouettes mar the purpling sky. I shiver in the chill nightfall. Muffin turns his back to me, lights a cigarette as if to ward off the darkness.
"Get the little ones inside," I say. "We're burning the fires bright tonight."
At our feet, the wind blew in a piece of red yarn tangled in a few strands of yellow fur. After a quiet couple of weeks the bastards are feeding again.
I do the perimeter, spreading the word among the fire keepers, then go around to the quartermaster's and tell the boys they'll be hauling out three extra cords of wood tonight. Night's coming on and I can see my breath on the air on the way back. The husk of a long dead grasshopper clings to my fur. I scrape him off on a nearby bale of hay. There's only room for the living here.
Light from within leads me back to the mess tent. By long habit, my eyes zero in on Froo Froo standing in line before I even get inside. She doesn't look a day older, breathtaking in her combat gear.
"Froo," I say, cutting alongside. "Hey, Froo."
She looks up from the pale, dried beans that Cookie dumps on her tray. "Oh. Hi, Jack," is all I get before she starts eying the beer. She showed the beans more love.
"Been a while," I say. "You back in Kojo to stay?"
"I'm passing through on border patrol." She grabs a glass of Kojo's Own Brew and I motion to Lefty behind the table to hand me one of my own. The little grunt behind Froo gives me the stinkeye but he's not about to start up. I turn my attention back to her.
"I was thinking about you the other day."
"Mm," she says.
"How long you going to be here?" I imagine the blue ribbon hidden beneath the red plaid hunting cap she wears. I know it's there; it's sewn into her head.
Here's where the blatant money-grab comes in! If you'd like to read the rest of the story, as well as alternate versions and the making of Fluff and Buttons, grab the e-book here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HAR5CTU
Editorial: Tony C Smith
Beardie Book Review: Sean Keogh
Fact: Fiction Crawler 4 by Matthew Sanborn Smith
Main Fiction: The Vampire Kiss by Gene Wolfe
This podcast is brought to you by Audible.com. Download a free audiobook of your choice today at audiblepodcast.com/sofaLinks to Fiction Crawler stories:
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
From the "How the fuck is this news?" department: Obama Breaks Bush Jacket Rule In Oval Office Way to go, HuffPo.
I had this memorized when I was a wee one: The Cruel Shoes
Found on grinding.be: Naked Doll People!
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
One thing that I thought was wonderful was that a modern American president mentioned non-believers as a part of this country, rather than an evil that must be destroyed. We've got some change already.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I just found out that Andrew Wyeth died a couple of days ago. Raise a glass to a master. I chose to post his Trodden Weed because I love the boots. You can imagine Solomon Kane wearing these, marching off to kill a witch.
I finally moved on a bit with The Inner Workings of the Artificial Mind. I finished a draft of Chapter 9 and I'll shortly ship it off to its readers. You may or may not recall that the book is a bit of an experiment. Normally I won't send anything on to a reader until I think it's as good as it can get. With this novel, I'm sending it out less than perfect, partly because some people were curious about the writing process and partly to get myself into gear and work on the thing. I sent out Chapter 8 in September, so I'm a little behind.
Only a few days left to vote in The Sofanauts Awards: http://www.micropoll.com/akira/TakeSurvey?id=1118390
And finally, I think I post way too much eighties music here, so I want to put on some newer stuff. Here's a tune I like from Ellie Lawson. It comes with a homework assignment. I need you guys to comment and tell me if you can play the entire three minutes and forty-two seconds of song or if you get an abbreviated bit from it. I ask, because when I ran the Iron Maiden song the other day, I could hear the whole thing on my MacBook, from where I posted it, but only heard thirty seconds from my desktop PC. I used Firefox on both computers, but I wasn't signed into the blog as me on the PC. It was posted on imeem by the imeem jukebox, maybe that had something to do with it. Anywho, let me know, and here you go:
Gotta get up from here - Ellie Lawson
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
Gotta love that Anu Garg.
Here's the Sofa stuff this week, haven't mentioned that yet:
Editorial: Tony C Smith
Poem: As If We Could Change Anything by G O Clark
Flash: Jonathon by Church H Tucker
Film Talk: Rod Barnett
Main Fiction: In The Sunken Museum by Gregory Frost
New Titles: Tony C SmithThis podcast is brought to you by Audible.com. Download a free audiobook of your choice today at audiblepodcast.com/sofa
The Prisoner - Iron Maiden
But I never really sat down and watched the show. You know what would be cool? Many years ago the Sci Fi Channel ran a Prisoner marathon and Harlan Ellison, who loved the series, did intros for each episode. It would be cool to see those. If anyone knows if those are available, let me know. It's not that In Search of The Prisoner documentary on YouTube either.
The former wife is feeling much better, by the by. She expects to be feeling shockingly nifty by Monday. This, I think, is all that I have to say for right now. Bye.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Last night I updated my story log, tracking which stories of mine are at which magazines. I really should do this as soon as I get new info but I've been a bit slacky lately. Then I sent out a friendly reminder to someone who needs to get back to me on one story and withdrew another story from a mag that never got back to me even after a reminder. I usually give a mag four months before querying on a submission, unless their guidelines suggest otherwise, or it's The New Yorker. I give another month and a half and if I haven't heard anything by that point, I withdraw my story. Of course, the two editors I wrote to last night told me in November they'd get back to me ASAP after getting my first query. I have reason to believe there could have been an e-mail problem with the first so I sent another query. I'm sure all of this fascinates you.
I use some version of Quattro Pro from 1998 to track my stories. I often used a WordPerfect from the same era to write my stories before I got a MacBook. Anywho . . . The file is called aacalend because I first created it back in 1991 on a Packard Bell (1 MB hard drive! No, really!) with MS Works and it would only allow for file names of up to eight characters. I wanted to call it calendar, but I also wanted it to pop up on the very top of my list of files so I stuck the aa on the front. I stuck with the name as it jumped from computer to computer. Now I back it up on Google Documents and it's still called aacalend there.
This is how I set it up: I made fields called TITLE, MARKET, DATE SENT, EDITOR, DATE RETURNED (rejected), DATE ACCEPTED, DATE PUBLISHED, PAYMENT and COMMENTS. This way, I always know where a story is, and I won't make the mistake of sending it to the same place twice. I have three pages on my spreadsheet. I sort the first by DATE RETURNED, so I can look at the bottom of the page and see everything that's out at the moment. I sort the second by TITLE so when I want to send out a story, I can quickly see where it's already been. I sort the third by MARKET so I can quickly see if I have another story at the magazine where I'm thinking about sending my current story.
That's about it. Any questions, class?
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
You know how some writers say they wrote themselves into a corner? Well I wrote myself off a cliff. Yesterday, maybe halfway through the story, my protagonist had a revelation which makes the second half of the story pointless. I wrote it and turned my AlphaSmart off. I'll look in on it again in a couple of weeks, see what I can do with it. The story has to be fundamentally different now to be a story. Ah well, these things happen. The story is called "The Italian Federation." I say this so that if I bring it up again you'll know what I'm talking about.
The next thing I'm going to work on is--
Nope. Cant tell you.
Anyway, it's been a day leaning toward crappy. I've been sick, as I said. I got a few important things done around the house, but I got a feeling to which I shall now refer as "The Empties." It's what I felt before I used to go into a depression. I try not to do that anymore, but The Empties are still there. I'll be over it tomorrow, I imagine.
Back at it.
Tooth and nail.
I had four rejections in the last couple of days.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
The job really gets in the way of real life. Stupid money!
I've got to get on the stick and start reading, reading, reading for the next Fiction Crawler. There's one in the hopper already, I mean the one after that. I've got writing to do, clothes and dishes to wash, a bathroom to clean . . . Let me just stop saying things so I don't depress myself.
Not much here. Dog turned ten today. The family had a mini-party for her. Not the sort of thing we usually do, but ten is pretty good for a dog. I don't think I ever had a dog that lived that long, or that I've owned that long.
Saw Bubba Ho-Tep today. The movie rocks! It is just fucked-up crazy. I didn't know it was rated R when I rented it. I brought it over to the former wife's house and said, "Hey everyone, we have to check out this film!" The first three lines of dialogue were so foul my teenagers actually left the room, and we're not exactly born-agains. The former wife loves Bruce Campbell and the two of us loved the film. It's based on a Joe R. Lansdale story. Check it out.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Welcome Ms. Mona, follower number 5! I think she may be Homer Simpson's Reno wife, though I'm not sure
Market listings for you spec fiction writers out there. Do you use Duotrope? I hear Ralan mentioned a lot and I don't use Duotrope exclusively, but there are a lot of things I like about this market listing. You can seek out markets by genre and story length, sort by payscale, see how long a magazine's average response is and its acceptance rate. I like to use a few different market lists because if you stick to just one, you'll definitely miss out on some. I also use StoryPilot and of course I bookmark pages of mags that I don't find through any of these sites.
The link for voting for the Sofanauts Awards is up again, for the moment. Please vote if you haven't yet done so.
And speaking of the Sofa . . .
This week the StarShipSofa is pleased to present Aural Delights No. 58. Blast off!
Editorial: Tony C Smith
Poem: Again The Night by O G Clark
Fact: Early Utopia by Amy H Sturgis
Main Fiction: Looking Down On You by Ian Watson
Sofanuts Update: Mark Bormann
New Titles: Tony C Smith
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
The future will be interesting. If you live long enough all sorts of crazy things can occur. I'll let you know.
92: Just Another Day at the Job
93: A Question of Benefits
I know they're all shorties, a tweet and two flashes, but I'm having a good time. Soon I'll get back to my longer babies, I'm certain.
Congrats to The One-Thousand friend (and mine too) Grant Stone on his Julius Vogel Award Nomination! (Picture Kermit the Frog's flailing limbs. Yaaaaaaaay!)
Here's one for all the ladies. Go to 1:00 if you want to skip the annoying guy and go straight to the song:
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Today I wrote a draft of a quick little something for that flash series I mentioned yesterday. I need to flesh it out just a tiny bit and then it will be done. It came out nicely. Maybe I could do a series.
A guy at my job who works on short films tried telling me about this last week. Now SF Signal has some video. Looks very cool. A modern feature-length animated movie that's not played for laughs? Thank you, Jebus!
Monday, January 05, 2009
You Are Being Lied To About Pirates by Johann Hari
I'm one of those guys who is likely to take the side of the little guy over the government or the corporation, to the point where I may not condone violence but I certainly understand it. In general, if the little guy is getting screwed by the government and the corporation together, he usually has only one way of getting what he wants. I don't like terrorism, but I understand it. It's war on a shoestring budget. When you're in a corner, you do what you gotta do. Throw me some hate mail if you like. The only difference between what we've done in Iraq and what the dildos (should that be dildoes?) did on 9/11 is a matter of scale.
I haven't really looked into this site, but the NPR story today seemed mildly interesting.
Another joint that takes Flash Fiction. They're interested in doing series (how do I pluralize something that's already plural? serieses?) in flashes. Now that's interesting. I've got an idea for a flash fiction series. I'd considered doing it here on the blog, just haven't gotten to it yet. It would be based on one of the flash pieces I've already run here. The only challenge is, the concept is insane and the stories would be as well, so could I keep up my interest in it, and could I keep the readers interest? I'll have to write a few and figure out if I want to do more.
Heard about this on NPR today as well. It's an alternative history novel about Africans enslaving Europeans in the New World. Again, the little guy thing, this appeals to me. The book's not out for a couple of weeks. I've often fantasized about the Europeans coming to a New World in which the natives are technologically superior and beat their white asses down and maybe go to find out where they came from. I don't think I'd be interested in writing it. I just like to think about it. We've loved making Nazis the bad guys in American pop culture for seventy years now, but we act as if we didn't perpetrate our own Holocaust right here. Who knew my links would taste so politically skewed?
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Speaking of that, I never mentioned last week's show. Oops! Here we go: This week, the StarShipSofa is pleased to present Aural Delights no. 57. Blast off!
Poem: Fifty Cents by Mark Rich
Blinded By The Light: Part 1 Jetes de Vries
Fact: Science News by JJ Campanella
Main Fiction: Film-Makers of Mars by Geoff Ryman
Beardie Book Review: Sean Keogh
Film-makers is awesome by the by. I'm also a huge fan of Brin's Uplift books and the serial is an Uplift story. Yay! If you haven't read Startide Rising yet, what in the hell are you waiting for? It's been out for like 25 years now.
As a reminder, you still have time to vote for your Sofa favorites in The Sofanauts Awards. I checked the link a couple of weeks ago and it was down. I just checked it now and it's down. Crappo. Well, you can still vote by joining the StarShipSofa forums and voting on the Awards topic. Do it now!
Saturday, January 03, 2009
I checked. Turns out I'm not Doctor Who.
I forgot to mention the titles of my last two stories. 89 was Mirror Man and 90 was Fall of the Hunters which Thaumatrope just bought today.
That's it. I want to post before midnight.