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.
This story originally appeared in issue #32 of Chiaroscuro
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.
"A couple hours. We're heading to Redstone."
"Really? Why don't you hang back a day? I've got a bottle of Mr. Rumple's tonic that I could use some help putting down. I could fix it for you. Muffin's got some pull." Froo Froo shakes her head.
"You'll never change. You gonna protect me from all the monsters out there?"
"Yeah, actually. Sure as hell try. They'll be feeding tonight, Froo. We found someone a little while ago."
"Muffin already told me. So what about the one who takes my turn? You're okay if they get killed out there?" She says it loudly, trying to embarrass me. I guess she forgot that she can't.
"As long as it's not you, Froo." I'm behind her now and the line pushes into me. I growl until it squeezes around us.
"You're such an asshole, Jack. Let everyone die, long as you get what you want."
"What are you talking about? You're the one I'm worried about. I'll go out there in your place."
"That's what I'm saying. You want me to live. You should want everyone to live!"
"I do want everyone to live!" Muffin's heavy paw grips my shoulder.
"Whoa, whoa! Let's relax, there buddy. Give her some room, Jack."
"Give her some room? She's already had two years of room!"
"Everybody's looking, Jack. Let's take it easy, okay?"
Froo Froo gets into my face. Her voice sounds low, her breath smells sweet.
"Make it twenty years next time, Jack. No, make it longer." She throws her beer in my face, grabs my beer from my paws and walks out with the applause of the mess tent behind her.
"Forget her," Muffin says. "Grab another beer. Sit down with us and take a load off."
"Get off!" I wrench my shoulder away. "I'm going to bed. I'll be hunting tomorrow."
I could have stayed in the mess tent all night and gotten as much sleep. Instead, I spend the night staring up into the darkness from my weather-beaten cot. The leather strap which holds on the claws that Pinny made for me bites into my forearm. Sooner or later the night devils will get bold or stupid and at least one of them will regret it for the rest of its very short life. My mind wanders as I stroke the back of the steel claws with my other paw.
We'd been lovers once, Froo Froo and I, three summers ago. Through sultry nights of sweating lust in the mildewed confines of this very hut, her exotic buttons, one brown, one blue, gazed into mine with incendiary passion.
You'd think two years would have mellowed her a little. But she always was hellfire. That's what I loved about her. That, and the chink in her armor, the one soft spot I ever saw.
"I had a dream once, when I was little," Froo Froo told me one night after a day of uncommon destruction. We lay in the cooling wet afterglow of desperate love. "I was in a huge warm bed, decorated with pink flowers. There were fairy-lights up above and everything smelled like rose-petals."
"Oh yeah?" I forced myself to say. I fought to stay awake, talking more for her sake than mine.
"I was wrapped in the arms of a little girl."
"What do you mean, a real one? A live one?"
"Yeah, but that's not the strange part."
"It gets stranger?"
"It was safe there. I lay in the bed the whole time. It felt like it lasted a minute, but I knew." She stroked my chest fur with one delicate paw, bringing me back from my half-sleep. It took me a minute to recall what she'd said.
"Knew what?" I asked.
"I knew it would always be safe there. That nothing in the world could hurt us. Not ever."
"Huh." What could I say? A story like that, I would have laughed if it came from anyone else. But I couldn't even bring myself to smile. "What a dream."
I held her tighter. If I could make it true for her, I would. She said something else, I don't know what. I slipped out of that world and into the other for a few hours. Dreams came, I'm sure, but there were no little girls there, living or otherwise.
Clouds, heavy and black, loom overhead; so dark I'm almost not sure that morning has come. When Muffin sees the sky he insists on coming along.
"You'll need someone to watch your back," he says. "Dark as it is, those hell-spawn might not know they're supposed to be sleeping."
"That's a bunch of crap, Muff, but if you want to come along, that's fine by me."
"Good. Willoughby's coming too."
"He's old enough now. Time he felt what a hunt's really like."
After breakfast we crunch through the tall grass. The tips whip our faces. They have their coats, Muffin and Willoughby, the cold autumn made worse by the lack of sunlight. I've got nothing but the denim jumper I came into the world with and my backpack, counting on the cold to keep me awake.
"Who was it that you found last night?" Willoughby asks, a little ways out. "Anyone we know?"
"There wasn't much left to identify," I say, "But you knew him. He had yellow fur, always wore that red sweater no matter what the weather was like. Never wore any pants."
"Not even when we begged him!" Muffin says.
"Oh, yeah! How could I forget that? What was his name again?"
"I don't remember. He must have been a wanderer from another village. I didn't see him enough for it to click."
"Poor bastard," Muffin says. He spits like he's cursing the ground.
"Aren't we all."
Halfway into the day we find them. The eggs lie hidden away among the rocks. They're long, rubbery, mottled grey things. Ugly as their mommas. Willoughby raises his stick, ready to stab.
"No, no, no. Wait," I say, batting him aside. I reach back and pull a can of spray glue out of my pack.
"What . . . ?" he asks.
"What did you guys do, steal that from the infirmary?" Willoughby asks Muffin. Muffin ignores him, too busy kicking rocks around, looking for more eggs. Not that I blame him, but these three in front of me are the mother lode. If Muffin finds any more than that, our little villages might be in more trouble than we thought. I work the little pump on the back of the can until the eggs shine in the feeble light. A little vial from my jumper pocket gets tossed into the middle of the whole thing.
"What's that now?" Willoughby asks.
"Patience," I say. "Anymore, before I start, Muff?"
"No, that's it."
I drop a rock on the glass vial and the eggs go up in a roar of flame. Willoughby yelps, falls back on his ass. I love tenderfoots.
"What are you worried about?" I ask. "You're young. I thought all you kids nowadays were fire-retardant!"
"That ain't the same as fire-proof! What's that squealing sound?"
I sit back, out of the way of the hissing black smoke.
"Muffin'll tell you it's gas escaping from inside the eggshells. I like to think it's the little mothers screaming. Don't bother opening your pack, Willoughby. We've got dinner right here."
He gives Muffin a look.
"Relax," Muffin says. "They're pure poison. I wouldn't even recommend breathing in that stink."
Willoughby scoots back on his butt. I get up and enjoy the fire from upwind. In a few minutes they're cooked black.
"As good a day as we could hope for," I say. "Saved some kids today, three less night devil mouths to feed. We should be heading back."
"Not that way," Muffin says. "This way."
"You're getting old, Muff. We came from this way."
"And you were never any good with directions. We've been taking a wide arc all day. We keep on, we can have an early supper in Redstone."
To be honest, I can't tell if he's right. Out on the plains, a square mile of grassland looks like any other. Above, thick clouds still block the sun, teasing us with the promise of much needed rain, but never coming through. I feel like I should be angry, but why? My cot's as uncomfortable as any other. Besides, I'll see Froo Froo in Redstone. I'm not planning on talking to her, not after last night. But being able to see her again in tomorrow morning's light makes it worth the long walk home.
"What are we waiting for, then?" I say. "Their food's got to be better than ours."
I've got a sense for night-devil eggs. Not smell really. I can't explain it and the young ones laugh it off. But Muffin knows. He keeps his eyes open, he's not capable of doing otherwise, but he trusts me to dowse out anything in the fields through which we pass. It's quiet. Save for the tentative chirps of the meadowlarks to one another in the long darkness, we move across the land in silence for the next few hours.
In the late afternoon the clouds part for the first time and harsh light burns clean the brown prairie. The sun hangs in the wrong part of the sky. We haven't made an arc and we're nowhere near Redstone. Before I can open my mouth to scream at Muffin I catch him staring at me. He knows. He expected this.
"What have you done?" I ask.
"I've saved us."
"You haven't saved us! You've killed us all! What the hell were you thinking, bringing us out this far?"
"It's freedom, Jack. We've been running around on that little piece of dirt for years while those bastards have been whittling us down to . . . What? A couple thousand of us now?"
"If that," Willoughby says.
"We're lucky if we got two years left in us, Jack. Three tops, until there's so few of us that they move in and wipe us out in a gastronomical orgy. We gotta do something!"
"We are doing something," I say. "We're burning the nests. We're squeezing them like they squeeze us."
"That's revenge, you dope. That's not victory. By the time we drive them to extinction, there won't be enough of us left to propagate! Listen to me. There's not a lot of us, and we've been hemmed in to our five little villages by fear for as long as anyone can remember. But think about it. There can't be a lot of them either, otherwise they would have overrun us a long time ago. We're moving past their nests, Jack. We're gonna come out on the other side of this goddamned nightmare and we're gonna run until nobody around knows what a night devil is and then we're gonna win, Jack." He stabbed his cigarette in my direction, emphasizing each point.
"We're gonna win because we're gonna be alive and safe. We're gonna be able to raise our grandkids without underground shelters. We're gonna be able to walk outside at night without weapons and just smell the apple blossoms on the breeze. Can you understand that, Jack? Can you even conceive of a life like that?"
He hunches a little bit in his passion, slouching under the weight of all the lost souls that he's carried throughout his life. Muffin shudders, and I think he might cry, but he gulps for air, racked by his own ranting. Willoughby looks sad. He's heard this bit before and he's bought into it, deciding Muffin is the bear that can save our sorry excuse for a race. They both stare at me, waiting for my answer like it matters one damn bit.
"No," I say, watching their bubble rip and rend in slow-time. "No, I can't."
Muffin heaves a humid sigh. "I shouldn't be surprised. Anyway, there's nothing for it tonight but to keep north. We're the scouting party, Jack. Once we find the way, three big migrations are all we'll need. Then you'll see. Someday all of this will be a bad dream."
"It's a bad dream now, Muff. Take a look." I stretch one paw to the east. I've been at this too long. I can spot carnage fifty yards away. A piece of stuffing blows our way and hits Willoughby right in the face.
"Phaw!" He shakes his head and flails his paws, horrified by the gore. We make our way to the site, Muffin cursing all the way. There are remains of maybe six bears here. We destroyed half that many eggs.
Combing through the aftermath, it's rare we find enough of a corpse to merit a burial. Identification is the best we hope for. These bits and pieces, they mean nothing to me: longish black fur, a piece of green corduroy with a buttonhole, I don't know these -
And there it is. The lone blue button I spent so many warm nights looking into sits by itself in a patch of dirt, staring back up at me now.
"No," someone beside me whispers. "I'm sorry, Jack."
The bitter winds buffet my suddenly frail body, keep me from falling to my knees. So did Froo Froo's stuffing feed the fires of the night devil bellies while I still took breath. Her cold dead button accuses me of failing to protect her, accuses me of surviving. Again, Muffin's familiar paw on my shoulder. Always on my shoulder.
I swing to kill. Even powered by rage, my soft paw only knocks him to the ground.
"You sent Froo Froo out here last night to die, didn't you Muffin?"
"You idiot!" Muffin flicks his cigarette butt at me, singeing my fur. Leaping at me with a roar born from the pits of Hell, his calico paws thrash like the scythes of a harvester. The old-timer beats my snout threadbare before my leg comes up and plows into his bottom seam. Muffin's roar turns to a howl. He's off me like a shot, rubbing that big round rump beneath his coat.
"After all these years we've known each other, you actually think I'd do something like that?" he yells. "I'm trying to save lives, not send more lambs to the slaughter! They were brought here, you moron. I would never send anyone out this far in the night! Not even a group of them!"
He's done, wandering off to nurse his wounds. I lie there, catching my breath, unable to scream for the tightness in my gut. I search the grey-blue vastness up above for something. Anything. Mere feet beyond me, the land is strewn with bits of faux fur and polyester stuffing, the shredded, half-devoured flesh of a soft little she-bear who asked no quarter. Burying my head in my arms, I shake, not caring if Willoughby sees.
A light rain falls, lost to the parched earth in minutes.
It's night. The full moon hasn't yet risen and a hundred-thousand stars sparkle silver in the now clear sky. Froo Froo's remains are hours to the south and there've been no signs of the night devils since. Maybe Muffin's right. Even so, we decide against a fire. They've got their coats, anyway and I've got my tonic.
"Take it easy on that whiskey," Willoughby says. "Mr. Rumples makes about twenty gallons a week and the rest of us might want some."
"Don't piss me off, Willoughby," I growl. "Didn't they tell you I'm a mean drunk?"
"They told me to stay away when you started drinking. But mostly cuz an old bastard like you predates synthetic materials. You're flammable as hell right now."
I dive at the little shit. Lucky for him I fall over my bottle. By the time I figure out which way is down, all I can hear are Willoughby's fat beanbag feet padding through the dry alfalfa. I'm too tired to waste my time with him. As comfortable as these dirt clods are, I've found a place to bed down for the night. Willoughby will get his tomorrow.
"Thumbs," I say, waking myself from an aching sleep.
"Excuse me?" Muffin says.
"Huh?" It's still night, Muffin and Willoughby are both up, so I haven't slept long. I shake my head, wipe the cold drool from my cheek. "No, I was thinking. Dreaming I was thinking, I don't know. We could win this fight if we had opposable thumbs. Hell, I'd settle for unopposed fingers! We've got nothing but stubs! No wonder we can't build a civilization."
"You want thumbs?" Muffin asks. He's still angry and sounds like he picked up my bottle before it emptied. "Monkeys got thumbs, Jack. Where's their civilization?"
"Look, I was . . . It was a dream, is all!"
"You know what they do with their almighty thumbs? They just beat their goddamned cymbals together all day long! Do you want that, Jack? Do you want that for a life?"
The distant shrieks cut through our little bickerings like the shock of ice water.
"No!" Willoughby says.
We leap to our feet. Far to the south, two demonic shadows rush through the air against the light of the huge blood moon.
"They're not supposed to be this far North," Muffin says.
"How could they -" I start. A wisp of white cotton trails from Muffin's coat. It stands out in the moonlight against his green and yellow speckled flesh. "Raise your coat, Muffin."
He does, exposing a rip in his backside where I kicked him.
"We led them out here!" Willoughby says. "They smelled their way right to us!"
Muffin muttered: "We had it in our hands. Everything."
"Run," I say.
"Run?" Willoughby screeches. "We can't outrun them!"
"Hold your ass together, old man," I tell Muffin, fumbling for my spray can.
He does like he's told, overlapping his big flat cheeks without urgency. He must figure we're as good as dead anyway. I spray him well with the glue, but not too well. I'm going to need as much glue as I can get.
"Tell your grandkids about me," I say. Revelation creeps across his face. Muffin blazes with energy once more.
"Yeah," he says, with a shocked smile. "Yeah, I will. I'll tell them about the craziest son-of-a-bitch there ever was."
He turns and runs as fast as he can with both paws holding his coat to his backside.
Willoughby still looks stupid. For a half second I consider giving him the claws in my backpack, but he'd hurt himself worse than the devils ever could.
"I told you to run," I say.
"What's going on? What are we doing?"
I take a swipe at his face. "We're running, dummy! Now get moving!"
He runs off into the black in Muffin's direction.
I rip the seam at my throat, exposing the fluff within. A tuft of batting catches on the wind. They're almost on me; I listen to their stiff wings beating the air. I'm shaking, but I force my body to keep pumping the can, soaking myself, front and back. I touch one paw to my sticky jumper pocket, feel the two glass vials of liquid fire there. For all the wetness, they seem warm. My paw sticks. It'll take a hell of a lot to remove it.
The first devil rips me from the land, the only home I've ever known. Its teeth seek out my open wound, my neck enveloped in its crushing jaws. Before I can think to scream, the claws of the second tear into my overstuffed belly. High above the dry earth they grapple over my half-sundered body, unable to renew their grips as pieces of my gluey fabric and stuffing stick to their teeth and claws. I embrace the searing agony. It's shocking, exhilarating, the exclamation point at the end of a long, dead life.
I struggle to keep my last thoughts on Froo Froo. Is this a selfless death, a life for Muffin's future grandchildren? Or is it selfish? A quick end to a hellish existence, now empty without the only one I ever really cared for? I'll never know. Unless there's something on the other side of all this. In case there is, I'll make it a point to ask her when we're safe in bed together in the arms of a real little girl, and nothing in the entire world can hurt us.
I press down hard and crack the vials.
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.