I'm not going to embarrass them in public because they do try so hard and are quick to fix broken things when I bring them to their attention.
It's just that, by now, I'd hope they'd just email me, "Hey, Siderea, we'll be fucking up your email at this future date and time. We'll be around on Twitter until this subsequent date and time. Please be available during this window to exercise your account and let us know what we've broken this time."
Instead, I email them in response to the planned outage announcement and say, "Hey, what can we do in advance to make this work?" and they're like "nothing, it's all going to go perfectly!" and I'm like, "ooookay, when exactly will you be flipping the switch, (so I know when to check on you, but I don't say this part)?" and they're like, "oh, sometime on that weekend." *throws hands in the air*
(I miss nyip.net so hard.)
The last few days have been like days of recovery from illness -- not soreness or fatigue so much as a sort of muzzy-headedness I dislike much more than pain.
Therefore, I have not done much writing or reading.
I did manage to read Insomniac City, Bill Hayes' memoir of his relationship with Oliver Sacks. It's a lovely, gentle book, a kind of idyll of daily life in New York -- lots of drinking wine on rooftops and talking to strangers in the park. Hayes invokes the sensory detail of their life together with the attention you'd expect of someone who could properly appreciate Oliver Sacks.
I'd read Hayes' description of a piece of music -- Beethoven's Op. 133, say (The Great Big Fugue) -- then cue it up on YouTube and listen -- or look up a meal they ate or an artist Hayes admired. In this way, the book became a delightful multi-sensory experience.
Reading or writing for work and other projects, though, did not seem to be on.
When writing is too difficult, I draw. One of my comfort activities is attempting loose copies of the exquisitely strange radial creatures from Haeckel's Art Forms in Nature. Listening to Beethoven' bright, angular notes, I thought -- why not try to draw this as well?1
Under the cut are a few creatures drawn out of the music, though they are not perfect synaesthetic renderings of these pieces or anything -- more a fusion of what I was looking at, what I was hearing, and what I could actually draw.
( Musical Drawings )
1. I do see a little colour to music, but it's a very limited palette, shading from blue-white through golden brown to dark brown, and probably has more to do with the colour of the piano whereon I failed to learn to play music as a child, rather than any intricacy of brain connections.
Before I went back to read it today, I checked party chat, and lo! wispfox claims responsibility for this delight!
So I have prepared what I believe to be an appropriate response:
If I were for some reason forced to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a hotel, I would go to the Fogo Island Inn, off the northern coast of Newfoundland.
Or maybe a less ridiculously posh place with bonus icebergs, the Hotel Arctic in Ilulissat, Greenland.
I remind myself that I've already got a weekend booked in Iceland on my way home to the States in December. And I can sit and enjoy views of the cold sea from a lovely steaming hotpot at any number of municipal pools. And my room probably has a view of the harbor!
But that's a long ways off. I'm pondering whether to plan an August long weekend somewhere in the UK, and whether it would be worth the faff to travel somewhere more northerly, as opposed to just going to Brighton or something. I'm very fond of Scarborough. I also have this weird desire to see the Isle of Man after watching the national road race championships a few weeks ago.
Also worth pointing out that I'm going to Saint Petersburg at the end of August, and perhaps that counts as northerly if not quite with an unobstructed ocean view? I'm rather tempted by Kronstadt...
As part of my continuing effort to justify the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription I have, I’ve been playing with my Audition audio software and learning how to use it. Today I learned how to make a multitrack file! Go me. I also played with the various filters in the software to distort and shape sounds.
All of which is to say I recorded a song today and it is very very noisy indeed. It’s “Here Comes the Rain Again,” which is my favorite song from the Eurythmics. Here it is (and no, it’s not actually nine minutes long, I don’t know why the media player says that. It’s, like, five):
Yes, that’s me singing. No, Annie Lennox doesn’t have a thing to worry about.
In case you’re curious, every noise on that track either comes out of me, or out of an acoustic tenor guitar. Audio filters are fun! Let’s just say I let my Thurston out to play, and if you get that reference, congratulations, you’re old too.
No, I’m not giving up my day job. Relax. But I do enjoy playing with sounds. This is fun for me.
In any event: Enjoy the noise.
Osric: "I'm not wearing a costume."
Rich: "You're wearing a dress and you have a piece of fruit on your head."
Osric: "You're so old."
I liked that it was nearly dialogue free (and I didn't mind that I couldn't understand half the dialogue that there was), but I felt that the structure was overly fiddly and unnecessary and it kept me from full immersion (um, pun not intended?) emotionally. Also the music was too loud and there was too much of it.
It also suffers a little from Band of Brothers syndrome in that I couldn't tell the two young dudes apart for most of the story. Once they're both wet so you can't tell which one has curly hair and which one has straight hair, I couldn't tell them apart, and I honestly didn't care that much about them beyond the generic - I mean, I didn't want any of those guys to die, and I felt there was nothing specific about those two to make me care more. ( spoilers ) (Otoh, casting Harry Styles - who was good, I thought - was a smart move, because I always recognized him, even half-drowned.)
Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh (and James D'Arcy!) were great, as was Tom Hardy. I mean, I would have watched a whole movie where Tom Hardy ( spoiler ) But overall, it's a B to B+ kind of movie for me. I wouldn't see it again.
If you do see it, I can say it was definitely worth seeing in 70mm, if you have that option. Otoh, if you have a fear of drowning, I don't recommend it for you.
Both L and I had similar mixed feelings. We discussed it on the walk to the bus stop, and my god, I have never sweated as much as I sweated yesterday - it was not a day for walking but I did a lot of it. I was so overheated that I never once felt cold in the movie theater despite being sleeveless, which has never ever happened to me before.
Before the movie we were going to meet at a Mexican place that looked good, but it was so jam packed with people, we ended up at the Cafe Tallulah, where the cheeseburger is fantastic, but again, on a day as hot as yesterday, wtf were the front windows all doing open, so you couldn't feel the air conditioning hardly at all? I never sweated so much in my life while doing nothing.
Having a weekend with partner in Frankfurt.
Hotel perhaps overdoing the stylish minimalism: why does this always mean, nowhere to put stuff in the bathroom? However, good marks for the breakfast buffet.
On matters of modern design, am I the only person who finds themself waving their hands at a tap that turns on some other way, and vice versa?
Today to the Stadel- art gallery, very good stuff and lots of it. Among works observed, one C16th courtesan as Flora, with obligatory symbolickal bubbie displayed.
Also to the Arts and Crafts Museum, which has gone full-on poncey and eschews labeling in favour of composing curatorial 'constellations'. Though I could have spent more time with the shiny pillow-like balloons that one was permitted even exhorted to touch. (Sometimes I am shallow and frivolous.)
Some general flaneurserie, looking into churches, etc.
Because sometimes it’s fun to play with Photoshop’s sliders and see what you come up with. This is what happens (in part) when you push the “dehaze” slider all the way to the right. The real sunset didn’t look like this (it looked like this), but I think it might be cool to live on a planet where the sunset did look like that, every once in a while.
Enjoy the weekend, folks.
- Third book in a row with a shack: "I didn't know then that the crooks were still quite near... hiding in a shack down a side turning." [Note: it's a shed in a European town, 1974.]
- Reading, books 2017: 70
59. The Wolves of Normality, Foyle Young Poets of the Year anthology, 2016, poetry. (?/5)
How to be a patriot, by Sophia Carney (full poem)
1. Plate your pain with reinforced steel;
fit it with tire treads and arm
it with the revolver you keep
in the kitchen cabinet next to the Coco Pops.
2. Exhibit your pride;
curate it like a museum display.
Soak the constitution in formaldehyde
that sticks the imperatives to the page.
Program the X-ray machine at the door to record
the shade of the visitors' skin
3. Press the flag flat.
Turn it to a freeze-frame
between two Perspex sheets labelled
DO NOT TOUCH.
4. Neglect to mention the pixels of
blood that appear
under UV light and human scrutiny.
From "Oh this has not gone well" (part 14) by Redditor "ThisHasNotGoneWell":
"Well," I started, how do I explain statistics, and not sound like the boringest boring person in the world, "In the world I come from people have enough free time on their hands, and they take games seriously enough, that people will study a game like a Mage might study magic. I had plenty of time when I was waiting for the pass south to clear, so I spent some time pulling the rules apart, figuring out the probability of any given hand. The other players might have a gut feeling as to how probable a given hand is, but I know the figures exactly. I'll also try to keep track of what cards I've seen played already. Between that, and having worked out the probabilities of each, I usually have at least an idea of how good my hand is compared to the others."
"Wait," she said, trying to wrap her head around what I'd just said, "So, you know what cards they have in their hand?"
"Not quite, I know what cards they probably have. And even if I don't know specifics, I'll at least have an idea of whether their hand is better or worse than mine, and that's really all I need."
"Don't humans have anything better to do?"
I thought of the many hundreds of hours spent playing videogames and watching Netflix.
( Talk about my Mom's employment situation, which includes talk of politics and racism )
( Media I'm consuming: the Holocaust, and politics in the Balkans )
3) Mimi riding in her stroller
It's been a while since I've listened to an audiobook, so I'd forgotten how much more intense and immersive an experience audiobooks are? There's no skimming or skipping ahead possible, and you can't read faster as it gets more exciting. You're stuck at speaking pace for every single sentence in the book so there's plenty of time for things to really sink in.
I mean, I knew this already, this is why I generally don't read novels by audiobook as my first exposure to the book, it's too stressful for my delicate sensibilities. I definitely would not have been able to handle The Scorpion Rules by audiobook if I didn't already know everything that would happen. But I was still surprised by how different an experience it was to listen to it as audiobook.
For one thing the horrifying nature of everything that happens was way more directly horrifying, oh my god. Like I did notice this stuff but it didn't strike me as much on first read through when I was all focused on questions of what happens next.
( Read more... )
Here’s Sugar curling up with a good book, in this case the ARC of Don’t Live For Your Obituary, my upcoming collection of essays about writing and the writing life, which comes out in December from Subterranean Press. And you can win it! Here’s how:
Tell me in the comments which Beatles song I am thinking of right now.
The person who correctly guesses which Beatles song I am thinking of wins. In the case where more than one person correctly guesses, I will number the correct guesses in order of appearance and then use a random number generator to select the winner among them.
“Beatles song” in this case means a song recorded by the Beatles, and includes both original songs by the band, and the cover songs they recorded. Solo work does not count. Here’s a list of songs recorded by the Beatles, if you need it. The song I’m thinking of is on it.
Guess only one song. Posts with more than one guess will have only the first song considered. Posts not related to guessing a song will be deleted. Also, only one post per person — additional posts will be deleted.
This contest is open to everyone everywhere in the world, and runs until the comments here automatically shut off (which will be around 3:50pm Eastern time, Sunday, July 23rd). When you post a comment, leave a legit email address in the “email” field so I can contact you. I’ll also announce the winner here on Monday, July 24. I’ll mail the ARC to you, signed (and personalized, if so requested).
Kitten not included.
Also remember you can pre-order the hardcover edition of Obit from Subterranean Press. This is a signed, limited edition — there are only 1,000 being made — and they’ve already had a healthy number of pre-orders. So don’t wait if you want one.
Now: Guess which Beatles song I am thinking of! And good luck!
Let's just say there are some, uh, cultural differences between Ukraine and everywhere else I've ever been that take a bit of getting used to. FOR EXAMPLE:
What is this, some kinky sex thing? Maybe in that masochist bar that we didn't get into because your kink is okay but not my kink?
No! It is the café in the Lviv airport. Why do they have chairs like this? No one knows. But to answer a few questions:
1) Yes, we sat in them.
2) Yes, they are actually quite comfortable.
3) No, no one else seemed to think they were out of the ordinary in any way.
To answer a question no one asked:
1) Yes, the Americanos in that café are quite good, especially by airport standards, would totally recommend. Though, granted, it was like 5 am and I would have drank lighter fluid if it would have woken me up.
Our hotel in Lviv, while cute, had no elevator--a problem, since our room was on the 5th floor. (I may be an obsessive step-counter who never goes on an escalator when there's the option of a staircase, but at the end of the day when you've been walking/carrying bags? Less fun.) We were relieved to see that this hotel does have one. In fact, it has all of the regular floors you would expect to see in a building, such as 1, 2, 3, 4, and crab.
1) Yes, I know what's on the crab floor.
2) No, you'll have to wait and see until tomorrow if it's any good.
Life goals, amirite?
In all seriousness, though, not for nothing is Odessa called Paris on the Black Sea. It has all the architectural splendour and literary tradition you could hope for, it is cosmopolitan and fashionable, and it is lit. I have never been to Paris, granted, but from what I understand Odessa is much cheaper and not as crowded. In Kiev and Lviv, people are pretty much the same as anywhere else, except with a penchant for wearing poorly translated English t-shirts bearing inspirational but nonsensical slogans, expressions of general hatred towards anyone viewing the shirt, or just vague weirdness (my favourite so far was a picture of a cat made out of ramen noodles sitting in a bowl with the caption "Pet Food").
Here, though, everyone looks like a model. The women are all tall and thin and wear flowing striped dresses, and the children prance around in tutus at all hours of the night. The streets are alive with music and performers and what I'm pretty sure is a unicorn (i.e., incentive to look at the pictures under the cut).
( plz appreciate how much I had to narrow these down )
So, on July 21, 1997, which was a Monday, I posted the following on the alt.society.generation-x newsgroup:
Thought y’all might like to know. I’m happy, pleased, tired.
96,098 words, cranked out in a little under three months, working
mostly on weekends, grinding out 5,000 words at a sitting.
Learned two things:
a) I *can* carry a story over such a long stretch;
b) like most things on the planet, thinking about doing it is a lot
worse than simply sitting down and doing it. The writing wasn’t hard
to do, you just need to plant ass in seat and go from there.
I did find it helped not to make my first novel a gut-wrenching
personal story, if you know what I mean. Instead I just tried to write
the sort of science fiction story I would like to read. It was fun.
Now I go in to tinker and fine tune. Will soon have it ready for beta
testing. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
That novel? Agent to the Stars. Which means that today is the 20th anniversary of me being a novelist. Being a published novelist would have to wait — I date that to January 1, 2005, the official publication date of Old Man’s War — but in terms of having written a full, complete (and as it eventually turned out, publishable) novel: Today’s the day.
I’ve recounted the story of Agent before but it’s fun to tell, because I think it’s a nice antidote to the “I just had to share the story I’d been dreaming of my whole life” angle first novels often take. The gist of the story was that my 10-year high school reunion was on the horizon, and having been “the writer dude” in my class, I knew I would be asked if I had ever gotten around to writing a novel, and I wanted to be able to say “yes.” Also, I was then in my late 20s and it was time to find out whether I could actually write one or not.
Having decided I was going to write one, I decided to make it easy for myself, mostly by not trying to do all things at once. The goal was simply: Write a novel-length story. The story itself was going to be pretty simple and not personally consequential; it wasn’t going to be a thinly-disguised roman a clef, or something with a serious and/or personal theme. It would involve Hollywood in some way, because I had spent years as a film critic and knew that world well enough to write about it. And as for genre, I was most familiar with mystery/crime fiction and science fiction/fantasy, so I flipped a coin to decide which to do. It come up heads, so science fiction it was, and the story I had for that was: Aliens come and decide to get Hollywood representation.
(I don’t remember the story I was thinking for the mystery version. I’m sure death was involved. And for those about to say “well, you didn’t have to stick with science fiction for your second book,” that’s technically correct, but once I’d written one science fiction novel, I knew I could write science fiction. It was easier to stick with what I knew. And anyway I write murder mysteries now — Lock In and the upcoming Head On. They also happen to be science fiction.)
I remember the writing of Agent being pretty easy, in no small part, I’m sure, because of everything noted above — it wasn’t meant to be weighty or serious or even good, merely novel-length. When I finished it, I do remember thinking something along the lines of “Huh. That wasn’t so bad. Maybe I should have done this earlier.” In the fullness of time, I’ve realized that I probably couldn’t have done it any earlier, I wasn’t focused enough and it helped me to have some sort of external motivation, in this case, my high school reunion.
Once finished, I asked two friends and co-workers at America Online to read the book: Regan Avery and Stephen Bennett, both of whom I knew loved science fiction, and both of whom I knew I could trust to tell me if what I’d written was crap. They both gave it a thumbs up. Then I showed it to Krissy, my wife, who was apprehensive about reading it, since if she hated it she would have to tell me, and would still have to be married to me afterward. When she finished it, the first thing she said to me about it was “Thank Christ it’s good.” Domestic felicity lived for another day.
And then, having written it… I did nothing with it for two years. Because, again, it wasn’t written for any other reason than to see if I could write a novel. It was practice. People other than Regan and Stephen and Krissy finally saw it in 1999 when I decided that the then brand-new Scalzi.com site could use some content, so I put it up here as a “shareware” novel, meaning that if people liked it they could send me a dollar for it through the mail. And people did! Which was nice.
It was finally physically published in 2005, when Bill Schafer of Subterranean Press published a limited hardcover edition. I was jazzed about that, since I wanted a version of the book I could put on my shelf. The cover was done by Penny Arcade’s Mike Krahulik, who among other things knew of the book because I was one of Penny Arcade’s very first advertisers way back in the day, advertising the Web version of the book (those guys have done okay since then). Then came the Tor paperback edition, and the various foreign editions, and the audiobook, and here we are today.
When I wrote the novel, of course, I had no idea that writing it was the first step toward where I am now. I was working at America Online — and enjoying it! It was a cool place to be in the 90s! — and to the extent I thought I would be writing novels at all, I thought that they would be sideline to my overall writing career, rather than (as it turned out) the main thrust of it. This should be your first indication that science fiction writers in fact cannot predict the future with any accuracy.
I’m very fond of Agent, and think it reads pretty well. I’m also aware that it’s first effort, and also because it was written to be in present time in the 90s, just about out of time in terms of feeling at all contemporary (there are fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors remaining, to pick just one obvious example in the book). At this point I suggest people consider it as part of an alternate history which branched off from our timeline in 1998 or thereabouts. Occasionally it gets talked about for being picked for TV/film. If that ever happens, expect some extensive plot revisions. Otherwise, it is what it is.
One thing I do like about Agent is that I still have people tell me that it’s their favorite of mine. I like that because I think it’s nice to know that even this very early effort, done simply for the purpose of finding out if I could write a novel, does what I think a novel should: Entertains people and makes them glad they spent their time with it.
I’m also happy it’s the novel that told me I could do this thing, this novel-writing thing, and that I listened to it. The last couple of decades have turned out pretty well for me. I’m excited to see where things go from here.
I welcome all of the following types of comments on ANY of my entries:
- Single term comments, e.g. *hugs*, yay, yes, no, thanks, this, seconded, like, +1, &c.
- One or two word comments.
- Otherwise brief comments, e.g. single sentences.
- A comment that is a punctuation mark to let me know you read, e.g. a full stop, or an asterisk, &c.
- A comment that is a punctuation mark to express your response, e.g. ! or + &c.
- A comment that is an emoticon(s) to express your response, e.g. \o/, <3, :), :(, :-D, ;-), :-P, &c.
- Long, wordy comments. Feel free to ramble away....
- Comments on related topics, conversational asides, and tangents generally.
- Incoherent comments. Most of us have both posted and had practice reading incoherent comments!
- Commentors conversing with each other is also welcome. I like hosting a place where people can interact.
I also welcome:
- Comments on older public entries.
- Comments on VERY OLD public entries.
- Comments from people who are not subscribed to me.
- Comments from people who I’ve never met.
- Comments from people who haven’t talked to me for a while.
- Comments from people who’ve never talked to me.
How I reply to comments:
- I usually try to reply to comments.
If you need to know anything else then I recommend asking as a more productive strategy than speculating. ;-P
I don't mind arguments as long as they don't descend into name calling. I do ask that if you make a comment you stick around to defend your point of view, and don't drop a lighted match into the petrol of life, and then slope off.
Also, yesterday, my consolation birthday present arrived - a beautiful red patent leather Love Moschino tote bag (wow, there were three left in stock when I ordered mine and now there are none! I'm glad I got there in time!). During the whole epic search for a new bag, I coveted a red patent leather bag, but couldn't find one (or, rather, couldn't find one that was less than, like, $800 and while I'm profligate, I'm not that profligate), since I guess they aren't in style right now? Except it's red patent leather so I can't imagine how it could go out of style? But whatever. On a whim on Wednesday, I checked Zappo's to see if there were any available, and lo and behold, there it was. It's beautiful. It's big and kind of unwieldy (and unpleasantly sticky against the bare skin of my arm in the heat), but I don't care, because it's gorgeous.
Bosses 1 & 3 both admired it as I unpacked it from the box, and they were like, "Are you going to save it for special occasions?" and I said, "Hell no!" (note: I did not actually say "Hell no!" I just said, "no! I bought it so I could use it! Because it is beautiful!") And I recommend to all of you to use your beautiful and special things rather than waiting for some mythical special occasion to crop up, because frequently, you will be waiting forever and never get to enjoy the beautiful thing you bought for yourself. Using a special bag/wearing your beautiful new shoes/opening that expensive bottle of wine - they can all make a regular occasion special, and I recommend you do that rather than wait for some occasion arbitrarily deemed "special" enough to break out the fancy lipstick or whatever. Live your best life whenever you can, people!
I want autumn and wearing layers and pulling out things made of wool.
Speaking of wool, I am wearing new sneakers made of wool today, for which I paid full price and I don't care because my poor arthritic foot bones are loving them so very much. The tops are soft! The insides are soft! There appears to be adequate support! They are from Allbirds and I never want to take them off. For the most part, they are not too hot, though I haven't tried them standing in the high humidity all day yet.
I am tempted to buy a pair of the loungers as well, for dayjob wear. (I snuck the sneakers in today because it's Friday and also hardly anyone is here.)
Expect incoming photos for every day I'm here.
Srsly, I didn't even like Battleship Potemkin but I don't think a movie needs to be enjoyable to be arguably the most important movie ever made, with which we would not have our current cinematic vocabulary. I mean. I teach film. So naturally the first thing I had to do (well, after we had lunch and coffee because we were up at 4 am to catch the flight from Lviv) was brave the 30°C weather to bring you the following:
Don't mind me, I'll be over here geeking out hard/memorizing the angles in the scene so that I can do horrible imitations of them amongst all the tourists.
Re the current hoohah about Boots the chemist charging well over the odds for the morning after pill, I was going to comment - when posting the link on various bits of social media, to go 'and Edwin Brooks must be spinning in his grave!'
Brooks was the MP who put through the sometimes overlooked but significant 1966 Family Planning Act: as discussed in that post I did some while back on 'why birth control is free under the NHS'.
However, I discovered from googling that - as far as one can tell from The Usual Sources - Brooks is still alive, but moved to Australia. I am profoundly shocked that the Wikipedia entry, under his political achievements, doesn't include that act. We wonder if, in the long history of reproductive rights, it got overshadowed by the more controversial 1967 Abortion Act, or, by the final incorporation of contraception into the NHS in 1974. If I had time on my hands (which at this moment I don't) I would go and try and edit that entry.
*I think this is a quotation from someone? but I can't find a source.