Being the Ongoing Chronicle of the Anticks, Misadventures, and Odd Deeds of an Overalls-clad Wanderer.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Your Daily Dose of Christmas!

Sometimes sitcoms bring out the best in Christmas stuff! Here are some clips.

First, The Brady Bunch. This is actually an entire episode edited down to the bare essentials for the main story.

And then we have something more recent: from the second season of The Big Bang Theory. By way of background here, Penny has informed Sheldon that she's going to buy him a Christmas present, which makes Sheldon deeply nervous as he then has to reciprocate the gift. He goes to Bath and Body Works and buys a bunch of gift baskets, planning to give Penny a basket commensurate with however nice her gift is to him. It all makes sense, in his mind....

Lastly, we have my favorite sitcom Christmas moment ever, when Ross on Friends was frustrated because he wanted to explain Hannukah to his son, Ben. He decided that maybe little Ben would listen more if he was dressed as Santa, but he couldn't find a Santa costume, which resulted in this:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Quick Note on Comments

Hey Readers,

Even though I have comment moderation turned on, I get a notice at my email every time a comment is left, which is why I'm usually able to approve them relatively quickly. Once in a while, though, I notice that some comments come along that do not get sent to me by email, so the only way I know they're there is to see them next time I log into Blogger. There's been a small uptick in this sort of thing over the last week, so if you notice your comments are languishing longer than usual, that's why.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta start Christmas shopping. (Yes. I said "start". Oy!)

Your Daily Dose of Christmas!

What's Christmas without some solo trumpet music? Here is "In the Bleak Midwinter", performed by the great Tine Thing Helseth.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Your Daily Dose of Christmas!

I heard this first song on the radio today, sitting in an office with two coworkers. We were all gobsmacked by the song's outright weirdness, and it got me thinking about novelty songs. Here's something called "I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas", by "Yogi Yorgelsson", which was an alter ego taken on by an American comedian named Harry Stewart. I'd never heard of this guy before today, and the song is one of those old-time comedy songs that...well, here it is.

Other Christmas novelty songs? There have been a bunch, obviously! Here's a version of "The 12 Days of Christmas" by Allan Sherman:

And then there's this new one, which I just heard for the first time the other day. It's not my favorite thing, but as novelty songs go, it's kinda cute and I can't hate anything that Kristen Bell is involved with. Here she is, joining Straight No Chaser with "Text Me Merry Christmas".

Thursday, December 18, 2014

This is downtown Buffalo.

One of the projects that's been under construction downtown has been the recreation of old sections of the Erie Canal, which were then filled with water and which have now frozen.

Think of Buffalo as an old, decaying, has-been city filled with rotting buildings and tired, gray people? Think again, America.

This city still has lots of problems, but for now, there's a sense that yes, we can get this stuff done.

(Photo credits: Dennis Gee, Kevin Rybczynski, Craig Kannaley, and Canalside Buffalo)

Fixing the Prequels: Finale

The Fixing the Prequels series was never, as I’ve noted many times throughout, a project for me to complain about the much-hated films. My goal was always to acknowledge the Prequel Trilogy’s very real problems by suggesting ways they could have been overcome whilst preserving the main story, while also arguing that the films are often much, much better than their reputations have developed. I intended this series to end a long time ago, and my hope was that as time went by, the Prequels would gain a bit in the main estimation of pop culture. I never expected them to become beloved, but I hoped that their many good qualities would look better from a distance, and the angry and often obnoxious rhetoric about them whenever they were brought up would become less toxic.

This, sadly, has not happened.

The tone regarding the Prequel Trilogy has remained as belligerently hostile as ever, with seemingly every discussion of Star Wars that comes up either devolving into, or at least involving a substantial detour, into “Why the Prequels were awful” and “Why George Lucas is the worst thing ever” and all the other boring memes, like “Lucas needed someone to tell him ‘No’” and the always-dreary appeals that all the best thinking about the Prequels was ever done by the noxious Red Letter Media guy. Even the sale of Star Wars to Disney, with the subsequent rejuvenation of the franchise with a new trilogy of films plus a number of spin-off movies, ended up with a lot of cheering that “Hooray! Finally we get Star Wars that has nothing to do with George Lucas!” and “I wonder if they’ll completely ignore the Prequels!” and so on.

To this day, while I understand a lot of the criticism these three films have received, I’ve never understood the outright hatred of them. Their mere existence serves to dredge up a fairly ugly side of fandom every time they arise in conversation. I just end up shrugging and saying “Oh well”, all at the same time avoiding a lot of Star Wars discussion, because I just tire of saying the same things, over and over again.

Episode VII has a title. Let's mark the day by bitching about THE PHANTOM MENACE! #StarWars

Anyway, I have some final thoughts on things regarding the Prequels and Star Wars in general, so I thought I’d gather them in one place as an epilogue to this series in general.


Might as well start here. I touched on the midichlorians in several places throughout the series (here and here, mainly), and my view on them has generally not changed at all. I see the midichlorians as an error on George Lucas’s part, but not from a philosophical standpoint but rather from a storytelling standpoint. I’ve never bought into the notion that by introducing midichlorians as some kind of “mechanism” for the Force, Lucas undermined the mysticism of the original trilogy. The problem is that there just doesn’t seem to have been any story reason to introduce them. The midichlorians add absolutely nothing to the narrative. They’re just kind of “there”, gumming up the works. There’s a very vague implication in Revenge of the Sith, when Palpatine tells Anakin that Darth Plagueis was able to influence the midichlorians to “create life”, that somehow he is responsible for Anakin’s “virgin birth”, but that’s all we have to go on. It’s my understanding that one of the “Expanded Universe” novels actually did something with that concept, but I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter now anyway, as the whole “Expanded Universe” has been swept beneath the rug. The very base suggestion seem to be that the Force somehow noticed that it was out of “balance”, and that it therefore influenced the midichlorians to bring forth a specially powerful being to restore that balance. This, though, also is never really dealt with or stated outright, so the midichlorians remain what they always were: a vexing idea that seemed to have no real reason to be there in the first place.

The “Balance” of the Force

This, too, was a vexing concept that was never really discussed. The prophecy was that someone would bring “balance” to the Force, and it was pretty much assumed by everyone that Anakin was the “Chosen One”. Oddly, though, it was never really discussed at all just how the Force was out of “balance” in the first place. The Jedi seemed to assume that “balance” would mean the destruction of the Sith, but...we’re talking balance here, right? Equal measures of yin and yang, not all the way one way or the other. I suspect that what Lucas had in mind here was that a thousand years of the Jedi maintaining peace and justice in the Old Republic led to a calcified, entrenched group of Jedi who were pretty much so set in their ways as to never budge. This is hinted at a number of times in the Prequels, what with the Jedi’s surprise that the Sith could have returned without being noticed and other similar markers along the way. Not until Revenge of the Sith does Yoda note that they might have misread the prophecy all along.

The general implication is that Anakin must play his role, turning to the Dark Side and destroying the Jedi so that they might rise again, stronger and wiser. Metaphorically, Anakin is like the forest fire that clears the forest of dead brush that is choking off new growth, and that “balance” is not restored until Anakin personally destroys Emperor Palpatine, at the cost of his own life. With their deaths, Governor Tarkin’s words from A New Hope come true, as the last remnants of that earlier time are, at last, “swept away”.

All this plays into my notion that Lucas probably should have played more strongly with the angle that the Jedi were not in their prime at the time of their fall, but were actually succumbing to ruin and rot without ever realizing it. For years I’ve thought that the Jedi were roughly analogous to the Knights Templar, who also retreated so far into their own arrogant self-assurance that they too did not realize that their end was at hand almost until the moment the attacks came and they were tied to the stakes and the firewood at their feet lit.

No “signature” ship

Now here’s a criticism of the Prequel Trilogy that does not come up as often as some others, but it’s one that actually does have real resonance with me: there is no single ship that appears throughout the Prequels, no one ship to signify the Prequel era and tie the films together.

In space opera, ships are important. In fact, ships become characters themselves. In Star Trek, each iteration of the Enterprise has been a beloved part of each show or movie. Firefly fans, like myself, can’t imagine the show without Serenity. And in the Original Star Wars trilogy, the Millennium Falcon is as iconic as it gets. When Luke and company defeat Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi, the real moment of triumph is not when Jabba’s sail barge explodes, but rather when we cut to space right after, and the Millennium Falcon soars to space again.

The Prequel Trilogy has no single ship to tie everything together and serve as a backdrop for the adventures within, and that’s a problem that I just couldn’t solve in this series, given my intent on keeping the main story of the Prequels intact. The closest we get is that a chrome-hulled Naboo cruiser appears in each film, but it’s a different ship each time. There isn’t one ship to serve as the backdrop for all the adventures; there’s no single ship that is the scene of victories and heartbreaks. Ships matter in space opera, and while there are a lot of neat ships in the Prequel Trilogy, none of them becomes a home to the story. A great ship is a character in itself, and the absence of one definitely hurt the Prequel Trilogy’s sense of inhabitability. There was never a really strong sense of returning to a familiar place, as there often was in the Original Trilogy when we saw the Falcon, or even Luke’s X-wing or the bridge of a Star Destroyer.

Palpatine’s “Long game”

This is, to me, an underrated aspect of the Prequel Trilogy. I remember after The Phantom Menace, people complaining about the fact that Palpatine/Sidious is exerting all that energy to get a treaty signed to make Naboo subservient to the Trade Federation, and pretty much the exact opposite happens – and yet, Palpatine still wins. Why did he care, then?

I suspect that he actually didn’t care. Not really. Whether the treaty got signed or not never really mattered; what he was doing was sowing discontent in the very fabric of the Republic. He was creating tension that he could then use to his advantage, giving rise to a notion of the Republic as increasingly faulty and unable to function. Whether or not Naboo fell in line or somehow managed to get off the hook was never of major concern, which suggests that Palpatine was actually a genius at adapting his plans and spotting opportunities while everyone else was merely reacting to day-to-day events. Consider: Palpatine was scheming the creation of the Clone Army a full ten years before a need for such a thing was even recognized. That’s a pretty big thing.

This, in turn, suggests that Palpatine’s eventual fall was due to his eventual failure to keep adapting to circumstances. As Luke Skywalker would eventually say, “Your overconfidence is your weakness,” and this turns out to be exactly right. The Palpatine of the Prequel Trilogy would never let a bunch of sentient teddy bears destroy his precious defense shield! The Palpatine of the Prequel Trilogy was never overconfident.

The nature of the Sith

The films never really make much clear about who the Sith are or what they were doing. The implication is that they are basically the Dark Side equivalent of Jedi, but some history would have been called for at some point. What was the “revenge” they were seeking? What were they trying to accomplish? The films didn’t really address any of this at all, which I always found slightly vexing. Some of this was eventually explored in Expanded Universe stuff, but again, the Expanded Universe has been wiped clean, so...I guess we still don’t know. (Maybe they could take the step of only erasing Expanded Universe stuff past Return of the Jedi, but even then, it’s still disappointing.)

Whither Star Wars?

Where does Star Wars go from here? I expect that Disney is going to try making it into a mega-franchise not unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which will be interesting. Star Wars is going to end up looking very different each time out, I suspect. Will it be too much? Probably not for me, but I do kind-of worry about losing something along the way: the sense that Star Wars was about a single story. I’d hate to see Peter Jackson start making all manner of “Middle Earth” movies, about anything and everything he can think of, once The Hobbit is done. But even so, it’s a big Galaxy, with lots of stories to be told. Maybe one day The Empire Strikes Back will be joined, at long last, by another Star Wars film none of whose action takes place on Tatooine!

I’ll be there, whenever there’s a new Star Wars film to be seen. Will I have the same connection to Star Wars as it continues to unfold? I don’t know. I’ll see the movies, but there’s a very real sense in which my Star Wars ended when Revenge of the Sith came out. What comes now will be fun to watch (I hope), but it really feels like what’s coming is the next generation’s Star Wars, not mine. I hope they play nicely with the old toys. And if they find grand space opera to their liking, I’ve got one for them!

With that, I think I can safely, and finally, call Fixing the Prequels complete. This has been fun, and at long last, I can end with this:

Your Daily Dose of Christmas

Time for another one that I feature most years, but there's a reason. This song, and this performance, are so sublime that just about all performances of the song ever since have left me cold, for a very big reason.

The song is, of course, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", and this is its first performance, by Judy Garland in the film Meet Me In St. Louis. In the film, Garland's family is preparing to move from St. Louis to New York City, and thus the film is about all the emotional baggage that comes with leaving home, quite possibly forever. Entire chapters of life are ending, which is what makes the song such a masterpiece of what's so often bittersweet about Christmas.

Here's the song:

And here, below the fold, is what bugs me about the song ever since Judy Garland recorded it....

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Your Daily Dose of Christmas!

Here's something different, at least as far as Christmas music goes: a string quartet by Arcangelo Corelli, which was apparently composed "for the night of Christmas". Corelli lived from 1653 to 1713, putting him slightly earlier than JS Bach (they overlapped, but Bach was born when Corelli was 32), so this is a fairly well-known composition from the Baroque period. I always mean to listen to more string quartets, and somehow I never do. I really must get off my arse about this....

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Your Daily Dose of Christmas

What's a month-long music feature without some film music? Here's a suite from Alan Silvestri's score to The Polar Express.

Monday, December 15, 2014

"Shiny in the Black": A FIREFLY Christmas! (part three)

Continuing my repost of this Very Special (but Not Blossomesque) Episode of Firefly.

part two
part one

"Weapons on the ground!" the voice shouted. "Now!"

"Do it," Mal said. He shot a look at Jayne, whose expression of disgust tended to be indistinguishable from his expression of being about to lose his temper. Slowly, Mal, Zoe and Jayne all laid their guns on the floor.

"Put that package on the floor too, preacher," said the voice.

Book put the crate down.

"All right, face the crates."

They complied.

"Put your hands on your head."

They complied.

"Stand on your left feet and recite the first stanza the Alliance anthem!"

Mal glanced at Zoe. "Uh, what?"

Now the voice burst out in laughter. "All right, turn 'em off," he said. The floodlights all shut off, and the light returned to the dim of the warehouse overhead lamps. Mal turned toward the source of the voice to see a stocky man dressed in old army fatigues approaching. The man was bald except for long, stringy hairs that hung from the back of his head; he had a thick mustache and three days' growth of beard. He gave Mal a gap-toothed grin as he put his hands on his hips.

"Ahh, Mal, what am I gonna do with you?"

Mal and the others glanced around at the 'lawmen', and saw that they weren't lawmen at all. They were a motley bunch of thieves. Not unlike themselves.

"Jonas," Mal said. "Fancy meeting you here. I never figured you to be on Ariel. Kind of a rich world for your tastes, isn't it?"

"Gotta go where the money is, my boy," the man named Jonas said as he lit a cigar and took a few puffs. "'Sides, ain't planning on being here long. I'm guessing you weren't either."

"Not really," Mal agreed. "Can we put our hands down? I don't tend to find this posture conducive to friendly chat."

"Ain't so sure we're being friendly," Jonas said. "But sure, let your hands down. Don't make a move toward those weapons, though."

"Of course not," said Mal. "After all, we're just bein' friendly."

"I suppose we are," Jonas replied as Mal and his people lowered their hands. "So, Mal, what are you doing here?"

"Same as you," Mal said. "Doin' a job."

"And what would be the nature of that job?"

"Well, we're purchasing the contents of this crate right here and going with them to a...client on Haven. Easy enough."

"Sounds easy. Haven's a piss-poor world...wait, did you say you were purchasing the goods?"

Mal shrugged. "Yeah, we're doin' it the honest way this time. Wanted to see what that was like."

"Really. Honest. Dumpin' a box of coin here and taking the box? That's a new version of honest. Sounds to me like you've found a way of stealin' that ends up costin' you money."

"Yeah," Mal said, shooting a look at Shepherd Book, "I guess we didn't really work all the kinks out."

"Well, Mal, I can't let you have this box. See, we need it, too. I'm doing a job, myself, and there's a cantankerous old woman out on Whitefall that could use some of what's in that box."

"Whitefall?" Mal laughed. "You're planning on doing business with Patience?"

"Sure. Why not?"

"Oh, no reason," Mal said. "Just make sure you plan for her to try to shoot you."

"Nah," Jonas said. "Patience and me go way back. I was the one who told her that she should shoot you if she got the chance."

"Well that was nice of you," Mal said. "She got the chance. Twice. I'm still here, still flyin'. Counts for somethin'."

"Yeah, I guess it does. But I can't let you take this box, coin or no. You see, Mal--"

"Hey, Captain!" It was one of Jonas's men. Jonas rolled his eyes.

"What is it, Randy? I'm trying to be threatening here, and you're interrupting."

"I know, Cap, but this ain't the box we're here for."


"Look!" The wiry man named Randy held out a PDA for Jonas to look at. "See, that's the number of the box we want. It's the next one over. That one."


"Yeah. That one's got the farming seed and fertilizer in it. See, the one we want is in slot number 29-94-77. This slot is number 29-94-75."

"Oh," said Jonas.

"Well, this changes things a bit, doesn't it?" Mal said.

"I think it does, Captain," said Zoe.

"You see, Jonas, there's no need to make this deal confrontational. Instead of goin' that way, we can go another. We're not even here for the same crate. We'll take what we want, you'll take what you want, and everybody's happy."

"Seriously, Mal? You're after this crate? What's in it?"

"I don't think that really matters," said Mal. "Haven's not a big farming world, so you can bet I'm not looking for farming seed and fertilizer. Let's just take what we all want and be done with it."

Jonas kept his gun aimed at Mal as he considered things. Then he nodded at the Shepherd.

"Sure, Mal, we can do that. But I want the coin, too."

Mal shrugged. "Give it to him, Preacher," he said.

"Really?" asked Book.

"Yeah, really," Mal said. "Plan was to leave the coin here anyway. But if you're gonna take the coin, least you could do is have your boys load our crate onto our hauler for us."

"I suppose I could do that," Jonas said. His men grumbled, but he hissed them quiet. "A friendly gesture, right?"

"Yeah," Mal said. "If we promise not to shoot you, can we pick up our guns now?"

"Sure," Jonas said. "But we'll still be coverin' you until this is done."

"I figured," Mal replied as he picked up his pistol. The others followed suit.

"How'd you get in here, anyway?" Jonas asked.

"Door was open."

"Well, I suppose you can thank me for that," Jonas replied. "Paid the guards to leave it open and make themselves scarce. All right, boys, you heard the man. Let's get these boxes loaded! Remember, this one here goes with them, that one down there goes with us. With the Shepherd's coin."

Book handed the box of coin to one of Jonas's men, four of whom turned to the work of loading both crates while Jonas and Randy kept their pistols aimed at Mal and his people.

"Somethin' here ain't right," Jayne said. "We're gonna get screwed on this deal."

"Well, Jayne, the screwing was built into the deal, so at least we're not surprised by it." Mal shook his head. "This is a weird damn job, though."

"Nah," Jayne replied. "There's still some way this is gonna go south. You watch. Always happens to us."

Mal rolled his eyes. "Not all our jobs end in disaster," he said.

"Name one," Jayne said.

"Well, there was--"

"You ended up drunk and with a con-woman pretending to be your wife."

"Yeah, but it was good up to then."

After about ten minutes, they were all outside and both crates were loaded onto their respective haulers.

"Well, Mal," said Jonas, "I'd prefer if you'd drive off first. And try to stay out of my way in the future."

"Pleasure doin' business as always, Jonas," Mal said. "But I wouldn't mind pointin' out that just because we were in the same place, doesn't mean I was in your way."

"Even so. I don't want to get your luck on me, Reynolds. You have a history of taking on work that doesn't leave you much of a profit. One day you're gonna realize that 'Just keep flying' isn't a great strategy for life."

"Thanks for the wisdom, Jonas. Got some for you, too."

"Yeah? What's that?"

"Patience is gonna try to shoot you."

Jonas grinned. "Let her try." He gestured with his pistol, sending Mal and his people off.

"I'm tellin' you, this is gonna be a bad deal for everybody," Jayne said as they neared Serenity.

"Calm down, Jayne. Your opinion is noted."

Mal drove the hauler back onto the ship's cargo hold, and Kaylee closed the hatch behind them. Simon and River were there waiting; Wash was on the bridge, and he called down on the intercom.

"Captain?" Wash said. "I'm ready to lift."

"What are you waiting for!" Mal responded. The ship shifted beneath their feet as the engines roared and Serenity lifted off. Book and Jayne were offloading the crate from the hauler and securing it.

"You see, everybody?" Mal said as he took off his overcoat and tossed it at the foot of the stairs. "Nice, simple job. No big worries, no big fuss. We're out some coin, sure, but we've got a big crate full of nice, shiny toys that will make all the children in an orphanage on Haven happy."

"Everything went all right?" said Simon. "No hiccups?"

"One little hiccup," Mal said. "But it didn't amount to much."

"I wouldn't be so sure of that, Captain," said Shepherd Book.


"Hey Mal," Jayne said. "We got a problem."

Mal glanced at Zoe. They walked aft, to where Book and Jayne were both staring at the crate, which Book had opened. Zoe took one look and let out a string of expletives in Chinese. Mal did the same, only with a string of completely different expletives in Chinese.

The crate was full of farm seed and fertilizer. They had the wrong crate.

End Part Three

Your Daily Dose of Christmas

Alison Krauss and Yo Yo Ma perform the "Wexford Carol".

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Check out the author page!

I now have an Official Amazon Author Page!

That is all. Carry on.

Where STARDANCER came from!

This post is cross-posted from, and slightly spoilery for the book.

So, where exactly did I get the idea for Stardancer? Easy answer. I got it from a lot of places.

(This is long, but I hope it’s at least a little interesting!)

Like many a writer, my first efforts at fiction writing were fanfiction — Star Wars fanfiction, specifically. I suppose that’s not terribly surprising, huh? Fanfic has been the starting point for many a writer, and Star Wars was one of the biggies.

Now, when I was writing Star Wars fanfic, I wasn’t writing original stories in that universe. Instead I took the basic thrust of the Original Trilogy’s story and rewrote it, with “new” characters and some plot twists along the way. I changed Luke Skywalker from a farmboy to a competitive pilot. My Han Solo character acted the part of a cynical space-rogue, but that was just a front for his own revolutionary activities. Princess Leia? Well, she was the voluptuous space pirate who ended up being a part of the good guys. And instead of rebels versus a Galactic Empire, I had the galaxy basically divided into two “countries”, a democratic republic and a harsh Empire. These two entities had been at war for decades, and now it was coming to a violent head.

I kept some other stuff, of course. I had an Emperor and his Vader figure, although I played up the angle in the Original Trilogy of Darth Vader wanting to kill the Emperor and take over. The thrust of my Episode One (which coincided with Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) was the necessity of destroying my Empire’s new superweapon; in my Episode II, the freshly defeated Empire — well, it struck back. And so on.

I finished my own version of the Star Wars trilogy, in the first year or two after I graduated college. Then, I started working on the first draft ever of my Arthurian novel, The Promised King (and let me tell you, that draft was an embarrassing mess). I thought I was done with Star Wars fanfic, but I found myself sucked back in, around the time The Phantom Menace came out. Now I was wanting to continue on — but not, as George Lucas was doing, by going backwards; I wanted to write what would have been a putative Star Wars Episode VII.

I did start that project, but I never finished it, choosing instead to eventually leave fanfic behind for good, as I started working on that Arthurian novel a lot and writing short fiction for attempted publication. Problem was, my space opera story for my own Episode IV was sticking in my head. The central idea was the discovery of a planet that has been literally sequestered from the rest of the Galaxy for centuries, a planet that was once a part of a vast Empire that has been gone for so long it’s almost completely forgotten — but its descendants are still lurking out there somewhere. I liked that idea, and filed it away in the back of my head. I knew I’d get back to that strange planet, whose inhabitants were forbidden to travel to the stars, but I knew it wasn’t going to be my re-worked Luke, Han, and Leia who went there.

So who would?

I had no idea.

I wasn’t worried about it. I wasn’t even consciously thinking about this, much. When I get ideas, I almost never jump on them as soon as they pop into my head. I let them marinate a bit. Or percolate. Or simmer for years and years and years — and I’m not kidding about that. This whole thought process, beginning with this little lost planet? That’s from 1999 or 2000. A long way back.

Meanwhile, at some point in 2001, I got a movie on a VHS tape that I had heard was very good, an animated film from Japan that would be suitable for The Daughter, was was only 2 at the time. The film? Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro.

If you’ve seen that film, you know that it’s about two young sisters, one of whom is roughly 13 or 14 and the other of whom is around 6 or 7. They move with their father to a small village, out near a hospital where their mother has had an extended stay, and here they have adventures, some of which are supernatural and involve the giant furry beast who lives in the nearby enormous tree. (Yes, it sounds heavier and more depressing here than it really is — the film is utterly delightful and magical and you should see it if you haven’t.)

I didn’t watch My Neighbor Totoro and immediately conclude that I should have two sisters go to my little lost planet. But that notion came along not very long after I saw the movie, and it’s clear to me that this is where that part of the puzzle came from. Now, I did make my two Princesses older than the ones in the film, but I liked the idea of the dynamic between two sisters. Brother-and-sister has been done a lot, but sister-and-sister, not quite so much.

From there, it sat in my mind. For years. I wrote a couple of pages, over ten years ago, just to see what it might feel like. I considered serializing the story online, in blog form, writing one chapter at a time. I kicked around a lot of options, through the last half of the 2000s, always kicking this idea of these two Princesses (because obviously they were Princesses!) and the odd planet they found, but never quite getting ’round to writing it.

I’m not sure what I was waiting for, but finally, sometime in 2011, I decided that it was time to stop waiting for the story to be “ready”. There is never a “ready”, when it comes to stories. I believed in this idea, more than any other I had (and I have quite a few), and I wanted to write it, more than any other. The question was, What was I waiting for?

And thus, it was off to the races.

Three years later, here we are!

Your Daily Dose of Christmas

Here's a song that doesn't seem to show up on too many Carolers' lists these days, for some reason: "Good King Wenceslas", performed by the Irish Rovers.