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

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Answers the Second! (Politics edition)

As usual, I got some political questions this time out, and also as usual, I'm putting them below the fold, so if you don't want to go down my own personal liberal rabbit-hole, you don't have to! And remember, if you want to ask something, please do!

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

The other day would have been Roberto Clemente's 80th birthday, and in his honor, the Pittsburgh Pirates groundskeepers mowed his number into right field at PNC Park:

Clemente is the one sports figure whom I would most like to travel back in time and see in action, just once. Who is yours? (Assume you'd get to see yours do something representative of his or her greatness. You wouldn't be stuck going back to see Babe Ruth go 0-4 with two strikeouts and two week grounders to short.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Help Fund a Farm

Let your children grow up to become farmers. There is a surplus of mediocrity in this nation and a deficit of bravery. Let your children grow up to be farmers. Let them be brave.

Jenna Woginrich is one of my favorite bloggers. She's a woman who was in the urban corporate rat-race until she apparently decided that she would much rather own her own farm, instead -- and that's been the focus of her life ever since. She does own her own farm now -- or at least she's paying a mortgage on her own farm, and she's been documenting all the various joys, discoveries, heartbreaks, thrills, and fears of such a life.

One of the more difficult things she writes about is her constantly troubled financial state, as she tries to make her relentlessly monthly payments while doing a job (as well as freelance writing) that is notorious for not paying much. Woginrich is very creative and crafty in this regard, inventing revenue streams out of whole cloth, and her latest one is a Kickstarter campaign whose main focus is a fiction book she has decided to write.

Cold Antler Farm is a small, livestock farm set into the side of a mountain in upstate New York. It is the home of author, blogger, and homesteader, Jenna Woginrich. There she runs the farm by herself, following her dream of a creative and feral life. Every day Jenna takes care of sheep, horses, dairy goats, pigs, poultry, gardens and bees while writing about it on her blog - Cold Antler Farm. Thousands of readers and hundreds of visitors have been a part of her story, reading along as she went from a corporate graphic designer with farm dreams to a full-time writer on her own piece of land.

Woginrich will write about her rural county in the early 1900's and the strange occurrences happening in the farmland around it. Birchthorn is a mystery and paranormal thriller. A widow and her small farm in the winter, her community of eccentrics and farmers alike, and the strange resurgance of an old legend coming back to life in a small town. And the best part about this story? YOU can be a part of it. Part of its creation process through an interactive blog where you get each chapter as it is written to comment and suggest storyline with, or you can pledge your way INTO the novel itself as a character!

The project has already received full funding, but it's still open for donations for a few more days (and I plan to donate myself before it ends). Woginrich isn't just doing the "Give me money and when the book's done you get a copy or a really nice copy or a really REALLY nice copy with an autograph" thing; she's actually inviting her benefactors into her creative process, which is something that intrigues me greatly. Her book won't just be crowd-funded, but in a sense, crowd-created. I'm highly intrigued to see how this works and what kind of book emerges on the other end. If any of this interests you, do check out her blog! (She has also written a number of books about her experiences with farming and the do-it-yourself life, which are well worth checking out.)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Answers the First!

OK, time to get started! As always, Roger is in the leadoff spot:

What do you think is your worst vice? Do you just live with it, or do you want to change?

Either my tendency to swear a lot, or my sweet tooth. Definitely one of those two things. I tend to have pretty good control over my swearing, although sometimes I'm reminded of this exchange from The Simpsons:

HOMER: Think you can cut out the casual swearing?
BART: Hell, no!

I do try to limit swearing in front of people to folks I know who won't be offended, because people are. But that's only for the biggies -- which mainly consists of, well, the F-bomb. Everything else -- damn, hell, shit -- those are all on the table. (Oh, there's one that I simply don't use at all, because it offends nearly every woman on the planet, and frankly, it's a pretty mean-spirited word.) Generally, though, swearing is probably my worst habit, outside of my tendency to eat ALL THE SWEET THINGS. I try to limit that as well, but it's all so good!

Oh, one more thing about swearing: I like to deploy fictional expletives as well, such as "Frakking", and I may try to add more elaborate ones in the future, like Ron Burgundy's "By the Hammer of Thor!" and "Great Odin's raven!" That's kind of fun. Or "Excrementum!" Generally I think that we give words too much power to offend or otherwise affect our emotional state. To me, just being in the presence of someone who is foul-mouthed isn't offensive in itself, but it can put on display a certain level of unsensitivity that can be boorish.

I do recall one day in high school when I swore without realizing a teacher was behind me. The teacher yelled at me, right there in the hallway, for the sin of swearing "in mixed company". Funny thing? The girls who were there were every bit as foul-mouthed as I was at that time.

And looking down Roger's list of questions this time 'round, I see that answer knocks off two! He also asked: How do you feel about swearing? Is it that they're "just words" or do words have the power to offend, hurt, et al? Do you have any euphemisms for curse words, such as Zounds or jeepers creepers?

Huzzah, a two-fer!

Josh asks: If you could be the captain of any starship in the Star Trek universe, which ship would it be and why?

I don't think I'd want to be Captain! Helmsman, though -- oh yeah, that would be cool. Or whoever it is that gets to fire the phasers and photon torpedoes. (Why is it in Star Trek II that Sulu, the helmsman, fires the phasers, but there's a whole separate "weapons console" where the photon torpedoes are launched? What's that about? Any why, on the Enterprise D, are the weapons fired by the one member of the bridge crew who is standing, and who is thus most likely to be thrown from their post when the shit starts gettin' real?!)

Anyway, yeah: Helmsman's where the action is. Now, which ship? Well, I'm generally of the view that the ships of the first six Trek movies are the niftiest. I just think they look great; the Star Trek The Motion Picture Enterprise, followed by the Enterprise A up to Star Trek VI, is my favorite Enterprise at all. The Enterprise D, from The Next Generation, is strange in that it looks fantastic from some angles but awful from others, and the Enterprise E is just too warshippy for me. It looks like the Enterprise A made love to a Star Destroyer from Star Wars, and their union produced the Enterprise E.

For this question, though, the Enterprise is a pretty obvious answer. I'd pick either the Reliant, or that tough little underrated ship from Deep Space Nine, the Defiant.

"Warp Nine, Mr. Sedinger!"
"Aye, Captain!"

Yeah, that would be pretty fun.

More to come, and feel free to ask questions still!

Sentential Links


:: But now I understand why people are nostalgic. It’s your brain trying to express a moment, and recognizing that the only people who would ever truly get what you’re trying to express were the ones who were there, and they already know.

:: I got in trouble at Graceland, basically, because I wanted to read Elvis’ marginalia. (Wow...why have it on display if you're going to discourage people reading something Elvis scrawled in a book?)

:: Police militarization was a mistake. You can argue that perhaps we didn't know that at the time. No one knew in 1990 that crime was about to begin a dramatic long-term decline, and no one knew in 2001 that domestic terrorism would never become a serious threat. But we know now. There's no longer even a thin excuse for arming our police forces this way.

:: You might think that Dolly is being a dolt about how day, night, and the various bodies in our solar system relate to each other, but she’s actually 100% right: it’s two in the afternoon and the “dark” is the construction paper Mommy and Daddy have used to block all the windows in the Keane Kompound, punishing the children for some minor act of disobedience with simulated eternal night. Sorry, PJ, but you won’t get to see the sun again until your older siblings show some halfway convincing repentance.

:: Chad Scott. What did you do to the world? Was this a joke? Some plot to punish people? Were you sitting at home in your rat cage and your roommate said, “Gee, what do you want to do tonight, Chad?” and you respond with, “The same thing we do every night, Pinky, try to kill the entire population of the world with stench and bad ideas.” (I wasn’t a fan.) First of all, I’m very open-minded when it comes to flavor combinations and food and trying new things … I sort of have to be in my line of work. But all of my senses were assaulted, here. For this, I will never forgive Mr. Chad Scott. - See more at: (Yeah. Under no circumstances will I subject myself to this.)

:: So I'm going to help Marvel find it's "next Guardians," the C and D characters who will rack of a few hundred million at the box office.

And to make it a challenge, I'm only going to use characters who've starred in Marvel Premiere and Marvel Spotlight, because that's a key breeding ground for losers.

Let's start with this guy...
(Hmmmm. Maybe...just maybe....)

:: I hate writing tributes. And this year it seems I’ve had to write more than ever. Some are more personal, some are bigger stars than others, but they all chip away at the soul.

:: I like to think that before Robin Williams passed from this world altogether, bound for whatever lies ahead for all of us in that undiscovered country, he was granted a brief moment to pause and look back and see how many of us have been standing on our desks this week in solidarity and affection for our fallen captain. I hope the sight made him smile. (Like Jason, I have problems with Dead Poets Society, but in terms of sheer imagery, the standing-on-the-desks is so iconic that it really seems the best way to say farewell to a deeply talented, and apparently deeply troubled, man.)

More next week!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Burst!

Oddities and Awesome abound!

:: 25 GIFs that illustrate mathematics concepts. Some of these are indeed a bit clarifying, but there are a few others that still make no sense to me. But then, I haven't grappled with a lot of these concepts since I was in school many moons ago.

(On that last one, those kids better be using a wipeable marker.)

:: If you want proof that a wonderful blog post can be written about anything, here's a wonderful blog post about The Simpsons's Ralph Wiggum.

One of the most endearing parts of Ralph’s backstory is how supportive and warm his home life is. Anyone who fits in that badly at school deserves a loving set of parents. They don’t always get it.

His father, Chief Wiggum, is usually depicted as Ralph with a nightstick and a gun (which is part of what makes Chief Wiggum ridiculous while Ralph remains lovable; Ralph has no actual power to abuse), and regularly takes his son out on patrol with him. He’s happy to tolerate Ralph’s quirks (Wiggle Puppy — the character Ralph inhabits when he drops to all fours, runs around in a circle, and barks — comes foremost to mind) and quick to dispense fatherly advice when Ralph comes to him with girl problems. “A woman’s a lot like a nut, son,” Chief Wiggum says, before pulling out his gun and shooting a walnut open in frustration.

But Ralph is more than Chief Wiggum minus power. Ralph’s goodness is not the absence of malice. Ralph’s goodness is pure and unself-conscious. “Was President Lincoln okay?” he asks Ms. Hoover worriedly after learning of the Ford Theater assassination. It’s the last day of school, and everyone else has already left for the summer. Ralph’s not leaving until he makes sure that President Lincoln is doing all right.

Ms. Hoover does the only thing. “He was fine.”

Ralph can go home after that. No one will suffer alone as long as Ralph is around.

:: I freely admit to having a high tolerance for weird stuff, and even with weird stuff I don't like, I at least respect the impulse to just be weird, because the world usually needs more weirdness. But once in a while I encounter something that's just too out there, something that makes me say, "Whoa there, folks. Let's rein it in a bit. You've gone too far around the bend, beyond the borders of Weirdville, and into the middle of Crazytown."

Case in point: Asian Nazi cosplay.

Yeah. That's just...not right.

More next week!


This was my celebratory treat last evening: a wee bit o'single malt Scotch! Why, you ask? Because I completed the edits on Princesses In SPACE!!! (not the actual title). There will still be one more round of proofreading, but no more major editing. The body of the book is now in what will be its final form, minus typographical screwups that I haven't yet rooted out.

I enjoyed this part of the process immensely, and I found that a big help was actually having already written two drafts of the second book in this series. I know my characters better now, so I was able to fine-tune the characterizations in Book I to bring them more in line with the way I've come to know them through Book II. That's big, and I'd generally advise anyone writing a series to get at least through their second book before they make a book push to get the first one out in the world.

I was also able to add in some material here and there, mostly little details, that anticipate the second book (as well as future books). This is stuff that someone reading Book I for the first time won't notice, but maybe when they re-read Book I after reading subsequent volumes, they'll see it. It's not unlike the opening scene of Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, in which Hagrid shows up on a motorcycle that he borrowed from "young Sirius Black". I'll wager nobody reading that book the first time even so much as filed that name away for future reference, but it's a nice little Easter egg for people who go back and look, and it's those kinds of details that add up to a well-considered world.

One thing that makes me a bit wary is the fact that once this book is out there, it's out there. The details in the book are set, which is slightly daunting. My approach to world-building is to toss stuff in as needed. I don't do a whole lot of mapmaking and world-building work before I start actual writing; my approach is "Huh, I need a mountain there, so plop! There's now a mountain there." And then I go back when editing and justify the mountain's presence. In a lot of ways, though, once the first book is out, I effectively rule out the possibility of adding mountains to certain places. Mostly this won't be a problem, although there are a couple of names in the book that I've changed literally every time I've made a round of edits, because I just haven't hit on the exact right name for that person or thing just yet. Once the book is out, though, that's it: the name is the name. I wonder if Tolkien struggled with that: "God, I hate the name 'Baggins', but the book's out, so it's Baggins all the way out now."

But anyway! The work goes on. What's left to do? Lots!

-Setting up my Official Author Site
-Completing the Book Trailer (this, by the way, will be the vehicle by which the Actual Title is unveiled)
-Creating the cover
-Uploading files to CreateSpace
-Ordering proof copies
-Proofing (I think I'll literally read the book backwards for this)
-Finalizing copy
-Creating and ordering author business cards
-Formatting for Kindle release
-Ordering my copies
-Releasing the book into the wild
-Sitting nervously while people read the bloody thing I've been kvetching about for years

Wow...I'm starting to feel like Prince Humperdinck!

Or like Willy Wonka:

Of course, the true rulers of the world still keep me in my place:


(Cat-who-doesn't-give-a-shit via Cal.)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Stay on target...stay on target....

I'm almost there, folks. Almost there. Maybe today, and certainly this weekend.

Another step in my Plan For World Domination, almost off the checklist!

(Answers to Ask Me Anything queries will start either tomorrow or Monday.)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Something for Thursday

Another uber-depressing news week, huh? Well, sometimes you have to stare into the void and laugh. Here's a favorite old comedy bit that I found myself thinking about the other day (likely because this guy came on my radar at the same time that Robin Williams did, when I was in second grade). Here's Steve Martin with "King Tut".

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

Not so random, really, given this week's news. What are your favorite Robin Williams and/or Lauren Bacall performances? (Mine: Good Will Hunting and To Have and Have Not, respectively.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

(A corollary)

As regards the next post down below this one, I'll be posting sporadically for the rest of this week...but Ask Me Anything! is still coming, so get some questions in, folks! I'll start doing those next week.

Holding Pattern Delta

OK, you know that thing I do when I get really deep into a writing project and new content here slows to a trickle?


I'll have new stuff here and there, but for the most part, I've got edits to finish on this book. I'm within 100 pages of the end, and then it's formatting time. Man, this book-stuff is almost like a job!