Friday, November 30, 2012

A new game: Gimme a Title!

This notion just popped into my head last night, so I figured, Hey, why not go for it. It's sort-of along the same line as Ask Me Anything!, but with a difference: instead of asking questions, I'd like for all you Gentle Constant Readers to suggest blog post titles. And then my task is to write the posts using those titles. I may or may not have seen a variant of this someplace out there; it sounds familiar but I can't remember where. So let's give it a shot!

Drop a title for a blog post, a title only, into comments. Something like "Why Mighty Mouse Could Totally Kick Superman's Butt", or something completely different. I'll take suggestions for a bit and then start blogging the results.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Something for Thursday

Busy day today, and when I'm busy and don't get to this feature until the evening, I tend to default to my easier choices. Which's John Williams! Huzzah! It's the End Titles to Hook, a movie that takes a good idea and completely buries it beneath every possible bad instinct that exists in Steven Spielberg's body. Good score, though.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I did it!

More thoughts on the whole NaNoWriMo experience to come, but for now, I have officially hit the 50000 word mark as counted by the NaNo verification thingie. (Oddly, according to Google Docs's word-count feature, I actually have a few hundred more words than NaNo says I do, but they're the Official Scorers Of Record, so there it is. Fifty-thousand words in less than one month. Wow!

(Only thing is...I'm probably only about halfway through the actual story of Deliverance, eh? (not the actual title). Oh even though a certain milepost is now behind me, the work continues. And I'm going to finish this one before I return to the next round of edits on Princesses In SPACE!!! (not the actual title). Wow, the life of a writer...and to think, as yet I'm not even paid to do this stuff!)

Seven years....

Groovy Boy!

How have seven years gone by since that awful morning?

And since it's seven years gone by...shouldn't it stop feeling like yesterday?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Let the sky fall...."

A little Tgiving afterdinner entertainment....

On Thanksgiving Day, The Wife and I have a relatively new tradition of going to see a movie together after dinner (and sending The Daughter off packing with my parents). We've done this six of the last seven Thanksgivings, and on three of those, we've been lucky enough to see a James Bond movie. So...what of Skyfall?

It's very, very good. Here are some spoiler-free observations (with more extensive, and heavily spoilerish, observations after the page break):

:: Daniel Craig continues to own the role a little more, each time out. He gives lots of little windows into the soul of James Bond, sometimes with barely perceptible shifts in facial expression. He also does all the little, tiny things that make Bond Bond, and not some run-of-the-mill action hero. The best of these (which you’ve seen if you’ve seen the trailers) comes when he makes a pretty dramatic entrance into a train (the back part of the car he’s entering is falling away behind him, and thank GOD that the trailer didn’t show why the train car is falling away, because that’s one of the movie’s better eye-pops), and before resuming his pursuit of a bad guy, he pauses ever-so-briefly to straighten the cuff of his dress shirt.

:: If you’ve been waiting for years for a Bond movie that is great visually as well as in the script department, this is the one. Skyfall is a gorgeous film, just amazing to look at. There is color everywhere, always wonderfully used (a shot where M stands over the caskets of slain agents is particularly effective, with stark gray and black everywhere constrasting with the crimson stripes of the Union Jack), and...well, I just had a wonderful time looking at this movie.

:: Remember the awful, nearly-impossible-to-follow action sequences in Quantum of Solace? Remember the quick cuts from close-up to close-up with no establishing shots? Remember seeing entire action sequences when you had no idea what was going on until the sequence was over and you got to see who was still standing? can forget about those. Director Sam Mendes shoots his action scenes so well that it was a revelation. This is a subset of the item above, actually; I never thought that a James Bond movie could look this good. And that’s not to say that the Bond films haven’t looked good before! But this one? Wow. There’s one fight scene, between Bond and an assassin, fairly early on that had my jaw on the floor, so wonderful was the way Mendes composed the shot. Bond on one side, the assassin on the other, fighting in silhouette in front of the shifting display of an enormous LED display screen. And no cuts at all: the only thing Mendes does with his camera in that sequence is a slow close-up. The movie is loaded with sequences that just look amazing.

:: I need to save my observations about the script for the spoiler section, I think, but...the dialogue is great, and this movie does something that’s been hinted at before, but never attempted so openly: it delves into Bond as a character, looking at him personally. More on that in the spoiler sections. This is also a very emotional Bond film -- the most so since my beloved On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

:: The cast is fantastic. Not a single weak link. Javier Bardem and Ralph Fiennes are as great as always. Judi Dench is a rock. Albert Finney in a Bond movie? More, please! And Naomie Harris in a small role (with a delightful revelation at the end) was a treat. And...that young guy who plays the new Q. Liked him a lot.

:: Judging by the rate at which my admiration for Adele has grown over the last year or so (starting a year ago at a level of “Hey, who is this ‘Adele’ person I’ve heard tell about?”), in another year I’ll be covering the walls of my bedroom with posters of Adele and writing “Kelly Loves Adele” on the cover of all my notebooks. I’m just sayin’. I love the song, and I love Adele’s voice. She’s amazing.

:: I’ve seen a few reviews that aren’t terribly enthusiastic about Thomas Newman’s score for Skyfall. David Arnold has been the Bond composer for the last five movies, starting with Tomorrow Never Dies, and he’s done a generally excellent job, but Sam Mendes has a strong working relationship with Newman, so along came Newman for the ride. I thought Newman did a fine job, working the Bond theme and the Skyfall song into the score in nice ways, and he did a lot with chord progressions that strongly suggest the classic John Barry ‘Bond sound’. I like the score a lot.

:: I thought this movie was just terrific. I don’t have perspective yet to put it into any kind of ranking in my personal Bond pantheon, but I can really see it ranking highly. For me, Skyfall is in OHMSS territory.

OK, now the spoilers, below the break. Read at your own risk, if you haven’t seen the film.

Monday, November 26, 2012

"Yes...wonderful things...."

I was nothing the 70th anniversary of Casablanca, but I didn't even realize until a friend tweeted it that today is also the 90th anniversary of the opening of the tomb of King Tutankhamun of ancient Egypt, by archaeologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon. To this day it is one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in history.

When I was in kindergarten -- I was five years old -- my family went to see the Treasures of King Tut when they were displayed at a museum in Chicago. This was in 1977, according to Google. Now, I don't remember a whole lot from that particular age of my life, but you can bet I remember quite a few of the items I saw on display there, culminating in one of the most magnificent objects ever made, the death mask of King Tut.

And then, a few years later, on a night in which my sister was babysitting me, she would take it into her head that I needed to know a song that some comedian named Steve Martin had written....

"We'll always have Paris."

Casablanca premiered seventy years ago today. Wow.

I haven't watched Casablanca in a while (checking the archives, it's been too damned long, actually), so I think I may rectify that pretty soon.

The making of Casablanca is so full of wonderful anecdotes that I kind of wish somebody would make a movie about the making of the movie. My very favorite is how close Max Steiner came to getting his way, and having the song "As Time Goes By" removed in favor of an original song. By the time producers were ready to pull the trigger, Ingrid Bergman had moved on to her next project -- and cut her hair to suit. It was not possible to get her back for reshoots with the right hairstyle, so Steiner just had to lump it -- and turn in a magnificent score with "As Time Goes By" weaving through it like musical cable, giving the score the structure and subtext it needed.

To think...I have a good sporting chance of being around for the 100th anniversary of Casablanca. Amazing.

And I think I know what I'm watching this weekend instead of football....

Curse you, Alton Brown!

I recently watched the episode of Good Eats on YouTube in which Alton Brown describes the selection and brewing of tea. As ever, a fascinating episode, even if I don't intend to follow all of his instructions (in this case, I rather like the little brew baskets that come with teapots). But what really vexed me about this episode was...the kettle he was using to boil the water. This is it:

See that brass ring near the top? The one with the little retro rocketships on it? When the water boils, the steam doesn't whistle through the spout. No, the steam vents through the exhausts of those rocketships, making them spin around! How awesome is that! I really want one. This kettle is the very definition of 'shiny'.

And it's also the very definition of 'not made anymore so you can't have one unless you can track one down on eBay and spend a LOT on it'. So yeah: curse you, Alton Brown. Curse you indeed.

Sentential Links


:: I know it seems like it would take a long time, but apparently there is literally nothing inside of monkeys. No bones, no organs, no muscle, no flesh even. It just slips right on like a suit. Weird that scientists don't make a bigger deal out of the fact that monkeys are just full of vapor and playfulness inside, and murdering them, cutting them open and wearing their skin is something a young man can do quickly on a whim. I guess keeping a lid on that knowledge is probably what keeps us all from going on a simian murder spree.

:: Everybody was incredibly cordial and friendly. At one point we all grabbed hands and sang Kumbaya. Then the doors opened and suddenly it was The Lord of the Flies.

:: But the movie in general, I dislike quite intensely. (Interesting...I have never been terribly incensed by the liberties with the original material that the film of The Two Towers takes.)

:: One, there hasn’t been a good Star Wars movie produced in almost thirty years, and it’s not for lack of trying; and two, the general track record of revisiting iconic projects after decades of inactivity has been mixed, at best. (I suppose that at this point the general feeling of hatred toward the Prequel Trilogy has become accepted wisdom. I concede defeat, on that score.)

:: I frequently have to make a saving throw against ooooh shiny.

:: Go. Look up. See what there is to see. You’ll be amazed at what’s going on just over your head.

:: The innumerable dead are not thankful for much, but they are thankful for this: they have been spared knowledge of Jeffy. (I'm so glad that my thought process was almost identical when I read this week's Family Circus!)

:: tap tap Is this thing on? (Steven Den Beste suffered a stroke a couple of weeks ago, but he is on the mend.)

More next week!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A house around a tree

On Twitter, one of the Buffalo sports-talk radio guys likened building a football team's offense around Ryan Fitzpatrick as quarterback to "building a house around a tree". That struck me as a funny formulation, not only because it's accurate as a football metaphor, but also because I was sure that somebody out there has already built a house around a tree. And sure enough, Googling 'House around a tree' turned up a pile of results. This one is the coolest (although admittedly I didn't make an exhaustive survey). Look at this place!

Why writing?

Because, this.


Sunday Burst of Weird and Awesome

Oddities and Awesome abound!

:: I've written before of my love of flashlights, so I have to admit that I was tempted by Toolmonger's review of a 400-lumen tactical flashlight. My brightest flashlight at the moment tops out at 225 lumens. Not enough!

:: Bitter dad is bitter. Heavens!

:: Justin F***ing Bieber wore overalls the other meet the Prime Minister of Canada. I'm not sure what the worst part of this is. If I was going to meet the President of the United States, I promise I would not wear overalls. Even I have my limits. And besides...Justin F***ing Bieber. The notion of that talentless little tosser donning overalls makes me want to burn my wardrobe...reminding me of this exchange from Much Ado About Nothing, in which the Messenger in Scene One inquires as to Beatrice's opinion of Benedick:

MESSENGER: I see, lady, that the gentleman is not in your books.

BEATRICE: No, an’ he were, I would burn my study.

I'm kinda conflicted. On the one hand, maybe Justin F***ing Bieber's appearance in overalls will spur them to a greater acceptance among the world's fashionistas...but on the other...nah, you know what? I'm not that conflicted, as I don't care about what the world's fashionistas think, and f*** Justin F***ing Bieber, anyway.

Oh well...more oddities and awesome next week!

(Justin F***ing Bieber. Of all the #$*&%^!!....)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

May Thanksgiving Be With You

I just saw these on Distracted by Star Wars and couldn't help but rip them....

Happy Thanksgiving! Going offline the rest of the day. (Yeah, right....)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I am thankful this year for the following items. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive, in that I'm sure I'm missing out on some stuff.

Cheddar cheese so sharp it makes you pucker, Sesame crackers, Our azalea plant, Our ivy plant, Cats, Get Fuzzy, blogs, George Lucas, Star Wars, our dining room table, Klein screwdrivers, flashlights, William Shatner, Sela Ward, Mary Stewart's Arthurian trilogy, Miles Vorkosigan by Lois McMater Bujold, Stephen King, the Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey, the hardware store in my old hometown, angle grinders, Dremel rotary tool, Star Trek, Sergei Rachmaninov, The Beatles, Van Halen, baked pasta dishes, pizza, cookies, Harry Potter, Guy Gavriel Kay, Space opera, Planetary Romance, Chestnut Ridge Park, big thick poetry collections, Jerry Sullivan (Buffalo News sports columnist), my drill, Schopp and the Bulldog (Buffalo sports talk radio guys), Fried chicken, Italian sausage, that I have finally seen Les Miserables on stage, that I'm soon to see Les Miserables on the movie screen, Canada and Canadians, the poetry of Tennyson, Brian and Stewie on The Family Guy, Everyone who ever acted in a Harry Potter movie at all ever, Joss Whedon, steak, chess, comics, big breakfasts that leave me full until mid-afternoon, light breakfasts that take the edge off until a nice lunch, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, The Mentalist, Tasting something good at a restaurant and figuring out how to make it at home, Ice cream at the roadside place down the road, The County Fair, Libraries, JRR Tolkien, Route 20-A in the fall, Sandals, the scissor jack at work, Monty Python, aquariums, science museums, The Origin of Species, Cosmos, Carl Sagan, complete collections of Shakespeare (I own six, plus the one on my tablet!), thick fuzzy socks in winter, eggs, watching the Super Bowl, watching figure skating, the Olympic games, Autumn Leaves Used Books in Ithaca, the Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival, getaways with The Wife, holding The Wife's hand, the second chapter of Luke, Edgar Allan Poe, Discovering new authors, Liking books on the re-read that I didn't like the first time, Daniel Craig as James Bond, George Lazenby as James Bond, Sean Connery as James Bond, Roger Moore as James Bond, Timothy Dalton as James Bond, Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, my cell phone, my new tablet, the Burchfield Nature and Art Center, The Daughter getting better each year on her string bass, John Williams, Hector Berlioz, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Having no idea what to get The Wife for Christmas, Castle and Beckett, Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Kat Dennings, Melissa Rauch, The Big Bang Theory, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, "[knock knock knock] Penny? [knock knock knock] Penny? [knock knock knock] Penny?", A Tale of Two Cities, Thin-mint Girl Scout Cookies, Roast turkey, Chicken wings, Rum (particularly spiced), Coke, Anthony Bourdain, Rachel Maddow, Cake Boss, Nate Silver, George Carlin, Hayao Miyazaki, President Obama (on balance), Zooey Deschanel, my wok, seeing people get hit with pies, getting hit with pies, bib overalls, all my misadventures in my overalls, dollops of whipped cream on my overalls after a pieing, cooking, Lester, Julio, Comet, writing, Princesses In SPACE!!! (not the actual title), Deliverance, eh? (not the actual title), NaNoWriMo, friends willing to read my writing, All who read this blog, Baby Fiona, Little Quinn, The Daughter, The Wife, and this whole wild and wacky Cosmos from which we spring.

And you know what? I've missed a whole ton of stuff. Happy Thanksgiving, readers!

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

You're allowed to go back in time and witness one event from history. The limitation? The event must be a sporting event. What do you go witness?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Toby jug.

I love this guy., originally uploaded by Jaquandor.

This guy sits atop the books that are atop my desk. I write under his somewhat skeptical stare each day, as he clutches what I can only assume to be a jug of rum. One day I shall have his approval!

Here's what happens when I eat ice cream.

I have ice cream., originally uploaded by Jaquandor.

Julio and Mr. Shakespeare.

Julio and Mr. Shakespeare., originally uploaded by Jaquandor.

Basement Cat turns out to also be Shakespearean Cat. Who knew.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bibs galore

This weekend was the annual "International Overalls Weekend", which is an event that a bunch of us overalls afficionadoes online cooked up. It used to actually be "International Overalls Day", but I suggested that instead of always having it the same date, it be held on a floating date, such as the third Saturday of November, thus accommodating folks like me who have jobs with required uniforms during the week. This expanded out to an entire weekend.

Oddly, this weekend I only wore overalls one of the two days -- today, as a matter of fact. My newest pair, actually: a pair of black Carhartt's.

A day in overalls is a good day.

I'd never owned any Carhartts before. Not really sure why, although I've always found their buckling system a little odd. But that's not really much of a reason, so I finally took the plunge a while back and bought a real pair.

And they are awesome. Seriously. I love these things, even though they have little brass rivets everywhere (next time I fly I won't be wearing these through the metal detector) and even though these buckles take a bit of getting used to.

Carhartt IV

First of all, I like having an option other than blue denim. Second, from what I understand, unless you do things in them that are pretty brutal, Carhartts will pretty much last forever. And third, well -- these are really comfortable, even for being brand-new denim that isn't even close to being broken in yet. The only downside is that they're black...which is a problem when one lives with any kind of furry beast. The lint roller is a necessity.

So yeah, Carhartt makes a keen pair of overalls. I already want to get a dark brown pair, and I'm keeping an eye on eBay for a hunter green pair -- they don't make that color anymore, but it sounds really cool. I also find these a lot thicker and probably warmer than my other usual pairs, so these might get heavy wear during winter. We'll see. I do like to go out in winter with a couple layers under a pair of overalls, with a scarf around the whole:

Fleece, scarf, and #overalls. I love when it gets cold!

And I strongly suspect that the Carhartts will be my overalls of choice for whenever I next get hit with pies!

As for International Overalls Weekend, it was fun as always. In honor of the event I made a photomosaic consisting of some favorite photos of mine from my adventures in overalls since the last Overalls Day:

International Overalls Weekend 2012!

As always, overalls rule!

Sentential Links

Linkage, huzzah! All of the links this week are to blogs of fellow NaNoWriMo participants. There's a forum on the NaNo site for people in their 30s and 40s, and on that forum is a thread for folks to leave links to their blogs. I'm selecting some at random here. (Well, not that random, really -- I'm going through from the top of the thread and checking out each blog I come across, leaving out the ones where the writer indicates along the lines of "I have a blog but I almost never update it".)

:: Before spending money on romance novels (or any books, for that matter) I like to check out the reviews. I used to simply read whatever reviews were on the main page and then make my decision. Recently, I’ve started reading a few out of each rating level to see what I might be getting into. As a fledgling writer, I have to admit that one star ratings make me a bit nervous to put any of my own work out there for the world to see. I can’t imagine logging on and seeing them on a novel I’ve poured my heart and soul into. But then, I found a recurring theme in romance novel one-star reviews. (I worry about this particular concern. So far nobody has reported back on my manuscript to Princesses that they could see the ending a mile away, but...well, we'll see!)

:: Today, my psychiatrist told me that I “look and sound better” than I have in a very long time. And I must confess, I agree with him.

:: But I do think, now here at the beginning, that the ending will also have something to do with music. With the ability of music to connect people, and to help them find what they are searching for, and to bring them home. (Her tale is apparently set in WNY. I wonder how she sees Future Buffalo -- drying husk of a city, or once and for all risen from the ashes!)

:: So, I've already started National Novel Writing Month. I just couldn't not start. Monday, on a flight, all that time to write, I had to get started. Now, sitting in the airport, waiting for the next flight, this one home, I am writing again. (I was able to resist temptation to start early...but then again, I am using a story that I had already started a couple of times before, so the opening scenes were fresh in my head, even though I completely started at the beginning. And I've already decided what I'm doing for next year's NaNo, which is another story that I've taken a couple of whacks at and gotten nowhere!)

:: It was just one year ago that I decided to take a weekend road trip to Marion, Ohio to meet up with the Heaven’s Saints Motorcycle Ministry (HSMM). Once a month they load up a converted bread truck and head in Columbus to reach out to the people living in the various pockets of homeless camps. My wife and I knew then that we needed to come back and bring some youth from the church to engage in, essentially, an urban missions trip. (I love the title of this blog.)

:: Actually, a word like “landmark”—or even words like indelible or transcendent—probably can’t even begin to appropriately describe this song’s impact and where it stands in the landscape of modern music. “Unchained Melody” is one of the most recorded songs of all time; there are over five hundred different recordings of this song across multiple languages. This is the version that everyone knows. (This looks like a fascinating music blog. Gotta check back on this one.)

:: I've been thinking about what I am learning this month by writing my first novel for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). One of the things about writing fiction is describing the environment and getting the reader to see what is in your head. I've read from other writers that this is a balancing act. Too much, and you are boring the reader. Too little and you are confusing the reader. (I generally try for the 'pick a few really standout details and then let the reader fill in the rest' approach to description. Very few writers can do long passages of description without boring me to tears -- Tolkien is one, I think. I also try to select words that connotatively suggest what I want the reader to see.)

:: Under any circumstances, the fact that the protagonist has an IQ around 140 (which is still somewhat lower than his author’s) ought to count as some justification for his speech patterns. Besides, readers who have trouble with the words on that list aren’t going to ‘get’ the story anyway, so why should I nerf my word choices for their benefit? (They make programs that check grammar? Never used one. Spell-check and several rounds of proofreading. Of course, sometimes that doesn't even Princesses beta-readers are finding all manner of whacked-out errors that I didn't catch the first time!)

:: Nope, concurrently noveling is not for me. I’m forty-six, in overall good health, can plow through 5K mornings with a few flicks of my wrists. But I cannot write two books at one time. (Me either. That's why I had to put Lighthouse Boy -- not the actual title -- on the back burner for a while, as I get Princesses ready to send out into the world.)

More next week! (And that's just the first page of that thread! What a bunch of fine-looking blogs. Yet another nice side-effect of doing NaNoWriMo this year!)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Burst of Weird and Awesome

Oddities and Awesome abound!

:: Here's a fantastic Wonder Woman illustration (via):

There's a lot of magnificent Wonder Woman are out there, but one thing I wish is that the costume wasn't always involving shorts that are so short that Diana might be tempted to don a pair of Daisy Dukes in a moment of modesty.

:: Lynn pointed out a Flickr pool devoted to rural decay. There are a lot of beautiful photos here, some of which are even haunting.

:: According to this video made by a Christian youth ministry group, 'By the year 2017, 1 in 3 teens will grow up without having experienced the love of God through a cream pie to the face.' Wow...makes me wonder if I'm doing it wrong!

More next week! Unless, of course, the Internet decides to go an entire week without calling my attention to something either weird or awesome. Hey, it could happen.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

He coulda had 400+ electoral votes....

P111512PS-0111, originally uploaded by The White House.

...if he'd just done this before the election!


[A note from The Editor to Saturday Centus folks: I screwed up my link and linked the main page of the blog and not the Centus entry, so just scroll down to the very next post. Or read this one too. It's short!]

SamuraiFrog comments on a list of 'chick flicks' that apparently guys love but refuse to admit watching. How do I measure up to the list? Let's find out!

Mean Girls; The Proposal. I haven't seen either of these. Wouldn't mind seeing either, but just haven't.

The Notebook. Oh, Nicholas Sparks. Yes, I've seen this. And I liked it. I didn't like it as much as some other folks I know, but yeah, it's really not a bad flick, for what it is. (True confession: I've read a not-insignificant number of Sparks's novels, and his semi-autobiography-and-around-the-world-travelogue. If you've ever wondered why it is that somebody in a Sparks book always has to suffer some kind of awful fate, well, read the guy's life story. Sparks is the poster-child for "Just when things were going great, the Grim Reaper showed up".)

Bridget Jones' Diary. I haven't seen this. Again, I think I probably should, since I've heard all kinds of great things about it.

Titanic. SamuraiFrog doesn't like this anymore, but when I watched it not too long ago with The Daughter, I still liked it just fine. I still think the angry backlash against it is a lot of poseur bullshit.

Sweet Home Alabama, Never Been Kissed, Legally Blonde. I've seen none of these, and I can't really say that I want to, either.

Love Actually. This is not only one of my favorite movies ever, it's one of those movies that when I find out somebody doesn't like it, I think a little bit less of them. Not liking this movie is like saying "I think kittens suck" or "F*** puppies". This is one of my favoritist movies ever, and it's part of my Christmas world. Here's where I wrote about it at length. Wonderful, just a great damn movie.

13 Going On 30. Ye Gods, I'm not even sure I've heard of this movie.

So, of ten movies, I haven't even seen seven of them. Makes me wonder why I bothered writing this post at all. Oh well....

Saturday Centus

Culinarily inspired this week, I think!

"So this is a cook off for the inheritance? Is that what you're saying?"

Grandma was dead, and now her will stipulated that whoever won this, won everything. Including the responsibility of cooking Thanksgiving Dinner every year. For the whole family. And all relatives. And covering all expenses. Using Grandma’s recipes. Which were all out of bad magazines from the 1950s.

“Yes. You against your sister, Mary. Best dish prepared in one hour wins.”


I went into the kitchen and grabbed ingredients. Peanut butter, limburger cheese, sardines, ketchup, a jar of Vegemite.

What of it? Money'd be nice, but I don't wanna cook for these jerks every Thanksgiving.

(Errrr...I screwed up my link to this post from Jenny's blog. Sorry, folks!)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Something for Thursday

Apropos of my NaNoWriMo project, Deliverance, eh? (not the actual title), I've been listening to this Jerry Goldsmith score a bit of late. It's one of his better post-1990 efforts (not my favorite general era for Goldsmith), from a movie called The Edge. I haven't seen the movie, but I know that it deals with a man-versus-nature theme that's also a part of the story I'm writing for NaNoWriMo. Here's "Lost in the Wild", from The Edge.

(BTW, I'm doing just fine on NaNoWriMo. The object is 50000 words in 30 days; as of today, halfway through the month, I'm over 27000 words. Onward and upward!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Alien, Episode One: The Phantom Alien

So I watched Prometheus a week or two ago, and I've been struggling to come up with a reaction more nuanced than this, but...well, this is how I felt about it. Prometheus is a stunningly made film. It's one of the best looking SF epics I've ever seen, and I wish a hundred more SF spaceshippy movies would get made that look as grand as this one did. The visuals are full of eye-popping sensawunda.

The story, though? did nothing for me. It just plunked a bunch of disparate folks, some of whom with ulterior motives, on an alien landscape and then sent them out to poke said alien landscape with sticks and then get killed in awful ways when it turns out that the alien landscape doesn't much want the likes of us poking it with sticks. So, it's really pretty much a great-looking mashup of 2001 and Alien. One of those movies I think is magnificent; the other I think is stunningly overrated. Oh well.

I mean, Prometheus gives us a scientific expedition to another star system to investigate some kind of evidence of alien civilization, and yet these rigorous scientists do shit like open their helmets at the first sign the air's breathable, and when they see a puddle of Alien Goo, their first response is, "I'm gonna stick my finger in it!"

I dunno...I guess I really wanted more from this movie than what it served up.

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

Breakfast cereal: yay or nay? And if yay, sweet or grainy?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Starin' at the Teevee

Rapt attention, from below

OK, we’re now far enough into the teevee season that I can opine a bit on the shows I’m watching.

:: Oh, Castle. Castle, Castle, Castle...I must say, it’s good to have you back.

Seriously: this season has been an absolute delight thus far. They could still screw things up, as the producers came scarily close to running the show off the rails last season, but starting with last year’s season finale, they really seem to have righted the ship in a big way. I love that the verbal flirting between Castle and Beckett has finally given way to an actual relationship between the two. I love that there’s still a lot of chemistry between the two, and that the writers are so far finding interesting ways to write for two people who are in love. I love that thus far there’s no hint of the dreaded (and overblown) ‘Moonlighting Curse’. And I love that the gradual way in which the supporting cast has found out about the relationship has (a) not been drawn out, Three’s Company style, over an entire season, and (b) has taken place in ways that make sense.

Plus, the episodes have been fun. They’ve had fun mysteries, a fun science-fiction convention show with all kinds of goofy easter-eggs and references to SF stuff (not limited just to a lot of Firefly in-jokes), and they had a heck of a thriller episode with the return of the X2K killer from a couple seasons back.

Most thankfully, the ongoing “Who killed Beckett’s mom” story is now at a logical point as well. I don’t think it’s resolved, because Beckett had nothing on the guy when she finally learned who he was, but she knows who he was. I do hope that this doesn’t give the producers an excuse to keep the plot stirring for another few seasons, but if it is going to go on a bit longer, I’m glad we’re done with the ‘peeling back more layers of the onion’ phase.

Kudos, Castle.

:: Also kudos to Person of Interest, which is absolutely riveting so far this season. I am loving this show more and more, and it’s getting to the point where it’s neck-and-neck with Castle as to what I love to watch most right now. PoI’s cliffhanger last year was really well done, leaving us not with Mr. Reese in peril, but rather Finch who was endangered, in a masterstroke that kept us guessing the first couple of episodes this year. We got to see some ‘fish out of water’ stuff as Mr. Reese had to work without his boss feeding him all the information he could ever want, and there have been some interesting developments in Mr. Reese’s background as well as Finch’s, and the background of The Machine.

And the show introduced a new character: Reese and Finch now have a bad-ass dog, which is comedy gold.

Person of Interest rocks. I’m loving it.

:: What of The Mentalist? I like this show less, but it’s been pretty good this year, too. The whole ‘Red John’ thing is still awfully long-in-the-tooth, and I do still wish they’d just have done with it. But one interesting thing they’re doing on that show is exploring more the mental toll the entire pursuit of Red John is having on Patrick Jane, who seems to be skirting the edges of madness more and more. I wonder if they’re moving him in a direction of insanity at some point. Still a good show.

:: Sitcoms? I don’t watch many at all anymore. The Office has become absurd to the point that I barely bother with it. New Girl has pretty much slid off my radar screen completely. Ditto How I Met Your Mother, and I’m sorry to say, Mike and Molly. I just haven’t bothered to this point, and don’t feel strong enough about them to get caught up. That leaves 2 Broke Girls and The Big Bang Theory.

I won’t lie: I mainly watch 2 Broke Girls because of my abiding love for Kat Dennings, and that’s really about it. It’s really not a very good show, but it does have one or two laughs per episode, and I still hold out hope that a show involving two young women trying to launch their own bakery business will, at some point, put Ms. Dennings into a pie fight. Hey, I can dream. (They’ve already had the other broke girl, Beth Behrs, dumping an entire bowl of cupcake batter over her own head. A pie fight can’t be far behind.)

As for The Big Bang Theory, wow, has that show ever been on fire this season. They’ve really focused on the comedy and not so much on the Leonard-and-Penny stuff, because I think they’re realizing that if those two are going to have a relationship, the show will never really work if they try to do it ‘Ross and Rachel’ style. There have been moments, but the show has really kept a tight lid on that relationship -- which allows them to focus more on the increasingly hilarious relationship of Sheldon and Amy. That’s where the comedy gold is on Big Bang, and the producers seem to realize this.

A note on Sheldon Cooper: I’ve seen comments occasionally online that basically argue that he’s just too big a jerk to watch on teevee. Here’s the thing: Sheldon is really a very unique jerk, in that unlike a lot of classic (and not-so-classic) teevee jerks (like Archie Bunker, or possibly Red Foreman, if he could be considered a ‘jerk’ at all), Sheldon has no idea that he’s a jerk. Most teevee jerks know that they are jerks and revel in it. Sheldon Cooper, on the other hand, is simply not wired the way everybody else is. He is completely mystified by social mores and understands none of them, which makes watching him like watching a learning process. When a regular teevee jerk ‘learns a lesson’, it’s usually a ‘very special episode’. Sheldon’s lesson-learning is literal learning: the guy has no idea how he’s supposed to behave, and what’s more, he can often put forth some kind of logical argument as to the silliness of the social convention he’s being asked to follow. This makes him kind of sympathetic, doesn’t it?

:: Finally: Once Upon a Time. We started watching this over the summer, having saved it up over last season in order to have something to watch in the summertime. This is a really vexing show. There are things about it that I just love completely, and the show’s entire conceit -- that there’s a town in Maine whose population consists of people who are literally storybook characters who no longer realize they’re storybook characters -- is a winner. And the cast is just fantastic, starting with Jennifer Morrison (whose hair makes me insanely jealous), Lana Parrilla as the Evil Queen (chewing the scenery with almost Shatner-esque verve), and the always-fantastic Robert Carlyle.

Once Upon a Time has a pretty good mythology behind it, and it does a great job with tying the fantasy stories in with the ‘realism’ ones. The dialogue is also pretty good, a lot of the time. My main problem is that a lot of the dramatic situations often seem forced, with certain episodes having characters do things that are so bizarre that it borders on being an outright idiot plot. There’s a lot of good here, but wow, there’s some stuff in Once Upon a Time that makes me want to smack the writers upside their heads.

:: Oh, the one new series that we tried and rejected was Elementary, the CBS Sherlock Holmes show. The pilot episode was boring, dour, and humorless. There was nothing about it that made us want to watch it again, so we haven’t.

And that’s where we stand with teevee right now. Anybody got any other suggestions for good shows that we’re not already watching?

Saturday Centus (Tuesday edition)

Hey, it still counts. Jenny gives us a week to do each prompt.

Oh God, he thought. Oh God Oh God Oh God. Soon it’ll all be over. Just get through it. Just a couple more hours, then we’re done.

The pain was excruciating, but he knew that soon it would be over and he would have survived this horrible, horrible ordeal.

“You’re sure it’ll be over soon?”

“Yes, sweetie!”

He nodded. It was almost over. He was almost free of this agony, this torture.

Soon...there would be no more Twilight movies.

Apologies to fans...but really, Twilight is crap on toast!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Some possible cover art

Actually, none of these are really 'possible cover art', but these images are kinda-sorta how I'd like the cover of Princesses In SPACE!!! (not the actual title) to appear, if and when it finally comes out.

Well, there'd also have to be, you know, the Princesses. And maybe a spaceship or two. Ayup!

(I swiped these all from Tumblr...mostly here.)

Sentential Links

Hooray, the return! As promised, now that The Election is over, we can get back to linkage. (My reason for not doing these posts during The Election was one of self-control: I feared I would do nothing but link political stuff, and politics isn't the focus of this blog.)

Anyhow, linkage recommences...NOW!!!

:: Even at 19, I couldn't help but roll my eyes at lead guitarist Slash hiding behind that mop of hair and that dippy top hat, and lead singer Axl Rose is precisely the sort of scrawny little smart-ass who somehow manages to enrage me simply by breathing. (Heh! Like Jason, despite a general enjoyment of 80s hair bands, I never warmed to GNR. My reason was that I simply hated -- and hate to this day -- Axl's singing voice. I just find him spectacularly unpleasant to hear, no matter what the song is.)

:: That realization helped me define what I mean when I use the term Jump the Shark. Instead of a vague realization that I've simply lost interest in a series, the Jump the Shark moment has become the point at which the illusion is shattered and I realize the creators have no idea where the story is going. (I think that's a part of the very problem with series teevee: there's no guarantee that the show will be around long enough to tell 'the story', so I often think that in the beginning, there usually is no 'the story' to tell -- there's just writers spinning all manner of situations that they can mine later on. Only as 'the story' starts to emerge do they start thinking in those terms. There's an inherent problem to the very nature of season-based series teevee that's always at the heart of things, isn't there? At least for network stuff. You can have 'planned' series on cable, but then it's one long-form story told in discrete parts, not a 'series' at all. Hmmmmm....)

:: “I believe our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this cosmos in which we float, like a mote of dust in the morning sky.” (Yes, that's Mr. Sagan himself, quoted in the rewatch of Cosmos that is hosting. I watched the series again last year and remain convinced that it is one of the great creative achievements of the last fifty years.)

:: This is a cat post.
I'm writing about my cat.
It's so pathetic that it comes all the way back around again to "incredibly cool."
(Nothing pathetic about it. According to legislation signed into law by President Gore, everything on the Internet must have a cat.)

:: Does this mean I'm going to let my daughter watch and/or read whatever she wants to? No. (Especially not now--she's not even seven yet.) But I'm aware that part of the ritual of growing up is me telling her, "You don't want to watch that movie. It's too scary for kids..." And the other part of the ritual is that she'll watch it when I'm not around. Because as sad as it makes me, she's going to stop being a kid before I'm ready for her to stop being a kid. (You know what the weird thing is? I never once snuck into an R movie as a kid. Never. I was never even really tempted to try it. I suspect that in today's megaplexes, it would be really easy, since most times they take the tickets pretty much as you're entering the building, and nobody's paying any attention to what you see. Heck, I sometimes think it would be ridiculously easy in some of these places to buy one ticket and hang out for three movies. Would they even care, so long as I bought multiple popcorns and buckets o'Coke?)

:: There are places that don’t get my business, or will ever get it, because I find their corporate beliefs or practices problematic. But I’m not going to stop going to the local ice cream shop because the owners put a Romney sign in their window. (Well, we could just go single-payer and eliminate all this nonsense, but...yeah, I know, that's crazy talk. Sorry.)

:: It’s amazing to me that places like Liberty Tool exist at all. It would be easy to be cynical and say he’s just selling tools, but I don’t believe that’s all he’s doing. Whether they mean to or not, Liberty Tool is preserving a history, promoting a level craftsmanship, and giving artists and workers a focal point to leverage their skill upon — both now and in the future. It’s a simple but powerful concept we don’t see much of today, and for that our hat is off to you, sir. (Go watch the video over there. It's only about 3 minutes long, but it's really nifty.)

:: Sea levels will have risen by at least one, and possibly more than ten metres worldwide. Large chunks of sub-Saharan Africa, China, India, Brazil, and the US midwest and south are going to be uninhabitably hot — that is, too hot for non-GM plants and organisms to survive in during heat spikes, and with heat spikes over 44 celsius at night lasting at least two weeks every year (sufficient to kill off anyone without air conditioning). As 80% of today's human population live within 200Km of a coast, there will have been mass migrations and resettlements: many of today's great cities will be lost. London, New York, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Mumbai — they're all going to be submerged, or protected by heroic water defenses and at comparable risk to today's Venice and New Orleans (both of which will be long-since lost). (Huh...probably shoulda ended on a more cheerful note than that....)

More next week! Huzzah!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Those who fought....

Well how do you do, young Willy McBride
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside
And rest for a while 'neath the warm summer sun?
I've been walking all day, and I'm nearly done!
I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the great fallen in 1916.
I hope you died well,
And I hope you died clean,
Oh Willy McBride, was is it slow and obscene?

Did they beat the drums slowly?
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play the Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

Did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind?
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined?
Although you died back in 1916
In that faithful heart, are you forever nineteen?
Or are you a stranger without even a name
Enclosed then forever behind a glass pane,
In an old photograph torn, battered, and stained
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame?

Did they beat the drums slowly?
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play the Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

The sun -- now it shines on the green fields of France;
There's a warm summer breeze, makes the red poppies dance.
And look how the sun shines from under the clouds!
There's no gas, no barbed wire, no guns firing now
But here in this graveyard, it's still no man's land;
The countless white crosses stand mute in the sand
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man --
To a whole generation that were butchered and damned.

Did they beat the drums slowly?
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play the Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

Oh young Willie McBride, I can't help wonder why --
Do those that lie here know why they died?
And did they believe when they answered the call,
Did they really believe that this war would end wars?
For the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the pain,
The killing and dying it was all done in vain
For young Willy McBride it all happened again:
And again, and again, and again, and again!

Did they beat the drums slowly?
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play the Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I have no idea what this is.

Grabbed from Tumblr just because it's...weird.

Chapter and Verse

It's an illustration inspired by Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. On that basis it makes a weird sort of sense. I like it! It reminds me of a more metaphysical version of the gonzo animations that used to take place on Monty Python's Flying Circus.


Today is the 120th birthday of Mabel Normand, silent movie comedy star and, according to some, the first person to launch a pie into another person's face. This is likely not true, but I salute her nonetheless!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Carl! Carl! Carl!

Today is Carl Sagan's birthday. He will forever be one of my greatest heroes.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Something for Thursday

Late today, sorry! Sometimes you just need to return to the here's a brief track from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, "A Far Green Country". This plays when Gandalf is talking about death to Pippin, and if memory serves, this is the first time this particular melody is heard:

That brief tune is heard again, in full, at the film's end as part of the gorgeous song sung by Annie Lennox, "Into the West":

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

Last week, Roger blogged about peanut butter:

Here’s something I may not have mentioned; I don’t particularly like peanut butter. Actually, that’s not true – I HATE peanut butter. Odd thing is that I loved it as a kid, specifically Jif. I remember eating it when I was three or four. I think I must have had too much at some point, because now the smell makes me nauseous, and the taste is intolerable. I’m not allergic; I can eat peanuts, though I don’t love them.

Peanut butter is one of those foods that I just can't fathom disliking, but that's not my question. I'm interested in Roger's hypothesis that he ate enough as a kid to permanently dissuade him from eating it again. Now, I can't think of any foods that large quantities consumed in childhood ruined for me, but The Wife is the same way with bologna; she won't go near it now. So, do you have any foods that you OD'd on as a kid, and now the thought of eating them makes you ill (figuratively or literally)?

Dear Mr. Romney

[politics below the break]

Monday, November 05, 2012

Gordon, the fat guy, and the skinny douche

Two years ago, when Master Chef started up on teevee, I took note of the three judges. Gordon Ramsay, everybody knows. Graham Elliot? Never heard of him, but when they indicated that he has at least one Michelin star, I knew that he was a credible judge. But the third guy? Never heard of him. His name is Joe Bastianich, and it turned out that he's not a chef, but a restaurateur. Well...OK. I'd rather a chef do the judging, but a guy who has been running a number of very successful, high-profile restaurants in New York City? Fair enough.

It quickly became clear, in that first season, that while everyone expected Ramsay to be the big jerk of the squad (the Simon Cowell of the cooking shows, I suppose), based on his vitriolic persona as established on Hell's Kitchen, it was actually Bastianich who most often brought the blunt rudeness. When he tastes a dish, he keeps his face a mask as he chews and swallows; then he fixes the cook with an icy stare before slowly turning and going back to his seat. And while there were moments when Ramsay would rip a dish to shreds, it was Bastianich who established his bona fides as the colossal prick of the group, occasionally going so far as to pick up a contestant's dish, walk it to the nearest trash can, and spike it therein. Ouch.

The problem was that the blunt jerk of the group needs to be kind of fun to watch in action, and Bastianich didn't really come off that way. It wasn't enjoyable watching him rip on people, for the most part, and it just made him come off as, well, a big douche. It struck me that they toned him down a bit in the second season, and now that we're in the third, they've almost turned Joe Bastianich into a real human being. He still engages in the garbage-can antics once in a while, but now, it's really clear that a dish deserves it. (One contestant served up scallops that were individually wrapped in something so as to make a tiny little basket for each one; after having Ramsay rip the idea, Bastianich grabbed the plate, took it to the can, and tossed it whilst saying, "The scallop basket goes in the garbage basket." Ouch, indeed.)

Most interestingly, Bastianich has really showed a lot more emotion this season than in previous years. His reaction to Monti's crab-meat wrapped Scotch egg was affectingly warm, and right off the bat in the first episode, you got a sense that he was going to open up a bit this year, when he tasted an Asian cook's steamed dumplings, started to step back to do his icy stare, and then just smirked and said to the guy, "You know they're good."

So anyway: if the Joe Bastianich of Season One of Master Chef had written his new book, Restaurant Man, I probably wouldn't have read it. Luckily it's out as the Joe Bastianich of Season Three is on teevee, so I can read it without thinking, "Hey, it's a book by that douche on the show who isn't even a chef!" But fans of the show should take note: if you're looking at this book on the basis of Bastianich's work on Master Chef, you may be disappointed, because the show is never even mentioned in the book.

What's it about, then? Well, to boil it down, it's basically Kitchen Confidential written from the standpoint of the person who owns the restaurant and pays the bills.

The comparison to Anthony Bourdain's book seems to me an apt one, because Bastianich does at times seem to be striving for the kind of tone that Bourdain struck, with the same sense of peeling back the curtain, and using a lot of foul-mouthery to do it. Bastianich isn't the writer that Bourdain is, but so what? He has still turned in an interesting and engaging book about another facet of the restaurant world. Other books, such as Bourdain's, detail the culinary side of things, and Bastianich is certainly keyed in to that aspect of things. But his focus has to be on something else: making the whole thing profitable.

Here is how the book begins:

Here's everything you need to know to open a restaurant.

Your margins are three times your cost on everything. Some things you make more, some things you make less. You have loss leaders on the menu – veal chops and steak might cost you 50 percent of the ticket price on the menu. Pasta and salad you can run closer to 15, just as long as everything works out to 30 percent.

Bells and whistles like appetizers and desserts bring down the cost. Desserts are almost pure profit. Wine by the glass is usually marked up four times, although we don't always do that. At Babbo we get about three times cost for a quartino, or sometimes even two times, so our wine cost is 30 to 50 percent.

Thirty percent of your monthly take is going to be your food and wine cost. Thirty percent is going to be labor, 20 percent is miscellaneous, including the rent, and 20 percent is your profit. Your rent per month should be your gross take on your slowest day.

And that's it. Restaurant math is easy. If you need to gross ten grand in a day, then it's about having two hundred people coming in and spending fifty bucks apiece. And within that $10,000, you should have $3,333 going to the cost of goods sold, $3,333 going to labor to execute that, and 20 percent miscellaneous, including linens and insurance and bug spray and anything else. That leaves 20 percent profit. Like I said, it's very simple. There are a lot of more complex models, but this is the basic way of doing it.

Anything you give away for free is bad. Linen is the number-one evil, because it is expensive and no one pays for it. Same with bread and butter. You don't mind paying fifteen bucks for a veal chop you sell for thirty dollars, but paying a dollar and a quarter for a tablecloth and thirty-five cents for each napkin that someone gets dirty before they even have their first drink is a drag.

In a typical Manhattan fine-dining restaurant, between 10 and 20 percent profit is an acceptable margin. Twenty percent if you're a stud, 10 percent if you're just doing okay. But every little thing will eat into your margin. A spoon that goes into the garbage is coming out of your pocket. A pot of coffee no one drinks costs you money. How close the chef cuts the fish to the bone will make a big difference. In this business, to make money you have to save money.

My dad taught me that. He was a restaurant man. That's what he called it: "Restaurant Man".

That's Bastianich's style: he's very direct, almost blunt, and while he's rigorous about quality, he is so with a never-relenting focus on profitability. If you want to know what the cooks are thinking about, read Bourdain; if you want to know what the owner is thinking about, read Bastianich.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

An open question for #BuffaloBills fans and the #BillsMafia

(The hashtags in the post title are for the benefit of Twitter followers of mine who might not read the blog.)

A little background: each year for the last, oh, I don't know, five or six years, I have eventually reached a point in the football season where I recognize the writing on the wall, which invariably seems to read, "Not this year". Or "Bad team here." Or "Go forth and do something else with thy time." I've tended not to ignore such things, as my general feeling has been that I just don't enjoy doing things that simply are not enjoyable. And for twelve years now, Buffalo Bills football has certainly been mostly not enjoyable.

So, at some point each season, I've just stopped watching the Bills. Usually this happens at some point in the second half of the season, so I have borne sad witness to such Bills thrillers as the game they lost at home to Cleveland 6-3, a game in which they actually held the opposing quarterback to just two completions. But I've spared myself a lot of bad games, too, such as the "Let's see what Brian Brohm's got" laugher in Atlanta a few years back, or last year's season-ending game at New England, in which Brady and Belichick and the boys basically said, "Hey, let's spot these guys 21 points and then still beat 'em by 28."

What do I do instead? I go out with family, or read, or write, or watch movies in what I like to call "Instead of the Buffalo Bills Theater". (Today I watched Prometheus. Review forthcoming.) Now, some fans I know scoff at me when I make my yearly announcement that I'm not watching the games anymore, the implication being that I'm not a real fan, that I'm being something like a 'fair-weather friend' who is only there for people when times are good. But then, I'm just a guy watching games on teevee and talking about them. How does my 'support' matter to the Bills, one way or the other?

So my question is this. Imagine that the next few years of Bills history spin out thusly: At the end of the current season, they finish up 4-12. Whether he's fired or decides to 'spend more time with family', GM Buddy Nix exits stage left. Bill Polian and his son take over and immediately draft a franchise quarterback, be it Barkley, Smith, or one of the other highly-touted QB prospects. The kid proves as good as advertised, maybe taking the Bills to a pair of wild-card, 10-6 seasons before finally exploding and going 14-2 with a Super Bowl win in Year Three. Now: as they're hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and toasting either Mr. Wilson or Mr. Wilson's memory, and as you're dancing in your living room because the Bills have finally won the Super Bowl, is the feeling really that much sweeter because you watched 6-3, or the Brian Brohm start, or any of the Bills' trips to New England the last 12 years? Really?

For me...I'll like 'em again when they win.

Further random thoughts on Disney and Lucasfilm

Some more notions that have occurred to me....

:: Deals like this don't come out of the blue. It's not like Disney called George Lucas in the morning the other day, while Uncle George was enjoying breakfast and the morning paper, and said, "Hey, we wanna buy your company and Star Wars. Four billion OK?" So I wonder if the eternal 'in development' phase of the long-promised Star Wars live-action teevee show was in fact ever taking place, or if this was a 'develop some notions for the next batch of movies' kind of thing.

:: Obviously this deal has sparked a lot of Star Wars-related comment around the Interweb, and I find about ninety percent of what I've read to be either stupid or annoying or stupidly annoying or annoyingly stupid. The main reason is that the vast majority of pieces I've read this week on the subject haven't involved any kind of real comment on possible directions Star Wars may take; instead, it's all been of the grinding-the-old-axe variety. You know: "Hey, Star Wars is in the news again! Let's talk about how awful George Lucas and the Prequels and Jar Jar are all over again! And let's whine about how our childhoods have been destroyed, all over again! Let's stick that knife in, all over again!" Ugh.

:: I'm not sure it constitutes a consensus, but the most common thing I've heard about a possible story for the putative Episodes VII, VIII, and IX is very simply this: "Adapt the Thrawn Trilogy to big screen!" (The Thrawn Trilogy are the novels written by Timothy Zahn back in the early 1990s, which resurrected Star Wars as a going concern and established a lot of the territory for the Expanded Universe stuff.) Now, the Thrawn Trilogy is pretty cool and all (I should re-read it one of these days), but remember when lots of Star Wars 'fans' were constantly bitching about the Prequels on the grounds of "Where's the suspense? We know how the story ends!"? Yeah, I remember that, too.

:: Anyone who says that is an idiot, by the way. Finding out what happens next is not the only reason to experience a story, and anyone who implies that it is doesn't know a thing about what they're talking about.

:: I already mentioned the other day that I'm not sure I want to see a long series of Star Wars Episode ___ movies, which would take the story farther and farther from the original story of two generations of Skywalkers. But the solution there is pretty obvious: Drop the episode numbers. If they really want to diverge and explore the Star Wars universe theatrically, I'd be fine with leaving the existing films as the only numbered ones, and just give the other ones titles like Star Wars: The New Republic, or whatever.

:: I have no problem with JJ Abrams directing a Star Wars movie. I just don't want him writing one. And ditto Damon Lindelof.

OK, that's it. Again.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Saturday Centus

A word prompt this week. Looking over my entry, I'm wondering why my brain is going this way...I haven't read or watched any horror in a while....

All arise! The first annual convention of the Hannibal Lecter Fan Club will come to order. Our first order of business is the singing of our anthem! All together now:

Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November
One less day in those months
For us to maim and dismember!

Our second order of business is our inaugural dinner: liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Something for Thursday

A longer selection today: the Butterfly Lovers Concerto by Chen Gang and He Zhanhao. This piece of program music was written in 1959, but don't let the date of composition fool you: this is pure lyric Romanticism, using several Chinese folk melodies in musically depicting the events of the legend of the butterfly lovers. This isn't particularly deep music, but it's achingly beautiful and evocative.

November! Let the words gush forth in a big wordy torrent!

I'm doing something new this year: I am officially participating in NaNoWriMo. Princesses In SPACE!!! (not the actual title) is currently being perused by beta-readers, and I'm processing and meditating upon their feedback, with an eye to starting the final draft in December. Between now and then, however, I need something to work on...and the timing just happened to work out that I can give NaNoWriMo a try. This will involve daily writing (which I can handle), on a level that is a bit higher than I'm used to (1666 words a day, on average, are needed to hit the target goal of a 50,000 word novel).

I've got the story picked out -- it's a notion that I've had in the back of my head for a novella for a while now, so I figure this is as good a time as any to get it going. IN order to get it to the necessary word length, I'm going to add in some stuff to the notion and let it expand. My main worry is that I don't write with length in mind; I tend to follow the story wherever it goes. So what if I'm only two-thirds of the way through the story at the end of the month? Or what if this particular story's natural length is only 35000 words? I guess we'll find out.

(Oh, and as a further experiment, I've just decided that I'm going to write this novel/novella/whatever in Google Documents, instead of Open Office. Just out of curiosity to see what Google's like as a writing platform.)