Friday, May 29, 2015

Bad Joke Friday

Long one this week!

A man is driving down the road and breaks down near a monastery. He goes to the monastery, knocks on the door, and says, “My car broke down. Do you think I could stay the night?” The monks graciously accept him, feed him dinner, even fix his car. As the man tries to fall asleep, he hears a strange sound. The next morning, he asks the monks what the sound was, but they say, “We can’t tell you. You’re not a monk.” The man is disappointed but thanks them anyway and goes about his merry way.

Some years later, the same man breaks down in front of the same monastery. The monks accept him, feed him, even fix his car. That night, he hears the same strange noise that he had heard years earlier. The next morning, he asks what it was, but the monks reply, “We can’t tell you. You’re not a monk.”

The man says, “All right, all right. I’m dying to know. If the only way I can find out what that sound was is to become a monk, how do I become a monk?”

The monks reply, “You must travel the earth and tell us how many blades of grass there are and the exact number of sand pebbles. When you find these numbers, you will become a monk.”

The man sets about his task. Forty five years later, he returns and knocks on the door of the monastery. He says, “I have travelled the earth and have found what you have asked for. There are 145,236,284,232 blades of grass and 231,281,219,999,129,382 sand pebbles on the earth.”

The monks reply, “Congratulations. You are now a monk. We shall now show you the way to the sound.” The monks lead the man to a wooden door, where the head monk says, “The sound is right behind that door.”

The man reaches for the knob, but the door is locked. He says, “Real funny. May I have the key?” The monks give him the key, and he opens the door. Behind the wooden door is another door made of stone. The man demands the key to the stone door. The monks give him the key, and he opens it, only to find a door made of ruby. He demands another key from the monks, who provide it. Behind that door is another door, this one made of sapphire. So it went until the man had gone through doors of emerald, silver, topaz, and amethyst.

Finally, the monks say, “This is the last key to the last door.” The man is relieved to no end. He unlocks the door, turns the knob, and behind that door he is amazed to find the source of that strange sound.

But I can’t tell you what it is, because you’re not a monk.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

Ack! It's Wednesday. Oops.

What's your favorite astronomical item? (As in, planets, stars, comets, nebulae, et cetera.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Dump of Links

While I've been on light-blogging duty, getting the book done and stuff, I've been bookmarking a lot of stuff for future comment. So here it all is, with sporadic and brief comment!

:: Ma Ingalls thinks I'm an asshole.

Heh. If it helps, I'm sure that Great-Grandma Ingalls thought that Ma was an asshole, too.

:: A useful history of the Gamergate fiasco.

:: Alysa Rosenberg on Black Widow and The Avengers.

I don't always agree with Rosenberg -- I find her more recent article defending Game of Thrones's focus on rape unconvincing and oddly argued -- but she generally makes interesting points, as is the case here.

:: The McDonald's Hot Coffee Lawsuit, explained.

This case has become a shorthand in referring to our overly-litigious society which is prone to frivolous lawsuits. Problem is, this case was hardly frivolous. Read it to see why.

:: The Plot Against Trains

Good article about rail travel in the United States and how its sorry state is reflective of our bizarre attitude towards effective government policy and the way we casually accept measurably poorer policy outcomes if it means "less government".

:: Woodstock's undercover lovers, identified.

:: Want to watch fifteen seconds of the most heart-stopping parkour ever filmed? Sure you do!

:: The Scoville Scale of Pepper Hotness, illustrated with cats.

:: Next time you're in Budapest, make sure to check out the town's newest bronze statue to a beloved fictional detective. No, not that one. This one.

:: Finally, The Tragedy of Jar Jar Binks. I've already gone into my thoughts on why Jar Jar was as hated as he was, in the Phantom Menace sequence of Fixing the Prequels posts, and this article seems to partially agree: Too much "Comedic hijinks Jar Jar", and not enough "Screw-up from the warrior species Jar Jar". I do like to recall, though, that when I saw Revenge of the Sith in the theater on opening day, when Jar Jar appeared for his very-brief cameo in that film, the response in the theater was mainly people who sounded glad to see the guy, however fleetingly.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The last, full measure of devotion

Tomb of Unknown Soldier

Know, all who see these lines,
That this man, by his appetite for honor,
By his steadfastness,
By his love for his country,
By his courage,
Was one of the miracles of the God.

-- Guy Gavriel Kay

"The Green Field of France", by Eric Bogle

Well, how do you do, young Willie McBride,
Do you mind if I sit down here by your graveside?
And rest for awhile 'neath the warm summer sun,
I've been walking all day, and I'm nearly done.
I see by your gravestone you were only 19
When you joined the great fallen in 1916,
I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean
Or, Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they Beat the drum 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?
And, though you died back in 1916,
To that faithful heart are you forever 19?
Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Enshrined then, forever, behind a glass pane,
In an old photograph, torn and tattered and stained,
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame?

Did they Beat the drum 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's shining down on these green fields of France;
The warm wind blows gently, and the red poppies dance.
The trenches have vanished long under the plow;
No gas and no barbed wire, no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard that's still No Man's Land
The countless white crosses in stand mute in the sand
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man,
And a whole generation who were butchered and damned.

Did they Beat the drum 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?

And I can't help but wonder, no Willie McBride,
Do all those who lie here know why they died?
Did they really believe when they answered the call,
Did they really believe that this war would end wars?
Well the sorrow, the suffering, the glory, the pain
The killing and dying, was all done in vain,
For young Willie McBride, it all happened again,
And again, and again, and again, and again.

Did they Beat the drum 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?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Bad Joke Friday

What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor?

Make me one with everything.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

At Last! Another book finished!

It is ALWAYS a relief to get to these words. Wow. Final tally: 208175 words. Wow again. Time for bed. #amwriting

Last night I finally finished the first draft of Princesses In Space III: Die Harder. This one was really, really tough, folks. The ending was hard to do, and I imagine I'll have a lot of work to do at editing time. While this book won't hit the world for another year and a half, I am willing to say that I attempted some different things in this book, from a stylistic standpoint. I hope they work! And then there was the epilogue, which presented its own set of difficulties. (I'm a firm believer in epilogues, actually. I like to know at least a little bit of how life has gone on for the people in a story after the main conflicts are resolved. I've seen movies that start the credits rolling while blood is still flowing from the villain's mortal wounds, and that always bugs me.)

By way of statistics, this is the longest Forgotten Stars novel yet. The first draft clocked in at over 208,000 words, which is 28K more words than I had originally set as my upward limit. As I started nearing that total, however, I knew that I was in no way going to be able to bring the book in for less than that. I always strive to eliminate at least ten percent of the total word count at editing time, and then even more when I do my second round of slicing-and-dicing, so I'm sure the book will eventually settle in around the 180K mark. The Forgotten Stars books are generally long epics, but I am hoping to keep them from suddenly exploding in length, the way the Harry Potter books did. (Not that that particularly bothered me; I never really felt that those books were all that bloated, until the last one which did have some pacing issues in the middle. But that's for another day.)

Anyway, what's next? Editing Book II, of course -- I have to get The Wisdomfold Path up to snuff and then in the hands of proofreaders, which I hope to do by July. Then I'll probably do the first round of edits on GhostCop (not the actual title -- huh, I should really figure out what the hell that book is called, anyway), because I'd like to launch that series next year, maybe in summer. Then it should be time to start the first edits on Forgotten Stars III, probably in August; and then after that, as Wisdomfold Path is coming out, I'll start writing the first draft of GhostCop II: Boo! (really, really, really not the actual title).

Always working! By the end of the decade I want to have several books available, in several different series. I'm playing the long game here, folks!

(Oh, and I have an odd idea for a short story that I might attempt soon, too. And I can't forget about The Adventures of Lighthouse Boy, to which I will return at some point, because I love the idea of that story too much to not write it.)

Something for Thursday

I'm feeling rather triumphant this morning, so here's something to fit the mood: the Victory Celebration and End Title from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My Top Ten Letterman Moments

I haven't watched David Letterman in a long time, not because I lost my taste for him, but because the realities of my day job forced me to leave late-night teevee behind. However, even though I had an appreciation for Jay Leno, I was always more of a Letterman guy. I personally always thought he was an underrated interviewer, but by and large, I always loved his completely off-kilter humor. You never really knew what was going to happen next with Letterman.

So here is my personal tribute to him and his years of late-night hilarity, in his iconic form of a top-ten list.

10. The Top Ten Words that Sound Better When Said by James Earl Jones. (I couldn't find a video clip.)

9. Dick Assman!

8. The Donut-a-pult. This was an ongoing gag in which Letterman kept revising his concept for a catapult that would shoot donuts into the audience. They eventually came up with one so powerful that it exploded the powdered-sugar donut into a cloud of sugar.

7. The Quiz Machine. This was always fun and goofy.

6. Stupid Pet Tricks was always fun, and this one was my favorite:

5. Let's look for Swedes!

4. Emma Thompson visits and shares her thoughts on pie-throwing.

3. Oprah, Uma.

2. Occasionally Letterman would lower his guard and let his real opinions come out. It was always interesting when this happened. One night, for some reason someone mentioned that President Bush was going to be on The Tonight Show, and Letterman muttered, "Yeah, there's a real summit meeting."

1. Letterman after 9-11-01.

So long, Dave!

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

Wouldn't it be nice if I could get this frakking book done? Seriously, folks, this is getting out of hand. I honestly believed I'd be done a week ago, and yet here I am, still struggling to get the epilogue to work. It's enormously frustrating.

So, how y'all doin'?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

On six months of STARDANCER, and Book II title reveal!

In a new post over at, I briefly reflect on Stardancer at the six-months-since-release point, and I reveal the title of the upcoming second book in The Song of Forgotten Stars. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

Haven't done one of these in a while, so I'll break my radio silence (almost done with the book! almost done with the book!) to ask this: Assuming you like rice, what's your favorite rice dish?

Friday, May 08, 2015

Bad Joke Friday

Rick Astley will let you borrow any movie from his Pixar collection, except one.

He’s never gonna give you Up.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Something for Thursday

Actor Nigel Terry, who played King Arthur in the 1981 film Excalibur, died last week. Excalibur is the only thing I ever saw him in, to my knowledge, but he was very good in it. King Arthur is a very difficult part, I would imagine, not just to play but to write. Excalibur is a major event in fantasy film history, but it's also quite an odd film, often times tonally at odds with itself. I chalk that up to the nature of the source material, to be honest. The reason there's never been a truly great Arthurian film is at least partly that the Arthurian 'story' is really a collection of tales, loosely related, that spring from an odd amalgamation of Christian allegory and Welsh myth. Any film of the Arthur story has to do a lot of picking and choosing, and Excalibur is no different. It is, for me, a great film, but it's also a flawed one. Terry, however, did very well at capturing both a human side of Arthur and the 'divinely inspired' side of the Once and Future King.

The film's music was a combination of classical works and original score by Trevor Jones. Here is the music from the film's finale, when Bedevere must throw Excalibur back to the Lady of the Lake and then witness as the Three Queens take Arthur to Avalon. It's actually Wagner's Siegfried's Funeral Music.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Bad Joke Friday

Book Draft Status: Incomplete.

Oh well.

Joke: A panda walks into a bar and says to the bartender, “I’ll have a rum and...













...coke, please”

“Sure thing,” replies the bartender, “but why the big pause?”

The panda holds up his hands and says “I was born with them”.