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3rd November 2014

6:48pm: Advertisement in Dragon Magazine, March, 1995

Good GMing is hard work! So, get your hands on the monthly newsletter dedicated to sucking every last drop of fun and excitement out of each adventure!


I'll admit, I have never seen an issue of the Game Masters Monthly, but I can't help but admire their dedication to truth in advertising.

24th October 2014

7:21am: Things that were a bit too long to fit on twitter.
1) Voiceover:

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and-


Eyestalk pulls back from telescope. MARTIAN puts on sunglasses, snowboards down Olympus Mons.

2) Dear Editors,

It has been some time since I submitted "________" to your publication. There have been a great many changes since then; the great Khhrzn invasion, the opening of the Darkest Seal, and so on. Nonetheless, I still feel the story has merit, and would like to know if it is still under consideration--I could certainly use the ration coupons that your current guidelines say are issued for entertainments of this sort.

While I can certainly understand how things have gotten a bit confused on your end as well, I'm afraid that if I do not hear from you by the next galactic lustral, I shall have to withdraw the story from consideration.

Best,
Alter


(I'm considering sending #2 to a short fiction market, pretty much as is.)

21st October 2014

8:15pm: Is this thing on?
Apparently, I still have an lj.

And, apparently, I still have lj posts I want to make. This one is about private islands!

You see, as I've been selling short fiction lately, I occasionally will look at www.privateislandsonline.com because, you know, sooner or later I'll be able to afford a few of those. That's how short fiction works, I'm pretty sure.

But anyway. Truth is, I probably could afford some of those islands. And let's look at some of those.

First off, at a modest $39,999 (note that they'll let you keep the 99 cents they could've added, while still keeping the price under $40,000), is Chandler Island. Which is in the US, unlike many of the cheapest islands, which tend to be in places where dollars go a bit further. But it's . . . well, it's not a very large island. At high tide, in particular, it's described as being "the size of an average suburban yard."

There's not really much that I'd want to do with a forty thousand dollar backyard off the coast of Maine. I could build one of those micro-houses, I suppose. Presumably, something in Maine that's "nestled protected in a bay," with "line-of-sight of the open ocean," would be pleasantly warm during the winter, right?

The owner of Chandler Island wouldn't have to worry about transportation, anyway. The island can be reached "by foot at very low tide, when the water is only waist-deep."

This isn't so much an island, as it is a beach chair that you've pulled out into the surf and declared to be an island, and worth almost, but not quite, $40,000. It's a beach chair you'd have to pay taxes on, is what I'm saying.

I'm going to skip over island parcels, which are frankly not worth consideration. The thing about a private island is that it's private. An island with other people owning houses on it is the exact opposite of private. You could describe an apartment in Manhattan as an island parcel. Which, frankly, would be a way better way to live than sharing some freezing wilderness with a few dozen other people who wanted a private island, but couldn't afford to get one.

Sadly, it seems that most of the howling wilderness type islands aren't on the market at the moment--that site had one a few years back way up in northern Quebec that was big and had a house, and was apparently a good place to hunt bears and moose and yeti or whatever they have in Quebec. Wendigos? But there is Sweet Island, which is the sort of thing for people who want to live in the wilds of Canada. 3.3 acres, half acre cleared for gardening, and . . . it's a bit to the north of where people live, so if you wind up breaking your ankle or something, it'd be years before anyone found your skeleton. Which would probably have been picked clean by seagulls, and maybe bald eagles. So that's cool.

A somewhat warmer, but still under $200,000 option is Isla Esmeralda. Only you only get half the island, because the seller is planning on keeping the other half. I might be leery of buying something isolated near the US-Mexican border, but it is apparently "-4.5 miles to Airport, Touristic Resort, Restaurant, Golf Club, Luxurius -Residential Area and Sea Turtle Conservation Camp."

I mean, negative 4.5 miles to the airport sounds pretty good, but the conservation camp . . . I dunno. I've heard some bad things about conservation camps. Or something like that, anyway.

And then there's Buck Island. British Virgin Islands, luxury estate, private coral reefs, beaches, cliffs, staff quarters, etc. It's a bit pricier than Chandler Island, at . . . well, that page says price available upon request, but this page on the same site gives a price of $30,000,000. To be fair, they could just have easily gone with $29,999,999, so they could learn from those Chandler's Island people.

So, yeah, a bit out of short fiction range. Maybe if I start selling novels.

5th November 2013

1:20pm: A bit of Yiddish.
So, before I get onto anything else, I would like to mention that I got two acceptance letters in my inbox yesterday--a reprint sale to Podcastle, and a sale to Bundoran Press's anthology of political SF, Strange Bedfellows. So, can't complain about that.

But what I wanted to say was, you know how people say that "Eskimos have fifty words for snow,*" right? So I've always said that Yiddish has that many words for people you find objectionable. I mean, there might be words in English which substitute adequately for a putz or a shlemazel, but I can barely come up with a sentence to summarize a noodge, or a macher or a shmegegge, but I certain know them when I see them. **

Now, I'm not a Yiddish speaker, not really. I might be able to piece together what someone says, but I was way better at that when I was ten than I am now. But I do have a certain number of words in my Yiddish vocabulary, and in doing a little research on them, I've discovered that there's another area that Yiddish has a wider range of choices than English. In addition to people you don't want to be around, it's quite rich in words for places that it's inconvenient to get to.

The words I've come across are:

Yehupitz: I mostly encountered this as "Yehupitzville." It's from Sholem Aleichem, and was his stand in for Kiev, apparently.
Hotzenklotz: What people who are in Sholem Aleichem's stories would use to refer to the boondocks. I don't think I ever encountered that one in the wild.
Yenemsvelt: "Someone else's world," which is the word I think that I've heard from my immediate family.
Ekvelt: The ends of the earth. Don't think I encountered this one in the wild, either.
And there's one more that I totally had, but now can't remember.

And there you are.


* Yes, I know they don't.
** And boy do I see them, I tell you.

30th September 2013

12:21pm: Rejection
I use Grammarly for free proofreading because sometimes people give other people Amazon gift certificates for mentioning their product in blog posts. *

But that wasn't what I wanted to talk about. What I wanted to talk about was rejection. From time to time, I finish a novel (at the moment, it's been something of a long time since that has happened, and it looks to be something of a long time until it happens again. Largely because I spent the better part of last year flattened by mononucleosis, but also for other reasons. Anyway.)

After I finish a novel, the next step is to look for an agent. With each project, I've been getting closer, in a sort of Xeno's paradox fashion—most recently, I had a nice phone conversation, followed by a regretful email a few days later. Next time, I hope to see how exactly I can get closer to having an agent without actually having an agent. Maybe there'll be something about the agency agreement that I'll object to? Something to look forward to, anyway.

In the course of looking for an agent, I will occasionally read the advice that agents give about looking for an agent. Some of which seems reasonable, some of which doesn't, and most of which falls into the sort of broad area in between. One bit from that last category has to do with rejection. "Don't blog about rejection," in specific. "It's negative," some say, "and it shows your writing in a poor light."

"Bother that nonsense!" some of you might say, particularly if you were brought up in a refined environment, and also if you have small children nearby who echo phrases that they hear. And you'd be right to say that, of course, for reasons that I shall get into later. But first, I will explain why this bit of advice doesn't go directly into the "does not seem reasonable" bin.

While the reasons that they give aren't very good, agents will occasionally look at the blogs of authors they are considering recommending. And if you blog your process of seeking an agent with updates like, "13 rejections from my first choice agents, 1 requested partial!" "28 rejections, 5 no responses, 2 requested partials, and 9 somewhat oracular responses which I'm taking to mean requests for fulls from my second choice agents!" and "Fine! I guess it's time to send out queries to all the loser agents I don't want in the first place!" it might dampen the enthusiasm of agents included in that last category. I mean, largely because they're losers, but whatever.

To some degree, that applies to stories as well—it's not necessarily great practice to announce that a particular story has gotten three hundred and seventy rejections before sending it out to the next place, as it might cause the story to be viewed with some suspicion. Also, odds are good that the story is terrible, because that's just too many rejections.

However, getting back to why you were right in the first place, the reality is that if you are not willing to accept constant, crushing rejection for years, you might want to do something other than trying to write fiction. Alternatively, you can write fiction, but just be better at it than me. Because where I'm at, I've got a handful of shiny yeses to measure against a giant steaming pile of no. **

To give numbers. For 2013, I have 59 rejections on 26 stories. Fortunately, I have a total of zero sales of new fiction which I can use to weigh against that. Admittedly, the mono wasn't just a matter of me doing things more tiredly and slowly, though it was that. It was also a "Flowers for Algernon" type thing****, where the disease made me stupider, though I wasn't entirely aware of that while I was in the middle of that. So I wrote worse stories, and handled things less ably while I was sick. Still, it's not a record to inspire confidence.

And that's the thing. If I needed the record to inspire confidence, I'd be done. I can't necessarily put my finger on what it is that's giving me confidence *****, but when I look at a story that I've written, and I think that it's good, I can keep sending it out, despite all evidence that I should stop doing that. Which isn't to say that I'm not willing to take criticism on board when it feels right, but when it doesn't, I can look at a number of similar rejection letters about a story as evidence that there's something about editorial work that makes people wrong in the same way. *******

There's another problem with blogging about rejection, and that is that it's hard to be interesting about rejection. But it's also hard to be interesting about what you had for lunch, or what you think about Syria when you don't speak Arabic and have only recently learned how to find it on a map, or celebrities, and that doesn't seem to shut anyone up.

Anyhow, I seem to have reached the maximum number of asterisks that I can count********, so I think I'll leave it at that.

* This post was sponsored by grammarly.com.

** (I suppose that some of this is because of me, but I largely blame you, the readers. Those of you who are also editors are more directly responsible, but it's for the same fault. If you'd just find my stories more entertaining, they'd be easier to sell. It's that, or take the Johnathan Franzen approach, and blame the internet. Or possibly a penny-pinching old German lady? Strange dude, that Johnathan Franzen.***)

*** For a full examination of Johnathan Franzen's issues with elderly Germans, see
http://the-toast.net/2013/09/16/rage-jonathan-franzen/

**** One of the things that I only just realized is that the reason that "Flowers for Algernon" works as a story is that it's not just a speculative premise about mind enhancing drugs, it's a thing that everyone goes through in their lives. And that there is an unutterable bleakness to the aspect of the human condition that the story's about, which is hard to see when you're on the upward slope.

***** There's a thing called the Dunning–Kruger effect******, which I assume has no relevance here whatsoever.

****** Google it yourself, why don't you?

******* Grammarly.com found 2 critical writing issues and generated 3 word choice corrections for this sentence alone. See note 5 as to why I haven't done anything about it.

******** It's eight. I think.

15th August 2013

4:40pm: Amateurism.
Right. So, last time, I said that I'd post about my insane process next. Which I'm not going to do, I'm afraid. In fact, I think I'll wait until I sell a story composed through my current process, and then wait even more until it's published, and then I'll forget to post about my process.

Instead, I will post an insane rant, as people on livejournal do.

In this case, it's about amateur sports, specifically about things like college football and the Olympics. Normally, I think about these things, and decide not to say anything, because people are being happy about upcoming Olympics or whatever, and why try to make people less happy?

However, at the moment, people hate the Olympics because of Russian gay bashing, and college football has more or less pinned its brand identity on child rape and attacking people for thinking they own their own names. So. amateur sports.Collapse )

11th July 2013

1:40pm: According to Livejournal's homepage, my "current position in the top journals is 14,724." This is a profoundly sad thing to read, and it makes me feel bad for livejournal that they decided to say it. I've been posting like once a month, at best, and it feels like most of those posts are resolutions to post more. If there are only about 15k journals which are more interesting than mine, it seems like they may as well close up the shop.

Which is something that I might do, right—say that I'm done with LJ, it was fun while it lasted, etc., and that you can find me on twittlr or gtumbl or whatever it is that people do these days.

But no! Instead, I will post about how I intend to post more. Right here on livejournal, where I'm the fourteen thousandth, seven hundreth and twenty fourth most top journal. (Or at least I was when I started this post. Now I'm 14964th. Oh no!)

Specifically, I will post about a website which I find amusing, and I will promise to at least start a post about my insane writing process, which is insane, but which people might find amusing.

The website in question is smosh.com. Which isn't to say that I advocate visiting there; it's generally a tired sort-of-funny humor website that kills a small portion of soul every time you go there, like much of the internet. However, the guy who writes the newspaper comic Sally Forth has a webcomic, "Medium Large," which is occasionally funny. Don't get me wrong; there are tons of funnier webcomics out there. But the novelty of someone associated with a newspaper comic having a sense of humor, no matter how slight, causes me to follow the webcomic. And on it's RSS feed, there are occasional links to his article at Smosh.com, which are about as funny as his comic. (Kinda. They are kinda funny.)

But that's not what gets me. What gets me is the comments.

"Don't read the comments!" shout both people who are reading this. "Never read the comments! The internet is a plot to undermine democracy by making you hate and fear your fellow citizens by showing you what they have to say about a cute kid swimming on youtube!"

And fair enough, though both you guys need to lighten up a bit. But here's the thing. The comments on this guy's articles aren't hateful or bigoted or insane, as a rule. They're just sort of . . . simple. Basically, they're the sort of comments you might imagine Ralph Wiggum leaving.

Here's an example: http://www.smosh.com/smosh-pit/articles/6-funny-ice-cream-flavor-fails

The article is about bad ice cream flavors, and is kinda funny. Like something Cracked would run on an off day, and you wouldn't be upset that you wasted your time reading it, but you wouldn't feel any need to, you know, laugh. But those comments. There is nothing there; reading them is like looking into an aquarium without any fish, and yet, I find them kind of charming, in their way.

Perhaps it's because of the objectively pro-misanthropy comments you get on newspaper articles and youtube videos. Nobody posting racist stuff about Japan, or yelling about toxins in the foods we eat, or urging the sheeple to awake. Just, you know, Chakuu, who wants to tell the world, "horse flavor D:", and GoinCoastalAT, who wants to inform us that he understood that, "ew they don't sound good at all!"

I'm not sure how smosh has built a community of this sort, but I'm sort of happy that they did.

26th April 2013

3:00pm: Well, that was a week.
So, in the past week, I've been caught in an airline strike, and had all four of my wisdom teeth out. These are both terrible things, and if any of you were thinking of trying them recreationally, I'd recommend that you think harder. Admittedly, the wisdom tooth thing was something that I totally decided to do. I went to a guy, and without any sort of coercion, asked him to pull four teeth out of my head.

When he was done, I paid him a large sum for having done this to me, and I am not currently planning on lodging a complaint with anyone about it. Still, it was a very unpleasant experience, and also the lidocaine kept me from being able to focus my eyes for a couple of hours, which wasn't very nice either.

The airline strike didn't involve anyone pulling bones out of my head, but it did involve me missing one flight, and being uncertain whether I would get on the next one. Then I got on the next one, and went home, and they only lost one of my bags, which turned up the next day.

Those who know how I feel about travelling will know which I'd prefer to do again.

Before I got onto the plane in New York, the Iberia people reassured me that I didn't have to rebook, that El Al would probably have something waiting for me when I got off the plane, and everything would be fine. When I got to Madrid, the Iberia help counter told me, "this is El Al's problem, you have to call them. Here's their phone number in Israel, and you have to go through passport control in order to get to a phone which will not take any of the money that you have. Now go away."

There are people for whom being dropped in a foreign country with no local money and without the ability to speak the language would be a wonderful adventure. I am not one of those people.

So, of the two, of course I'd rather go through an airline strike again. I mean, seriously. I don't like uncertainty, and I'm sure that at some point in my life I'm going to lose my passport while in transit, and have to spend the rest of my life in airports. But those teeth just wouldn't come out. I'm actually not going to go into more detail, as it's gross, but suffice it to say: Dental surgery is really unpleasant. Way more than airports.

12th April 2013

3:19pm: Notes from America.
I'm back in the US briefly, visiting family. Which is where I noticed the following:

A NYT headline which read, "Huskies Conquer Demons, Irish." It is probably for the best that this was in the sports section rather than the world news, but a small part of me wishes it weren't.

Also, on the box of some frozen blintzes, I got this: "Before machines, before mass production, before people began caring more about quantity than quality, there was only one way to do things.

And that was the right way."

Smash the looms, says Frankel's Homestyle Products Kosher for Passover Apple Blintzes (non Gebrokts).

25th February 2013

12:57pm: Does everybody know about this but me?
The Taman Shud Case involves a guy whose identity still hasn't been determined killed in 1948 by an undetectable poison with a coded message on a scrap from a rare book in his pocket.

My theory is that he was Jack the Ripper.

4th February 2013

4:48pm: So, Chazanut
You know how sometimes when you ask people what sort of music they like, they'll say something like, "oh, I like everything, except for rap and opera?" This is almost always a lie, and one of the fun things to do when someone tells you that particular lie is to play a form of music that they probably will not like, despite the fact that it is neither rap nor opera.

(As an aside, I think that the reason why those two genres are chosen is because they are music for poor people and rich people, and there is a sort of instinctive cringe on the part of those who firmly identify as middle class as being seen as belonging to either group. There's also the race thing, though I'm not sure that opera is linked to any particular race, with the possible exception of Italians and portly German ladies wearing horned helmets.)

(As another aside, it seems to me that the version of Les Miserables currently in theaters is an opera, rather than a musical. A lot of the singing is things like, "what will you have for diiiiiiiiiiner?" "I think I'll have some fiiiiiiiiish," where if it was a musical, they'd talk those parts, and maybe have a big song and dance number about halibut.)

(As an aside to that aside, seeing it without the soothing digressions about the sewers and the Battle of Waterloo and so on really brought home to me how the story is what I call a Pittsburgh plot—if the protagonist would just move to Pittsburgh, it would solve all of his problems, and there's no particular reason why he isn't moving to Pittsburgh. Beyond to have problems. Javert's legal authority doesn't extend beyond France, dummy. Just move to Belgium! Or America! They didn't have any laws limiting immigration back then or anything in America.)

But I am going to all the sides. The main point that I was trying to make is that if you did not grow up enjoying chazzanut, you probably will not like it. And in fairness to the anti-rap-and-opera crowd, while it's properly speaking Jewish liturgical music, a good deal of the early 20th century chazzanut recording artists were influenced by opera.

Well, actually that isn't my main main point. But I shall be getting to my main point any minute now.

(Actually, it's entirely appropriate that I'm wandering in this fashion; chazzanut is an art form particularly beloved of older Jewish folks, as is this sort of easily side-tracked narrative. My mother is, to my ear, particularly inclined towards this form of story-telling. And she has relatives who she will just lose patience with after a while, and try to get them to find a point somewhere. You can imagine the fun I have listening to those relatives.)

(In this case, I'm less sarcastic than I might appear. I genuinely do enjoy listening to rambling old people stories. That's why whenever I go to worldcon, I go to the "rambling old people stories" panel. It's usually got a title with something about timebinding, or first fandom, or whatever. My favorite was the time one of the panelists fell asleep during the panel.)

The thing is, as with Tuvan throat singing, or polka, or competitive yodeling, or with most other niche musical genres, while aficionados enjoy it a great deal, even kindly minded non-aficionados tend to get a little . . . stressed, when exposed to it for prolonged periods. Here, have an example. It's a playlist with some of the big names from the 20th century (though no Rosenblatt) and some of the more contemporary big names.

If you're like most people I know, one or two tracks would be sufficient for, "well, that's interesting, I suppose," and three or four would be, "now it is time for something else."

Although, honestly, if you like it, great, and if not, also great. The problem is that it's the sort of music that my father likes, and it is not the sort of music that my mother likes. In the past, my father would listen to his music on the record player in the living room, and my mother would absent herself. However, the living room was always a bit too centrally located, and also the record player died.

So I've been looking into online alternatives. There's youtube, of course, but there are a few problems with that—first off, there are ads, and then there's the copyright issue. Which is to say, most of the stuff on youtube is stuff people have put up without necessarily being the "rights holders" and that watching those videos might count as "committing felonies" which is the sort of thing that might cause you to be "arrested." This being internet o'clock, nobody really cares about that, but my parents are not yet entirely on internet time.

Next up is the Florida Atlantic University's Judaica Archives. Apparently, a university located in Boca Raton has decided to build an archive of things that elderly Jewish like. In addition to this being brilliant, the archive is large, if not entirely comprehensive. And it seems to be entirely legal, and it has things that are less aggressively chazzanut; something like Gerer Melave Malka Melodies is a bit more accessible than bits from the high holy days liturgy. And there's also stuff that's entirely not chazzanut—children's music, Al Jolson and Jascha Heifetz, Yiddish musicals and so on. But yeah; reasonably large collection, reasonably accessible.

However, it's streaming, and there are apparently some sort of network connection issues with the network at my parents where if one of the computers is streaming it uses all the available bandwidth, so if my dad is listening online, my sister can't tweet. And thus chaos ensues.

If you want to download music legally, there's archive.org, but they've got a very limited amount of chazzanut, which leaves spending money, like in olden times. Amazon goes without saying, and there's the Lowell Milken Music Archives, is making modern recordings of American Jewish music of various sorts, including some chazanut.

. . . that went a bit longer than I had expected. To summarize: Jean Valjean should have moved to Belgium, this one time someone fell asleep while on a panel, watching videos on Youtube is probably illegal, my parents' home network has some sort of connection problems, and you probably won't much enjoy listening to Jewish liturgical music.

The end!

17th December 2012

6:02pm: Award season.
So, as we reach the end of the year, various author types are going to start putting together lists of stories they've written, or awards for which they are eligible, sometimes with specific instructions on how to nominate works for Hugos, and sometimes taking a somewhat more coy approach--"Since campaigning is frowned upon, I don't want to mention specific awards. I will mention that you should never trust a ________ award (not a Hugo), and that 90% of short fiction authors win a _______ award. (1)"

I've decided to be a bit more forthright. Based on the quality of my work in 2012, I think that I deserve both the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Nobel Prize in Literature, and I hope that those of you reading this who are qualified to nominate consider me for both those awards.

As far as the peace prize goes, I will note that I'm responsible for far fewer deaths than previous laureates, such as Henry Kissinger, and that as a result of mononucleosis I've spent much of the last few months sleeping, a reasonably peaceful activity.

In literature, I've written a few things, most notably, "Between the Dragon and His Wrath," a hilarious bit of writing that appeared in the issue of Scintilla that papersky put together for Worldcon, assuming that she actually put it together. I've also written some Facebook comments that are worth serious consideration. (2)

So, assuming (as I do) that you are all members of national assemblies or international courts, university rectors, past recipients of the Nobel Prize for either peace, literature, or both, active and former members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, members of the Swedish Academy and of other academies, institutions and societies which are similar to it in construction and purpose, professors of literature and of linguistics at universities and university colleges, and so on, I urge you to get your nominations for me in before the deadline--they have to be postmarked by February 1st.

Thanks for your support and I hope to see you all in Stockholm! (3)


(1) I am aware that you can't actually nominate people for a Sturgeon Award. I am also aware that very few people have won Sturgeon awards, and that the number is certainly lower than 90% of short fiction writers. I just thought it would be a funny thing to say.

(2) Earlier today, I made a trenchant remark that really helped put an ongoing discussion into perspective. "But Yossie, I know what things designed for killing look like. They look like giant heads with tiny little hands and feet."

(3) Except you, Kissinger.

11th December 2012

1:22pm: Still monoed.
The thing about mono is that sometimes it's hard to tell whether I'm tired because a) I have a disease that makes me tired, or b) I am a naturally indolent person who is in terrible physical shape because I have a disease that makes me tired. If it's a, then I should lie down and watch some cartoons or something, if it's b, I should push a little. Problem is that even when it's b, pushing a little doesn't actually do the thing it normally does, where I have a bit more energy the next day. Instead, I'm more tired the next day.

Also, it turns out that writing takes more mental energy than I mostly have. Same applies to answering emails and comments and such. Sorry, everyone to whom I owe an email! And anyone who might decide to comment!

I do have the sense that I'm recovering, and hopefully I'll find a way to do some work soon, but for the moment, I can just about manage doing the shopping and occasional other similar activity, and watching cartoons and so on.

Mononucleosis is disease that if you're going to get it, you want it around junior high school, when you can really appreciate it.

Oh, and also--I've got a story up: America Thief is on Strange Horizons in two parts, here, and here. It's 1920s Jewish gangsters with magic, for those that were looking for more 1920s Jewish gangsters with magic.

15th November 2012

6:16pm: A journal of woe.
So, earlier today, I went shopping. When I came back after this exhausting effort, I sat down in my chair, and rubbed the sweat from my brow. Also, there was a crushed spider there, which had apparently been on my brow without my noticing it.

Shortly afterward, I noticed that the part of my forehead where the spider had been was hurting. Looking in the mirror, it looked sort of like I had been stung by several mosquitoes, which was about what it felt like. Also, in the middle of the bumps, there was a small hole, which oozed a clear liquid for about an hour.

I had a doctor's appointment for other reasons, and I mentioned it, and he sort of shrugged and said that it looks fine. And by that point, it more or less felt okay, so I decided to go with the professional medical opinion and ignore it. However, if at any point, my head cracks open and a mass of spiders comes crawling out, that's probably why.

9th November 2012

3:51pm: I had meant to mention, but I forgot.
I've got a story in this month's F&SF. Which has been reviewed, as part of reviews of the issue!

Locus
SFRevu
Tangent.

I think this one came out pretty well, really.

8th November 2012

8:37pm: Mononucleosis
I, as the internet would put, can has. I didn't particularly want it, but I have it.

Now, those of you who know me might be aware that in my natural state, I'm a pretty lazy guy. But mono really adds a whole new level to that. I've actually looked at a water bottle, thought, "you know, I'm kinda thirsty," and then thought, "ugh, reaching my hand out, picking up the bottle, and drinking? That's way more effort than I'm willing to put in. I'll wait until I'm thirstier."

I'm not quite at that stage at the moment, which might mean that it's getting better, or which might be yet another false dawn sort of thing. But after having had mono for the better part of a month, it's gotten hard to tell if my fatigue is because of the disease, or because I've been almost completely sessile as a result of the disease for most of a month.

In conclusion: I strongly recommend against mono, and if you're waiting for an email from me, or something, it'll um . . . it might be a while. And now, I will get up and get more water. Soon. Maybe when I'm a little thirstier.

22nd October 2012

8:09pm: For the Israelis.
In Syria there is a region known as Phœnice, adjoining to Judæa, and enclosing, between the lower ridges of Mount Carmelus, a marshy district known by the name of Cendebia. In this district, it is supposed, rises the river Belus, which, after a course of five miles, empties itself into the sea near the colony of Ptolemaïs. The tide of this river is sluggish, and the water unwholesome to drink.

From Plin. Nat. His. 36.65



Apparently, the water in the Kishon is unwholesome to drink. Who knew?

2nd July 2012

3:50pm: Am at Kibbutz Revadim.
(I'm writing this on a netbook, with terrible keyboard. Letters and spaces may fall out of posts from here on it.)

The dig is starting up, and looks to be great fun. On the other hand, there isn't currently internet in my room, which means that I feel somewhat self conscious about posting to LJ and playing facebook games on the patio outside the office, together with all the other wirelessless.

1st July 2012

8:58am: Things I have meant to say, but have not yet said.
1) Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 54 is . . . well, it has been up for some time, and I didn't notice. But now I have! I have a story in it, but you will have to buy a copy to read it. It's a moderately funny science fiction story, if that's an inducement.

2) I've sold a story to Strange Horizons. When it appears, I will try to mention this in a somewhat more timely manner.

3) I will not be at Farthing Party this year. I almost was, but then I couldn't find a good plane ticket, and the timing would have been tough, because I'll be coming back from my dig like three days before I'd have to leave, and being away for a month on a dig, plus another three weeks in the US and Canada (the three weeks are because of a nephew's wedding in the middle of August) seemed like a bit much.

Which brings me to 4) I'm going to be excavating at Tel es-Safi this year, and will be leaving for said Tel some time in the next half hour. If you want to get in touch with me, email is probably the way to go.

11th June 2012

8:05pm: Commerce!
I've got a story, "Sundogs," in the current issue of Flagship.

They've got the story in both text and audio formats, so for those of you who like to listen to things, it is a thing to which you can listen.

4th June 2012

10:56pm: Oh, Internet
So, I play facebook games, from time to time. There's a certain sort of satisfaction that I get from getting all of a set of things, and improving things as far as they can be improved, and there is a genre of game that shows up on facebook which scratches that itch.

I'm not going to say I'm proud of that, but that's who I am. My current game is Marvel Avengers Alliance (I have unlocked Mockingbird. Mockingbird, people! That's hard to do.) Recently, in the interest of game balance, they made Captain America slightly less powerful than he had been. This has led to approving quotes of previous complaints, including:


The important thing is that consumers let corporations know that we're not just a bunch of mindless idiots who will shell out our hard earned money to them without thinking about what they're doing to trick many of us out of said money. An honest company just offers a quality service and profit comes to them, whereas a company engaged in bad business practices to exploit their customers will gain short term profit at the consumers' expense, but if the consumers recognize they're not being respected as customers, all loyalty to that company will, and should, be lost, and the company will just wind up screwing themselves out of the long term gains of having happy, satisfied and loyal customers.

There are larger issues involved, and each protest against corporate exploitation adds up.

Apparently I'm not getting that message across to you, the consumers, who would rather flame someone with a legitimate complaint than thing about how these kinds of practices effect you, and what the long term impacts are as a company following this kind of approach to marketing and keeps trying to find ways to trick you out of your money.

Too many people don't think about these issues, and that's why America is controlled by corporations now, and why you're all brainwashed by the media until you don't even recognize how you yourselves are being screwed. They even trick you into thinking that legitimate movements against corporate control are a bunch of wack jobs (like occupy wallstreet), because they don't want you to see the truth of how they're controlling you and exploiting you on a daily basis.

Good job being mindless sheep maintaining the status quo which slowly drives us all into slavery.


To be absolutely clear here, Captain America's Shield Guard can now be used every other turn, rather than every turn, as had previously been the case. If you're okay with that, well, good job being mindless sheep.

3rd June 2012

6:27pm: Ghost in the Writer.
So, this: http://youtu.be/bLlj_GeKniA was mentioned in an old XKCD which I recently came across, as one does. After watching it, I have decided two things.

1) As soon as I figure out what Dreamwave should be, I will try to write some Dreamwave stories.

2) I am going to replace the phrase, "messing around on the internet," with, "jamming with the console cowboys in cyberspace." The same substitution will apply for, "checking my email," and "playing facebook games."

And now, back to jamming.

16th May 2012

9:15am: The wonders of Wikipedia.
From Fin Fang Foom:

"Foom appears in the limited series Nextwave as a pawn of the Beyond Corporation©. He is now back to his original size. Despite having no genitals, he wears purple pants."

From the talk page to the same article:

"This article falls within the scope of WikiProject Buddhism, an attempt to promote better coordination, content distribution, and cross-referencing between pages dealing with Buddhism. Please participate by editing the article Fin Fang Foom, or visit the project page for more details on the projects."

14th May 2012

9:00pm: The danger of writing for anthologies.
So, last year, I started selling stories, and as a result, started paying more attention to lists of markets and so on. There was a call for submissions for this one anthology which wanted stories about zombie King Kong. "Ha, ha!" I thought to myself. "What a silly idea for an anthology! I mean, how many stories can you even find in that premise."

Then I wrote one, of course.

Unfortunately, I wrote a thousand word story, and the call for submission had 2500 words as the lower limit. So, I added bits and pieces, and came up with something. Which got rejected, and fair enough.

Unfortunately, I'm left with a Zombie Kong story; in theory, I could keep shopping it around, and maybe get someone who hadn't heard of the anthology (which is most people, I assume--no offense intended to the publisher and editor, but this is not exactly a heavily promoted offering from a major press.) to buy my story.

But, honestly, Zombie Kong is this other guy's idea, and I'm not sure that I want to try and sell a story whose selling point is someone else's idea. Also, it's a thousand words long, so there's really not a whole lot of money on the table here.

So, here you all go: Legend of Screen and StageCollapse )

9th May 2012

1:15pm: I don't really consider myself an expert, but.
Poking around online in an attempt to avoid writing, I came across an article about the recent European elections in the Guardian.

This bit stood out, for me:

For the past four years, the crisis has culled incumbents without discrimination, from the Republican George Bush and conservative Nicolas Sarkozy to Labour's Gordon Brown and the Spanish Socialist José Luis Zapatero, while the far right has advanced across Europe by preying on anti-migrant insecurities and posing as anti-establishment outsiders.


I realize that not everyone pays that much attentions to foreign elections, and that the US is quite a long ways away from Britain. I also realize that quite a lot has happened since the most recent American elections, and it's unfair of me to expect the details of these transatlantic affairs to stick in people's memories for so long.

And yet, even though it would have interfered with the balance and flow of that paragraph, I cannot help but feel that the author should have noted that George Bush's failure to continue as president after 2008 was not solely because of the state of the economy.
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