From Inside My Crazy Box and Other Tales of Enclosure|
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|Sunday, September 2nd, 2007|
|Bus Stop Post #2
I'm back at the bus stop again. the one across the street from Civic Center. City Hall is beautifully lit by white lights. Last month, for some ungodly reason, it was lit with red lights, and when the fog rolled in it was positively eerie. Okay, here comes the bus, so this post needs to end before it gets started good ):
|Limp Monkeys with Oversized Testicles and Coffee
Last night I spent in one of my favorite cafes working on the novel. The staff is cool, the coffee is good, and the atmosphere is great. Made some good progress -- not enough -- but progress none the less. This final section is pretty messy in a lot of ways, so I'm having to rewrite much more than I anticipated. Ah well.
Okay, so about that headline. Well, despite the tasteful decor of the cafe, they always have these ballo0n caricatures created by this fellow called "The Balloon Guy". They're odd, for sure, but generally very elaborate. A couple weeks ago they hung these monkeys from the ceiling. Your eyes naturally go up to them as you're sitting in one of the comfy armchairs, sipping your hot or cold drink. Anyway, as balloons are wont to do, these monkeys are now going limp. But not consistently. One area that hasn't gone down are their testicles -- creating oversized testicles on limp monkeys as the headline states.
Don't get me wrong -- I have nothing against anatomically correct art, but there's something a little strange about balloon monkey testicles. Were they intentional, or merely a happy coincidence of the creation process? Of course, the fact that they don't have penises makes the image even more incongruous -- limp monkeys with oversized testicles but no penises. Yes, this ran through my mind numerous times as I worked, because every time I looked up from my tablet, that's what I saw.
Now they weren't the only balloon sculpture. No sir! They even had a life-size human man sitting at one of the tables with a balloon latte! I kid you not. But as far as I could see, he had no testicles. So as disturbing as that image was, it paled when compared to my monkey friends.
|Sunday, August 26th, 2007|
|Ghost Story Weekend?
Okay, I'm in. I heard about Ghost Story Weekend a couple years ago and I've wanted to attend ever since. This year, I got in.
What's Ghost Story Weekend? Well, horror novelist Elizabeth Engstrom runs this periodically, at a retreat on the blustery coast of Oregon. 13 people gather for the weekend to share meals, get a bit of instruction on the ghost story, and pen their own. On Saturday, at midnight, the participants read their stories to each other by candlelight.
What's not to like about that?
|Still in bed
It's 10:34 and I'm writing this from bed. My tablet is on one of those laptop caddy tables. I have 2.5 (one is broken, but I still have it) of them, which is probably too many for a 1-bedroom apartment, but hey, they're very functional.
There's laundry to do, but first, I need to go see mom. And hope she sees me. And not get all weepy if she doesn't. Last week, she never saw me, but saw a couple of her care takers. I guess that's to be expected.
It's 10:36 and I'm writing this from bed. It feels like procrastination. My list of things to get done is long. Will require some very strong magic to make it happen. I don't think I can bring the magic today.
Why am I here? Why am I back on LJ? I've been blogging on blogger because it just seems less constrictive in many ways. And with a tool I have (Windows Live Writer + Plugin), I can "ink" my entries if I like, or embellish them with little doodles, which I very much like.
But I missed you guys.
Recently I've reconnected with a couple of you and it's been incredibly nice (oh, and before I forget, thanks sflore for introducing me to that cheap diner -- went back and spent $4.50 on a COMPLETE breakfast!!! Wow! -- next time I'm getting what you got,! Let me know if/when you wanna go back!).
Life has been busy since I last wrote here -- equal mix of good and stuff I could do without, but that's not the reason I'm back. Really, I just wanted to say "hello
|Saturday, February 11th, 2006|
We need to coin a new usage for the word "condolences". When you talk with someone who's just lost a loved one, all you should have to say is one word -- condolences. That says it all, or should, and the person who just lost someone should reply with just two -- thank you. To go beyond the simple "condolences" should be spared for those who've recently gone through a similar loss, or are very, very close to the bereaved. Because often, both parties end up feeling a bit uncomfortable as they try to fill space that's virtually impossible to fill. I've found myself doing that. And I've felt the discomfort of others. That's not to say I don't appreciate the kindnesses -- just the opposite -- it's just that I think we need a single word to convey all that stuff we want to convey, but can't.
The other day I ran into one of my neighbors. She's one of the sweetest people on the planet, and though we care for each other, our paths only cross once or twice a month. Anyway, she asked about my parents/situation, and when I told her, she took me in her arms and almost cried. Which made me nearly cry. And in the end, I think we were both uncomfortable with this sharing, this moment, because we stretched it out painfully long.
As I write this, I'm thinking that I'm wrong again. That opening up about it is the right thing to do. I believe that, but for some reason, it just doesn't feel right. I know I'm still trying to deal with this. Until I do, I guess I just want to talk about books and movies and friends and all the stuff that doesn't really matter, as I come to grips with what does.
|Saturday, February 4th, 2006|
Thanks for all of the condolence messages. I'll get back to each of you in the near future. For now, thank you. We're doing pretty well. Acceptance comes slow, but it does come.
|Wednesday, December 21st, 2005|
|Life is so strange...
I've been gone from LJ again. And I've missed it. But it couldn't be helped. And I don't stress over it. It's just nice to come back and read what others have been up to.
That said, things have been rough for me. Moved the folks into an assisted living facility on Sunday. The cost is astronomical, so we'll be selling their house sooner than emotionally viable. Mom's Alzheimer's is now very extreme...along with it, she's experiencing anxiety and daily psychotic breaks. Dad's body is full of fluid, so he had to be admitted to the hospital yesterday. He cried. My sister told me she's thinking about leaving her husband -- not because she doesn't love him or because he's done her wrong, it's just the opposite. It's because with the folks many concerns, she hasn't been able to spend any time with him, and he's been taking care of the house, the bills, etc, in her absence.
I'm trying to work through all this. My contract is EXTREME, but the people I work for are good, and kind, and worthy of respect. I need the money, so I didn't bail on them. It just means that working until 5 in the morning, hopped up on caffeine and Twinkies, is so reminiscent of finals week. Every week has been finals week of one sort or another.
A friend recently told me "there will be plenty of time to sleep when I'm dead". He was talking about himself, but I can relate.
Maybe 2006...(the sleep thing -- hopefully not the dead part!)
|Friday, November 4th, 2005|
|I know the Unknowable...
...cause I've seen the Unseen!!!!
That's right, after months of anticipation and fingernail biting, I finally got my tome (hereafter refered to as "Gargoyle #50") in the mail. This magazine is HUGE, but you don't have to delve too far in for the good stuff. 32 pages, to be exact. That's where Sflore's "poem" lies in wait. It's a great little piece that you'll certainly be more evolved for having read. Succinct, subtle and evocative. Leaves you on just the right note. But it's not her best piece -- I can say this because I've read more -- so it's obvious to me that this is the first of many, many pieces to be published. And eventually, collected!
So, in the inimitable words of Claudia in Interview with the Vampire: "I want some more."
|Sunday, October 30th, 2005|
|Gargoyles are out tonight...
I just ordered my copy of Gargoyle Magazine #50!!! It's available through Amazon for $18.95. Sounds like a lot, but the magazine is nearly 500 pages, and because of their satanic FREE shipping for orders over $25 offer, you get to treat yourself to something else, too. Anyway, it's got a story by one of my favorite authors, so if you haven't got your's yet, the time is now.
Hmmm...maybe the author will see this post and offer to sign my copy?
|Saturday, October 29th, 2005|
Chorus from Knuckledown by Ani DiFranco:
and there's a dusty old dust storm on mars, they say
so tonight you can't see it too clear
still I stood in line to look through their telescope
looked like a distant ship light
as seen from a foggy pier
and I know that I was warned
still it was not what I hoped
yes I know that I was warned
still it was not what I hoped
I think I'm done gunnin to get closer
to some imagined bliss
I gotta knuckle down
and just be ok with this
I'm gonna knuckle down
just be ok with this
'course that starstruck girl is already someone I miss
|Monday, October 17th, 2005|
|Because Afterwards, They Close the Shades...
My oh my. This is fun. It really is. Despite being buried with work and not being able to devote ANY time to fiction over the last month or so, I've been corresponding with the editor of Corpse Blossoms. They're about to go to print with the trade edition of the book (the signed limited is now slated for early next year), and she requested I revise the ending slightly, to bring the voyeurism idea full circle.
Now, the fact that that final scene takes place in a house of mirrors did that for me, but I could see her point. It was subtle. And not as in your face as the other stuff. The last line -- "This one's for you." -- is more about the corollary theme of moral responsibility. So the tale doesn't end on a voyeuristic note.
But I'm happy you see, because we're working on this on a thematic level. I sent her a revised ending a few days ago, and she was really kind, but she didn't like it, and suggested a final sentence that, unfortunately, sucks. But she kinda knows it doesn't quite work, and asked me to come up with an alternate one over the next couple of days.
That's cool. But my problem is that last line has the sense of finality and closure and indignity that I wanted and worked so hard to achieve. Adding one more sentence will weaken the impact...
But the editor was incredibly complimentary about the story, and even said that she had to "endure" it a lot lately. Endure. I so love that. For a horror writer to hear that, from a horror editor, well, it doesn't get much better than that.
So I'm gonna do what I can to make us both happy. Later tonight. After the work for the day is done. Around midnight. Hmmm....
|Thursday, September 29th, 2005|
|Got me copy!
Guess what arrived today? You guessed it, Scary Stories Series #003 (I).
So what do I think?
I knew you’d ask. Well, aside from a title that only a monther would remember, it’s actually pretty nice looking. It’s a small book – about the size of a standard paperback. Artwork is decent, though layout is a bit Spartan. Perfect bound, but it's more like a literary magazine than a book. No complaints on actual production value…
Except, well, the font is fairly generous and the total page count is 102 pages – my story alone takes up nearly 40 of those pages. Add in the front matter, and you’re left with about 80-85 pages of material.
For $15 plus $2 shipping and handling!!!
Yes, the publisher is out of his freaking mind. Even if he got them into Barnes and Noble, instead of just on their Web site, no one in their right mind would pay $15 for it! Even at half price, it would be considered way over-priced.
Of course, it does include a story by me.
I think he offers an author discount, but if they cost more than $4 each, I won’t even buy any. Sad. But at least I got one!
|Wednesday, September 28th, 2005|
|This sounds coolie cool to me
Saturday, October 15, 5- 9:15 p.m.
The Lit Crawl is designed for those of who prefer their literature neat, on the rocks or with a water back—a four hour free pub crawl that includes queer, Latino, San Francisco Stories, travel, spirituality, erotica and other writing wends its way through 25 venues down Valencia Street in the Mission, Saturday, October 15, 5:00-9:15 p.m. See schedule below.
|Monday, September 26th, 2005|
|The pen IS mightier than the Fjord
Okay, despite the doom and gloom of my last post, I got the pen working in Frame. And it's working really well. The limitation was more in my head them in Frame. It really isn't a big deal (i.e., TIP must be in place). The stress gets to me sometimes.
The pen is actually a fantastic way of working in Framemaker. Dare I say, easier?
I'm working now, curled up on in an overstuffed chair, the tablet cradled in my lap. If you've never used a tablet, you may be surprised at how accurate the handwriting recognition is. Even with my scrawly script, I get about 95% accuracy.
So no keyboard for the next couple months. Prior to the accident, I was using the pen about 50% of the time. I can double that. The only thing the pen doesn't excel at is speed. It's only as fast as you can write.
By the way, I always use the pen for fiction writing. It's an amazing merger of writing and typing... I write the words in my own hand and the tablet converts them to text in Word. It's like having the best of both worlds.
So the stress is nearly manageable again. I'm working still. My finger is barely sore (not being able to flex it when the other's flex is ouch inducing sometimes). Thanks for all the concern. I'm a meathead.
|Sunday, September 25th, 2005|
|Life keeps secving up lemons...
Brief update: working at library earlier today...tablet slipped from grasp...hit finger on desk in process of catching laptop...noticed my ring finger on left hand was bent at third joint and I couldn't straighyrn it on own...absolutely no pain...no, not drunk...4 hours in emergency room...finger spinted wiyh aluminum sled...mallet finger...torn tendon...need to wear spliny 8 weeks and see hand surgeon...almosy impossible to type...investigating pen and voice recog in Framemaker...may have to drop out of job...I need job to psy bills and eat...problem...sigh...my arms tired from writing this with limited fingers...need food...pity me.
It could be worse...no pain...no pain...that is a good thing.
|The Next Big Thing...
You know, there's always something going on. I just missed my chance to look my phobia in the gills (and pull at its whiskers it seems), and that kinda sucks, and now I realize that LitQuake 2005 begins on October 7th!!! Already? Yeah, already. And then there's the 3-D festival at The Castro. One of my PASSIONS has always been carboard shades and reaching into the screen, so I'm there. I've attended 3-D festivals before -- but they've ALWAYS shown pretty much the same standards -- House of Wax (my, oh my, I can't see that one enough -- I bet you didn't know that the director only had one eye and COULDN'T see the 3-D effects he was mapping out!), Creature from the Black Lagoon (I'm not complaining here, though fish swimming off the screen always makes me uncomfortable), It Came From Outer Space (not my cup of ginger tea), and Dial M for Murder (Hitchcock, in any dimension, is Hitchcock). The Castro, being the palace that it is, is planning a slate of 3-D films that include ones I've never seen! Along with the some of the aforementioned classics, they're presenting a healthy slate of non-genre fare and the long LOST 3 Stooges 3-D romps (both of them), so I'm like salivating like a fisherman after the flood waters have receeded (like how I brought it back to fish again? I'm cool like that.). Of course, these events overlap each other, and then there's my window to be concerned with, but I'm going to make some of them. I must. Maybe. If I can. Cause I just can't not.
Oh yeah, and I ran into Charlie yesterday and he "spammed" me with info on the next Writers with Drinks. The date has been changed to October 7? Of course.
|Saturday, September 24th, 2005|
|Are we not cliches?
I'm on the bus you see, and it's pretty full but I got on in time to get a seat. Three guys, early 20s, are standing in the isle beside me. At least one of them smells. Okay, no more suspense. They're gamers. One of them is black -- a tall skinny kid with a knit cap, jeans and pocket chains. The kid in the middle is Asian -- medium height, chubby, wearing a calf-length black duster, black pants and boots. The final kid is white -- build similar to the black kid, wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. The Asian kid is gesticulating wildly, talking a mile a minute about how his charcter is going to be initially weaker than the other two characters...one of which is a shaman. He's talking too loud and too effervesantly about what can be coined a "game". The other two chime in between the Asian kid's outbursts of enthusiasm, but it's obvious that they're not comfortable being all that on a public bus. Not like their Asian buddy...it's equally obvious that under different circustances -- in acceptable venues -- they'd be equally animated.
And it got me thinking. These guys are all over the map. I've seen em before, I'll see em again. Right now, as I write this, I'm in Muddy Waters on Valencia. A guy at a table across from me just pulled out a copy of X-Men Unlimited, and the thought process begins anew...
Ever watched MTV without the volume? It's a trip -- from video to video, just looking at the performer's dress and deportment and you know EXACTLY what type of music they're singing.
It's sad you know, and makes it that much harder to create "real" characters in fiction without resorting to cliché.
9 out of 10 people are cliches. Damn, it's nice knowing all of you -- cause without exception, you guys are 10s.
|Sunday, September 18th, 2005|
|Best Software Program Ever?
I've been using Microsoft's OneNote note taking software since shortly after it's release in 2003. It's part of the Office Suite, but more an adjunct than a full-fledged member. For my money, it's the most wonderful piece of software I've ever used. Bar none.
If you're not familiar with it, well, it's an electronic notebook which uses a tabbed, multi-subject notebook metaphor. You create tabs for all your main subject areas, then sub-tabs and pages within each top-level tab to organize your LIFE. I've got a submissions tab, for instance, where I keep all of my submission history stuff. Oh yeah, like a notebook, you write/type ANYWHERE you want -- there are no margins to worry about, and pieces of text can be easily dragged from one "column" of text to another.
There is NO SAVE option in OneNote. Just like when using a Notebook, what you "put" in your notebook is just there, unless you erase it. When researching on the net, you can drag and drop content from the web to you notebook and it automatically appends a link to the source page. Need to input a PDF file, or any other type of file for that matter? You can "Print to OneNote" and include it. Printing to OneNote creates an IMAGE of the document that can be annotated, but in the current version, not searched.
When working in other programs, like my novel in Word, and I want to write a note about something that needs to be done, or researched, I just tap the OneNote icon in the system tray and a post-it like version of OneNote pops up and I can compose my note. This little window always stays on top, so I can continue to work in Word with the window open and topped...the taskbar OneNote icon also allows me to take quick screen captures that are sent to OneNote or the clipboard or both...
Searching is one of the joys of OneNote...since there's no saving, when you search in OneNote it searches for instances of your term in your entire notebook...and highlights the term, even when it's in my own handwriting on my tablet. It never ceases to amaze me.
Audio notes are also mighty impressive -- when in meetings, I now often turn on audio notes and record the meeting when I know there's stuff I'll need to revisit. The cool thing is that as I'm recording the audio and writing or typing notes, the notes I write are synched with the audio. So if I have an incomplete or confusing note, I just tap it and it plays the audio portion that was going on when I took that particular note. It's even smart enough to back up about 20 seconds fron the time the note was actually written, to pick up a bit of the stuff that was going on prior to actually typing/writing the note!
You can also attach a web cam to take video notes!
Okay, the reason I'm bringing this up now is that Microsoft just made some announcements about the next version of Office, and though they haven't talked about OneNote, a few tidbits have leaked out...
First, they're adding 3 OCR engines...Now, when you print a PDF or scanned file to OneNote, it OCRs it in the background so that the document is completely searchable along with all of your other notes. Even text in photographs will be searched. Can you say SWEET? I can (:
Next, and I find this pretty amazing, the new version will take your audio and video notes and convert that content to text in the background, so not only are your text-based notes searchable, but so are audio and video...you will actually be able to find that section of an audio meeting note, for instance, where "deadlines" were discussed.
Okay, this has been a long post, but this piece of software runs my life, and does a much better job than I do. If you've never tried it, Microsoft has a trial available on their web site...I totally recommend you give it a try and see if it doesn't take over your life, too. By the way, it is the killer application for tablet pc users, but it is in NO WAY limited to Tablets. In fact, it was in development before the tablet pc, and works as well, if not better, on a desktop or laptop. My pages are littered with both text and handwriting and little doodles, but again, this is not a tablet pc specific application, despite how well it works with tablets.
|Writers with Friends!
Damn, what a fine evening. I enjoyed the hell out of it. It was soo nice seeing each and every one of you, and the show wasn't bad either. Of course, as much as I appreciate Charlie, I so wanted to see him fall on his ass. Those pink platforms were made for it.
My little windows of opportunity open and close really quickly these days, so when it works out so well, it's pretty damn cool. I'm just hoping that window opens for next Saturday -- free fishing day at Vasona! Reality is that my dad is in a clinical trial in Los Angeles, my aunt is visiting to help my sister and I, and I was supposed to be at my parent's house today, but switched Saturdays to go to WWD. So everything is conspiring against me having two Saturdays in a row...but I still have hope.
And then there's my phobia. A couple years ago I would have never revealed it. It's too much like a weakness...it's too much like a character flaw...it's too close to the bone, I guess. But somehow, discussing it here, with only you guys knowing the source of the admission, is totally okay. Even freeing in a way.
Going to Vasona next Saturday would do me a lot of good on so many fronts.
I'm gonna do my best to be there.
|Saturday, September 17th, 2005|
|Writers in volume?
Okay, last (and only, actually) count, if there are no last minute plan changes, there will be about 17 of us going. While not everyone is a writer, most qualify as writer hags, so I'm definitely in my comfort zone.
We may have to call ahead and reserve the bar! Heh!
Both sflore and I will have our cell phones with us if you get lost unintentionally. Drop me a line if you need mine and I'll try to get back to your before you head out.