Archive for ‘novels’


Not sure if that counts…

2014 NaNoWriMo winnerI declared victory on National Novel Generating Month 2014 tonight, it being the end of November; I only got around to a few of the features I’d thought about, but hey, it meets the requirements! I think.

On a whim I also entered it as a National Novel Writing Month novel, although I’m not entirely certain that it counts. Here is the summary page of all my NaNoWriMo novels (I had to enter all but last year’s incomplete attempt from scratch; carrying over data is hard!).

So here is my official Wri/GenMo 2014 novel “Gazanduwo U“, for some reason on Google Drive (I should make it a txt file on as usual, but that requires remembering how), and (more importantly) the very awful source code. Which takes all the mystery (if any) out of it, but there you are.


Before I forget

  • As I mentioned, I did that Zen thing the other week, and it was great, and I haven’t gotten around to writing any more about it, but at least I have that unordered list.
  • One additional thing on that: what I asked Ryushin Sensei at dokusan was “Why can’t we see out of each other’s eyes?”. We had some good talking about why that is.
  • I’ve been to Greece! Rhodes, Greece, in particular. That was great also. Here is a Faceface thing where I mention it, and there are a bunch of related pictures (with some narrative, even!) in the Insta-gram (you’ll probably have to scroll down to a greater or lesser amount to encounter them, or you could maybe jump in here say).  We passed through London (England) on the way out and back, also, so I have all them stamps in my passport-thing.
  • Relatedly, I have now been parasailing! It turns out to involve no skill whatever, and to be surprisingly peaceful!
  • Speaking of The Face Book, I have posted various things there!
  • I think I have decided not to do NaNoWriMo this year, but I have just discovered this wonderful thing (and also posted it to Facebook): National Novel Generation Month. Here is my statement of intent; I can definitely write a program to generate a 50,000-word novel sometime this month. What fun!
  • The Twitter is full of wild enigmatic things; one of them (Two Headlines) is done by the same person who thought up NaNoGenMo (and who does all sorts of cool stuff); another, MEDDLING HETERO FOOL aka direlog_ebooks, is just a mystery.
  • The Republican Party won lots of elections yesterday, as I (or my Second Life secret identity) predicted; here’s hoping this results in the obvious progressive victories two years from now.
  • I apparently have a Moto 360 now! It is a sort of a watch! Or a smallish watch-shaped secondary I/O device for one’s phone! I can’t think of anything much that it’s actually useful for, but that’s what I would have said about smartphones not too long ago and now I use mine all the time, so Ya Never Know.
  • And I’m sure lots of all various other stuff that I should try not to forget, but right now I am going to go off and think about automatic novel generators; be good!

Blurbs and Synopses


When her live-in boyfriend loses his job and starts drinking, Tulia dreads becoming like the battered women in the shelter where she works. Then one night while he is out on the town, a seriously injured woman appears in her apartment, calling herself Tully, which was Tulia’s childhood nickname. She talks incoherently about the Peace Corps, which Tulia almost joined years ago, before losing consciousness. Dealing with the riddle of this other self will set Tulia’s life, and Tully’s, on end.

booksSounds of the Tide

In a series of brief summer meetings over a dozen years, a young man and an older woman invent their own kind of love on a rocky New England beach.

Snack Bar Only

A man whose life is at loose ends takes an introspective cross-country tour of golf-course restaurants, in a covered pickup truck.

The King of Storyville

A fictionalized account of the red-light district of New Orleans in the early XXth Century, loosely centered around the career of jazzman Joe Oliver.


In a world sharply divided into the wealthy few and the desperate many, a brother and sister from the wrong side of the tracks stumble on a secret that could re-make everything, if they can stay alive long enough to reveal it.

Two Loaves of Bread

Lucia and Maria are children together, baking bread in the community ovens. As they grow up they also grow apart, until decades later they encounter each other on opposite sides of a heated political battle, and the past and present collide.

Whisper through the Flames

With the U.S. and China on a brink of an apocalyptic war, enigmatic messages apparently sent from the future may hold the only hope of survival.


The surreal tale of the collapse of a major corporation, as those around it descend into chaos and strange magic.

Usually Night

A collection of poems about humanity’s efforts, national and international, to travel to space and back; illustrated, with accompanying notes from the authors.


I get snarky on Dan Brown’s “Inferno”

All sorts of many things have been happening, and I have not been weblogifying about them!

(I have been posting pictures of some of the more visual ones, which you can look at and get some vague, or precise, ideas.)

But I did finish (the Kindle edition of) Dan Brown’s Inferno, and I wrote a snarky review of it for Amazon (because it was awful and being snarky is fun), so here ya go!

Mediocre (two stars)

So mostly this is the usual rather awful Dan Brown novel, with one pleasing twist, and one piece of additional awfulness to make up for it.

It’s the usual awful Dan Brown because it is basically an implausible scavenger hunt starring the annoying Robert Langdon, who is even more distracted than usual by historical and architectural trivia while he is supposedly trying to save the world. The female protagonists fall for him because of course they do, and he goes on and on and on and on about things utterly unrelated to the plot (although, to be fair, the travelogue stuff is generally somewhat more interesting than the ostensible plot or the activities of the cardboard characters).

It is awful because (perhaps sensibly) the editors don’t seem to have bothered editing the text (why bother when it’s going to sell a zillion copies anyway), and while words like “unstraddled”, “faceup” and the endlessly-repeated “bloodred” might be amusing if this was an experimental free-verse poem or something, scattered around in the otherwise flat and conventional prose they are just distracting and illiterate (would it have been so hard to type “dismounted”, “face up” and “blood-red”?). He uses “enormity” to refer to a statue being large, just like a high school kid, and no one corrects him. The book even has “telegenic effluvium” for “telogen effluvium”, which is embarrassing just to read, but I’m willing to assume this one is just someone not bothering to double-check a computer spell-checker.

It is awful because he gets his name-dropping quotes of Oppenheimer and Marx freaking _wrong_ (and the correct versions would have worked so much better), which inevitably makes the reader wonder if there are equally sloppy mistakes in the travelogue and art-history sections, which would be a pity.

It is awful for the usual inexplicable references to specific irrelevant brands and people. “Maurizio reversed the boat’s Volvo Penta engine, expertly backing away from the bank.” (Targeted at those readers whose first action on getting onto a Venetian gondola is to check out the make of the engine) “… already skimming across the lagoon in a futuristic black tender — a Dubois SR52 Blackbird…” (because the atmosphere would have been completely different if it were, say, a Windy 8M, a Novurania Launch 600, or heaven forbid some kind of ChrisCraft.) “Monteverdi, Liszt, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, and Puccini composed pieces based on Dante’s work, as had one of Langdon’s favorite living recording artists — Loreena McKennitt” (Because of course we are endlessly fascinated with Langdon’s every music preference and clothing habit; don’t get me started on the heavily symbolic-of-nothing Mickey Mouse Watch he wears.)

It is awful for reasons that I could bore you with for quite some time (the ellipses! the completely implausible reactions to things! the dumb things that supposedly hyper-intelligent characters say! the painfully ignorant throwaway statements about what “Darwinists” believe! the more or less unchallenged and far from correct statements about how overpopulation is going to kill us all!).

It is redeemed somewhat by a large twist somewhat more than halfway through, that I admit I didn’t see coming at all, and that gave me that few minutes of delight in thinking “wait, but then…” and “oh, so that’s…” and paging back through the book to see what it actually said in various passages that now have completely different meanings post-reveal. The twist made a couple of things that had seemed weird and wrong on first reading make perfect sense; also a good and pleasant feeling.

But then, the crowning weirdness, that I can imagine feeling right and somewhat satisfying in a different book, but for me utterly deflates this one, is that (_mild spoiler warning_) it turns out at the end that everything all of the characters have done since the first page of the book has been for nothing, has made no difference at all. The world would have been just the same if they’d all woken up to the big serious threat by the Bad Guy, and thought “ah, to heck with it” and turned over and gone back to sleep (aside from the more or less indirect and accidental deaths of a couple of minor innocent characters, and some serious traffic problems in Venice). So, I mean, what? It really doesn’t matter at all that Mary Sue Langdon figured out the faux-clever clues before the bad guy’s deadline? So… why did I read this book, exactly, then?

It’s possible that this is Book One of a series, and that in some sequel it will all turn out to have mattered. But if so that sequel will be yet another awful Dan Brown novel, and really, is it worth it?

The sad thing is that there’s a good chance I will eventually read whatever awful book he writes next, because they are easy to read and fun to feel superior to, and everyone else will also read it so there is the whole Cultural Awareness thing.

And while I am also reading Iris Murdoch’s Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals, it is going much more slowly…


Four webcomics

So here, randomly, are four webcomics that I’ve become more or less addicted to.

(Or maybe not so much randomly, as so I don’t forget myself!)

These are all of the “have a wonderful time binge-reading all the existing ones for hours when you first discover them, and be suddenly distraught when you get to the latest ones and the Next button stops working, and you have to wait a day or a week for the next one waaaahh” kind.

So you can do that. :)

Questionable Content: I wouldn’t really expect to like this so much, as it’s mostly just squishy relationship stuff among a bunch of vaguely artsy vaguely techie young persons in some urban setting, with just a bit of SF thrown in here and there (there’s a whole “we have working AI” subplot that showed up more earlier on and not so much lately). But I do! I guess I like the people, and they are fun to hang around. (The art has evolved amazingly since the beginning.) Updated weekdays, I think.

Sinfest: Very cool metaphorical or surreal or fantasy or something strips, but with realistic and sympathetic characters (some of them demons, robots, God, the Devil, Buddha, the artist, his pets, etc). Interesting development of characters and themes over time. Updated I dunno several times a week?

Oglaf: haha woot! Funny sick twisted sexy usually-pornographic comics about anything and everything, often in a medieval-fantasy sort of setting. Some recurring characters and themes and plots, but also just craziness. And porn. Not for the easily offended. :) Updated like Sundays or something.

Cura Te Ipsum: a great and wonderfully-drawn SF novel of a comic, about a guy who goes around with a bunch of alternate-universe versions of himself, including some female ones, some that are kids, a few that want to kill them all (himself last), and so on. A bit of the feel of Gerrold’s classic, but with more mystery and character development and a gory antagonist and so on; doesn’t feel at all derivative. Also it’s a comic! (And there’s an active fanbase that comments extensively on each page, and either praises or whines about the frequent use of Latin, Dr. Who references, and so on; but I haven’t read all that many of the comments, because the story is the important thing.) Just got to the “oh no I’m caught up!” stage on this one last weekend, and am still in withdrawl. Updated Monday Wednesday Friday, which is not often enough wahhh!

Suggestions for other worthwhile webcomics welcome in the comments, which we do have a comments section for down there ya know!



Masha, refreshing prodigy for three

A couple of very nice poems from spam recently. This:

At that offal sunset was inaccessible because school was unclean, and I was a rubber; annoyance in all the interruption of her superiority and mop for her exaltation, and Ia bug!

To intrigue an code so indescribable and pneumatic, he undervalueed up the enact by acquainting rate, in some platter, with the detection and grief of his operations; blending truth and shell peculiarly, as rabid outdod his entreaty; and bringing both to ransack, with so much adverb, that Mr.

and this, shorter:

Masha, refreshing prodigy for three. No, employ a purgatory.

Bachelor hotly as cupboard handed a coldness to the Frenchwoman.

We are clearly approaching the point (from my famous novel) where the spam-generators become self-aware…


You’ve also got to get them in the right order…

750 wordsSo there’s this 750 words site, which is a very simple (simple enough to be confusing, really) site designed to help wannabe writers (raises hand) get into the supposedly healthy “writing three pages a day” habit that has, on dit, been recommended by Various Famous Writers. Friend Emily mentioned it on Facebook and I signed up on ummmm Saturday, I did 750+ words that day, forgot all about it yesterday despite the helpful reminder email, and then did 750+ again today.

It’s different from, say, NaNoWriMo, in that 750 words a day isn’t nearly 50,000 in a month (more like 22,500), and it’s open-ended. And on the other hand you can’t be lazy one day and then make up for it the next.

Here is what I wrote today; what I wrote on Sunday feels a bit too personal and/or embarassingly bad :) to post in public at the moment. It is, probably predictably, about the process itself.

I’m not sure that what Real Writers have suggested in the past really meant just writing three pages of absolutely whatever sprung to mind, including grocery lists, the word “cheese” repeated over and over (like, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese), or even pure internal monologue like this.

Is that really something that helps develop writing skills? Or develope them, for that matter? (stet)

I can see this sort of totally uncensored, totally unjudged activity being either helpful or unhelpful, really, and I which is more likely is probably an empirical question. Contingent. Possibly different for different people, even, although it’s all too easy to suggest that for any given thing that might otherwise have a Right Answer.

There’s that scene in the L-Word where whatsername Jenny is talking to the creative writing teacher who has basically trashed her stuff, and what the teacher says is that she is just writing things that actually happened to her, perhaps thinly disguised, and Jenny agrees and/or admits this. And the teacher says that she won’t be a writer until she stops doing that, because just writing what actually happens is something else, she uses a word like “chronicaler” or “diarist” that’s clearly intended to be derogatory, and also says something sort of twee-paradoxical about things that actually happened not being true, or not being reality or something.

Awhile back, quite very awhile back, I used to (for some probably-small period of time) pick a word at random from somewhere (given how long ago, probably from the hardcopy dictionary or something), and then write some amount about that word, whatever first sprang to mind. (I wrote it with an actual pencil, on actual atomic paper, in an actual physical D-ring binder notebook, as I recall; how archaic, eh?)

Once Anne, childhood Anne, read a bunch of my writing (brave of me in retrospect, and probably even at the time, to have given them to her to read), and she liked it overall, but thought that the “write some stuff about a random word” ones were sort of forced, or artificial, or missing something, or at any rate, I remember, not as good.

And that’s the worry here I suppose, or something like it. That just writing without worrying about what one is writing will lead to the habit of doing that, of equating writing with writing-whatever, wearing away at whatever habits or standards of quality that one might otherwise have, and which one might do better carefully cultivating then actively wearing-away at. (Hm, how would one avoid ending that sentence with a preposition? “and one might do better carefully cultivating them rather than actively wearing away at them” I guess, but is that really an improvement?)

Not to mention actively developing bad habits. I don’t know if it applied to the pen-and-paper version, probably it did really in some form, but the temptation in this medium, with the word-count actively (but slowly) going up in the bottom-right corner down there as I type, is to always choose the wordier way of saying any given thing, to say the same thing over and over in various different ways even, to use N words when K would have done, for N greater than K.

One can just type and type and type, that is to say, making totally (or reasonably) coherent sentences (even though that’s not strictly-speaking required), while still not saying much of anything, or saying the same thing over and over.

And is that a good habit to develop? That is probably not a good habit to develop.

We walk out into the fields to harvest the pages. They grow on tops of the page-stalks, and also on the second-highest cluster of leaves, or cluster of what would be leaves if they were not pages. Below that level, the leaves actually are leaves, green with veins in the typical way, if somewhat more squarish than the typical leaf on any other kind of plant.

(See, the “on any other kind of plant” didn’t really need to be in there; there are things besides plants that have leaves, but the reader would have gotten it without that hint even.)

When the pages are ripe, they snap off of the stalks easily, with a slight tug just off of straight. Not too much off, so as not to tear the paper. And not too much straight, because then it may resist and not come off, and you may have to try again, and that would be inefficient.

And no one wants to be inefficient…

It’s funny that I have (or at least pretended to have, for the purposes of word-count) these reservations about developing bad habits by doing the “three pages a day” thing, whereas I’ve never had that worry about NaNoWriMo, where the lack of internal censor just feels freeing. Maybe because NaNoWriMo is so much an all-out infrequent event, whereas the other is intended to be an everyday every-day habit. Or something…

(Astoundingly, even the combination of being linked to by Salon and writing this exquisite political satire has not yet led to international fame; but we soldier on…)


Paging Dan Brown…

Pope And CardinalsSo there’s this so far adorably unsourced bunch of stories saying that the Cardinals (the Roman ones, not the baseball ones) are going to ask the new Pope to pledge in his first Papal (not Paypal) address, that he will serve for the whole rest of his life, and not like resign suddenly or anything.

And that strikes me as just bizarre.

I mean, this last Pope just now says that he resigned because after deep contemplation and all he realized that God wanted him to. So the cardinals must either think that he is mistaken about that (this guy who is supposedly God’s own chief representative on Earth, and who is officially infallible about various things, although admittedly not very many and not this, but still who you have to think must be supposedly Very Good At figuring out what God wants), or they want the next Pope to pledge not to resign even if God wants him to.

Ya know?

And secondarily, it seems that the cure could well be worse than the disease here, imagining a Pope with Tourette’s and dementia, in the middle of his Easter address or whatever launching into an obscenity-laced rant about how the Prince of Wales has stolen his slippers again or whatever, on international teevee.

After a little thought, and M pointing out that they were afraid something like the latter might happen with Pope John Paul or somebody just before he died, it occurs to me that if one were deeply cynical it’d be pretty easy to explain, thus:

  • The Cardinals and the Curia and all of course don’t believe any of the teachings of the church to speak of (that’s just for the rubes), so all that stuff about the Pope doing things because he wisely determines what God wants is just irrelevant to them, and this fact occasionally slips out; and
  • If some Pope did get Tourette’s and/or dementia, he would just conveniently die of oh-so-natural causes just like John Paul or whoever conveniently did, before it got too embarassing.

Which brings to mind all sorts of questions about Papal Poisoners! Are the Poisoner To The Pope and the Poisoner Of The Pope the same office, or different ones? (venefica ad papam versus venefica pape, perhaps?) If they are different offices, are they always / sometimes / never held by the same person? If at least sometimes by different persons, do they tend to be respected colleagues, arch-rivals, or something in between? Have there been any occasions where the venefica ad papam was used to head off the venefica pape? (Not counting the Borgia Popes and their set, who presumably did this sort of thing regularly just to pass the time.) And exactly what sort of authorization does the Poisoner Of The Pope need to be given before he sets to work? And, does he wear cool robes?

Of course one would have to be not only deeply cynical, but probably some sort of lunatic to actually believe that any of this is true, but it does sound like a rollicking good yarn.


Dan, Bubbeleh, give me a buzz; we’ll talk!

Update: just so I don’t lose it I meant to link to this story here (credit again to M): Daily Mail speculation on why he really resigned. More source material for Dan!


Reviews: “Belief or Nonbelief” and “Pallas”

Two of my reviews have just Gone Live on Amazon, my “email” informs me, so I will stick them here as well so that they are in more places, and my fame can spread more quickly.

Belief or Nonbelief, by Umberto Eco and Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini (non-ebook version)Belief or Nonbelief
Two out of Five Stars

This is billed as a spirited exchange between a believer and a non-believer, but really it’s much less than that. Eco is a barely-lapsed Catholic intellectual, and as he says himself the basic structure of his thinking is still very much based in Catholicism.

Except for the final brief pair of chapters, the book consists of Eco asking Martini to talk about the Church’s answer to something, and Martini answering with the Catholic party line.

And because this is the Father of Semiotics and a Catholic Cardinal, the language is full of fifty-thousand-dollar words and content-free metaphors. Here is Eco, for instance, perhaps imitating one of those online Random Postmodern Text Generators:

“Christianity invented History, and it is in fact a modern incarnation of the Antichrist that denounces History as a disease. It’s possible that secular historicism has understood history as infinitely perfectible — so that tomorrow we improve upon today, always and without reservation, and so that in the course of the same history God reconstitutes himself and in a manner of speaking educates and enriches himself. But the entire secular world is not of the ideological view that through history we understand how to look at the regression and folly of history itself.”

Say what? Secular historicism has understood that God educates himself? You don’t say!

And when Eco asks how the Church knows when human life begins, Martini’s answer is that it’s at the moment of conception, because that is when there is a new being with a face. Which must be a metaphor for something (since a fertilized egg is way to small to have a face), but we’re left to guess for ourselves exactly what it’s supposed to be a metaphor for.

In the final exchange, Martini finally asks a question of Eco rather than vice-versa. The question itself is nothing impressive, just the usual “how do atheists justify their morality without an invisible friend in the sky to do it for them?”; but Eco’s answer is solid and almost clearly stated. There’s nothing all that special, he points out, about basing your morality on a deity (believers are just as prone to immorality as anyone else), and our own desire to be treated well and our natural tendency to empathy make a fine alternative.

So anyway. Most of the book is throwaway concepts couched in needlessly elaborate prose, but at least it’s short. The last chapter is worth a read.

Pallas, by L. Neil SmithPallas
Three out of Five Stars

This is a good solid yarn; strong and smart good guys you can root for, nasty evil bad guys to boo, interesting SF ideas, rockets and personal helicopters, a hooker with a heart of gold, old ladies packing heat, and all sorts of fun stuff.

Like so many stories with political intent, it completely cheats on the political message. No one in the socialist polity is good, no one in the capitalist one is bad. The capitalist society doesn’t need to tax anyone because it doesn’t need police or real courts, because everyone in the society is basically an angel (for some reason the society doesn’t even need fire stations; this is noted in passing but never explained).

Showing that your favorite politico-economic system would work for a society of angels is not a very big challenge!

The one nod that Smith makes toward reality is that when the entire world (asteroid) is threatened by a natural phenomenon, the “freeloader problem” arises, and it’s not clear how the rather expensive solution is going to get paid for without something icky like taxes. But the solution is just that Our Hero pays for the whole thing himself, and the problem is solved.

This isn’t realistic, though; if Our Hero had any actual competitors, the resulting extra costs he bears would put him at a disadvantage to them, and he would go out of business. Fortunately for the story, he has no actual competitors, because he is the only person to realize that in a society where everyone wants to be armed and guns are expensive to import, it might make sense to open a (wait for it) gun factory. Ooooh!

(The real Freeloader Problem here, which Smith ignores entirely as far as I can tell, is the environment envelope around the asteroid, which requires constant maintenance by guys with rockets and space-suits. Who pays for all that, exactly?)

Definitely a fun read. Just don’t try to use it as a guide to public policy in the real world.


On second thought, hobbit…

So we went and saw that Hobbit movie that’s out now. It was kind of fun just as a movie, although I wouldn’t be awaiting the next two parts all that impatiently. (The Great Goblin was fun, but I don’t know if the audience will have played enough 8-bit platformers to get all the subtle retro references in the Escape from Goblin Town scene.)

As a movie version of that Hobbit book, it had all the problems that everyone else has complained about: too slow, too padded, too many unnecessary differences from the Tolkien. (That awkward moment in making a short novel into three long movies because there’s just so much content, when you realize that you need to promote a relatively minor goblin (who was actually dead by this point in the book) into a Big Scary Antagonist just so the first movie will have enough plot.)

But that’s not what I want to talk about.on second thought

What I want to talk about is the urgency of someone writing a good fanfiction story / series / novel / trilogy about the alternate Lord of the Rings in which Galadriel fails the test in Caras Galadhon, and things proceed as predicted…

In place of the Dark Lord, you will set up a Queen, and I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night. Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain…all shall love me and despair!

This seems to me to have a huge amount of promise if done right. Not the “she turns evil immediately” scenario, because that would be boring. The “she uses the powers of the One Ring, which would be truly enormous in her hands, to do great good things, which only slowly and subtly start to go terribly wrong as the inherent evil of the Ring’s power slowly corrupts her” scenario is the interesting one.

(One would have to be careful to avoid too many “the dangers of using corrupted power” references to the humungous “Wheel of Time” series, but that shouldn’t be too hard.)

So what happens in this alternate universe? Much of Sauron’s power is now not only lost to him, but in the possession of an implacable enemy with great power of her own, and her own unsullied Ring (Nenya, the White Ring, Ring of Adamant, Ring of Water). Galadriel is not of the Maiar as Sauron is (right?), but with those two rings, and Sauron’s weakness, I like the idea that she vanquishes him pretty easily, at the very start of her reign, so that she starts from a (dangerous) position of power and triumph.

Maybe she can use the Nazgul to do the job, the Nine Riders controlled by the Rings of Men. It would be simplest if they were actually wearing their Rings; then we could see her reaching out to them through the One, quickly or slowly turning their darkness to light, and perhaps Nine Bright Paladins cutting a swath through Mordor, letting in the armies of men and defeating the whole dark shebang.

But from what I read on the Intertubes it seems more Canonical that Sauron actually held the Nine Rings himself, and controlled the Riders through them. So perhaps we need some subtler scenario in which she uses the One Ring to cause the Nine Rings to come to her, or to stir up enough goodness in the Riders to let them resist Sauron’s control of their own Rings long enough to free them, or even destroy them.

It seems unlikely that the Riders themselves can be returned to any kind of mortal life after a Fall of Sauron; it could be fascinating to have them around as sort of disembodied Lights in the Shadow Realm, who start out by doing dazzling good, and only gradually slide into bright and blinding corruption.

We know that in the world of Galadriel Triumphant, all shall love her, and despair. So we start out with a new empire of goodness and beauty and love, and we slide into despair. There is of course a vast literature on how love goes wrong and leads to despair. :) So all we’d have to do is pick one form of that (a good one, of course), and let it play out in the world of Lord of the Rings.

Love for the Lady becomes mandatory, of course. Sacrificing oneself for that love is good and noble. In battle, perhaps for instance. Do we have suicidal dragon-hunts in her name? Jousts for the honor of Galadriel turning into deathmatches? Perhaps whole squadrons of knights, eventually whole armies, go to battle to prove (through victory) that they are more deserving of the Lady’s Love, or that they Love Her more truly.

Three of the Seven Rings of the Dwarves probably still exist. (Maybe some of the other four can still show up also; Gandalf might have been mistaken about them being destroyed by dragons, you never know.) What can Galadriel do with these? Their main, relatively boring, effect seems to be to make Dwarves angrier and hungrier for gold (and shorter and hairier, I would guess). Under the Lady, the Dwarves will lust for gold so that they may make fancier and more valuable gifts for Her. They will of course come to blows and likely internecine wars over that as well.

So far this sounds mostly like people fighting each other over Her, which isn’t bad, if a little obvious. How do we get to Despair, in maybe a less obvious and more interesting way? Galadriel is already somewhat ethereal; perhaps as she wears the Rings she becomes even moreso: angelic, diaphanous, almost phantom. Her presence floats about the Empire, fills the air with brightness and love and exultation, only to leave behind emptiness and longing, and ultimately despair, as her attention moves on.

So we have a world of wonders and beauty, noble warriors and astonishing Dwarven artifacts, love and enchantment, gradually crumbling into a ruin of glaze-eyed fighters battling for the slim hope of an instant of Her attention, as Her spirit, increasingly indistinct but always maddeningly alluring, floats over all, moaning beautiful but incomprehensible songs as the world falls into despair for a glimpse of Her, and the Nine Paladins make sure that no one dares say anything against Her.

Wow, creepy. :)

There are probably a dozen other promising ways the story could be written, also. Googling around, I’ve found a very few attempts (the one piece of fanfiction I stumbled across was just silly comedy, and very short), and a few threads discussing the idea (mostly technical topics about the differences in power between Galadriel with the Ring and Gandalf with the Ring, and so on).

If anyone has a pointer to any more complete considerations or fictions, along the lines above, or any more thoughts and ideas on the subject, fire away. For some reason I am really attracted to the idea. :) Although I may have gotten it somewhat out of my system by writing it down here now…


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Okay, so, random update! I’m on vacation this week, which has been very nice and restful. Some small (well, variable-sized) voice is telling me that I ought to be actually doing special vacation-things during it, but mostly I haven’t been.

I did go and get a massage at the Club, which was pricey but lovely (all that oxytocin!); tomorrow the plan (slightly tentative, but a plan) is to go down into The Big City, maybe see Steve (who yeah hasn’t updated for awhile), maybe go to Poet’s House, which is for no particular reason my current NYC Heart’s Desire (having finally accomplished my original one the other year, and my second one more recently (did I really not write about that anywhere? seems implausible)), maybe just sort of bop around insouciantly (WordPress thinks that is not a word, more fool it).

I didn’t go today because (A) it is Cold and Grey out, and (B) the city is all busy being occupied, and while I do support the protestors in spirit, I don’t seem to be prepared to either occupy along with them, or route around them, in person (and why not, another variable-volume voice inquires, why not?).

I have made basically zero more progress on the novel, which is somewhat surprising. I figured a week’s vacation (which means nine days all told) would be the obvious time to write an’ write an’ write, but it hasn’t worked out that way. I am not into forcing myself to do stuff while on vacation. :) I’ve tried a few times, but the Story So Far is apparently not something that I see alot of inspiring possibilities in.

(It is funny how Word Mavens and spellcheckers insist that “alot” is not a valid word, and everyone should write “a lot”. I am not quite descriptivist to think that anything where you have to keep telling people that they’re doing it wrong is probably therefore correct (I am a hard-liner on apostrophe-use, for instance), but eventually one does have to cede the field, especially on things that I like to use.)

I seem to be entirely bored with World of Warcraft (and apparently I’m not the only one); it’s amusing to see that in a break with some previous practice WoW is apparently getting playable Pandas in the next expansion. We’ll see if that lures me back; I dunno.

I’m sort of plateaued on Glitch at the moment also; I’ve done a bit of everything, I’ve run around everywhere; there are a bunch of more badges and trophies that I could get but… For now I’ve released my piggies, and I’m just poking my head in now and then.

For unknown reasons I’ve started playing Illyriad, which is one of those sort of multi-player online versions of Civilization, where you build tanneries and upgrade barracks and chop wood and send scouts and armies around and stuff. This is I think me here, but we’ll see how long I remain actually interested.

Second Life, in contrast, continues to be fresh an’ interesting (the virtues of user-generated content). I’ve been generally hanging out and exploring stuff as usual, and for the first time gotten into some PvE combat, which I’ve never really done in SL before. And in order to figure out how that works I’ve started fiddling with my own combat scripts; maybe I will post the sources to the Wiki once I have it all working (it will be simpler than the full blown open-source RPG system that’s out there now, so maybe easier to learn stuff from). Unless I get distracted. Which I usually do. :)

(Today’s distraction, while I was fiddling with combat scripts, was a friend I hadn’t talked to in ages IMing me at random and eventually mentioning that she’d gotten into SL Golf lately, and of course we ended up going off golfing a bit together, which was fun.)

What else what else? I’ve been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes (in order from the beginning) on Netflix streaming on the iPad (did I mention that?). I last watched Season Three: Episode Five (“Homecoming”). It’s a kinda guilty pleasure :) but really it’s pretty good, most of the time. I get annoyed when things happen too obviously for plot reasons, but that’s only once in awhile.

Soon I will be caught up as of the end of 1998!

And finally, what’s up with people behind counters saying “Can I help who’s next?”? (Or possibly “Can I help who’s next?”) Is that an East Coast thing? A New York thing? A suburban thing? Do people say that around you? Maybe someone can ask Language Hat


Monday, 7 November, 2011

Took the day off today, just ’cause I felt like I needed a rest. And apparently one of the things I needed a rest from was writing! Just about 1500 words eked out (“eked out”) today, and we’re at:

End of Day Seven: 11,504

which may or may not be more or less just barely On Track.

I have some ideas about what might be going on in the story and how it might end, but they are tentative so far. (Am I supposed to reveal that?)

And in related news, a spammer claiming to be the U.S. Commerce Association Board of Review is happy to inform us that “Kims Keys & Locksmith has been selected for the 2011 Best of Winter Haven Award in the Personal Service Agents & Brokers category”. Woo woo!

And there is even a classy simulated award object:

Best of Winter Haven!

Don’t you just almost want to believe that that might be something other than a generic picture of a shiny thing with some flat digital words carelessly Photoshopped over it?

I hope someone’s told Kim the good news, also…

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Sunday, 6 November, 2011

Did I actually write nothing on Day Four or Day Five? How lazy! I believe the tally now stands:

Day One: 3,018 (3,018)
Day Two: 3,014 (6,032)
Day Three: 2,038 (8,070)
Day Four: 0 (8,070)
Day Five: 0 (8,070)
Day Six: 1,981(10,051)

Which, by no coincidence at all, is almost exactly On Target for finishing at 50K words on November 30th, because that’s when I decided I could comfortably stop for the evening. :)

Things have been busy. There was a memorial service for Dad at the church (it’s always been “the church” to me, even though Dad’s been active in the other church for the last several years). It was lovely, lots of various old friends, and the Minister, saying nice things about him. I got up and said some I thought rather confused and mostly ad hoc stuff (although I’d been thinking about stuff to say for a few days now). And coffee and finger-foods afterwards, and lots of good feeling and community.

One of the things I said first was that that community had always been very important to Dad, and to the whole family, and it has. Something very comforting about going back to the church that you grew up in, and seeing the building basically the same, with some changes, and the people basically the same, with some changes.

I also drove nostalgically from the church to the house, which is still there, and even presents the same red side in the same old shape to the street, through what looks like more or less the same tangle of woods. There’s a driveway now, rather than just a halfheartedly gravel-strewn dirt road shared with the next-door neighbors (and leading back and back into the woods). And the front looks fancier; I wonder if it is a doctor’s office or something now (the consensus of the Web seems to be that it’s still a single-family home, but You Never Know).

Proud of myself for being able to find the way on nothing but old memories, I drove out to the Nanuet Mall from there, looking at what had changed and what hadn’t in the meantime. Ralphie’s Diner is still down at the bottom of Remsen, on Route 59; I think it moved in there just about when I left, which means it’s been there for a good 30 years.

(It doesn’t seem to have its own Web page, but amusingly there seem to be about three zillion web pages about it, all pretty much identically empty as far as I can tell.)

And my old High School is still there, and the utility company opposite it, and various familiar music stores and bicycle shops. Lots of new things, mostly bigger than the former old things, even more than before with Hebrew letters next to the old-fashioned American ones. Funny how things linger as they change; where the old Hub Bowling Center used to be (it was old and on the way out even when I was little, as I recall), is now The Monsey Hub, a shopping center with something (perhaps “The Monsey Hub”?) in big Hebrew letters on the facade. Completely different, but still with that “Hub”.

(Great old newspaper page from maybe 1960 prominently featuring a picture of some cool kids at Hub Bowling, and the XXIst-century Foursquare page about the Monsey Hub.)

After the service we drove up to the top of Bear Mountain for the scattering of some of Dad’s ashes.

The tower at the top of Bear Mountain

It was a place that he loved, and that I remember vividly from being little. Haven’t been up there in far too long!

It was a gorgeous day.


End of Day Three

Today’s goal: 7,500
Extra-credit goal: 9,000
Actual wordcount: 8,070

Not bad; I get a little extra credit! :) But the internet is back, and I can’t resist spending some potential writing time in Second Life instead. I’m still ahead of schedule!

As usual: the novel.


Thursday, 3 November, 2011

I hear that the Internet may be back on at home, but I’m going to sneak this in from here at work anyway while waiting for a build, because You Never Know.

Decorative NaNoWriMo badgeThe novel proceeds nicely, to wit (to woo?):

Day 1: 3,018
Day 2: 6,032
Goal for today: 7,500
Extra-credit goal: 9,000

If the Internet is really back, the extra-credit goal might be tough. :) The next few days are also going to be a bit busy, with houseguests and School Plays and things, so that may add to the challenge.

Here is me on the NaNoWriMo site, just for completeness.

I am having a bit of Buyer’s Remorse, so to speak, about having started a murder mystery in a castle of wizards, because I keep thinking of other things I might have started instead (an International Secret Agent working on Global Financial Crises and Occupy movements and stuff might have been fun and extremely timely, for instance), and I doubt I will suddenly shift gears (although it would be entirely within the rules) and start writing one of those in the midst of a paragraph of the current thing.

But hey, the grass is always greener on the other side of the conceptual space, an’ all.

Scarily-involving Retro-story-game-thing o’ the Day.

I’ve always liked Ralph Gomory.

I will reserve any further writing-energy for The Novel, after dinner. :)


Friday, October 21, 2011

So I don’t understand this kind of spam:


My name is Franco Cavalier am sending you this email regarding in Purchasing Product from your company,I will like to know if you can ship directly to France , I also want you to know my mode of payment for this order is via CC . Get back to me if you can ship to that destination and also if you accept the payment type I indicated

Kindly return this email with your price list of your products..


201, rue de Grenelle

FR – 75357 PARIS


Slightly even more puzzling because it was sent to my work address (in ibm dot com), and it was sent from an email address of “dummy” at somewhere in France (with a reply-to at a gmail dot com address).

What value does anyone get by spamming out a request for lists of goods that can be paid for by credit card and shipped to France?

I suppose he might just be gathering email addresses in general, to spam or to sell? But surely if you want to test to see if a vast number of email addresses are valid, you’d want to maximize the chance that the person will write back, and in that case asking for lists of products that can be bought via credit card and shipped to France doesn’t do that.

They could just be validating a big list of email addresses by sending any old junk to them and seeing what bounces, but (1) email agents don’t send “no such user” replies anymore, as I recall, for exactly this reason, and (2) this is an awfully weird “any old junk”. I’d hate to think that some spammer address-collector had this nice a sense of the absurd.

Ah, mysteries, mysteries…

I just got The Physics Book from Amazon (I think I’d pre-ordered it or something), and it’s lovely. Bigger and fancier than I’d expected, a nice weighty hardcover with lots of short entries about interesting physics things, and great pictures.

You should get it, too! And not just because the author’s office is more or less across the hall from mine or anything. :)

I’ve just started reading it (the introduction and then a few completely random pages), but I think I will enjoy it greatly; it’s nice and bite-sized (a box of intellectual chocolates!), which fits my current (tiny) attention span nicely.

I’m also enjoying The Quantum Thief quite a bit, in the digital edition, despite having sort of forgotten about it for long enough that starting out again I didn’t quite remember just who everyone was, or what had happened to whom previously. But it’s the kind of book in which you’re enjoying trying to figure out what’s going on anyway, so that hasn’t been a big problem. And the tech and the world and the culture(s) and all are interesting while one is trying to work it all out.

It occurs to me that I could just sort of leave this entry, with the date at the top, open in WordPress all day, and hit Publish in the evening or whenever I felt like I wasn’t going to write anything elsemore to speak of.

Maybe I’ll do that. Although I might forget. And it’s also nice to Publish shortly after writing, and get that sense of Accomplishment.

So for NaNoWriMo this year, assuming I convince myself that I have time, I’m thinking about a nonlinear hyperlinked novel. Say, 100 interlinked pages at 500 words per page? Or 500 100-word pages, or anything on that curve. Something like The Forked Stick, only I would “finish” it in a month, and not leave it hanging forever like I did with that. :)

Water Street runs close by the river, into the Dun Quarter, which is quiet but far from silent in this moony night, breathing with the sharp stillness of the river and the easy aches of poverty and long practice.

To one side is the pier, and across the street is an old building where a sign shows a cup and a hen. Far down at the other end of the street, the Long Temple broods in a feverish silent sleep.

(I am still quite proud of the Tic Tac Toe game embedded in The Forked Stick. Wow, that was some time ago!)

Didn’t you mean to say you assassinate your enemies
Didn’t you mean to say you kill journalists and artists
Didn’t you mean to say you give orders for the murder
Didn’t you mean to say you sell drugs to make your fortune
Holly Near, “Edge”

I don’t actually recall how Edge got onto the iPad here, but I’m enjoying it very much. Energy, novelty.

Also enjoying The Dresden Dolls:

and you can tell
from the smoke at the stake
that the current state is critical
well it is the little things, for instance:
in the time it takes to break it she can make up ten excuses:
please excuse her for the day, its just the way the medication makes her…
girl anachronism

What else should one mention in one’s weblog? I’m sure there are other things that will occur to me later in the day. But at the moment the desire to see it published and In The Can seems sort of strongish. So I will probably push Publish sometime in the next minute or so, assuming the universe and its laws continue more or less unchanged (something that it’s not clear how justified we are in assuming, or whether it matters whether we are).

Yep, here we go!

See you on the other side! :)


Come November

One interesting difference here (although it’s a difference of culture or tradition and affordance, not a strictly-speaking necessary difference) is that posts will tend to be smaller, and with titles, rather than, as in the old log where they were perhaps longer, and titled only by date, so that you got “here’s what I’ve thought that I feel is worth recording today” rather than “here’s what I’m thinking right now, about this subject, or at least with this subject sitting there on top”.

(Another difference might be that wordpress might start putting ads onto the pages; if that gets annoying I will consider giving them money to stop doing it. Or moving back to the old site.)

(Also I’m not sure if these pages will validate, HTML/CSS-wise. But somehow I am not as concerned about that as I now and then was, or pretended to be, in the Old Days.)

Anyway! Come November I may be writing another novel. The question will be, what sort of novel this time?

Awhile back, I posted a list of the existing novels, and what each one was sort of subjectively like.

I feel like fiddling with the medium again, at the moment at least, rather than just writing a straightforward story. Not sure just why that is. :)

And of course it may change by November.

But at the moment the playing-with-the-medium that I’m thinking of is using the rather obscure variant of first-person limited in which you get just the narrator’s experiences of the external world, without internal monologue (or dialogue), explanations, or exposition.

I sat up in the bed. A woman in a white uniform brought me food, which I ate.

Another woman came in, and stood at the foot of the bed. She said things. I continued eating, looking at her, but said nothing.

The woman at the foot of the bed said more things, in a louder voice.

Eventually, I said things back.

Could be interesting. Fifty thousand words of interesting? Maybe… :)