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Archive for February, 2010

Going Inside

February 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Abigail always wants to go inside. No matter where we are, she always asks to go inside. The only problem with this is that she almost never wants to go inside. Passing through any door is “going inside.”

“Fiendish!” I said in Abigail’s vicinity, regarding something I don’t recall.

“Fiendish!” Abigail repeated, grinning between mouthfuls of waffle.

Her grasp of language is tremendous; she’ll pick up and repeat pretty much any word you say – or even ones she hears on TV.

“Auf Wiedersehen,” Abigail said with a wave to a German relative, after hearing the term for the first time.

Since she’s tremendously observant and a quick study.

“That’s a forehead,” Abigail said, definitively, pointing to the bald spot at the back of my Dad’s head.

She can take the words she knows and apply them to related, real world situations. For example, that forehead is not where you might expect it to be, and yet, clearly, it is a forehead. She also would call a spade a spade, but since I’ve never said “spade” in front of her, she would probably call it a shovel.

“Daddy’s naked,” Abigail announced. I had just removed my socks. Upon review, I determined that my shorts and t-shirt were still on.

She doesn’t waste an opportunity to express her broad-minded views on nudity, either her own or that of others. She’s quick excepting of any form of nakedness. But, just like your typical fundamentalist, she has some trouble understanding its definition.

“You had a good day at Target,” I told her, watching her play with her new Thomas the Train set.

“I had a good day at Carget.”

Indeed.

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China

February 23, 2010 Leave a comment

I have an abusive relationship with China Mieville. He batters me. He overwrites to a tremendous degree, knocking me over with a clenched fist full of two dollar words. After I’m finished looking those up, he kicks me in the gut with an intentionally obtuse description of a totally alien structure, making sure I’m just not smart enough to get it, that I’m just not good enough to understand the barely conveyed cityscape that only one who lived there could truly comprehend.

But I keep coming back, because somehow, it’s just too good to pass up. Somehow the showy writing style makes his writing better, the unrelenting darkness of his world makes them more compelling. But more than that, I know of no one that has built a world the way that China Mieville did in Perdido Street Station. Now he’s back with the BFSA nominated The City and The City and, even though I hoped he’d be different this time, from page one, he was back to his old tricks.

I’m not far enough along to give an accurate review, but he has a way of both pulling me into a world and putting me off at the same time that I find incredibly compelling. I’ll let you know how things go as I read. I really think I might be able to change him this time.

Musketeers Down

February 21, 2010 Leave a comment

I have completed the Three Musketeers. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in reading something actually interesting.

This has kept me from doing some of the reviews I’d discussed a while back. This will change. I know most of you have been waiting with baited breath for me to tell you all about my feelings on the BFSA Award nominees. I will now have time to do so!

Lazy Post Day!

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Instead of offering you any original content, I will do what internet denizens do and offer you found content!

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Abbey Dove

February 18, 2010 1 comment

“Abbey has a battle wound,” Jessica said, still sleepy in the early morning darkness.

After a contemplative pause, Abigail replied, “Balla woo.”

“That’s right, a battle wound,” I chipped in from my side of the bed.

“Battle wound!” It often takes Abigail a try or two.

Our little angel has a swollen, black bruise on her forehead, which she acquired by diving headfirst off the jungle gym at the park. Only last week, I was discussing with my mother (that’s grandma, to you) that all these play structures are covered with openings just waiting for a tiny person to step out into empty space. In the case of this particular fall, it was about four and a half feet of empty space, headfirst, onto a chain link climbing net. In the words of our nanny, Kate, she “just dove!” To which Abigail gleefully responded, “Abbey just dove!”

This is one of the ways you can tell she didn’t have a concussion.

Kate was frazzled, and felt very bad, but Jessica and I were both very pleased that she was the one there. She immediately applied ice to her head and called Jessica. She spent the next hour checking her eyes and delaying her nap to make sure all was okay. In fact, as long as Abigail was fine, I frankly prefer not being there. I mean, I don’t want the trauma of watching my daughter fall on her head from a great height. Best leave that to the professionals.

I was feeling a little anxious about what I’d see when I got home, but when I drove up to the house, I was greeted with a smiling, waving little girl who didn’t appear to have any head wounds at all. In fact, the only time she has complained about her head at all was when I took her shirt off before her bath last night. And she often complains about her head when her shirt comes off. Those ears have a tendency to catch.

We’ll chalk this up to a lesson learned, without any real damage done. In other words, the best kind of lesson.

Categories: Abigailia Tags: ,

It was so ohb-viohs!

February 15, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s funny how when you finally get an idea of how to proceed with a character, it doesn’t seem like that big of a block after all. I mean, of course that’s what happens. I can see a way forward for Cassie now. Of course, I also need to write it.

I don’t have too much more to say about Cassie today. Instead, I was thinking about the title I gave this post. It’s interesting that the first point of reference I go to when I have such a revelation is Captain Gloval from Robotech. (For those interested, here is a link that helps explain the title of this post. Be warned, you will have an ad before the video will play. And then you will have to stop it after about a second or two, unless you want to watch the entire episode. And I don’t blame you if you do. I now have to move back to the post proper, since this parenthetical is now longer than the post itself so far.)

People who did not experience a lot of mid-80s children’s television may not appreciate how much Robotech changed everything. Coming on the heels of the commercial onslaught of GI Joe and Transformers and Go Bots and all their ilk, Robotech was a refreshing change from the  – for lack of a better term – political correctness of those shows. I’m not sure why it became the norm that children couldn’t handle consequences, but there was a total lack of cause and effect in those shows. (GI Joe – Plane’s exploding? Everyone has a parachute! Transformers – Falling half a mile? The other car caught you on it’s roof, therefore you’re fine! Go Bots – Um. Okay, nobody really watched Go Bots.) Perhaps the worst part, there was nothing like a narrative flow to the shows. At the end of every episode, not only was everyone fine, but everything was back to normal. The bad guys were still unalterably bad, the good guys were still irreproachably good and both parties were hidden away in their apparently unfindable, yet shiny and obvious secret fortresses.

Robotech changed all of that. I remember bringing up Robotech with a group of students in college. We were all in the same writing class and the professor was running late. By chance most of us were men of about the same age, which also happened to correspond to the Robotech target audience. Each person that arrived at the table raved about the show. I recall one person walking up and asking what we were talking about and hearing him say, “You mean the first show not to insult kid’s intelligence.”

Robotech was a badly-dubbed, multi-generational, mind-bendingly complicated, very badly dubbed, Americanized version of a beloved Japanese Anime. It’s epic storyline and tremendously fast-paced action pulled me in, but the surprisingly complex characters and subplots kept me glued. Just the fact that they showed the consequences of war was a stunner. The ship is full of refugees and they aren’t just background; their needs for food, their frustrations and their political strife become a key part of the plot. Several main characters are killed and entire episodes are spent dealing with the consequences. The alien enemies start in the unalterably bad archetype and then – unbelievable to my 12 year old mine – they became something more complex, more nuanced. They are tasked with protecting the Earth and  – even though they win the fight – they don’t succeed.

Some people might say this is just an example of Japanese animation and that’s why it’s become such a dominant force these days. I would agree with them. But it was also the first time for me that I realized that stories could be something more than adventures. Robotech was one of those seminal moments in my life, when something clicked. I wanted to see more things like this, and didn’t have much time for the old drivel any longer. Robotech also changed the stories I made in my head and for that, I am very thankful.

I should probably also point out that it was my brother, Andy, who first spotted this show. He was home sick and was raving about this new show he’d seen to me when I got home. Turns out, he also has an eye for the good stuff.

You can watch the entire Macross Saga on YouTube these days. I would love to say that you can watch it and have the same experience I did. Heck, even I can barely get past the bad dubbing these days. And the pop songs. Oh, the songs.  It was a conjunction of events that made Robotech so important in my life. It was the timing as much as the show itself. Looked at critically, I think it still holds up, but I think it’s tough to enjoy right off the bat as an adult.

Quotes Worth Quoting

February 14, 2010 Leave a comment

We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.

- W.H. Auden

Categories: Uncategorized

Small Worlds

February 12, 2010 Leave a comment

This game won the Casual Gameplay Design Competition over at jisgames.com. If you hate productivity, but like innovative time wasters, then this is the site for you.

I can’t recommend Small Worlds enough. At first, it may look like an old Atari game, but without the awesome graphics. Give it a moment to win you over. You don’t need to know anything about games or solve any puzzles to enjoy this one.


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Pondering Cassie

February 12, 2010 2 comments

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Cassie today. She’s the kind of girl who stays on your mind. Well, she’s the kind of girl who stays on my mind. Being a fictional character I invented, there are really no other minds for her to stay on.

I’m a little over halfway through this novel, and I’m not sure where Cassie should go next. I get the feeling betrayal should be involved though. That’s always a nice mid-novel concept.

For those who are unaware – and thus far, only one person has actually read what I’ve written – Cassie has some troubles. She lives in a future that doesn’t offer too many advantages to a girl without means. She has been brought into a criminal gang and taught how to kill, with the aid of a series of implants that have been surgically added throughout her body. While this might seem like good steady work, her addiction issues have cost her a lot and she hasn’t always made the right choices.

I’ll come back from time to time to discuss what is going on with Cassie. Including whether I ever get far past 25,000 words.

Sing a Song

February 10, 2010 Leave a comment

“I-sing-in-this!”

Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp.

Jessica and I sometimes have to pay close attention to understand what Abigail is singing,  if we ever actually do pick up the words. But the girl certainly knows how to put on a show.

“In-sane-let-tuce!”

Flailing hands. Flailing hands.

Actually, she’s got a few songs down. For example, she can sing the entirety of Ring Around the Rosey.

“It-is-wet-ness!”

Spin, stomp, flail. Spin, stomp, flail.

It’s not all at what you’d call the right speed, and if you don’t prompt her for the next line, you get an endless series of “Ashes,” but it’s a whole song and she can sing it. She is also pretty good at falling down, which is a key part of that song.

“I’m-Stan-wit-ness!”

Jump, laugh, jump, laugh.

She has also been known to grab her stuffed Halloween cat and shake it up and down singing, “Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells!” I think that forms a nice juxtaposition.

“In-the-win-this!”

Arms up, big finish.

We’re still working on “Evita.” She keeps coming in too early and then starts crying for Argentina instead of the other way around.

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