Wasting Time

My Commute was Saved by Books

I commute just under an hour to work every day. More than once early on I wished I could be using the time for something more productive than simply driving and listening to music. At first I listened to “Welcome to Nightvale” the twice monthly podcast put out by Commonplace Books. It’s weird and awesome and I recommend it if you think you’d like a modern take on Lovecraft (there are also so many other good things about it that I could do an entire blog post on why you should listen to Nightvale, but that’s for another time). After I finished going through their archive, I was at a bit of a loss as to what to listen to next. I thought about trying to find another podcast, but finally decided to try audio books.

I, like many people, have an enormous “to read” pile. In fact, I don’t even own every book in my “to read” pile (and I own a lot of books). I’ve wanted to read books by certain authors but have never had the time, money or will to buy yet another book to add to my stack of things to read. That’s where the audio books come in. So far this year I’ve listened to four books and am about to finish a fifth. Not bad for time I would have otherwise been using to listen to the same CD another 50,000 times (Seriously, I don’t get sick of music as fast as most people).

It did take me a bit to get into the first CD. I’m used to listening to radio dramas, which are far more like television than books–all the action is done by sound effects and dialogue cues, where as with an audio book you’re listening to someone read, dialogue tags and everything. That is not to say that a good voice actor doesn’t perform when reading a book. On the contrary, they must have a multitude of different voices for characters as well as read a text without throwing off cadence or flow.

I started out with Duma Key by Steven King because that was what arrived first when I ordered a bunch of books. Perhaps part of my trouble getting into the books on tape had to do with the fact that the beginning of Duma Key is very introspective. We get to know Edgar Freemantle while he’s recovering from a serious injury and he’s withdrawing from society. Maybe if there had been more action in the beginning I would have been drawn in sooner. Either way I kept listening and soon enough I couldn’t pull away. Without spoiling anything I will tell you I ended up yelling at my car stereo a couple of times. Good thing no one was riding with me.

The only real downside to listening to books on tape, especially when read by the author, is that it has a way of getting inside your writing if you’re not careful. Listening to someone talk for long enough, especially someone who is either a powerful speaker, or read a powerful writer, and you can find yourself slipping into that person’s tone and voice. Yes, I’m looking at you, Neil Gaiman. I did love Neverwhere, though.

So there we are, my summer driving in a nutshell. Stay tuned next week for (probably) another chapter of Our Party.

PS-I’d take audio book gifts for next year.


Steampunk Bustle

I suppose I should preface this entry by saying I have been invited to a steampunk wedding this fall. And there’s no way in hell I’m going to a steampunk wedding in ordinary clothes.

I decided early on that I was wearing two things. The first was a specific necklace that may or may not be the subject of a future post, but involved me transforming a bracelet into a necklace that features a cameo skeleton. The second was pants. Skirts are generally inconvenient things (except when you’re feeling too lazy to be bothered with finding and putting on pants) and so the times I wear them are limited to events of historical reenactment, times of extreme laziness, and responses to death threats from my parents (usually for a wedding or a funeral or something similar). Thus I knew, since neither of my parents were going to this particular wedding, that pants were the way to go.

Then I saw this bustle: http://www.zibbet.com/MaritimeArts/artwork?artworkId=49080#

Here’s a picture for those who don’t want to be bothered with the link.

It seemed to me that this would be just the thing to make my outfit a little more formal while preventing me from doing an accidental Agatha Heterodine cosplay (though Agatha is a totally awesome character to cosplay). I was not, however, paying $85 for something I could make myself in a weekend. So a plan was hatched.

I went to the local thrift shop with every intention of finding a skirt I could manhandle into bustle. My only requirements were that it be long enough, full enough, and black or purple. I found none of the above. What I did find was a very large wine colored shirt made of faux velvet. I decided I would make it work. A quick trip to the store for trim later and I was ready to go.

Unfortunately I wasn’t thinking about a blog when I started this project, and so didn’t take pictures of the shirt in it’s original form. I’ll just tell you that it was very large and sack like.

After unpicking all of the seams, I decided exactly how I wanted to make it and laid out the fabric, pinned it together and called it a night. The next day I repinned everything and started sewing. I would say it was done 40% on the serger (all the major things that needed to be held together so they never come apart), 50% on a regular sewing machine (all the hemming and most of the trim), and 10% by hand (the last of the trim and some corrections). I’m rather pleased with the results

I’ve done a side shot so you can see the folds I have in back.

I even made a hand bag out of the scraps.

Remember, if you can’t write, making steampunk clothing is the second best option.

May Has Not Been Kind

This really has not been a pleasant month for anyone where I work. Between employee and guest accidents, people breaking down on the road, and family emergencies, I don’t think anyone has been happy. The people at our corporate office think we’re nuts with how many accidents there have been. Thankfully no employees have died (though one almost cut off his thumb with a table saw). We have had some loose family members, though.

There have been plumbing disasters and people who couldn’t get into their room (the lock broke and there wasn’t anyone from maintenance on duty. We had to put them in another room for the night.) It really seems like it’s been one thing after another all month long.

That aside, there have been other, small things. Things that guests do that really annoy me. Like demand a room with a view on a holiday weekend. When they booked a week in advance. I’m sorry, some of the rooms have trees that have grown up in front of them over the years. When you cut it so close on a holiday weekend, that’s what you’re going to get. Of course I would never actually say that to a guest, but sometimes I wish I could.

My muse also seems to have taken the month off. While I did finish up/submit two stories this month, I didn’t really write much besides a flash for the Shock Totem contest. I don’t know where she’s vacationing, but she’d better hurry up and get her muse-y butt back here. I have another story I need to finish and polish for Dagan Books. (Yes, I am going to try to do more than my usual very last minute edits this time.)

I am starting to think that every year just picks a month to be bad. That at the beginning of the year Father Time spins a wheel and whatever month the wheel lands on is going to be bad news. Maybe he spins multiple wheels for multiple people and places. Maybe my allergies are getting to me. Or maybe I’m just nuts. Hopefully with this month (mostly) out of the way, things will be better around here, and I won’t keep bitching about stupid things. We’ll see how that pans out. I’ll keep you posted. Or I’ll keep writing blogs. Or something.

I can’t think of anything else to say, though I was kind of hoping for at least another 200 or so words. Instead, here are some pictures I took while bored at work.

The amazing card castle.

It’s weight bearing too!

Remember, life’s not always fun. That’s why there are card castles.

Did and To Do

So it might have been a while since I last posted. And by a while, I mean..way too long for me to write here without feeling embarrassed. Some things that have happened since my last post:

June ended (thank God) and I’m still alive
I’ve finished and submitted a story to the FISH anthology over at Dagan
I’ve started another short story that doesn’t’ want to stay short
I still haven’t gotten back to work on the novella/novel
My old computer blue screened
I bought a new computer I’ve named Bathshiba (it’s a Toshiba)
Worked the busiest days since the beginning of the year. Still not as bad as fall, though.
Cleaned out the last of my uncle’s crap from the other house.
Ripped up carpeting, tack strips and carpet padding from over there.
Cleaned and tried to do some general maintenance
I’ve lived through a (comparatively minor) earthquake
I am looking forward to a hurricane while I’m at work on Sunday (not)

So there you go. My life for the past two months condensed into a short list. There have also been several books read and a lot of cartoon watching (don’t judge, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest was an awesome series, not only because Jonny and Hadji were awesome, but Jessie actually did stuff!). I do feel a little bad that I haven’t gotten more done (like that novel) but working, both at my paying job and at the other house seem to have eaten a lot of my dwindling free time (I’m holding steady at one day off a week, but when that one day falls can vary). I’m hoping, though, that I will be able to get some serious writing done before the really busy season starts, though.

Supercharged Immune system, ACTIVATE! Work has been beating down on me, and is currently trying to infect me. I refuse to be sick. Do you hear me? I refuse! /random interjection

To compliment my “Did List” I suppose I should put up a “To Do” list:

Survive work
Finish cleaning/remodeling the other house
Refuse to get sick from work (Let’s just say there’s crud going around at work)
Finish my Fat Girl in a Strange Land story
Get a friend’s blog up and running
Try not to be driven insane by work
Clean our house, lord it needs it
Work on shiny things
Read more books
Try not to commit homicide at work (I’m joking. Most of the people I deal with are lovely. Most of the people.)
FINISH THAT NOVEL! (This really shouldn’t be so far down on the list…)

I promise I’ve got oodles of pictures I need to post (some other time) and other blogs I need to write (again, some other time). Someone please be sure to smack me once in a while and make sure I actually do so? Thanks.

Remember, just because you did it doesn’t mean it’s done. And yes, I mean you, cleaning!

Ah Spammers, How I Love Thee (Not)

I think that spammers have realized something very important about web blogs. If they stroke the ego of the person they are trying to spam, they are much more likely to be allowed to keep their spam on the page on which they put it. I’m not sure exactly when they discovered it, but they seem to have all done so at one time (a discussion on how many spammers there actually are and if they are connected to a hive mind can be carried out in the comments section). I checked in on my blog today to find there were 11 spammer messages. Now some of these were very nice and sweet spammer messages that I might have considered leaving if they had been on an actual blog post. Here’s one of them from Scholarships Single Mother:

Hiya! I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the nice data you’ve got here on this post. I can be coming again to your weblog for extra soon.

Ignoring the obvious grammatical issues, it’s actually a rather nice note. Here’s another one from e-liquid:

We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your web site offered us with valuable info to work on. You have done an impressive job and our whole community will be grateful to you.

Once again, a very sweet note, despite the grammatical indications that it’s a generated message. Some of them were almost sweet enough for me to consider keeping them. There was only one problem – they were ALL made on my About the Author page. I keep a very short bio there. So yes, nice try spammers, but you’re going to have to do better than that.

On a completely unrelated note, I may or may not have announced that one of my stories, “Relevant Information From the Tel Najmah Site”, will appear in the In Situ Anthology. I am extremely excited about this and will keep all of you updated on that. Thanks to everyone who wished me well already.

Well, I must be off. I have friends to annoy, dart gun fights to visit, and terror to instill into the hearts of freshmen. It’s going to be a wonderful evening.

Comments are greatly appreciated. It makes me think I’m not just talking to myself and the spammers.

Monday Night Movie (aka-Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter)

I want to say straight out to all of you that I had a hard time making up my mind about this movie. Is it good? Is it bad? After thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that it is a bad movie, but that I enjoyed it. It was also going too fast for me to make al the commentary that I wanted to on it. So I’ll give you some bits and pieces as coherently as I can.

Okay..this movie is worth watching for the opening credits alone. They’re hilarious to read if you know the Bible. And then we enter weirdness. With Rasputin. You might not realize it at first, but you will soon. That’s him.

Fairly soon after we get away from the psychotic Russian we find a vampire metaphorically raping a nurse. And then she asks the best question of the movie: “Where have all our lesbians gone?” Cut to the next scene and we have a priest. And he’s going to find another priest. Okay..punk rocker with a priest collar? Kind of scary. And when offered lemonade by Jesus he says: “I thirst for nothing but justice.” Seriously, Jesus just offered you lemonade, why the heck did you refuse?!

Moving right along we get some exposition. And apparently the Father’s kingdom out of sand. Exposition end, begin fight scene. Jesus instructs the priests to bless the water, and then ignores them while they get drained by the vampire chicks he’s supposed to be fighting. My commentary on Jesus’s actions: you not going to help your priests. You just let them die. And stole their bike. So that you can have a makeover. And then he starts singing and picks up random crowds along the way. Now he’s running along committing both random miracles, and just random crap. He even raised a murder victim. So why couldn’t he raise the two priests?!

And now Jesus is buying wood to make his own stakes. Or wait! Fight scene! To techno! You can apparently fit eight people into a car..no wait, make that eleven. Four more..is there some kind of a portal in that car?! Six more just got out! Three more and a martial arts type person? Face palm by the martial artist at the others’ failure. And he just broke the girl’s back. He’s now climbing over a pile of bodies to get his wood for stakes. And Jesus levels up.

Jesus wears Reebok and striped socks. There’s a long scene of him walking back to the place where he’s staying. There’s another fight scene which leads to him getting jumped and straddled by Mary Magnum. Let me cough at both the reference and the entendre. After she straddles him she takes him randomly to a sweat lodge. Yes, there is PLENTY of entendre there. She then decides Jesus needs yet another makeover.

Clothing montage? Oh gods, those are horrible outfits. Oh, Jesus just pulled Mary into a dressing room stall! Okay, now they’re following the vampire to the hospital. Extended view of Mary crawling around in a cat suit. And ew! They’re cutting off people’s skin so that they can go outside. Jesus and Mary follow the vamps for another fight scene! Er, except they’re not doing too well. And Mary totally seems to be into the vampire chick.

Jesus just fucked up. Mary is dead. He gets saved by a transvestite hooker (after a priest and a cop refuse to help him). And then God talks to him through a bowl of ice cream, and he eats the eye. I’m starting to think this is an acid trip. Er..who the heck is that in a silver mask? Luchedore? Two random ass grabs as they get into the car and lots of paparazzi. And then we cut to a scene of stuffing dead lesbians into junkyard cars (said lesbians are revealed to be blowup dolls in the credits). And now we’re in a club watching a snaggle toothed blind guy try to sing. Jesus is now trying to sing, except he just realized the entire club is filled with vampires! Holy crap the movie is worth watching, if only for seeing how many different and creative ways there are to stake/kill a vampire. We’re talking blessing beer here, then spitting it at a vampire. So yes.

Okay, Mary is back for another fight scene, and she’s a vampire. Cool, I did suspect she went both way.

And now Jesus is in two places at once. He’s in a junk yard where people are trying to tear him apart with cars; he’s also in the hospital fighting the vampire cutting off people’s skin. Intestine chucks are kind of nasty, by the way. The villain is fighting with the insides of a dead woman. Yeah.

And Jesus just got staked. Crucifixion jokes ensue. Jesus now has a flashlight of holiness in his chest. It apparently dusts evil vampires and heals non-evil vampires. Jesus also can bring dead lesbians back from the dead, because he wants Mary to be happy. Yeah, this Jesus is what Christianity should be (in my opinion). You’d have to listen to the teachings at the end to know why.

Rasputin! What the hell is Rasputin doing in this movie?! Yeah, this is like his third or fourth appearance. Just ignore what he’s saying (it makes no real sense) and make fun of the way he looks.

And the last scene of the bloopers is the transvestite hooker going down on Jesus.

Remember, even bad movies can have a good moral to them.

Comments are appreciated.

One Week (aka-I’ve been slacking off)

I realized today (yes, very, very early today in the wee hours of the morning) that I have one week left. Yes, one week and I ship off again for Williamsburg. My last semester is at hand. And I’m Not Ready. I have far more to do than I wanted to at this point. No, at this point I remember saying that I wanted to be submitting stories to markets. I’m sure you can tell I’m not. I have a mile long To-Do list (Oh, this isn’t so long, my mother says, looking at it. No, it’s not that long, but some of those items are going to take half a day or more. And I don’t have enough half days left!). Edits have been pushed to the back burner. Again. Instead I’m going to be doing my darndest to finish the first rough draft of The Place of the Canter (TPotC). That poor story has been neglected. Actually all my poor stories have been neglected. I do have a good reason. A very good reason. One that I’m not ready to share with my general reading audience yet as it’s still very new to me. That doesn’t excuse me to my poor stories, though.

So, since I seem to be so fired up, what did I do today? Well first I washed my hair. I hope you all remember that my hair is long, thick, has a mind of it’s own (as well as a name), and did I mention it was long? Yes, it takes an hour to wash my hair, but it feels so good now that it’s clean (and it’s so soft)! After that I started lunch-tomato soup. We have enough tomato soup to stock us through the apocalypse. Or perhaps to cause the apocalypse (tried this joke earlier on Dad and didn’t get much of a reaction). I also started writing down my inner monologue. Hopefully it will be useful for blog writing. Now I just need to get my voice recorder working so I don’t have a trillion little scraps of paper lying around where I can’t find them when I need them (the soup joke was from one such scrap that I did manage to somehow keep track of). While the soup was heating I started to write my thank you notes from Christmas. Luckily I didn’t have that many, and they have all now been written.

What other riveting adventures have I had today? You must be asking with rapt attention. The rest of my day was spent making a plushie. Well, technically two plushies. No, no, it’s not for me. Stop giving me that look! One of my friends asked for a Hojo plushie for Christmas (think FF7. She has a habit of wanting to give the bad guys hugs and make them not so evil). It’s a little late (Little?!) but he’s uber cute. That makes up for it, right? Well, if it doesn’t then the Sepheroth mini plushie (that is in my opinion even cuter) has to! Plushies take a long time, though. I finished the mini-plushie near 3am (I wanted to be in bed around 2am if that gives you any clue). And here I am, writing a blog when I’d rather be sleeping. I’m probably going to carry a cup of soda and my notebook upstairs to see if I can’t get in some quality time with TPotC.

Remember, Dad’s aren’t good judges of jokes. Just look at the ones THEY tell after all!