Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Twilight Ninja and Noble Girl

Promised pictures of the real Twilight Nija so here she is (and her big sister, too.) Mom sewed on Noble Girl's costume for about twenty-four hours straight.

Both ventured out into the night and scored beaucoup de candy.

Halloween Pumpkin Blogging

Rachael, the bright center of my small universe, is in her first year as an Art major at the University of Texas.

Explaining the image to the right, in her own words:

In my three-dimensional foundations course we had a day off near to Halloween. Our teacher brought in candy, a projector and pumpkins. The candy was delicious and we watched Clue and Edward Scissorhands through the projector. With the pumpkins we weren’t really getting a grade, it was a just for fun deal. Our teacher thought it would be nice, and it was.

Our first project in the class had used bailing wire. I didn’t like it. The wire tended to cut the crap out of me as I tried to bend it into shape. There was still some wire about from that project and I decided to use it on my pumpkin.

I liked they way it turned out. My teacher said she thought it was good and scary and told me it would not be very good to have near children. I agree, but more importantly than children, I sure as hell wouldn’t want a bad trip near that thing.

Yes, I hope that you are not currently tripping so that you will like my pumpkin.

Incidentally, here's a net meme that will soon become ubiquitous: Rachael is Awesome.

Tuesday: Fear-It's Everywhere!

My older daughter, here referred to as Sarcasm Girl (hey, she's sixteen) has a serious acting jones. She's wanted to be an actress since she saw her first Broadway show at age 4, which means that, like everything else, it's probably all my fault. The kid has talent, and is willing to work for what she wants, so we've tried to support her aspirations without mentioning too often that acting is a worse way to make a living than writing, for crissakes. All this led to me sitting in a hotel ballroom on Sunday morning, listening to a presentation about a school of modeling and acting. Since a lot of the kids at the workshop were not, um, runway material, the presentation to the parents focused on other benefits the program offers: grooming and etiquette training, ability to speak before others, poise, heightened self-esteem. And this last was clearly what they were selling. And why?

Because the number one fear of parents of teenagers is drugs, right? And it's easier to sell almost anything (say, a war in the middle east, or opposition to universal marriage rights) if its going to address a specific fear. So while the kids were in the other room learning to slouch and turn on the runway, we heard numbing statistics about how many thirteen year olds have tried sniffing glue. Only heightened self-esteem can combat the scourge of teen drug use!!!

There's always been a certain amount of anxiety to marketing: if you don't use this deodorant, people will scowl at you in elevators; if you don't keep your floors clean your neighbors will point and laugh. I was just startled at how shrill the approach was, coming from an organization which basically promises to instruct one in the use of eyeliner.

Ghost Writing (hey, it's Halloween)

While taking Older Daughter to school this morning, I heard an NPR Morning Edition commnetary by "recovering" ghost writer and Adjunct Instructor of Journalism, . She talks about the glory-that-is-not ghost writing. (She was the Ghost behind Hillary Clinton's It Takes A Village.)

The most interesting bit I found was when she discusses finding a press clipping telling that "a well-known actress had actually written her autobiography without the aid of a ghost writer" and wonders "what does it say about our culture that we take note when people really are the authors of the books that bear their names." Listen here.

She also wrote a lovely article about ghost writing (in which she discusses the It Takes A Village project) here.

In it she quotes from a 1997 New York Times piece: "On any given week, up to a half of any nonfiction best-seller list is written by someone other than the name on the book. Add those authors who feel enough latent uneasiness to bury the writer's name in the acknowledgments and the percentage, according to one agent, reaches as high as 80."

Monday, October 30, 2006

We Will, We Will, Clothe You.

Daughter the Second (I can't call her Young Girl or Sarcasm Girl though both would fit sometimes) is going to be a Twilight Ninja for Halloween and I certainly plan on posting pics but first I had to go refresh my memory on how to turn a solid color tee-shirt into a ninja mask. (It's all over the net--I think I first saw a how-to page on it on the grimy and gritty 20th century internet, not the squeeky clean, fast collection of tubes of the present century. I found multiple examples just by using "The Google" to search on "t-shirt ninja mask."

The gray version, shown here by our charming model in his secret fortress of solitude, makes him look a little bit like an Islamic terrorist (if it weren't for the blue eyes.) Despite an urge to film ultimatums and perhaps do a few "Ask A Ninja" videos, I assure you he is harmless.

We will definitely be posting the "real" twilight ninja photos tomorrow. Her big sister is going as a Tudor Princess. Laura has been sewing all day and she will be sewing All Night Long.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Wonder of Chemistry

In case you were wondering how that phone in Rory's post got melted, perhaps it was something like this.

Cutting the Cord

Hello, my colleagues in the abuse of technology. I'll do some introductory blogging later about the wonder that is me, but let's jump right in today to hatin' on the phone company, killing old paradigms, and maybe saving three or four hundred dollars a year.

If you've got a cell phone and/or use Skype, Vonage, SunRocket, or one of the other VOIP providers, it's officially time to cut the cord, guys.

They're so embarrassed about it that they haven't told anyone, but Verizon is rolling out 'Naked DSL'.

Maybe they're afraid that the FCC might think they're showing their nipples.

(Click here for rest)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Remembering John M. Ford

We lost Mike Ford last month, a fact that has been all over SF and Fantasy world both on and off the net. I used to run into him at the Nielsen Hayden's, when we lived in New York, and Mike was visiting from Minneapolis. (He used to live in New York, also, but moved away the year we arrived.) Yesterday they held a memorial in Minneapolis. I wanted very badly to go, but couldn't really justify the expense. I learned over on Making Light, though, that they'd covered the memorial in The Pioneer Press and I was happy to get a glimpse of what went on.

photo from Wikipedia

Update: After initially letting me in, The Pioneer Press piece is now requiring (free) registration. Maybe it will let you guys in once without doing that. Annoying. If it does let you in, you might want to grab a copy. Meanwhile this report of the London memorial is not behind any walls.

Update the 2nd: Pegg Kerr (author of The Wild Swans and Emerald House Rising) wrote this lovely account of the memorial and the wake.

Friday, October 27, 2006

To This Spattered Webpage Go!

OK, OK -- (1) I did my Friday post; and (2) this has already made the rounds once. But it's fun. So, go apply some mousepaint.

Weird Tech Friday: Brainjack Breakthrough

I found this cool bit of news while browsing today. Researchers have found a DNA switch that can interface with silicon. This is a significant breakthrough in bio-nanotech. The singularity is just around the corner.

So, I'm curious. How many people would get a brainjack, if they could? Me, not so much. Not until they've released Mozilla LightningBug thought browser version 2.0, and gotten all the bugs shaken out of Norton Brain Utility...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Madness Reigns! (Mad Robins, that is.)

Madeleine Robins, Fantasy and Historical Mystery author extraordinaire, mother of Sarcasm Girl and Emphatic Girl (who must be called "Young Girl" instead in her presence, because "I am not emphatic!"), is joining us here. She writes of the adventures of SG, EG, the amazing Danny, and the new puppy, Emily, in her Live Journal, Running Air. She is also one of the many insightful contributors to Deep Genre (Writing and Reading. Commerce and Art. Fantasy and Reality. Science Fiction and the Mundane. Discuss.)

I've known her since the late eighties and then better after I married Laura. Mad and Laura (and others) went to Clarion together. When we lived in New York they still lived there, too, and I remember being taken up to their west side apartment ("Oh, just for lunch," said Laura) one February. It was the new apartment and Danny showed me the kitchen and the living room and the dining room filled with eerily silent people. (Surprise! Happy Birthday!)

I'll get even, I thought, I'll make her come blog here.

I re-read Mad's work regularly, but am missing some of it. If anyone has a copy of Lady John or My Dear Jenny, let me know.

Check out this odd incident.

Virtuous and Civic

I voted early (I'll just be getting back from World Fantasy when actual voting day comes around) and I'm feeling all virtuous and civic and nervous. This won't be the first election that people head into thinking that it's a likely win for the Dems.

[By the way, just so there's no doubt, I'm a liberal, socialist- leaning, tree- hugging, in- favor- of- Gay- Marriage, pro- privacy, pro- choice, anti- torture, separation-of- Church-and- State Democrat. Clear on that? And I favor Net Neutrality, too.]

I hope we've got our act together this time. I point you to an essay written by Caroline Spector in 2002 that is just as true when she wrote it as it is now.

"One of the things that make the Democratic Party great is also its weakness – our diversity. Unlike the Hard Right -- who have hijacked the Republican Party with The Agenda That Must be Obeyed -- we Democrats fight amongst ourselves about damn near everything. I think this is great, but it also causes us to lose our focus just when we need it most.

We don’t keep our eyes on the prize."

photo from basetree via SFist

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Rory Harper joins Eat Our Brains

Guitar Hero, digital music maven, and writer Rory Harper (author of Petrogypsies and numerous short stories) said, "Yeah, I guess I can come up with at least one post a week if you won't publish the pictures."

Rory is Family (the kind you get to choose) and I couldn't be more delighted he's joining us.

(Help me clean up before he gets here.)
(picture from Bradley Denton's site: at a Two-Headed Baby gig.)

So, Rory and I were each published for the first time in 1980 (him in March in Asimov's and me in September in Analog). But we met each other at a convention in Houston after each of us had sold but before the works themselves had come out. We were at the same stage in our career--first sale, not in print, not eligible for active membership in SFWA yet. Larval writers.

So, he's beat me into print by five months but I got my revenge in 1985. A story I'd pubbed in '84 called "Rory" (about a savant with Down's Syndrome) was shortlisted for the Hugo. People kept coming up to him and saying, "Hey, I hear your name's on the Hugo Ballot."

In return he said to me, "Ah, well, you peaked early."

Giant insects might reign if only there was more oxygen in the air

From Eurekalert: "The Paleozoic period, about 300 million years ago, was a time of huge and abundant plant life and rather large insects -- dragonflies had two-and-a-half-foot wing spans, for example. The air's oxygen content was 35% during this period, compared to the 21% we breathe now, Kaiser said. Researchers have speculated that the higher oxygen concentration allowed insects to grow much bigger."

Wow! 35% oxygen? Imagine the lift to your step! Imagine the forest fires!

Guess it's not atomic radiation after all. Link

Update 10/25 9:08 am: Just heard them cover this on NPR's "Living On Earth."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Gaining Momentum and Members: Introducing Morgan J. Locke

So, I've known Morgan for almost twenty years, ever since we met in a party suite at a Phoenix NASFIC. And for that length of time, I've also been pushing Morgan to write more. A work-a-holic engineer, Morgan was always too busy, too swamped by the demands of the job, to do something with the fire-hose of ideas I'd get in conversations and emails, but recent changes in Morgan's employment situation have finally changed that. Tor will be publishing a kick-ass novel sometime in the next two years (I'm indefinite because Tor bought it before it was finished).

I say kick-ass because I have read it and I've been chomping at the bit for the end ever since the point where I turned over the last page and said, "What? Where's the rest, dammit?"

Asteroids, Nanotech, Artificial Intelligence, and the Martian Mafia. Dammit.

Welcome, Morgan, and if you don't want me to use that photo, you better get me an acceptable one soon!

Well, our brain trust now has two of the five or six I had in mind. Have to talk to some of the others at World Fantasy Convention, the first weekend in November. I'll be attending though I won't be on any programming. They did offer me a reading (which I declined) but apparently I'm too SF (or too obscure) to be on a panel.

Still, this gives me lots of time to talk to folks, my main reason for going.

Now if I had to fly, I would think thrice, but I can drive one of our hybrids (46 mpg) for a lot cheaper and with less chance of body-cavity searches.

My hybrid also doesn't care if I bring water, gels, or my multi-bladed Leatherman aboard.

Laura is currently waffling on whether or not she'll be able to go. She has some work to do in Storytron before that week (and a trip as well.)

Update 10/25 7:35 am: As noted in the comments, Laura won't be attending WFC. She's got some deadlines and a trip.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I'm in. Thanks for the invite, Steve!