Monthly Archives: September 2011

Socially Gifted

I’m about to blaspheme, so those of you who are of a sensitive nature may want to skip to the next paragraph. There are some questions that Google can’t answer. Sure, if you need to know how is babby formed or things Mil Millington and his girlfiend have argued about, you’re good, no need to worry.

Some questions that an author must research go so far outside what everyday people have to deal with, things for which a simple web search isn’t enough. For these things, I like to use… wait for it… Facebook.

Just think about it. Despite my crippling awkwardness and anti-social behavior, there are literally dozens of people who have nominally agreed to be my friend.They come from all walks of life, from the criminally insane indigents to the reasonably respectable.

Just in my small circle of friends, I have rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers and Methodists!

Wait, that last bit was from Blazing Saddles. Scratch that.

So, tonight, I was looking for two pieces of information. First I wanted to know whether a sitting judge could defend someone in a criminal case. I wasn’t having any luck, and then I realized that I had a Facebook friend who is a law student. Then, I was wondering what liabilities a law officer had for damaged caused in executing a no-knock warrant. When I didn’t find anything, right away, I realized there was a reserve officer in my friends list, and I sent away message two.

Now, I know there is a chance that I might get led astray by their answers, but even if their answers aren’t 100% accurate, they are still going to be close enough for the air of plausibility.

Mollydooker Carnival of Love Shiraz 2010

Having a friend who owns a wine shop means that every once in a while, you get in on the good stuff.

If you enjoy a fruity Australian Shiraz and don’t mind spending $85 a bottle, this Mollydooker Carnival of Love is one to try. The color was absent, in that it was so completely dark, I might as well have been looking into an inkwell. In fact, you might want to drink this one under subdued lighting, as we all walked away with stained tongues and teeth. To me it tasted of boysenberry. Other people picked out blueberry and raspberry, and as Tom aptly called it, “All the IHOP syrup flavors.” Though you might expect so much fruit and sweetness to be an uncontrolled monster, there was a cohesive balance which gave in a disciplined power. There may have been some tannin, but not enough for me to worry about. The finish lingered pleasantly.

This wine is everything I like about Australian wine making. It’s bold, and unapologetic.I would rate this an “I’m not worthy.” Wine Spectator gives it a 94. I’m not arguing. Oops. Turns out that 94 is for the 2009 vintage, but Jose gives it a 95.

Also today, I learned about the dooker shake.

Anxiety

I was just prepping my submission to my writing group, my first submission in many months, and I realized I was feeling a fair bit of anxiety.

I went out on a limb with this piece. I threw some stuff on the page which wasn’t what I knew I should do, but what I wanted to do. I don’t know whether it’s good or it’s bad, but for the first time in many years, I am writing me. I am offering a view into my wicked little heart.

In the end, I think that’s what it’s all about, not just for being an artist, but for living your passion. You have to put yourself out there. You have to realize who you really are and become that person, at least in your heart.

Alan Turing

I don’t think that people expect to hear the term Computer Science and Hero in the same sentence, but if I had to choose a hero, I can think of no one better than Alan Turing.

To me, Turing is one of the great geniuses of the Twentieth Century. His list of accomplishments were long. During World War II, he was instrumental in breaking German codes, for which he received the OBE. His Turing Machine was a major step towards what we call a “computer” today. His Turing Test is still used as a benchmark in Artificial Intelligence.

However, in his own time, Turing was persecuted for he sexual preference. In 1952, after a break in at his home, police discovered that Turing was a homosexual. At the time, Homosexuality was illegal in Britain, and Turing was convicted. He spent the last two years of his life under probation and forced chemical castration, finally taking his own life in 1954, by biting into a cyanide-coated apple.

I’ve always found it tragic that, because of the bigotry of others, not only was a great man wronged, but the world was robbed of what would have been Turing’s most productive years. Many of his ambitions were limited by the technology of his time. What wonders might this man have produced had he lived to see the integrated circuit or the microprocessor? I can not help but think that had Alan Turing lived to see the latter half of the 20th century, our world would be a little bit better today.

The Alan Turing Memorial, Manchester England

Hardys Tawny Port Whiskers Blake

Whisker’s Blake throws me for a bit of a loop. Other people who review it talk about the rich chocolate, caramel, and coffee, which are there in the nose and on the tongue, but no one talks about the oak. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad thing. I know some people don’t like to taste too much oak, but when mixed with the sweetness of Whisker’s Blake, it provides an odd contrast which makes me want to pick up a bottle occasionally.

Anyway, to round out the basics, Whiskers Blake has a light ruby color. The nose is caramel. It tastes of oak, caramel, and coffee  It’s sweet without being syrupy.It finishes dry. And here, it runs about $15, not a bad price for a port. It might not be to everyone’s liking, but I would give it an 88.

Should I publish?

Blackadder: “Well, the plan is cunning in its simplicity. Tonight I ride for home -…”
Wilfred Death: “I say strike now, while the iron is hot!”
Blackadder: “But it isn’t hot.”
Wilfred: “Isn’t it?”
Blackadder: “No, it’s just warming up. But, when it is hot, we’ll strike.”
Sean the Irish Bastard: “What? Are we gonna have to wait till summer?
Blackadder: “No, no. When the iron is hot.”
Three-Fingered Pete: “What iron?”

I don’t have an answer to this one. I’m just rambling, so if you’re looking for guidance, piss off. Well, okay, that was a bit rude, but you shouldn’t keep reading if you want to learn anything of value.

Every year for the last three years, I have contacted literary agents in hopes of landing “the bid deal.” As hundreds, perhaps thousands of other writers, I have been unsuccessful.

I’m thinking sooner or later, I’m going to have to admit that I am an acquired taste. And not an acquired taste like coffee or wine, more like that stuff your grandmother put on your nails to stop you from biting them, but you kept biting them anyway, not because you particularly like it, but because you were just that stubborn. Or maybe that was just me.

Right now, I have a reasonable offer from a small press. It comes with an advance and everything, which his better than some of my other author friends have gotten. I’ve bought stuff from the small press before, and they make a good product. There will even be some minimal marketing of the book. The only problem is the amount of the advance.

Now, I know I should be flattered to get an offer on this book, as something is better than nothing, and a lot of the books out there get nothing. However, I’ve discussed the amount with an author friend who thinks I could sell to a much larger market.

I have to admit though, I’d like to go for it. I like the idea of working with an editor, and learning how to make my work better. I like the idea of being able to go to small cons and sit on author panels. I guess I’d just have to decided is a bird in the hand worth two in the bush… A parable I always thought sounded a little bit rude.

Retropop

There was a time in the recent past when it was considered completely normal  to get someone fried out of their mind on acid, surround them with children, and televise the experience.

A big thank you to Elaine Bergstrom for sharing this… whatever it is.

Time Dilation

This is just some dog. No one knows why it is here.

Times like this, I wish I took better notes.

I just started my rough chapter fourteen. My young protagonist is at school. I can’t remember what day of the week it is, and I can’t remember which class he has first.

So, now I’m going to have to go back through previous chapters and try to figure out where he needs to go next.

In a way, this kind of reminds me of those anxiety dreams I had in college. I’d wake up, and wonder why I’d registered for five classes, but I’d only been going to four. Then I would realize the final to class five was in ten minutes. I would go there, and I wouldn’t be wearing pants. I always found those dreams silly because that only happened one in real life. Okay, twice. I did alright on the finals though.

Domaine Puig Parahy Cotes du Roussillon Georges 2007

Capitalism might have its failings, but what a wonderful world we live in where a beautiful wine born in the sunny south of France, can be aged, bottled, and retailed in the heartland of America for under $15.

Georges (50% Carignan – 40% Black Grenache – 5% Mourvèdre – 5% Syrah) is grown on old vines rooted in sandy limestone. In the  The nose is smoky with a mineral tinge, like burning cedar needle. I can only describe what happens next as a roller-coaster ride. At first, the wine is velvety on the tongue, but the flavor builds in intensity to a strong, peppery tartness which rides into the finish before settling into smooth mineral. Gliding into the station, as soon as my car comes to a complete stop, I am ready to exit and get back in line.

Accidental Obsession

Okay, all day I have been obsessing about whether “on accident” could someday constitute proper usage vs. the more traditional “by accident.”

I’m not going to give the whole rundown as Grammar Girl does a pretty good job of it. Suffice to say (or Suffice it to say, or Suffices to say, egad), that age is a major determining factor.

It seems younger people like “on accident.” No one seemed to have a good answer to this other than young people like the dichotomy of “on purpose” vs. “on accident.”

While not scientific, British and Australian commenters seemed to prefer “by accident.” I wonder what Canadians use.

I like “by accident,” but then again, I’ve been told my usage of English is precise to the point pedantry and bordering on baroque. Maybe this is just the march of progress passing me by, or maybe this whole business is just something that happened on accident.