Thursday, August 25, 2005
Last night I got a call from a woman who'd found his collar in her garden. I figured when I called her back I'd find out she lived a few houses down.
"I can probably just walk down," I told Christine.
She didn't live a couple of houses down, she lived a neighborhood away. Not far as the crow flies--which is probably what he was chasing--but I had to get in my car.
That prompted a discussion with Christine about whether he should join us inside.
She doesn't really want another inside pet, but I worry about his safety.
Yeah, I needed more anxiety in my life.
Now, I'm contemplating the content I have so far and honing before continuing the narrative.
I have my main character and most of those he interacts with defined and most the plot worked out.
For the moment it's reshuffling pieces then on to new prose - the part that will probably be more fun.
Nothing profound in that, just a note for future reference.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
I arrived at these names from a careful perusal of name meanings. Other contenders included:
- Clancy (red warrior apparently)
- Fagan - he did wander up from the street but it means fiery and small
- Jabber - he talks a lot
- Shannon - means small wise one
"Those are good, but Oliver would be good too," Christine responded almost immediately. We were doing this by e-mail.
I didn't want to cave to Oliver although it seemed OK. I countered with Chester--kind of makes me think of Cheshire and is tied to Cheeto.
"That's not bad, but I still like Oliver," Christine responded. "We could call him Oliver."
"What about Rory, I wrote back. The origins are kind of cool."
"Do you want to be calling for Rory?" she wrote back. "That's kind of hard to say. But you can name him."
Back to the web
I went Bow Wow.com and poured over more name origins, seeking a perfect name. Leo kind of emerged again because he struck me as being a little lion.
I polled co-workers who liked that one and took it back to Christine.
"Isn't that a little too much like Cleo?" she asked, producing in my head one of those gameshow sound effects that says "You lose." Sadly she was right. Cleo was a little cat we had who was hit by a car.
I mulled it over a few more days and searched more sites, and contemplated names while he sat on my lap on the patio.
I'd been given naming rights, I wanted to name him. I pitched a few more which Christine shot down.
"He's little and fiery, come up with something that fits him."
"Blaze was on the list," I reminded.
"I said something that fits him, not the name of a stripper," Christine retorted.
I wasn't ready to give up. I pitched a few more names, and we agreed we actually wanted him to have a human name, something dignified since cats are dignified when they're not falling asleep on top of the television and rolling off. Or trying to lie down for the third time on top of a flat panel monitor.
The struggle continues
Sad Orange Kitty got fixed and came back from the vet - they called him Tom Cat for reference purposes.
Still no name. I tried more--Caleb, Calvin, Caesar, Dash, Fritz. Christine vetoed them although had a bit of a soft spot for Calvin. But I had to agree they weren't perfect.
More web searches, more contemplation, more investigation into European name origins especially Celtic since he's a redhead and thus makes me think he's Irish like I am descended from. Nothing seemed to work or at least get past Christine.
Of course, as it all wore on I realized I didn't really have naming rights. It was all a ploy, some clever spin on reverse psychology on Christne's part.
Oliver is starting to adjust quite well to his feeding time and his collar. I call him Ollie when he sits on my lap.
Monday, August 22, 2005
I listened over and over to Tyger, while I was writing Azarius in the wee morning hours. It seemed the appropriate background music as I wrote about angels and demons in spiritual warfare with humanity.
The haunting tones mixed with the poetry of William Blake evoke dark visions.
I owned cassettes in the eighties, so the one I listned to a million times squeaks every time it spins around to the words from Blake's London:
In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear...
It was time for an update, so I went for the whole album download since it's not a piece that lends itself to the purchase of a single track.
"Tyger" is not for every taste but it's an interesting work, excellent for late-night listening with the visualization features turned on your PC.
Book on Pod
I searched and searched for a new suspense novel I wanted but couldn't hit on anything, so I wound up getting 1776 by David McCullough. I've always been fascinated by the Revolutionary War era, and by McCullough's work.
I covered a press conference he did for Truman and was enthralled by his tales of his research. He outlined how Truman received word in his office of Pres. Franklin Roosevelt's death and how he ran from his office to the oval office.
Believing it important to retrace those steps in order to understand what must have been going through Truman's mind as the enormous responsibility settled over him, McCullough arranged to run with a couple of security officers through the hallways of the White House. His recounting of the experience was hillarious.
Part of his point was that to understand people you must understand their times, and to understand times you must understand people.
From what I've listened to so far of 1776, he does just that, beginning with a fascinating portrayal of King George.
Guess I'll be busy with that for about 10 hours.
R.S. 500 Progress: 43 songs
Sunday, August 21, 2005
I'm driving back from the movies when I notice an excessive amount of trash strewn against the curb on the well-travelled thoroughfare a short distance from my home.
It looks like an entire trash bag has been opened, or either quite a bit has been tossed from passing windows in a short time.
Disturbed by the mess, I decide to do my civic duty. I pull around the corner and park. Then I walk back to the mess and start to pick it up. Cars whisk past me. One guy honks and shakes a fist.
I grab some crumpled beer cans and use discarded newspaper to form a container that will hold the litter.
More cars pass, some swerving. A couple of kids in a pickup flip me off.
Ignoring it all, I continue scraping up the mess. I'm so diligent I become more focused on what I'm doing and less on the traffic.
The Logo on the Grill
Suddenly I hear the squeal of breaks and that awful shriek of rubber on pavement. I look up just in time to see the grill of an SUV sliding forward. It's shiny silver with the manufacturer's logo centered.
In an instant, before I can leap away, the logo brands my flesh and hurls me into the air, and it's:
Friday, August 19, 2005
1. Britney Spears, Kevin etc.
3. Paris Hilton
4. Big Brother 6
5. Prime time on the news channels - are all the shows all alike or what?
OK, six - sites that don't work in Firefox suck.
5 Things That Are Cool
1. The Cowbell Project - Once I complete my iPod playlist of the Rolling Stones 500 Best Songs Playlist (sometime around 2525, you know if anti-aging research yields results) - the cowbell tune list is next.
2. Flickr's Interestingness Last 24 Hours Page - it's artistry at its most inspirational.
3. Speaking of Flickr: The Sinking City Set.
4. css Zen Garden - Web design that seems like magic.
5. Red Eye - Love Wes Craven's work.
Alright, actually six: Battlestar Gallatica and the podcasts.
Oh, and one more - Frank DeFord, who'll happily be featured in "You Write Better Than You Play: The Frank DeFord Story" on ESPN 2 Monday night.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
When I mentioned the Miss Daisy mystery story the other day, it reminded me of another sustained idea I had that never played out. Sometimes publisher decisions more than creative issues seal the fate of a project.
Danube: From spy to demon hunter
I was in high school when I first created the character named Danube, who is ultimately the hero my novel Gnelfs (G is silent). I read Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine a lot in those days, and Danube was a spy operating behind the iron curtain, dressed in a black coat and a fur hat. In stories I wrote in English class, he sneaked around Berlin streets protecting scientists from Russian agents or something like that.
By the time I was ready to write Gnelfs, he'd changed into a demon hunter. The idea from Gnelfs came from a talk show where someone warned of the dangers of demonic symbols in cartoons. What if there were symbols put into Saturday morning cartoons unintentionally by artists simply copying old runes? Symbols that could be exploited by those aspiring to evil ends?
The Gnelfs in my story were demons who took on the forms of cartoon characters with a much more nasty look and style. They were worthy of a demon hunter/occult detective, but I wanted Danube to be a little different. He kept the black coat but wore a priest's garb yet had the ability to cast a spell or two and had some other tricks up his sleeve.
One of my friends at the time kept after me to tell him who Danube really was because the book only hints at it. The notion was that Danube's true identity would emerge over a series of novels, but there were hints about his origins.
Clues and answers
He had red hair, and he had nightmares which involved falling silver coins, and he confessed: "My father betrayed a friend once."
Legend or Renaissance art suggests that Judas had red hair, and I picked up somewhere that a part of the curse upon him was that his children would be vagabonds (You know I may be wrong on that point. In retrospect that may have been Cain's children. I'll have to check the Bible on that. (8/23)
He betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
Not the most clever masking I suppose, but I was young and pumped about getting to write books at all.
My publisher at the time had other ideas about what I should write - a series of young adult novels and a couple of other books with young protagonists. I just never got around to finding another adventure for Danube and chose not to drop into comic books because I didn't want to turn him over to a comics publisher.
I don't really regret that I didn't get around to a second Danube tale. I could have written short stories about him, but I moved on to other things.
Maybe I'll resurrect him one of these days, though, so keep his secret under your hat.
Monday, August 15, 2005
I love song lyrics that have enough meaning that they warrant further exploration, and "Walking in Memphis" certainly does that with references to W.C. Handy, blue suede shows and Beale street. It's a song I've always liked. Once upon a time I owned it, but I lost it in one computer crash or another - so it was time to put it on the 'pod.
I realized as we discussed the various references, that I was unsure about the whole Muriel verse. I wound up checking the web for clarification, and happily that's explained in the FAQ on markcohn.org.
I love finding the stories behind lyrics as much as re-examining lyrics. (Some songs you're not meant to understand, I suppose. I also spent a little time humming Waltzing Matilda over the weekend also because it's woven into the soundtrack of On the Beach which I'd DVR'd.) The Muriel references is a great story behind a song.
I think I'll have "Walking in Memphis" at the top of my "On the Go" playlist for a while.
Now if only iTunes would get "Fine, Fine Day" by Tony Carey.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Miss Daisy and the earbuds
I wrote a story about my cat, Miss Daisy, for Crafty Cat Crimes, an anthology of 100 cat mysteries, in which she solved a mystery along with a fictionalized version of Christine and myself. That was called "Miss Daisy and the Rosary Pea." (As an interesting aside I wrote it in my hotel room the last time I was a guest at CoastCon. That was many ages ago.) The plan, even though I didn't pursue it, was to have her involved in a number of cat/horticulture mysteries. The rosary pea was just supposed to be one of many poisonous plants she'd encounter.
Besides the shameless plug, I mention all that because Miss Daisy actually created a brief mystery not long after I got the sidPod for Christmas. I listened to it before bedtime one night then just rolled over and tucked it under the edge of the bed rather than getting up to put it in a drawer.
The next morning the earbuds trailed across the carpet like the eviscerated innards of a mouse, and the iPod was tugged from its hiding place.
The pod was undamaged and happily the earbuds and their cord were fine, but the little black fuzzy thingy covers for the buds were missing.
The usual suspects
Immediately there were two suspects, well three but I never really considered Christine. Those I liked most for the crime were:
1. Monty - my tomcat who has a criminal history. He was released from the pound into Christine's custody after his picture appeared in a local newspaper. He immediately viewed it as being released on his own recognizance.
2. Daisy - the good cat, who has a brief criminal history, but it was really a misunderstanding. When she was a kitten of about 10 ounces she strayed with her brother-Cleo- into a neighbor's yard while I was at work. Considerate human being that she was, the woman waited about 2 seconds to call the pound and have two tiny kittens picked up. The pound only charged me half the bail because Daisy and her brother were so tiny and defenseless they kept them in one cage.
Anyway, Monty with his roguish background, seemed a likely candidate, just as he did when we had gas logs installed and someone dug in the fake gravel in the fireplace. He was cleared when Miss Daisy strolled into the room with soot all over her face.
The case remained unsolved for a while. I put the second set of fuzzy black thingys on the buds and moved on with life, making sure the pod was stored before bedtime each night. Then one day I came home from the gym and put the pod on the dresser, a tall dresser usually only accessed by the cats if they suspect the Pounce container is up there even though their lack of opposing thumbs usually thwarts their efforts if they manage to steal the container.
I came home, plopped the pod on the dresser and proceeded to take a shower until Christine's shout drew me from the bathroom. Christine frequently prefers to shout and draw my attention to situations rather than deal with them directly, I guess because she believes they somehow have illustrative value.
When I strolled back into the bedroom I discovered:
Exhibit A: The iPod on the floor.
Exhibit B: The earbud cord trailed across the carpet like the eviscerated innards of a mouse.
Exhibit C: The black thingys were missing.
Exhibit D: Miss Daisy stood over the whole scene burping.
After Christine's lecture about taking better care of my toys she berated me for being outsmarted by the cat. I could only answer: "She hardly ever jumps up there any more."
I bought some more little black thingys from a helpful gentleman at Radio Shack. They really do have everything there except a replacement remote control for my old Robie Sr.
Since then Daisy has outwitted me a few more times. She continues her pursuit of eating little black fuzzy thingys every time my guard is down.
She's eaten them from a bowl on the coffee table and from a hiding place under the coffee table and a couple of other spots that escape. She has the uncanny ability to stay on point while I focus on other matters.
The problem I mentioned? My cat eats my iPod's black fuzzy thingys. Currently I'm without black fuzzy thingys on my earbuds and Miss Daisy has a little less fiber in her diet. Moral to this story? Even your good cat will eat the black thingys off your iPod I suppose.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
My cat, Miss Daisy, feuds with my next door neighbor's cat, who we call Gray Kitty. She's a younger, trimmer female so it seems reasonable Miss Daisy who's a tad on the fluffy side doesn't really like her around.
Of late we've been seeing a little orange cat. He's thinner than the time he first passed through the yard, so I've decided he must be abandoned. I fed him all the cat food my co-worker gave me after her cats made it clear they would starve rather than eat it.
Then I started him on a diet of my cats' food. They've been turning their noses up on it since a stay at the vet introduced them to finer cuisine.
Sad Orange Kitty has decided he doesn't have to polish off everything I give him in one sitting now. He was devouring it in a starved gobble. I guess not knowing where your next meal is coming from prompts that, even if it's food other cats would rather starve than eat.
This morning when I got up to brew the java of the gods, I noticed something furry on the patio, but it was darker fur than Sad Orange Kitty's. My first thought was that B.B. had made a long night of it.
Then I realized the hind legs I was looking at weren't quite catlike, especially as they began to extend a little.
A few seconds later a raccoon was staring into my kitchen. He decided to flee as soon as our eyes met, and I found it a little freaky. Christine, who was still dozing, said my exact words were: "Jesus Christ, Christine, there's a raccoon on the patio."
A raccoon shouldn't have come as much of a surprise, we have frequent rabbits, and periodically an opossum used to show up to sample some bird trail mix Christine put out, and there are crows who sail over as well.
I guess all of them had the run of the place before developers carved our neighborhood out of the forest.
Perhaps my early morning visitor feels I encroached on his back yard more than he has encroached on mine. I hold the deed, but he's a native on this land, and to him I'm sure Sad Orange Kitty's leftovers were very tasty.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
"That's a beautiful song," Christine said when it aired earlier.
"Yeah, but it's kind of sad," I said. "Maria and Tony didn't really arrive at a time or place for themselves, unless it was in the after life."
"It's still a beautiful song," Christine said.
I conceded that point. It is a beautiful song, all about optimism and putting differences aside, although the argument could be made that it's not a particularly good argument in favor of optimism. For all the "look on the sunny side" spirt, things don't turn out that well in the end, destined as Tony and Maria are to repeat Romeo and Juliett's history.
I'm more an optimist than I sometimes like to admit, though always with a touch of cynicism. Sure you get a bigger soda than you used to at fast food establishments now, but the down side, as Morgan Spurlock might note, is you get a bigger soda at fast food establishments now.
I guess I'll give Christine Somewhere and I'll hum Always Look on the Bright Side from Monty Python's Life of Bryan.
Monday, August 08, 2005
John Prine online
I don't have anything new from John Prine on the 'pod, just the tunes from Prime Prine that I got for Christmas several years ago. I discovered his work listening to NPR on a drive along Louisiana's I-49 once upon a time. I mention all that because a friend sent me some artwork he'd discovered on the Library of Congress website which prompted me to go there and discover they have a lot of stuff!
For example there's a webcast featuring John Prine and poet Ted Kooser. There's also a history of barbecue to watch as well. I might just since I've kind of become peripherally hooked on The Secret Life of... on Food Network. By peripherally hooked, I mean I listen to it out of the corner of my ear if it's on.
Maybe if the rumored video iPods come along, I can snag some LOC content for mobile viewing.
No progress on the RS 500 this week.
Saturday, August 06, 2005
It's not so much the pre-movie ads for me, however. It's inertia in my free time. Ticket and DVD sales are really based on how big a hurry you're in to see a movie. Lately I'm more patient. Often before a movie works its way to the top of my Netflix queue it's already on Encore.
There are more and more flicks I'm willing to wait on these days.
Fantastic Voyage to the Core
I was telling my buddy, Robert, the other day that even if I don't have release date information, I can tell I'm watching an off-season movie -- one of those modestly-budgeted flicks for release between January and Memorial Day or in the fall. There's something to be said for a script that has to rely on character and situations rather than pyrotechnics to generate suspense, but for every Memento and Panic Room there's a Domestic Disturbance or a Godsend or The Forgotten.
A lot of weaker movies are churned out these days to keep product on the market and stars in the spotlight. Even really big stars don't mean a movie you can count on any more, and this whole German financing deal means there's no gurantee big, high-concept movies are going to be any good either. (Once upon a time you could tell studios made sure big money movies were watchable if not built to be critically revered. I had this realization watching Starman back in the day.)
What's kept me out of the theater lately? I've noted before when I was a kid Homer Formby was all you got on Sunday afternoon. Now it seems every movie ever made is available at some point during the week if you have the right channel package. Last Sunday I caught The Core, which I thought was a pretty good "blockbuster."
Yesterday afternoon it was Fantastic Voyage - letterboxed and spanking of "1966 prestige release."
I did get out for the new Batman Begins and for The Island, but I have plenty of reasons to stay home - like 80 hours worth on my DVR. Well, a little less since some of those are HGTV shows Christine selected.
What's the answer for movies? Bring back roadshow pictures.
Hollywood's Death Spiral
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Take the Star Trek Quiz
I'm foremost a Star Trek TOS fan. I can't name every episode today like I once could, but I still get excited when Capt. Kirk outwits his adversaries using those snatch-things-from-the-mouth-of- disaster tactics.
One of my favorites is "The Deadly Years." (I looked it up, OK?) Knowing the Romulans have broken a Star Fleet code, he sends a message in that code (It's Code 3, I do remember that) because he wants them to hear the message and react. When they pull back based on his annoucement that he's going to make the quandrant unsafe for the next four solar years, he seizes that opportunity to warp the Enterprise out of danger. Cool, eh?
I like in Star Trek III when he's warned he'll have to give up his precious captain's chair if he persists in attempting to reunite Spock's spirt with his body against Star Fleet Orders. He doesn't hesitate, he says: "Warp speed, Mr. Sulu." When I discuss that part, Christine always says: "And then you wept?"
Despite my appreciation for Capt. Kirk's brashness, my score on the Star Trek Quiz shows my personality more closely aligns with Capt. Picard's.
Christine said that shouldn't come as a surprise, noting that I'm quiet and thoughtful and a fan of old detective stories as well. I guess Capt. Picard is a good personality score, and I have always admired his ability to achive goals within the confines of the Prime Directive, the Federation's first-do-no-harm rule.
Loved the one when he made contact with the guy who spoke in myths and metaphors and told him the Epic of Gilgamesh
I hope I'm worthy of the Picard banner they give you when you've finished the quiz. At the very least it's something to which I can aspire.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
I swear at people in traffic – not just the mild expletive here or there. I provide colorful narratives about other drivers that include genealogical references, lifestyle suggestions and even commentary on flaws that they should have surgically corrected.
It’s lost advice since they’re never able to hear it, yet I find it cathartic. I should point out,
I don’t swear at the random motorist. I swear at those who commit grievous offenses against me.
You know who I’m talking about. They’re the ones:
- Puttering along slowly with a cell phone welded to one ear while you’re waiting to pull out.
- Stopping halfway through a yellow light to dial a cell phone.
- Slowing to 2 mph then turning abruptly without signaling.
- Making random U-turns in front of you after pretending they’re making a left.
- Deciding while stopped in traffic to throw their car in reverse and back toward you.
All of these things have happened to me lately. Watching a Jesus fish hurl toward you above a set of blazing reverse lights really awakens your sense of mortality.
Christine hates it when I take these people to task. I don’t think she fully appreciates the release it brings. I believe creative use of language within the confines of your own car is a real pressure valve. Used appropriate it can help quell road rage. Maybe along with GPS systems, cars should come equipped with an electronic version of the Dictionary of American Slang.
Anyone who says use of blue language shows a lack of creative expression clearly has a limited vocabulary and should get out more. Clearly they did not read the Dictionary of American Slang in the school library on lunch breaks in high school, either. By getting out more, armchair William Safires, while driving around would experience bad drivers who illustrate the need for expletives. They might also hear a few words that would improve their vocabularies and help them better understand just how creative language can be. Bad words like all words are tools and can be utilized in effective ways.
I actually have a strong family history of swearing in traffic. My father, who was a sailor after all, did some of his best work on Southern interstates. His admonitions against a driver who would not yield right of way in
I actually have a strong family history of swearing in traffic. My father, who was a sailor after all, did some of his best work on Southern interstates. His admonitions against a driver who would not yield right of way in
Apparently driving a truck on a railroad track does not set off the crossing lights like a train does. And a truck lacks the lonesome whistle immortalized by Boxcar Willie, so I’m not sure how I was supposed to know he was coming.
Monday, August 01, 2005
It was the song that struck me the most at their Seattle concert. Its vivid, haunting imagry seemed to drift out on the breezes from Lake Union. I assumed then it was a more recent song with its mention of soldiers sent to distant places, but it dates back to 2002. Listening now, it seems perhaps more relevant.
Somehow the tune also evokes a memory of Billy Joel's "Goodnight Saigon."
Both are good songs as starting points for contemplation today.
Also on the 'pod
I've finished the first part of The Traveler.
Scott Brick's growing on me again. I've listened to him reading this tale long enough now that I've stopped recalling Company Man's characters with each inflection.
It's an interesting parable about privacy protections, peppered with action and Highlander-style myth. Only eight more hours to go on that one. I try to listen to novels mainly when I work out. Passes time on the treadmill a little easier.
Building a Playlist
Since the release of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time I've been sifting through my CDs, working on a playlist of those tunes.
The fact that Christine and I bought The Rolling Stone Collection after an infomercial a few years ago has helped a lot. Being Simon and Garfunkle fans has helped also.
So far my RS 500 playlist is: 39 songs long