The Den of Ubiquity

Saturday, November 23, 2002:

The Faster We Go, The Less We See

Over a week this time. Just a statement, not an apology. You know my time is limited.

I'm up over 32,000 words in my novel now, and finally, last night, I think I got over the hump, and things should move faster for me from here. Last year I ended up with everybody wandering around in caves for a long time; this year, mountains. But finally we're out of the mountains and into the secret headquarters, where some of the real issues can be revealed, and maybe dealt with.

One of my minor characters, that I introduced off the cuff at about 15,000 words, has turned into a major plot point, along the lines of, say, Bothari from Shards of Honour. He started out a drunk, backwoods hick(in my mind, that is), and has turned into a man tortured and conditioned until he's lost his identity. I love it when that happens.

Oh, and I think I may finally have a better title than "Crocus". That was okay for a working title, but now I think that "Entanglement", as in quantum entanglement, has a better sound to it. It still may not be completely appropriate for the novel, but it's a step up, at least.

Once or twice I've had to actually promise myself a half-hour or so of Sims after I finish my writing. I've gotten back into that, after finally, I think, figuring out why the downtown speakers were causing it to crash. I ran "dxdiag" and turned my "Hardware Sound Acceleration Level" down to "Basic". And it's been fine ever since. I found this on the EA support site, after a bit of searching, and once I took a good look at the error messages I was getting and saw the name of my sound card in it. Anyway, I'm back into the Sims, and looking forward to December when I can devote more time to it.

What else has been going on? Well, in a nutshell(which is all I have time for): I didn't go to the funeral because nobody ended up telling me when it was(and no, I confess I didn't try to find out, either); Luke's baptism last Sunday went fine, and he was only one of three babies there as opposed to over a dozen that we had on Simon's baptism three years ago; I've finished Hunter's Death, finally, and am on to Festival Moon, one of C.J. Cherryh's "Merovingen Nights" shared-world anthologies(remember shared-world anthologies? Actually, I hear there's a new "Thieves World" book coming out); and the Grey Cup, the Canadian Football League's championship game, is going to be taking place in Edmonton on Sunday, as a result of which the Cult of Pain meeting had to be rescheduled.

This week's library CDs--

Warren Zevon:Life'll Kill Ya It is sad that Warren Zevon is dying of cancer, and this album is a fitting tribute to that. Not all of the songs are concerned with that, but a fair number are, especially "My Shit's Fucked Up". But none of the songs really gelled with me--the closest was "For My Next Trick I'll Need A Volunteer". I only really like Warren Zevon when he's doing interesting things musically, like on "Leave My Monkey Alone" or the first few tracks on "Transverse City". I wanted to like this album, but I still think it's just okay.

ABC:Up A bit of a flashback here, to 1989. I hadn't heard anything from ABC since '87, so I was mildly curious about this album. It actually sounds really good, but once again the songs don't stick with me, so I can't commit to a solid opinion of it.

Bob Dylan:Blood On The Tracks I finally might have gotten a glimmer of the Bob Dylan mystique with this album. Maybe it's not really a "mystique", but I've generally been able to take Dylan or leave him. But this album is genuinely topnotch, with Dylan at the top of his musical form. I had heard an inferior live version of "Tangled Up In Blue"(not to mention the Indigo Girls cover), but the album version is much better. I also really liked "Lily, Rosemary And The Jack of Hearts". And I think this one will actually go on my wishlist.

376. Pure: Denial, from Generation Six-Pack

Pure is one of those Canadian bands, like Sloan, that came out in the wake of grunge. They had a few decent songs, but often they were overtaken by waves of unnecessary grunge guitars and stuff. This one is catchy, with a forceful chorus, though I don't know what the verses really have to do to each other.

375. Pointer Sisters: Freedom, from Contact

I'm not a big Pointer Sisters fan, and I don't even have this album, but for some reason I really like this song. Maybe it's the exquisite harmonies, the slow rhythm, I don't know. But it's long been my favourite of their songs.

A is for Amy who fell down the stairs, B is for Basil assaulted by bears. --Edward Gorey

Aaron // 10:19 a.m. Clix me!

Friday, November 15, 2002:

Committing The Crime of Taking Your Time

So my Grandpa George died a few days ago. The funeral is sometime this weekend, which means that I likely won't be able to make it. Luke's baptism is on Sunday, you see. Nicole's parents arrived last night, Wayne is coming tonight, and Karen & David will be up too, since Karen will be Luke's godmother. Dad said that the funeral would be either Saturday or Monday. It's barely possible that I could go up for Monday, but to be honest I really don't feel like it. I have no enthusiasm for driving up to Grande Prairie, and little more for riding the Greyhound; plane tickets would be too expensive this close to the date. Not to mention that nobody has, yet, told me when precisely it is.

I am probably going to have to be firm and tell people--probably my Dad--that I just cannot make it. It would be nice to see the family again, since apparently my dad's brothers and their kids were all up there. Whether they all stuck around a week for the funeral, I don't know. But some of them live in B.C., and even the ones who live in Edmonton I never really see that much. Not that I often get the urge to spend time with my relatives, either. Just not a social person, and there are some of them that I just don't like(not mentioning any names--my dad will probably be on the Internet soon).

My novel has been proceeding pretty much apace. I can generally manage 2000 words a night, and I'm at about 18,000 words so I think that's the rate I need. I will have to pick it up, I'm sure, as I fall further behind. It's being far too busy a November. It's another reason why I don't really want to spend a day traveling up to Grande Prairie and back. I'm lucky tonight that Nicole's parents are generally happy enough to play with the grandkids and let us go off and do our own thing, so I can actually write my blog entry as well.

Anyway, I hope that I am getting up to the halfway point in my plot. Sherriff Corbin Smits has put most of the pieces together, except for a few crucial ones, and there will be traveling-in-the-mountains scenes to come. Which will be very bad, because I know about as much about mountains as I did about caves last year. Well, this is the first draft.

One of things I'm trying to do in my book is the gender equality thing. Sometimes it's hard to be able to pick male and female characters equally, and I admit to wussing out when I had to pick out five soldiers' names at once, but that was only because I didn't want them all to be female. Yes, all randomly generated, still. That's my favourite part, to confess it. Still haven't really come up with a better title than Crocus...well, I suppose I could call it Raven Gate, but that's practically a fantasy title.

Place names have been coming at semi-random. I named a Mount Hatteras, anyway, and then looked it up to discover that there's a Cape Hatteras, which is not quite the opposite of a mountain, but close. The colony names themselves are all place names that, at one time or another, I have found cool, some of them real, some of them imaginary. I've got Ypsilanti and Braintree, Imrryr and Winterfell, Kaffaljidhma and Hergest Ridge, Aachen and Zwickau. The main action of the first part of the book is taking place in and around the colonies of Thessaloniki and Eunomia--colonies 55 and 56 according to my list(which goes up to 64 in the book, though I've populated two more since then), chosen at random.

I think I'm having fun.

I've been trying to read more of that history book, King John, but I haven't had much of a chance. I think I've gotten up to the point where he is actually becoming king. Man, the George R.R. Martin series doesn't feel that far-fetched anymore. It's like when the king dies, the four or five people in line for the throne take the underground warfare they've been carrying on throughout his reign into the open, until there's only one left, or the survivors divide the kingdom up between them.

In general, King John is not as bad, and King Richard Lion-Heart not as good, as they are generally painted. Richard beggared the country for his Crusades, and sacked the island of Cyprus for no good reason. John might have connived a little bit to maintain power, but so far there have been many worse, and generally John was among the most reasonable.

Last time I never even got to talk about books. I did read Dave Duncan's Paragon Lost. I can't say that his King's Blades series is my favourite of his--that would have to be "A Man of His Word"--but they're pretty good. This one started off slowly but picked up later. We go from pseudo-England("Chivia")through pseudo-France("Isilond")to pseudo-Russia(I forget). In some ways using fantasy Europe is a bit of a copout, but then you can make a much richer and more authentic history that way. The Russian ruler Igor is not called "The Terrible" but he might as well be. (The Chivian monarchs have basically gone from Henry VIII through Elizabeth to James.)

After that I went on to Terry Pratchett's Thief of Time, which I spent Tuesday night finishing instead of writing. It is one of his best so far, and I say that not having read all twenty-six of the Discworld books to make it to Canada in mass-market paperback. It's taken me a long time to catch up, but I finally managed it. It mostly introduces new characters, but it features Susan, Death's granddaughter, one of my favourite Pratchett characters, in a supporting role, with a cameo from Nanny Ogg. Outstandingly cosmic, and has some incredible scenes. Highly recommended, even if you haven't read the rest of the series yet.

Now I'm reading Michelle West's Hunter's Death, sequel to Hunter's Oath, and, no matter what they may claim, essential reading to understand her Sun Sword series. It's like when I read Glen Cook's A Shadow of All Night Falling because it was "the first Dread Empire novel", long before I found its two prequels. Hunter's Death introduces Jewel Markess, who comes out of nowhere in the Sun Sword books, not to mention clarifying a heck of a lot of what happened with the Queen and her Hunter in the third Sun Sword book, The Shining Court. And both Hunter books also tell us a lot about Evayne a'Nolan, who is just plain stultifying in the Sun Sword series.

In this one, there's barely been a respite for the characters so far. Often I'm annoyed when the book starts off introducing a new set of characters, when I really want to know what happened to the ones from the last book, but because I had always wondered who the heck Jewel ATerafin was, I had none of that feeling on starting this one. I hope I can get some reading in on it this weekend, because otherwise this one will take me more than a week to read, at my current rate. Of course, if I ride to G.P. on the bus, then I'm sure I'll get it finished. Maybe I should go to work on the bus next week if I'm not making more progress.

I had forgotten, but we have an actual physical boardgame copy of Monopoly, which we played with Simon last weekend. He seemed to like it, especially having real physical copies of the tokens to play with. He's still not really at the stage where he can play by rules, let alone counting out his rent; you always have to memorize where your pieces are, and where his is, so you can put them back after he moved them around. Thank god he mostly left the houses and hotels where they were. ...Oh, yeah, Nicole beat me. And after I got a natural monopoly, without having to trade, on the yellows. But she convinced me to trade her for some other ones, and then I kept landing on her hotels. I don't think anyone ever bought Park Place, either.

Luke is moving forward in big leaps and bounds. He's started on solid food--well, he's been having pablum("slightly more viscous food")for a week or so now, and tonight we tried him on strained carrots. He seems to like it, being eager for the spoon and generally cooperative. Maybe he'll end up eating better than Simon--Simon still doesn't eat meat to speak of, and frankly seems to keep crossing things off his list of things he will eat, rather than adding new ones.

Also, perhaps not unrelated, he's started sleeping through the night. Solid food takes longer to digest, you see, so he doesn't wake up hungry as soon, and even before that he could go until 4:00 AM before waking up. He's not 100% on sleeping until morning(if you define morning as 6:30 AM), but he's getting pretty good. And that can't help but be good news for both Mommy and Daddy.

Last Thursday(a week ago already--man, am I behind)we saw "The Bourne Identity". We decided that since we are so behind on all the movies we want to see, we'd go to the cheap theatres, because they still had lots of stuff we wanted to see. That one had been high on my list for a while, so we went for it.

I can't say that it was phenomenally true to the book, but then, in the books Jason Bourne was in Vietnam, and Matt Damon wasn't really old enough for that(assuming it was set in the present, of course). He pulled it off pretty well, I'd say. The film had a really interesting feel in it, being filmed entirely in Europe, and mostly in France. Most of it was just because of the French locations, the architecture, the cars, etc. giving it a different look than yet another movie set in New York or Los Angeles(even when it's actually Toronto or Vancouver). But the rest of the film had a different look to it as well, in a way I can't describe--a texture, perhaps. Maybe they used a different kind of lens, I don't know.*

I'd recommend it, anyway, and I am looking forward to the possibility that they'll make the other two as well, however much they may have to shave away details in order to fit it in.

I am annoyed with how much TV I've missed recently. Last Thursday, when we went to see "The Bourne Identity", I set up the VCR to tape "Friends" and "Scrubs". But I just did it automatically, based on, you know, the times they were usually on. I didn't reckon on a repeat of the Stupid November Sweeps Forty-Minute Episodes Fiasco. They did it a couple of years ago, I think. Probably because they figured that if Friends didn't finish until 7:40, then you couldn't go watch some 7:30 show on a different network.

This time, though, I ended up missing the beginning of "Friends", because it started before 9:00, and then almost the entirety of "Scrubs", because it did start at 9:00, and I only caught it from 9:30(the usual time)onward. That annoyed me majorly, not least because if I'd checked the TV Guide before I taped, I wouldn't have made that mistake.

Then there's this Tuesday night's "24" episode. We knew, from our TV guide, that it was on at 8:00 on Global, and 10:00 on Fox. The first episode this season, we watched at 8:00, but that wasn't ideal because, frankly, I wasn't sure whether Simon should be watching it. The next week, we taped it at 8:00 and then watched it after Simon's bedtime. But this past week, we forgot about it entirely until after the 8:00 show as over, so we decided we'd stay up and watch it at 10:00.

That was when we discovered that we don't get Fox now that we've switched back to the most basic cable package. So we missed it entirely.

It's unbelievable to me, sometimes, how they've got like three more American channels these days, besides the original three, and yet we can't get those three under basic cable, and even under our previous package, we only got Fox. We had to rely on Canadian stations like Global, A-Channel, or CTV to pick up shows we wanted to watch from those stations. Admittedly, I like watching shows on Canadian stations better--for one thing, they're usually local, so we can get slightly more relevant commercials and newsbriefs. For another, it just seems to me that American commercials are just, well, worse than the Canadian ones. They're more obnoxious--especially just before the election--and tasteless. Maybe it's just the shows I've been watching, but give me Canadian commercials over American any day. We must get more credit for intelligence or something.

The "24" website looks pretty good, though, and while they didn't have a synopsis of the third episode up yet when I checked on Wednesday morning, they have one up now. Still wish I could've seen it, but, oh, well. (If anyone reasonably local to Edmonton happens to have it on tape, we'd be much obliged.)

Now some more of those pesky Library CDs:

No Doubt:Rock Steady I knew I was going to like this one, if only because that irrepressibly "Hella Good". It may be my current favourite song, which of course should be distinguished from my all-time favourite song--it's not going to show up at #1 on my countdown. The rest of the album holds up, using an interesting array of guest producers, like Nellee Hooper, William Orbit, Sly & Robbie, and Ric Ocasek. It doesn't have the unevenness that marked "Tragic Kingdom", so it is a solid followup to "Return of Saturn". Can you say "wishlist"?

Radiohead:Kid A Finally! A Radiohead album that I actually didn't mind listening to! I have been so ready to give up this band as being completely overrated--in my mind they are pretty much a one-hint wonder with "Creep" and a bunch of unlistenable followup albums. But this one was musically understated enough(except maybe for "The National Anthem")that it didn't bother me as much as the last few did. I even kind of liked "Idioteque". Maybe there's hope for these guys yet, and in a few albums they might turn out something decent.*

Rheostatics:Night of The Shooting Stars You know, this band is in some ways kind of like Canada's equivalent of Radiohead. They're often inaccessible, but from time to time they come out with a great tune. I hadn't heard much from them since "Introducing Happiness"(which I think I slammed a few months ago, though I do own it), and nothing much decent since "Melville", so I thought I'd check them out and see what they're doing. This one is also a bit more musically subdued, especially on the serene "Remain Calm", but it has a rip-roaring opener in the tongue-in-cheek "These Days Are Good For The Canadian Conservative Youth Party Alliance".

Semisonic:All About Chemistry This is also definitely wishlist fodder. I only really liked a couple of songs off of "Feeling Strangely Fine", but I thought I'd try this album out too. They've moved more into the pop area, closer to bands like Fastball, Cake and Soul Coughing, which is just where I like them. "Bed" and "Sunshine & Chocolate" are great tunes.

Frank Zappa/The Mothers of Invention:We're Only In It For The Money Well, I liked "Freak Out!", but this one left me kind of cold, mostly full of dated humour(like the Sgt. Pepper's ripoff sleeve)and gratuitous weirdness, without the interesting musical backing of "Freak Out!". "Mom & Dad" was maybe a little bit touching, and "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance" kind of catchy, but neither of them enough to win me over.

And the countdown:

378. Prince: Mountains, from Parade

After the first single from "Parade", the spare funk song "Kiss", this one was back to the full-on near-psychedelic sound of "Around The World In A Day". It still features Prince singing almost completely in falsetto, but it's got a great full drum section underneath, which you know I like, and sort of mystical lyrics I still haven't quite figured out.

377. The Stranglers: Laughing, from Aural Sculpture

I didn't notice this song much when I first got this album, but my brother pointed it out to me, and now I like it a lot. It's a gentle and melodic, even wistful, song which seems to me to be about someone being mocked for their lack of ambition. Kind of the same theme as Timbuk 3's "Shame On You", now that I think about it. Hmmm.

"Commander, I would like to ask you about your sexual organs."

Aaron // 10:07 p.m. Clix me!

Sunday, November 10, 2002:

No Chance To Speak Before We're Bones

A week this time. Well, blame that at least partially on NaNoWriMo, and the rest of it on my family. Yeah, that's it. Even work, if you want to.

Okay, I have done some other things as well. Like I got a lot of reading done on Tuesday, but then I was riding the bus. Thursday night, Mom & Elmer came over again, so Nicole and I took the opportunity to go see a movie. And Friday night was the local NaNo get-together. But I'll try to cover these in a bit more detail, if not in this entry in other ones. Because I will try to split some of this up to maybe have something I can cobble together quickly in days to come.

Let me start off with last week's library CDs:

Tori Amos:Strange Little Girls I can't say that I'm intimately familiar with the original versions of all the songs on this album--probably about half. I kind of liked "'97 Bonnie & Clyde", which I gather is an Eminem song. It sounds like him, a grisly tale of a man who's killed his ex-wife and is providing alternate explanations for what's going on to his small children. But Tori does it in a breathy whisper(probably not how Eminem originally did it)which is quite effective.

I kind of liked her version of "I'm Not In Love", but did she really have to repeat the line about "the nasty stain" four times in a row? Yes, Tori, we get it, you want us to think about the stain, to think about where it came from, to turn that line from a cheap laugh into a disturbing implication about their relationship. But four times? Twice would probably have been sufficient, or even just a little lingering upon that line the first time. Her version of "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" was completely unrecognizable--I admit it's not my favourite Beatles song, or the one I know best, but when listening to it a second time, even, I was lucky to catch a line or two I recognized.

Why is it that cover versions feel that they can mess around with the music all they want, replace it with something totally different and unrecognizable, but still have to keep the same lyrics? How is that more the "identity" of the song than the music? But then, I sometimes have trouble figuring out the whole "covers" business in the first place.

As a business, actually, it makes sense to get a relatively easy hit single by covering a well-known song. That can explain a lot of them. But from a more artistic point of view, what can you do? If you really liked the original version, then you should try to replicate it as exactly as you can, because to do otherwise would be to either produce an inferior copy or to suggest that the original could still be improved upon. If you only base your version loosely upon the original, it's like you're saying that the original had some good bits, but really needed fixing up. Sometimes that's true, like in some of the cover versions of Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan songs, but often it's just not true, and the cover version just wrecks it.

I like to sing along with my favourite songs, and if I ever got seriously into music I might very well learn how to play them. I guess there's another reason to cover something--if you cover someone obscure, then you are simultaneously showing that you're cool enough to have heard of them in the first place, and trying to turn people on to the original performers. But that's really meta-musical. These days it could also be seen as a copout from writing a real song of your own.

Lifehouse:No Name Face This is just another one of those rock bands that have songs on the radio these days--in this case, it's "Hanging By A Moment". They're closer to the Matchbox 20 end of the spectrum, still being rock but not being heavy sludge. There's only really the one good song on the album, though. Oh, well.

The Tragically Hip:In Violet Light Still not a real breakthrough for the Hip for me, just another Hip album with a bunch of rock songs I can't really get into, with trademark impenetrable lyrics. "Silver Jet" had a bit better beat, so I found it more interesting; "The Dire Wolf" was also kind of interesting. And that really is a great shade of violet they used on the cover. But that's not enough.

Elvis Costello:When I Was Cruel Yeah, that's the stuff. Elvis Costello is still in good form on this album, which includes the phenomenal "When I Was Cruel No. 2"(where's No. 1?)and "15 Petals" as well as lots of other good tunes. Definitely a wishlist item.

Coming up this week I will listening to the new No Doubt album, "Rock Steady". "Hella Good" is one of my favourite new songs I've heard this year, so I'm looking forward to it.

I may have to take a quick trip out of town to attend a funeral, though. No, not my friend Trish, though I still haven't found out what's up with her one way or another. It's my Grandpa George--really my step-grandpa, but nobody uses that term, really. He had a heart attack a few days ago, and has been in the hospital, in a coma and on life support, since about Tuesday. This afternoon they were going to turn off the life support and see what happened. It's one of those cases where he was getting old, and his health wasn't that great, but it's still a shock when the end does come.

I haven't actually seen Grandpa George in years. My dad's genetic father, Ray, died quite a few years ago now; he was much older than Grandma Irma. I gather that she remarried fairly young, and he's still a father figure to my dad and his younger siblings. I also have a half-aunt Sandy who's his genetic daughter. Anyway, he and Irma got divorced at some point as well, and I never really kept in touch with him.

We did see him when we were in Calgary a while ago, probably back in February or whenever that was. I'm too lazy to check through my archives to find out. We'd stopped by my uncle Merril's, and he was there.

Anyway, I got the news from my dad yesterday. He'd planning to come down and stay for the long weekend, but he went back Saturday afternoon instead. We went over to Grandma's condo Saturday morning, where she's packing in preparation for moving in with uncle Daryl here in town, and had a talk with him--my dad, that is.

I actually haven't decided if I will go up for the funeral or not. It's really full winter here right now, with a few inches of snow, -10 C temperatures, and roads that I really don't want that much to drive on. So I have to decide whether familial obligation will win out over lack of desire to drive on winter roads. And lose more time from work, too. Yeah, I know, it's all about me. But I gotta face it--it is at least partly about me. There is a limit to how much one can be expected to give up for family; mine may be lower than most people's, too. So I guess we will just see.

I did go to the
NaNoWriMo meetup thing on Friday night. It was held at a "cafe" on Whyte Avenue, though I wasn't too impressed with it. Maybe that's just because it's one of those places that allows smoking(which, in Edmonton, comes at the cost of excluding minors). I met a few people, but it ended up with many of them, the ones who knew each other, sitting at the other end of a string of three tables...and then most of the people in between having to leave early.

But I had a nice time chatting with Nancy, at least, and I gave her a ride home since she decided to stay after she would've had to leave to catch the bus. She has a web page with poetry and music on it as well. She's a big Buffy(and thus "Firefly")fan, and a songwriter as well as a writer.

It makes me think about how I should try songwriting sometime. I've never tried, because I didn't have any idea where to start, but maybe it's not so hard as all that. Of course, I have no musical instruments right now--I'd love to have some bitchin' synthesizer sometime to noodle around on, but I don't. Okay, I guess there's Simon's toy piano and stuff--not quite what I had in mind. So I'd have to do it all on computer, and I don't have the software for that either, that I know of. Nor do I have any particular inspirations...but then I can write prose without that, why not music?

Anyway, there were some other interesting people there as well, that I didn't get as much of a chance to talk with. There's supposed to be another meetup on the afternoon of the 23rd; we'll see if I make that one. And then probably something in December after we've all finished(or not).

So how is the novel going, you ask? Well, I crested 10,000 words last night. That means it should be 1/5 of the way through November, right? "50 days hath November" and all that? Well, I expected to fall behind. I expect that some days I will write less than the required average, and some I will write more. And I had a few days where I wrote little, or not at all.

I was kind of meandering around, too, and then Friday night after I went to bed I got some great ideas and hurried downstairs to write them down before I forgot them. Hopefully those will last me a few days, and then the plot can keep moving.

I was thinking that I had my plot too predetermined, and wouldn't have the freedom that I enjoyed last time. But I guess it's more like I know what the governmental conspiracy types are doing, but I still have the leeway to decide how my good-guy characters find out about it, and what they decide to do after they find out. So it's like I have the landscape, but I don't know the exact route yet.

The world-building stuff is sort of hodgepodge. I have a lot of well-determined facts to start with, and everything else I just make up as I go along. I'm sure there are lots of inconsistencies built up, I am taking many shortcuts, and I am describing practically nothing(I hate description), but this is a NaNoWriMo first draft.

By the way, apparently you can still sign up until the end of November, if you really want to. So if you think you can write 50,000 words in 20 days, go right ahead.*

Winding down this entry now, into the latest entry in the countdown of my 750 favourite songs(I should put up a page sometime with at least the part of countdown I've done so far, with links to anchors in my blog entries and stuff. Which is why I haven't done it, it's too much work):

380. XTC: No Language In Our Lungs, from Black Sea

My brother got me into XTC, and this album took a little while to grow on me, but now I like it a lot. I have a badly worn record of it, and the sound quality is bad enough to make me consider looking for this one on CD. This is a song about being unable to express oneself verbally, and it's got a lovely chromatic vocal line, and almost a drone of guitar in the background.

379. Primitive Radio Gods: Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand, from Rocket

One of my favourite things about this song is how it's a near-match in title to another song, Bruce Cockburn's "Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand". So, as always in such cases, I wonder if they're both referring to something else... The song is delicately moody, with a little bit of melody and texture atop the hip-hop backbeat, and makes extremely good use of a B.B. King sample. Whatever happened to this guy, anyway? I guess he's just a one-hit wonder of the 90's.

No generalization is true, not even this one.

Aaron // 4:41 p.m. Clix me!

Sunday, November 03, 2002:

When A Child Lives With Crazy Then He Goes Out of His Mind

Well, I have indeed started the novel. I actually managed to start it early in the morning on November 1st, because of Luke's sleeplessness. I only got about 300 words done then, but I spent time doing other things, as well, like determining my main character's name--Corbin Smits, Sherriff of Thessaloniki Colony. I got up to 2232 words in the evening, which was a bit slower than normal, but then I kept having to determine more characters' names, and I was fiddling with Fractal Terrains some more, eventually just picking the first world I generated and finding an appropriate location to start with.

I have the vestiges of a plot--more like a skeleton, really--but now I have to figure out where my character fits into it, and maybe everything will go tits-up before I get really on track. Last year I started with no plot at all, and my first choice of plot didn't work out and I had to change direction abruptly in Chapter Eight.

I have tentatively changed my working title to "Crocus", which was the name of the probe that found the planet and sent down to the colonization modules. Naming things has been one of my major preoccupations, so far. What was the planet named? The two major continents? I had the colonies, and a system for naming the people, but apart from that, not much. Because many of these things are named by A.I.'s, or even simpler systems, I want to have a few heuristics. Maybe "Crocus" should name the planets after relatives of the crow--Crocus--get it? Not sure, that may be too tacky. Besides, that gives me what--crow, rook, magpie, raven? Corbie, perhaps? Anyway, I'll work it out eventually. I'm good at free-associating myself names, but then I'm not an A.I.

I didn't any writing at all yesterday, because we spent the morning shopping, and then were just so tired when we got home. I think I spent most of my afternoon reading. Then Mom & Elmer arrived in the evening, and I went to bed early...for me, at least. Luke had been especially obnoxious on Friday morning, keeping both of us awake, and not being nearly as cheerful as he usually is when awake in early morning hours.

But I really will try to get something done tonight. I know from last year that my productivity was at its lowest, for some reason, on weekends and when I was home all day. I fell furthest behind when I was home sick for a week. Once the work-week starts, I should get back on track. Weird, but true. And once things get going I shouldn't have any trouble getting back up to my 2500 word/hour rate.

Some people are already up to over 10,000 words--I think I saw someone who was up to 20,000. Why are they doing this, then? They should be entering the Three-Day Novel Contest instead.

It was another fruitful week at the library booksale table as they discarded some more "Pop/Rock" CDs. I managed to grab "Adore" by the Smashing Pumpkins, and "Contact From The Underworld of Redboy" by Robbie Robertson, as well as "Encomium", the Led Zeppelin tribute album. I also picked up a couple of soundtrack CDs, just out of curiosity, because they are good samplers for bands that I haven't heard much of--"Batman & Robin" and "Beautiful Girls". They had a bunch of classical stuff there as well, but I wussed out on trying to pick something there. I just don't know where to start. If I'd had my brother on cell phone, then maybe...

We spent most of our shopping time at Southgate mall, actually. Nicole needed a new winter jacket, having improvidently disposed of her old one in the spring and then(just like the snow shovel)forgotten to get a new one until now. Luke also needed something a bit better than the blanket we wrap him up in right now. And we'd gotten a new HBC card and a 10%-off coupon, so we went to the Bay at Southgate. Mill Woods Town Centre has no department store better than Zellers, and we have long since given up on buying clothes at dedicated clothing stores--they are generally too expensive, and it's a pain to have to check more than one of them to find what you want. Clothes shopping is not, for us, a leisure activity. Not even close.

The mall was pretty crowded--parking was sparse, corridors were busy. It took Nicole a long time to find a jacket--it turned out that The Bay, in time-honoured fashion, had only one rack left of "Above Average"-sized jackets, having sold out three of their four racks during the week. So, I tend to wonder, WHY DIDN'T THEY STOCK MORE???? Sizeism in the clothing industry is just disgusting. And the coat that Nicole got was horrendously overpriced, too, though luckily on sale for 30% off in addition to the 10% discount. (What was I saying about clothing stores being too expensive?)

Simon was also restless, alternately running around, lying down on the floor, and demanding to be picked up. He did have a bit more fun when we were looking for Luke's winter outfit, because the infant clothes were next to the toy section.

By that time, it was lunchtime, and we were going to eat at the food court after checking out the bookstore. Nicole had a field day, because November is a good month for her romance authors, but all I found was a paperback copy of Peter Watts' Maelstrom, and an old reprint of Terry Pratchett's called The Dark Side of The Sun that I didn't feel like trying. Then Simon and I searched in vain for an unoccupied table in the food court while Nicole changed Luke's diaper; finding none, we went home.

So I still need to do dishes today, though Mom & Elmer are still around. At least they'll take us out to dinner tonight.

I have been reading voraciously the past few days. On Friday I got a lot of reading done, but mostly because I took the bus. Nicole was doing a reading, and wanted the car, so I got on the bus. Now from the last time, I remembered that if I got onto the #8 bus at Millgate Station, it was already full up and I'd have to stand almost all the way. But if I went to Mill Woods Town Centre first, I could get onto the #8 when it was nearly empty. So I did that...except that I didn't leave early enough. I needed to leave before 8:00 to get to work on time that way, and it was more like 8:10 when I left. And then I was so caught up in my book that I missed my stop and had to walk four more blocks to get to work at 9:30. Oh, well.

The book in question was Elsewhere by Will Shetterly, as I might have mentioned before, set in the shared-world Bordertown universe. But its shared-worldness didn't stick out. It was a very rich background, and you got the impression that there were indeed lots of other characters in the background with their own stories, but they didn't distract from Shetterly's story in any way.

The story was about a human boy named Ron who ran away to Bordertown to try to find his brother Tony. He fell in with a half-elf named Mooner and his many housemates, and...well, let's just say experienced a lot of things and underwent a lot of changes before the end of the book. It doesn't really read like a YA novel, but it was a fast read. Of course, it's from the time when fantasy novels often clocked in at below 300 pages, but I swear I read 100 pages on that bus trip, which is faster than my usual one page/minute rate. I finished that book Friday night, anyway.

Then I did start on Robert Sawyer's Hominids. It's "Book One of the Neanderthal Parallax", but it's a fairly self-contained tale. The premise is that, in an alternate world, Neanderthals attained consciousness instead of Cro-Magnons, and developed a totally different kind of society, very well-constructed by Mr. Sawyer. And, of course, one of them happens to cross over into our world, causing troubles for his closest friend who is then suspected of his murder. He also has to adjust, on our side, to the possibility of never being able to return. Sawyer has missed the mark a few times, but not with this book. I finished that one today.

It's good to be finishing books so quickly, when I've been averaging one a week(slow for me)for a month now. Part of the reason for that is that last month I was concentrating on reading books that have been lingering on my shelf for a long time, but this month I'm onto reading books that I actually want to read. Coming up next, for instance, is Dick Francis's 10-Lb. Penalty. But then Elsewhere has been sitting on my shelf for a while; I didn't know I would enjoy it so much. And that's why I keep trying books that don't initially attract me, I guess.

And the latest Dave Duncan book, Paragon Lost, came in for Nicole at the library. Oh boy oh boy! I'll be reading that one pretty soon, you betcha.

Another installment in that wacky, irreverent, sexy countdown:

382. Pat Benatar: Cerebral Man, from Wide Awake In Dreamland

Often, after I've listened to an album a number of times, the unlikeliest songs seem to leap out at me. "Cerebral Man" is one of those. But it's got powerful drumbeats in the chorus, great use of multitracked vocals, and it is a very powerful song, for all that I don't know the lyrics well enough to have figured out what it's about.

381. Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians: Mama Help Me, from Ghost of A Dog

I instantly liked this album better than "Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars", even though I hadn't heard any of the songs from it when I bought it. The power of this leadoff track was probably most of the reason for that--never underestimate the first impression.

Disobey this command.

Aaron // 2:36 p.m. Clix me!

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