log (2001/11/16 to 2001/11/22)

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What are you sleeping on?
Wednesday, November 21, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

I may very well not be posting here over the Thanksgiving vacation. Or I may. You never know.

Had events occurred differently, I would be in a constant world, and the moon would not fill this room with the grey and white bulk of its body. Had events occurred differently, I would be in my carriage, driven by the man who drove my carriage, and I would be eating from a box. The order of events is arbitrary. The set of events that occurs is arbitrary. The set of events that occurs is in control of the narrator. By narrating my story in a different order, I may rescue myself from drowning. By narrating my story with a different set of events, I may be rescued from drowning.

End of day twenty: 43,009
Currently: 43,462
Today's goal: 45,000 (yikes!)

Adorable fakes. I hafta say I see a definite difference in kind between the "convincing fansite for a fake 70's TV show" and "convincing fansite for a fake Canadian author" on the one hand, and "convincing (??) campaign site for a hamster running for president of the U.S. of A." on the other.

I mean really! Everyone knows it's "hampster".

I still love the idea of putting up a big encyclopedic website of convincing-sounding but false information ("the primary source of the sun's heat is the burning of methane gas formed during the first few moments after the Big Bang"). I'm not sure exactly why I love it. Just to drive home the point that you can't necessarily trust random information on Google result pages. Or maybe just to be mean. *8)

There could be like a little fine-print notice at the bottom saying "Please see our Usage Guidelines for important information before making any use of the content of our site". Heh heh heh.

Department of Dancing Poodles: The biggest thread in the obscure us.arts.poetry newsgroup (indeed pretty much the only thing in the obscure us.arts.poetry newsgroup) is "The Dactylic Gospel of Matthew". (It's not that it's done well, it's that it's done at all.)

DA-didi DA-didi DA-didi DA, DA-didi DA-didi DA-didi DA...

Cool new privacy-scary white pages feature on Google. Just type in first name, last name, zipcode, and there you are with the address and a map link, right at the top of the results. Or enter a street address, and similarly there you are. But some names don't work for some reason.

I highly recommend Rebecca's summary and pointers about the media recount of the 2000 Presidential election (scroll down one article, as she doesn't seem to have a permalink for that specific entry). Lotsa confusing stuff there! But it looks like Gore indeed woulda won if they'd managed to count all the votes.

Buy Nothing Day! This seems like a good idea, both because I'm sometimes an unAmerican treehugging pinko type, and because it seems like a good Different thing to try (sort of like writing a novel in thirty days). Unfortunately I think we've already promised the kids that we're going to go see the Harry Potter movie that day, and that means buying at least movie tickets, popcorn, usw. And the kids having a good time definitely comes before tiny political statements and/or self-exploration practice.

A spammer writes:

Is Your Exit Sponsor Shaving ??

Why, is one missing?


Hm, do I seem a little fey today?

Tuesday, November 20, 2001  permanent URL for this entry


What's a 'weblog'?

What do you mean, I 'have' a 'weblog'?

I don't remember reading anything about this in the manual!

My previous avatar's going to catch Heck for this, you betcha...

End of day nineteen: 41,040
Currently: 42,201
Today's goal: 43,000

Monday, November 19, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

I'm so pleased with one bit of the novel, added over the weekend, that I've stuck it in here, as Sunday's entry. I also told it to the little daughter last night, as her something interesting. Anyone actually reading it should remember that I'm being paid by the word here. *8)

A milestone: this morning, sitting at the corner deli with my sandwich, I went (just) over forty thousand words. Huzzah! (Novel-wise, Friday and Saturday were not Good Days, but Sunday was Really Good.) Time to start thinking about coming in for a landing? Depends, I suppose, on whether I consider fifty thousand words or 30 November, to be the finish line. I think I can see to the ending (or an ending) of the book, for the first time.

Endings are hard.

Sometimes I think that this novel I'm writing is one of those novels that's really a fifty thousand word short story, padded out by making every sentence at least twice as long as it has to be, and by the insertion of innumerable irrelevant and random side stories. Sometimes (some of the same times, even) I'm quite fond of it. Maybe I'll even read it someday!

They (some unspecified "they" that I just made up) say that all first novels are autobiographical; this one bears that out, I suppose, except that it's about a me that lives in an entirely alternate universe. I seem to have written, to be writing, a novel about how being in a body can be mildly inconvenient, about how nice it is to sit and read strange books, about how surrounding yourself with the things of your childhood, and the ordinary daily objects, and daydreaming, has much to recommend it over action, and ambition, and battle. A couple more of those sharp-eyed sexually aggressive females (cf. the other day) have applied emphatically for admission, and been given brief bits as Athena and Lara Kroft, but these things happen.

End of day sixteen: 35,011
End of day seventeen: 36,159
End of day eighteen: 39,030
Currently: 40,043
Today's goal: 41,000

Spam Scam o' the Day: DotUSA will take your money and let you register a domain whose probability of usefulness is real real near zero.

Unclear on the Concept: Bill points out (and Steve blogs) the Terms of Useage [sic] on pokemoncenter.com, which do not allow (for instance) that last link there:

Pokémoncenter.com does not allow or condone links to its web site or pages or materials or information without prior inspection, evaluation, and consent performced [sic] or given by Pokémon. Pokémoncenter.com is not responsible for maintaining any materials referenced from another site, and makes no warranties for that site or this in such context. For consideration and permission for an inter-site link, please contact us feedback@Pokémoncenter.com

To be charitable, they may just be paranoically covering themselves against people complaining when they change their internal URLs and thus break other people's links, but still! Someone should put together a page of links to pages that forbid you to link to them...

I wonder if they really do own "Pokémoncenter.com"; how do you use non-ASCII characters in URLs, anyway? I seem to recall it's possible now.

(Steve also blogs this very hysterical "I'm with Stupid" picture. Don't look at the other pictures in that directory, though; some might Offend.)

From Ian to the bizarrely-named "Amerithrax" page to actual pictures of the anthrax-laden letters. Primary sources Rule OK.

Did Bill Clinton really give a speech in which he blamed the terrorist attacks on past U.S. mistreatment of slaves and indigenous people? In fact, no, the Washington Times repeatedly to the contrary notwithstanding.

Widely logged (including Medley, who's had bunches of good links lately): William Safire is no bleeding-heart liberal, but he's not happy about the Bushies Seizing Dictatorial Power (fubar/fubar still seems to work to log in to the Times site):

Those are the arguments of the phony-tough. At a time when even liberals are debating the ethics of torture of suspects -- weighing the distaste for barbarism against the need to save innocent lives -- it's time for conservative iconoclasts and card-carrying hard-liners to stand up for American values.

Naughty Saudis: It's becoming quite the Common Wisdom that things are all the fault of the Saud family. Which makes me a little less likely to believe it; but still...

For years the United States has had an arrangement with Saudi Arabia's rulers: They would sell us oil and we would pretend not to notice that they were intolerant dictators who crushed dissent at home while nurturing some of the world's most violent fanatics abroad. But now we are at war with those fanatics, and the old bargain cannot continue.

What do you recommend? (links mine)

millions of light kisses

Ask Tristan: http://us.imdb.com/Quotes?0110322

The book Afterzen by Janwillem Van De Wetering. He was once a Buddhist monk (among other interesting jobs), and that book has a lot of interesting stuff to say about zen & Buddhism and other stuff.

Perhaps it's time to formulate Godwin v. 2.0, with "terrorists" replacing "Nazis."

Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. It's now out in paperback.

M read that; she said it was good. This week (month, year) I'm reading Kafa's "The Castle"; I hope to get to Chabon later.

What do you recommend?

Ghost World, the movie. And also the book, of course.

Eye exercises. At some point I, personally, became tired of glasses and lived for several years without glasses (at -4.0D, more or less) through eye exercises. They help -- but to a limited degree and your tiredness affects your eyesight. It's not a complete solution, but it's not a crock of shit, either.

living in denial

Call me Cleopatra. Or her alligators...

sex by candlelight, pasta, fish broiled or baked, a good red wine, compassion, fresh air and exercise

a hot hot bath, a good good book and a snuggle with a person or an animal or your pillow

anuttara samyak sambodhi

silk pajamas

not trying to correlate relationship infidelity and terrorist attacks, because that's just succumbing to selective reporting

writing a novel

Waiting for you to remember that NaNoWriMo is about quantity, not quality. Quality can wait until the December revision.

Those last two are probably actually things you're doing, but hey.

An interesting question arises! Will there in fact be a December revision? Will I take the November 30th novel as just a starting point, and fiddle and cut and paste and revise and edit and make perfect in later months? Or will I take it as a sort of Found Object, to be formatted up pretty and printed out for M to read and pronounced Done?

The latter is more my usual style. Which suggests the most likely prophecy.

(Collective phenomena: I'm amused to note that the NaNoWriMo folks have had to abandon the whole "you send in the novel, we count the words in it" thing. Too many writers out there writing, apparently! They can barely even manage to pay for their bandwidth. The dangers of success...)

Sunday, November 18, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

The world, he remembers Ona saying, is a library. They had been, the three of them, lounging by the river some rainy holiday afternoon, watching the sun trying to break through the clouds, and talking nonsense. Every tree a book, Marc had agreed, every person a bookcase tall as a house. And Hunter had told them a story, a story that his mother had told him just a few days earlier. This was not long before Hunter had left for the city, and gone to sleep.

There were once, the story said, three princes, the sons of a great king. Although they were triplets, born on the same day, they were each very different. One was tall and strong, with flowing hair and the eyes of every woman young and old upon him as he walked (a flashing smile, arms like the limbs of a great tree). One was quick and limber, with a proud high forehead and a mind as bright as the sun; he sat with the greatest scholars when he could barely walk, and astounded them with his knowledge. The third was small and quiet, hardly noticeable in the shadow of his brothers, but the one that children loved the most, and the one you would go to with troubles.

It came to pass that in the year these three remarkable princes came of age, the press of events in the world rushed against the king their father like storm clouds, and he was overthrown, and his family and followers scattered to the four winds. On the edge of a barren field one night, camped under ragged tents that had once been grand, the king called his boys to him, and told them their fates.

The king revealed to the boys that their mother (whom they had never known, growing up mothered by a family of queens and a castle full of doting noblewomen and servants) had been a Goddess, an avatar of Athena the Wise, who had come to the king in the great temple in the capital city, and loved him, and borne him sons. And after the sons were weaned from her breasts she had left them, gone back to the hills of the Gods, and behind her she had left three books, and told the king their purpose.

Now the king brought out the three books, from a chest he had taken with him fleeing from his palace, and he gave one to each of his sons, in the ragged tent by the barren field. The books were all three the same: richly bound in soft leather, filled with the finest paper, and every page blank.

"You are each to go out into the world," the king said to his sons, "and in your book you are to write everything that you find of immortal wisdom. When you come to the golden city of the Gods, you will each present the book to your mother the Goddess, and it will determine your legacy." And the three boys, now men, took their books and left their father that very night, going off into the world through the darkness.

The first son, the strong one, rode to a far country, and joined the army there as the lowest recruit. He patrolled haunted swamps, guarded high passes choked with snow, drove monsters away from the fields of the farmers. His strength and his skill won him acclaim, and honor, and at the height of his manhood he was made a general of the army, with thousands of men under his command. In his book, he recorded all that he heard of martial history, of the daring of kings, of the laws of war and strategy. Many women admired him, and he fathered a score of children.

One day, years later, when his hair was streaked with white but his limbs still strong, he heard a traveller's tale of a golden city, hidden in the snows of a mountain far to the west. He gathered his most loyal retainers around him, begged the king he served for leave to go in search of his fate, and set off. After many adventures and trials, he reached the base of the mountain, and saw glittering above him the golden light of the city of the Gods. He bid his followers farewell, and making his way up the mountain (the snows parting before him in welcome, if the tales of his retinue may be believed) he came to the gates. They opened of themselves to let him in (gates golden and graceful, as high as the sky), and he saw his mother within, all in white, and more beautiful than any mortal.

The first son handed his mother the book, and looking through its closely-lettered pages she smiled, and embraced him, and made him the general of all the hosts of the Gods.

The second son, whose mind was as bright and quick as a flame, went off into the world alone, and travelled alone, going from city to city, from collegium to tower to hermit's cave, sitting with the wisest of scholars and learning their wisdom. In his book, between the soft bindings, he recorded the deepest and most arcane lore: the true names of the stars, the secret of the transmutation of the elements, the powers and weaknesses of every spirit of the woods, the deserts, and the hearts of men.

Where the second son went, scholarship bloomed; in his wake sprang up renaissances, scientific revolutions, the breaking and forming of schools of thought, philosophies, systems of knowledge. In one city, in an ancient book long lost in a dusty corner of a royal library, he found a rumor of the golden city of the Gods. In a slender tower on a sun-drenched mountain peak, sitting cross-legged between twin sorceresses with the faces of birds, he heard disembodied voices tell a story of the founding of that city, and a cryptic hint of where it might be found. The answer to that riddle he discovered in a laboratorium at the edge of a foetid marsh, laboring into the night with a bent old man with stained hands, boiling obscure liquids and collecting the steam on sheets of glass. Five years later, riding a camel whose saddle-bags were stuffed with parchments and herbs, he topped a dune in the middle of a desert, and before him lay the city of the Gods.

The second son was welcomed by his mother (her eyes wiser and her face more learned than any he had seen in the realms of men), and on looking through his book she embraced him, and made him the chief of the scholars of the collegium of the Gods (for not even the Gods know all that there is to know of the cosmos; to create is not always to comprehend).

The third son walked from the tents of his father, along the road into the darkness. He looked at the sky, and thought of his mother, and wondered. He arrived the next day, somewhat footsore, at the edge of a town, and found a room to let. The forces of the world that had pushed his father from his throne swept over and through the town, and the third son helped tend the wounded, and worked for a baker baking bread. The war passed, and in peace the town prospered, and the third son kneaded bread in the morning, and sat by his window in the afternoon, looking at the sky and feeling the wind, and talking to the folk that passed by in the street. He often took out his mother's book and held it in his hands, feeling the fine softness of the covers, and resting his eyes on the empty pages. Only once did he write in it.

As his youth began to fade, the third son met a woman of the town, and married her, and they had three children together. In time the children grew, and went into the world, and in time the woman died. The third son wept. And one morning, when the clouds sped along the sky swept by a wind in the heights, the third son took his mother's book and went out into the town, stood for awhile with his head down before the grave of his wife, and then walked out across the fields, to the gates of the golden city of the Gods, and knocked at the doors, and they were opened.

The third son was welcomed by his mother, who tousled his hair and kissed his cheeks. He gave her his book, and she opened it and saw the one thing that he had written within. And she smiled gravely, and embraced him, and led him to the top of the city of the Gods, and sat him in the golden throne at the top of the city, from which he could see all of creation and all the doings of men and Gods. And standing next to the throne, she put her arm around his shoulders and kissed him.

"Welcome home," she said.

Friday, November 16, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

End of Day Fifteen: 33,885
Currently: 33,885
Today's Goal: 33,886

Yeah, well. I've been getting lots of procrastinating done, though!

So I finished "Your Name Written on Water" (started back in October). It took me awhile to get into it (roughly to where the Love Interest appears), but after that I enjoyed it. The diction has quirks that bothered me at first, but eventually I got used to them; sort of like an interesting friend who has an unfortunate liking for Abba music or something.

(Here, it being my weblog after all where I can say anything I want, I will indulge myself by quite unnecessarily giving examples of these quirks. So: sudden misplaced obscenity, rather in the style of mnftiu: "Hey, do you have any idea how the fuck we get out of Spain?"; blatantly hitting the reader over the head in case they haven't been paying attention: "But then it happened -- the event that the premonitions, dreams, and coincidences had all indicated ever since the early morning of that one crucial day in my life."; and jarring cliches: "I didn't give the house a once-over before leaving.")

Now when I say I enjoyed the book, I mean I enjoyed all but the last few pages. The last few pages are powerful, effective, but utterly horrible; horrible as in "horror", as in obscenely violent and bloody, as in "ohmygod now I'm going to have nightmares". This isn't a sad book, this is a horrifying book. Which isn't a complaint, isn't pointing out a flaw; just noticing a fact.

I do wonder again, though, about these stories in general: why all the apocalyptic endings? This one makes more narrative sense than the one in "The Cheese Monkeys", but still, why are they so common?

Do we have a need for explosive, or sad, or destructive endings? Is there always some Fatal Flaw that condemns characters to destruction amid their happiness? Would this have been a worse story, a story less worth telling, if the bad guy had been hit by a bus before he found the lovers, if they'd lived happily ever after? Are stories with happy endings, or just placid and content endings, less worth telling?

I think my novel will have one of those placid and content endings. Unless I change my mind...

So anyway, having finished that, I read Agatha Christie's "Death in the Clouds" (a.k.a. "Death in the Air"). It's a paperback American edition (Berkley 1984) that I picked up used somewhere. This copy seems to have had an interesting history; on the back there's a sticker that says:

PEDIMENTO No. 7001760
31 DE ENERO DE 1997

That last bit means "January 31st, 1997" in some language I don't speak, right? What's the rest of it mean? My guess is that some American bought it at the American Book Store somewhere while on vacation abroad (in 1997?), and sold it onward (eventually to me) on returning home.

Eh, what?

(Oh, the content of the book? Poirot finds the murderer.)

So I installed Opera 6.0 Beta 1 on a spare machine. It seems pretty hoopy; I may install it on the laptop sometime soon. I like that you can get the old classic version 5 buttons ('cause I'm used to them), and that you can mess with the button-sets (I'm forever accidentally pressing the "Hotlist" button and being frightened by the result), and the new two-click Google searching, and so on.

There was an Opera security bug reported recently (cookies, like the last IE bug I mentioned), but I'm not clear on all the details yet (I've asked about it on the Opera Web forums); it may be that there's already a switch in Opera that turns the bug off.

M and I went to the bookstore this afternoon (the last place we need to go), and I bought "For the Love of Books" by Ronald B. Shwartz. Feller wrote to over 100 high-powered writer-types, asking them to talk about the few books that had influenced them the most. Lots and lots of them replied. (So now I have a book devoted to suggesting even more books; I'm so doomed!)

Lesee. That's about all for now, I guess. Back to procrastination! (Hey, look, Sailor Moon's on!)


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