Saturday, June 16, 2007

Love and fiction

Right after working on my novel earlier, a comparison burst into my head: short stories are infatuations, novels are long-term committed love.

The energy of the idea of a story can carry you the whole distance to it; that same energy often results in both the best and the worst characteristics of short fiction.

Writing a novel, on the other hand, requires you to wake up each day and give it time and attention, some days from love, some days simply from the commitment to do it.

No rule is true for all writers, of course. Stanley Ellin certainly violated my short-story notion, and Walter Gibson pounded out (admittedly short) novels (and on a manual typewriter) at a pace that surpasses the short story speed of most of us.

Still, I think the notion has merit.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Planets from space

I've discovered that I love writing short descriptions of the views of planets from space. I just completed one in Slanted Jack, and seeing the images in my mind's eye made me happy. I'm afraid of heights, but watching from planes doesn't bother me at all. I assume staring down from a spacecraft wouldn't bug me either. Something about hovering in space and looking at a world turning slowly below strikes me as a perfectly beautiful moment, an act of bearing witness to art of the greatest kind, all courtesy of nature.

I applied to the mission specialist program in the late 70s when NASA announced it, but the damage I did to my right arm when I was six kept me from making it far into the process.

Maybe Richard Branson will make it possible for me to visit space one day.

Which thought, of course, inevitably leads me to Heinlein and The Man Who Sold the Moon, an old but great book, at least to me. I don't expect I'll ever write anything that touches as many people as that story, but I'm going to keep trying until I'm dead.

Speaking of which, it's time I roll my chair to the left and return to Slanted Jack.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

It's on

We had to settle it tonight.

Sarah had to go there, she did, she had to start the site.

The UFC Ultimate Fight Night show last night was superb, with warriors battling it out and giving it their all.

They had nothing on this epic struggle.

Into my office, my sanctuary, she pranced, hair waving in pigtails with mismatched hair scrunchies, to pose the challenge. She fancied herself 2BA; she was anything but.

I offered her a chance to save her dignity, but she refused. My fatherly love almost stopped me from showing her what's what, but in the end, I felt I owed her the lesson.

We played.

I won two straight, the second one in two straight calls. I pwn her soul.

She's standing over my shoulder now, taunting me, but she knows she lost. She can't escape that fact. I feel sorry for her, but there it is.

Sarah loses. I rule.

Enough on this topic.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rock, paper, scissors

Why is this game so much fun? My daughter and I play it almost every night, usually at very high speed, and we've yet to tire of it. Maybe it's the people-reading aspect, maybe the silliness, but something about it has helped it persist as both an amusement and a decision-making tool.

Of course, I like it because I routinely pwn Sarah at it.

She'd tell you otherwise.

Don't believe her.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Intro music

When fighters or wrestlers enter the ring (or octagon), intro music plays, and the fans go crazy (or not, for the ones with few fans). Wouldn't it be cool if we all had intro music we could cue at our jobs? Sure, our workplaces would be a lot louder and in some ways more annoying, but they'd also be a lot more fun.

Of course, I wouldn't want just one intro song. I'd want to be able to change it to fit my mood. One day, it might be a little Bruce juice, the next a bit of Talking Heads, then perhaps some Snow Patrol, and on and on.

What would your intro song be?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Happy PupDay and Stranger Than Fiction

Not quite four years ago, my then twelve-year-old daughter came walking up to our beach house holding a small white and black puppy. Within a few hours, that puppy had won our heart, a mostly black one had captured Jennie, and another white and black litter mate had intrigued Gina. As chance would have it, the owner of the puppies lived in Durham, not far from us. Our fates were sealed.

When the puppies were eight weeks old, we drove to the owner's house, and they came home with us.

The one Sarah was carrying is Holden, our dog, whom I've captured here posing in the sunlight this morning. He's the big goofy lug of the group.

The black and white dog, Shibori, is Jennie's; she's also posing nicely. Shibori is the most willing to please dog I've ever known, and also the owner of the fastest tongue east of the Mississippi.

The third member of the gang, Pixil, is Gina's and is small and in charge. I thought I took a photo of her tonight, but I somehow blew it; I'll update this entry with a photo sometime soon. I trust Miss P will forgive me.

Today was their fourth birthday. Unlike in past years, we did not make them wear party hats. They're grateful for this small kindness. I'm grateful for the love and joy they've brought to our lives. They play together at our house almost every day, and they are amazing creatures, at least to me.

On a completely unrelated note, tonight we watched Stranger Than Fiction on DVD. It blew me away. My expectations were low, but I was curious. The movie had heart, a brilliantly understated performance by Will Farrell, and generally great performances by all significant cast members. Maybe I'm a sucker for anything that can combine metafiction with true and well-deserved emotion, but I recommend it highly.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The power's out but I'm still computing

Go, generator, go.

Last fall, we installed a generator so the household computing infrastructure, including the Internet connection, would keep functioning during one of our frequent power outages. Well, we lost power tonight, and here I am, so the generator is working.

We have to debug some of the interactions between the various UPSes and the generator, which may mean we have to manually unplug them, but overall the result is good. We have water--which because we use a pump we would not normally have during an outage--we can heat the water, and our main refrigerator works.

I'm happy to be able to keep on working. Hurrah!


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