Saturday, February 23, 2008

Having the flu sucks

As best I can tell, I officially have the flu. I finished my work last night at 3:00 a.m., went to bed, and proceeded to spend the next twelve hours with sweats, chills, cramps (due to dehydration due to me stupidly not drinking much because drinking makes my stomach hurt), and a lot of wild, fevered imaginings. Fortunately, I was able to put the fever to good use: I got out of bed at one point and madly scribbled notes for a section of a monologue and some ideas for details in the Overthrowing Heaven adventure. The notes hold up well with my slightly less fevered brain, so I'm hoping my mind didn't waste the sick time.

Two good friends, members of our extended family, are having a joint birthday party tonight. I had planned on attending and really wanted to do so. We all agreed, however, that this was not my best move for the sake of the other attendees. So, I'm alone (a state I quite enjoy) and will work for a bit, then watch Eastern Promises, a film no one else in our group really wants to see as badly as I do.

The reason I am so eager to watch Promises, by the way, is the previous Cronenberg-Mortensen film, A History of Violence, which I consider to be flat out brilliant. Violence is not a film for everyone--in fact, most folks will not, I suspect, get it--but for those who do, it's a must-see.

A little more work, then the movie, then a ton of rack time in the hope that the fever will finally break for the last time and vanish.

Random walk

Don't you hate fortune cookies that don't provide fortunes? I don't care if the little slip of paper is the most random prediction in the world, provided it meets two criteria:

1) It is an actual prediction.
2) The prediction is about the reader (in my case, of course, me).

I'm still sick, maybe sicker. That sucks, because my mind feels like it's running at slow speed. When I force myself to focus hard, I can escape the slowdown, but at a price.

Tonight, I finished going over the copyedited manuscript of Slanted Jack. The copyeditor did a great job, and I'm pleased with the outcome. By happy coincidence, one of the great folks on Baen's Bar who bought the eARC of the book found a continuity inconsistency with One Jump Ahead. My thanks, oh great and careful reader! I fixed the problem on the copyedited ms., and now the hardcover will be correct. What a great side-effect of eARCs!

From next Tuesday through Sunday I will be attending TED @Aspen, the try-out remote branch of the fabulous TED conference that I have wanted to attend since I first heard about it over twenty years ago. The final email note from the organizers suggests staying off email the entire time; I doubt that will be practical for me, but I will come as close as I reasonably can. I am incredibly excited about the chance to attend. It appears unlikely that I will get into the 2009 conference--though I'm still holding out hope--so this may be my one shot at the conference.

We watched We Own the Night on DVD earlier this evening. Though many things about it were good, on balance it was a downer that often felt as if it were simultaneously formulaic and drifting out of control. I'd also like to suggest to Joaquin Phoenix that he not mumble every line. Of course, he's the one getting millions per film, so what do I know?

Back to a bit more work, then finally to sleep.

Friday, February 22, 2008


After feeling sick all day and thus not operating at full mental steam, I nonetheless ignored both the cold, wet weather and the way my body felt and headed out to see Henry Rollins' Provoked tour at the Lincoln Theater. Seven of us, including Sarah and Scott, went. As some of you may recall, I'd caught this tour in Portland in November, but I didn't care; Rollins was in town, and I was going.

Though this was the fourth time I've gone to his spoken word performances, I hadn't previously seen the same tour twice, so I was curious to see how much he'd repeat from the earlier show. He stood and talked for about three hours and ten minutes, and roughly a third of it contained stories I'd heard before. Even those offered fresh perspectives in multiple places.

I loved it.

I want to do spoken word, so I also studied it, as I do all comedian and spoken-word artist performances I attend. I hope one day to make it a regular part of what I do. Con organizers, here's your chance to book an SF author and spoken word performer all in one!

Now, however, Overthrowing Heaven calls to my literally fevered brain, so to it I go.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Viva, Las Vegas, day 6 - home

The hardest part of today was getting up early--or, at least, what passes for early for me. Still, I got more sleep this trip than in recent months, so I should be grateful.

The process of exiting the city--check-out, cab ride, check-in, security, gate transit, boarding, and flight--all passed largely uneventfully. The one exceptional event was a call for a medical person and a large man to come to the back of the plane to help. A volunteer was in the aisle before I could even put away my notebook--I’m not particularly large, but I am strong--so I never found out what had happened. I have to hope for the best.

I should probably also note the crying baby in the seat behind me, a baby whose parents thought it was a good idea to encourage the child to kick and play with my seat and Scott's. These evil geniuses also liked playing the baby's music loudly enough that all of us in our row had to hear it. If I go any further into this part of the ride, I'll get pissed, so I'll leave it at that.

We enjoyed a treat dinner out, then headed home. Travel is good, but so is being home, and right now I’m glad to be there.

The Overthrowing Heaven outline grows slowly, but it grows. I will whip it into shape, and then I’ll finally start the book and be a writer again. I look forward to that day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Viva, Las Vegas, day 5 - awe

Another day, another late sleep, and then out for walking and lunch. We spent some of the afternoon playing games and then watching the pilot of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which we all enjoyed greatly.

The highlight of the evening was our final Cirque show, Ka. I've seen it once before, when it was still in pre-show, and I enjoyed it, but tonight I was awestruck. The stage, the acrobatics, the heart--it all worked wonderfully. Wow.

In honor of Sarah's birthday, our dinner was entirely dessert, courtesy of the wonderful Payard Las Vegas. Each dessert course was exquisite, but I am paying the price for eating only that for dinner: I'm still jittery from the sugar.

I'm cutting it short tonight, because I still have some work to do on the outline of Overthrowing Heaven, and then I must pack and sleep before a (relative to the other days of this trip) very early wake-up call for the long journey home.

Go see Cirque shows when you can. We can never have enough magic in the world.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Viva, Las Vegas, day 4 - I teared up

We slept late, I worked a bit, and then we headed to lunch--all as usual. We cut Scott some slack by spending a couple of hours in the Las Vegas Gameworks installation. I have to admit that I had a pretty good time, too, with triumphs at air hockey and Time Crisis 2, but a rather dismal showing at Mario Cart. We spent much of the rest of the afternoon walking a large chunk of the Strip and many of the shops at The Venetian.

Before I discuss the evening, however, we have to get one thing straight: the greatest rock band of all time was, is, and will be The Beatles. We're not arguing here; we're talking facts. The first album I bought with my own money, cash I scraped together from finding bottles in neighborhood trash and turning them in for the deposits, was Beatles 65. I still have that album. I was ten. "Eight Days a Week" still rocks. I could go on, but you get the point.

Tonight, we saw Cirque du Soleil's Love. I've seen it once before. I went to it the first time with considerable apprehension: could Cirque honor its own spirit and that of the Beatles? Would remixes ruin the music? Would seeing someone else's interpretation of songs I love somehow ruin them for me?

I need not have worried; the show blew me away. The moment the curtains rose, it won my heart, and it never let go.

I entered tonight's show with a smaller but still noticeable concern: would seeing the show a second time remove some of the magic I felt on my first viewing?

Again, I need not have worried. Again, the show blew me away. The curtain went up, and my heart was so full of joy I teared up. I teared up several times during the show, and at the end I was almost overcome with emotion. Even after walking to the Wynn casino, where we ate at the buffet for dinner, I was still having trouble digesting all the feelings. Amazing.

Save your money, buy a plane ticket, rent a room, buy a ticket to Love, and let the magic claim you.


On a more mundane note, for reasons I do not understand, Safari (the Mac browser) won't let me respond to comments, so let me post my responses here. I'll go from newer to older comment.

Kyle, as we discussed when I called you from the Love theater earlier tonight, yeah, the GDC was the poorer choice. Getting to hear Kurzweil's keynote speech is pretty darn nifty, and I envy you that opportunity, but tonight's show convinced me that it's Vegas trip FTW.

Fred, I am working on Overthrowing Heaven. I work on writing every day. No exceptions. I am not making the type of headway on the outline I'd like, but I am chugging along in it, and the more I do, the better it gets. I think; doubt is my constant friend. As for those announcements, well, shoot, I'm out of time again. Soon.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Viva, Las Vegas, day 3 - I danced

Another late sleep gave way to a lunch at Thomas Keller's Bouchon in the Venetian. A friend of Sarah's joined us, and after a half hour wait we were sitting in a lovely booth. We all enjoyed our food greatly, with Keller's justly renowned pommes frites reminding me that even common dishes can achieve greatness. My Wagyu burger was superb, as were the "Bouchons," three miniature chocolate cakes, each with a different bit of ice cream atop them.

After some time and a movie (Superbad) in our room, we headed out to a gelato snack at Bellagio and our second Cirque show, O. Tonight marked the fifth (I think; I may be off a bit) time I've seen it, and every time it has been glorious. I watched the entire show with a slight smile on my face and magic and wonder filling my heart. I know it's all scripted, and I know they do it ten times a week, week in and week out, but it's still proof of the magic and joy the human heart can feel and human endeavor can produce. We sat in the front row, and we were mesmerized.

An amazing thing also happened. One of the clowns came into the audience and beckoned me to join him onstage. I did. He put out his hands, and I took them, and we danced. In front of 1,800 people, with a man in a clown suit, I danced--and I was not self-conscious for even an instance. I was amazed afterward, but in the moment I was fully present. As a person who's almost always observing, even narrating himself, I'm astonished at how fully immersed I was. Amazing.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Viva, Las Vegas, day 2

We all slept late, then headed to the shops at Caesar's for window shopping, sightseeing, and lunch at Wolfgang Puck's Spago, a place I've always enjoyed. We didn't buy anything, but as is always the case in Vegas, the people watching and storefronts were entertaining.

We took a mid-afternoon break, then headed out for the 7:00 show of Mystere at Treasure Island. Mystere was the first Cirque show I saw, and it was the first permanent Cirque show in Las Vegas. Seeing it again was a real treat. I left it with my mind and heart full and happy, and with a resolve to create more and better art. I realize all of that may sound trite, goofy, or even pretentious, but it's the truth; Cirque shows have a profound effect on me. Getting to share them with my children is also a treat in its own right.

Dinner was at Fix at the Bellagio, another Vegas favorite of mine. Though for a while it looked like they might not honor our reservation simply because we were neither pretty enough nor cool enough, we did eventually secure a booth. We feasted on some of the place's signature dishes, notably the Kobe beef sliders, the forks (salmon, cream, cheese, and caviar on forks, with mini blintzes on the side), and the adult mac and cheese. All the dishes were wonderful.

Some of folks I told that I was going to see four Cirque shows in four nights thought I was crazy and wasting money. They're so wrong.

Now, back to my own art and work on Overthrowing Heaven.

Oh, yeah: those announcements. Well, they aren't any big things, so they can wait another day (he says, teasing yet more).


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