Saturday, May 15, 2010

Working on the page proofs of Children No More

That's where my spare time is going right now. I go through the manuscript very carefully, so it's a time-consuming process. I'm already behind schedule, so I'm going to get back to work.

As a small compensation, let me leave you with a classic that now and again I simply must listen to. I've linked to it before, but it's time once again. Enjoy Jeff Buckley's soaring vocals on this Leonard Cohen masterpiece.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Yoga lies

Once a week, a group of us gather at my house and take yoga from a teacher who is willing to come to us. I suck at it, but I enjoy the work and am slowly improving. I have to tell the world, though, that yoga sits on a throne of lies.

Think about it: Yoga purports to be all mellow and go-with-the-flow, like a bad jazz AM station. What it really is, however, is what any at all serious physical training must be: torture.

Consider these sample statements from our teacher and what they really mean.

Let your arm float up any amount.

Push it up there, stretch it as far as you can, and then stretch it some more. I said more. More!

Enjoy that position for a few more breaths.

Stay there until your whole body is trembling and you can't do it any longer--and then a few seconds more. More! Didn't you hear me say more!

Challenge yourself.

Push! Don't stop. It doesn't matter if it hurts. Just do it!


Now, having said all that, let me be clear: I really enjoy the class. I like our teacher. I hope to keep doing it for a very long time.

I just happen to prefer my exercise torture to be straight up, without any softening.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A strange thing I do

(No, this isn't that kind of post. Get your mind out of the gutter.)

When I'm leaving PT, I usually take the stairs nearest my office. When I reach the bottom of those stairs and emerge from the building, instead of walking straight ahead on the sidewalk, I often veer right and onto the grass. Standing a few yards away is a very large set of shrubs that surround a power transformer that you may well not notice if you're not looking for it--which is, of course, the whole point of the shrubbery. Many evenings, I take a few steps along the side of the building until I'm behind those shrubs and then step forward into a person-size opening that exists, as near as I can tell, entirely on the whim of nature.

At that moment, I'm not visible from the sides or the front; I'm hidden in the plants. As long as I don't look behind me, where of course people in the offices could see me through their windows, I can stare at the world through a many-feet-thick curtain of leaves that makes me nearly invisible to it. (Those offices are always empty by the time I'm there.)

I have almost no memories prior to age ten; the reason why is a long story. One of the few I do have is of a huge shrub that a friend and I cleared out and turned into a fort, our secret place, a pocket of magic where we could escape the world. I loved that fort. As is typical of my childhood, I came home from school one day just in time to watch a bulldozer smash it to the ground as it cleared the field to make way for more construction.

Standing in the shrub by the office, the leaves all around me, I recall that childhood fort, I feel it still standing all around me, and I inevitably smile.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I'm unreasonably excited

at the prospect of seeing the new Robin Hood film this weekend. I know all the many reasons I shouldn't be, and I'm well aware of the myriad ways this particular version might go badly wrong, but I don't care.

I love the Robin Hood myth. I always have, for as far back as I have memories. To me, the heart of the it--a ragtag group with a charismatic leader standing up to an uncaring and all-powerful oppressor--is timeless and compelling and always ready for a fresh take. You can certainly see echoes of it in my Jon and Lobo books, where the two of them and their allies routinely fight for those who cannot protect themselves.

So, I'll ignore the reviews, watch Robin Hood Saturday night, and then report back with my take on it. Even if I don't generally like this particular version, though, I'm sure I will find things in it to love. After all, I found good moments in the Costner version, and that takes some doing.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Josh Ritter

We went to see him in concert tonight, which was about the last thing I should have been doing on a frantically busy work day.

It was the right choice. The show was awesome.

The opening act was Dawn Landes, who along with a drummer and a bass player delivered one great song after another. She was good enough that I'd be happy to see a show with her as the headliner, and I will definitely buy some of her CDs. (Later, Ritter mentioned that they were married.)

Setting up for Ritter and his band took a lot longer than should have been necessary, but once they hit the stage, I forgot the wait almost immediately. I have never seen a performer who seemed so genuinely happy to be up there singing. I was never bored, never found a song dull, and loved almost all of the music. What I didn't love, I liked a great deal.

If he comes to your area, don't miss him.

As part of the encore, he played one of his songs that I particularly love, "Snow Is Gone." Check it out.

One of my favorite lines in this song is this one:

I’m singing for the love of it—have mercy on the man who sings to be adored
As I watched him on the stage, I realized that I need to allow myself to love more the things I do. I've spent a lot of my life tamping down my passions, because I lacked the control to let them out without also letting out the sometimes related anger, but maybe I have that control now. Dunno. I'll be pondering this topic for a while.

I am sure that I write for the love of it and not to be adored, and that makes me happy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My story for The Wild Side

is something I've become rather excited about. Its title is "The Long, Dark Night of Diego Chan," and I intend it to work both as a standalone piece and ultimately as part of the first novel in a series featuring Chan. Of course, I have no clue when I'll get around to writing those books, but I've given Publisher Toni the two-sentence version of the series, and she agrees that the concept is cool. So, one day I will try to write those novels.

In the meantime, I'll finish this story and lay the groundwork for the books.

When I started writing, like many other beginning writers I felt that story ideas were very hard to find. I'd read articles in which published writers would claim that ideas were easy, and I'd get pissed at those people. Now, though, I have to admit they were right. Stories worth telling are everywhere, and if you're passionate about enough things, many of those stories will align with your passions. Finding the time and the right ways to tell those stories, though, is another thing entirely--with time the harder challenge, of course.

At moments like these, as much as I like my job, I wish I could write full-time. I just have so much I want to write.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

UFC 113: How Kyle and I fared

We did fairly well with last night's fights in Montreal, but there were definitely some surprises.

First, the undercard, most of which we didn't get to see.

Jason MacDonald vs. John Salter

Kyle chose MacDonald, while I opted for Salter. Going strictly by the result, I was right, because Salter won, but I don't feel good about the way I did. The reason is that MacDonald hurt his ankle, maybe broke it, in the first round, so Salter won by TKO.

Yoshiyuki Yoshida vs. Mike Guymon

We both selected Yoshida, we both expected him to dominate Guymon, and we were both wrong. Guymon won a unanimous decision after also winning every round.

Tim Hague vs. Joey Beltran

I figured Beltran to out-strike Hague, and Kyle predicted that Hague would win by grinding on the smaller Beltran. I came out ahead on our second disagreement, as Beltran won a unanimous decision.

T.J. Grant vs. Johny Hendricks

We both opted for Hendricks, with Kyle predicting a KO and me a TKO or a decision. We were both right to go with Hendricks, who won a majority decision. Go, us!

Jonathan Goulet vs. Marcus Davis

The UFC showed this one. Goulet did pretty well in the first round, and for a little bit I thought we might have been wrong to choose Davis. Then, though, Davis came through and won by TKO, making both of us right again.

Joe Doerksen vs. Tom Lawlor

This one also made it to the PPV. The first round was largely the way we called it, with Lawlor carrying it. In the second, though, Doerksen looked fresher, turned the tables, and when Lawlor made a mistake and left his neck unguarded, he slapped on a rear naked choke and won the fight. We blew this one.

So, as we moved to the main card, I was 4-2 and well ahead of Kyle, who was 2-4.

Alan Belcher vs. Patrick Cote

We both figured Belcher would win, with Kyle guessing he would do so by beating up Cote and me calling for a close decision. We were both right to call for Belcher, but neither of us predicted the manner: He won by submission.

Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson vs. Matt Mitrione

I can't figure out why anyone called for Kimbo to win, but that doesn't matter; we knew Mitrione would win, and he did. Though Kimbo managed some impressive takedowns, they didn't phase Mitrione. Mitrione punished Kimbo's legs, and Kimbo ultimately gassed. The ref had to pull Mitrione off Kimbo in the second.

Jeremy Stephens vs. Sam Stout

We both chose Stout, and we both could make a good case for him having won;, for example, gave the fight to Stout. Stephens did more damage and hit with more power, but Stout probably landed more punches. The judges went with Stephens and gave the split decision to him.

Josh Koscheck vs. Paul Daley

We considered this fight a sure thing for Koscheck, and it pretty much was; he won all three rounds and a unanimous decision. As frequently happens in a Koscheck fight, though, there was some unnecessary drama. First, he called for a knee to him while he was down, but the replay showed the knee never connected. After the fight, in a move I've never witnessed before, Daley sucker-punched Kochcheck. If Daley doesn't get a suspension, something is very wrong, because that was one of the worst bits of conduct I've ever seen in a fight.

Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua

Holy crap did Shogun look good! He dominated Machida for the few minutes of the first round that the fight lasted before he beat the former champ by TKO. Machida hit him a few times and took him down a couple of times, but Shogun never looked to be in trouble. He kept charging after Machida, absorbed some shots, and ultimately dropped the champion and knocked him out. Boy, were we wrong on this one. Shogun looked amazing, and Machida looked dazed and confused.

When the main card ended, we were both 3-2 on it, which made me 7-4 for the night and Kyle 5-6. Any way you cut it, that's a clear win for me!

Reminder: As always, don't use us for betting advice.


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