Saturday, April 23, 2011

In case you can't get enough of me blathering... can read this piece, which appeared in the North Raleigh News section of The News & Observer. Alex Granados, who was the producer of the segment I did on the radio show, The State of Things, wrote the story. He and I talked for over an hour in my home office, though the article is, of course, vastly shorter than the interview. Alex is obviously also a writer, so we discussed not only SF writing but also writing in general. I enjoyed the conversation. I hope you find the article interesting.

On a completely unrelated topic, this song leapt into my head last night and won't leave, so now I share it with you.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Wild Side eARC is now available!

Yes, if you simply cannot wait for the paperback or the final, edited version of this hot urban fantasy anthology, you can read the stories now and get the entire manuscript just as I handed it to Baen. It'll set you back fifteen bucks, but you'll be the first on your block to have read all these great stories, including my own contribution, "The Long Dark Night of Diego Chan." You can get the eARC (electronic Advance Reading Copy) here.

The Wild Side is an adult book, with multiple stories that contain sex scenes, so I don't recommend it for children.

I should also note that this ebook, like all of those from Baen, comes completely free of any DRM controls. We trust you to behave honorably.

If you're a Kindle user, click the "Using the Amazon Kindle with Webscriptions" button to the left of the book's cover, and you'll see instructions for buying the book and sending it to your Kindle.

I hope you enjoy it!


Yes, I know it was only 24% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes the day I went, but I had to check out Arthur for three reasons:

* Helen Mirren
* Russell Brand
* Helen Mirren
Did I mention Helen Mirren?

The fundamental challenge that this film faces are well-documented and formidable in our current social and economic environment: sympathetically portraying an alcoholic who spends money wildly and capriciously.

One way to address this problem is to try to skate right by it, largely ignoring the personal and social consequences and hoping the audience will play along with you. That's what the original movie did.

Another way is to try to pay at least some heed to these issues. That's where this version went. It was consequently both a more intelligent film than the original and a far more uneven one. They probably would have fared better by trimming a good twenty minutes and making the result far more of a velocity exercise, one that barely let you catch your breath--and thus hoped to lure you away from anything resembling serious consideration of the subject matter.

But they didn't, and so though the film is fun at times, it also drags quite a bit.

Helen Mirren, however, was as lovely and powerful a presence as always. Her intelligence and strength was always evident, but so was her affection--however difficult to understand--for the man-child Arthur.

Russell Brand was predictably at his best in the silly moments. Those that required him to be serious clearly stretched his acting abilities too far.

Greta Gerwig, though scripted to be so basic a character that any modern lips-and-eyes actress could have filled the role, still managed to make you like her--and was a vast improvement over Liza Minelli in the original.

I don't regret going to see the film, but I also can't recommend it wholeheartedly. On balance, save Arthur for your Netflix queue.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Zely & Ritz

In an unusual weekend choice, we decided to sample the two Eno Hospitality Group restaurants back to back. So, Saturday night we headed to Zely & Ritz.

We ate our way through a good chunk of the menu. Overall, the meal was good but decidedly uneven. The risotto with oxtail, for example, was rich and strong, but the vegetarian risotto was bland and made several at our table yearn for a salt shaker. The mussels were excellent, but the pork belly and the potatoes on the plate with it were both overcooked. The pork loin was tasty but not as tender as it should have been. The asparagus spears were lovely, but the grit cakes with them were bland and mushy.

Three of the four desserts our group shared were strong and generally raised the batting average of the meal.

The restaurant was operating shorthanded, so perhaps that's the source of the unevenness we experienced. Regardless, I like the place and the people who operate it, so I'll go back, but not for a while.

In the battle of the siblings, Zely & Ritz came up short. The victory clearly goes to Piedmont.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

For every daughter who's ever had a bad day

I happened across this song while playing some tunes randomly, and I remembered that he wrote it after talking with his then-four-year-old daughter. As a dad, I know that you never stop feeling this way about your daughter. I figured that some daughters might not realize or remember that about their fathers, so to all the daughters everywhere, I send this song.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Mr. Poor Choices t-shirt design

I've mentioned before that we'll be selling shirts at Balticon for this show and, as usual, donating all the profit to Balticon's reading charity. Thanks to Jennie, who designed the previous two shirts, I can now show you what the designs on the shirt will be. (We won't have the shirts themselves for several weeks.)

As with the previous two show shirts, we're going with a nice heavy black basic t-shirt, because everyone can wear black. The front will continue the tradition of having a very basic design over the heart.

It obviously won't look like a box on the black background of the shirt, so work with me.

The back will be a lot more fun.

Every poor choice on it is either something I've done (the ones with check marks) or from the show.

To understand them, come to the show.

I don't know yet what we'll be charging for the shirts, because I don't know yet what they will cost. As soon as we have the shirts in hand and know the price, I'll post full shirt photos and pricing here. If you want one of these shirts, you have two options:

1) Come to the show at Balticon and buy it there.

2) Preorder.

At the show, we'll take only cash, so please come prepared.

For pre-ordering, please wait until you see pictures of the shirts here, then contact me via the form on the site. You'll need to pay the shipping postage plus the cost of the shirt; we'll pack and mail them for free.

I think they'll be a lot of fun, and they're certain to be conversation starters in almost any group!

Monday, April 18, 2011

On the road again: college visit, day 2

After almost no sleep, I rose early to set out for the information session, the tour, and lunch with a friend of Scott's. All were fun, and the campus was lovely. After lunch, we hit the computer science department's information session, which was reasonably informative and, as one would expect, drew an entirely male student audience. The paucity of women in computer science is a big issue for the U.S. and one on which there is now a great deal of work.

By going to the early sessions, we were able to leave in mid afternoon and drive home. All of us were ready to be back, and after a tiring drive, I'm happy to be able to report that we are.

I'm also pleased to note that all of the colleges my kids have considered have struck me as rather significantly higher quality institutions than anyplace I attended. In this area, I feel I have done my job of making things better for the next generation. Much, much greater work remains on that front, of course, but we must enjoy the small victories we get.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

On the road again: college visit, day 1

After Scott's violin recital this afternoon, we hit the road for a college visit. A little less than an hour into the drive, we stopped at a Sheetz to refuel and pick up road food supplies. Those places have everything! If you need a donut, a hot dog, seventeen kinds of soda, about a hundred types of candy, and chips of all varieties, Sheetz is the place for you.

Several pleasant car hours later, we arrived, settled into our hotel, and then explored the town a bit on our way to what proved to be a pretty good Italian dinner.

Tomorrow, we get up early, attend information sessions, and tour the campus!

No tornado damage here

Multiple folks have contacted me with concern that we had suffered during the bad weather that hit Raleigh yesterday. I appreciate the concern, but I am glad to be able to report that the tornadoes hit far from us and nothing bad happened to us. All is well here.

I cannot say the same, alas, about some very dear friends, who suffered a tree crashing into their house's rear deck and kitchen. I am quite concerned about them, but fortunately no one was injured.

Thanks again for the concern.


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