Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spite Which Hand?

We're in an election year, and I'm pretty thoroughly jaded on politics so I wouldn't normally bring it up, but the 2012 presidential race is really getting under my skin.

I've said before (maybe even here) that the two-party system is a detriment to the voting process in that it creates a false dichotomy: you're either a Republican or a Democrat and follow the party line. What about the rest of us? My father in law is a heavily left-leaning Democrat and  a gun owner. I'm an independent who'd almost certainly be called left-leaning, but I'm for the continuation of the death penalty. Most people's opinions don't fall neatly into one category, but the current political climate promotes scooping up a handful of issues and tossing them into a red or blue bin.

A typical argument for not introducing further parties (not that it's as easy as declaring that a new one should exist, or that a single body is responsible for that decision) is that the more groups there are to receive votes, the fewer satisfied voters there are. That is, if there were, say, five parties, and support between them was divided almost evenly, you could end up with nearly 80% of the voter base casting a ballot for a losing candidate. And that thereby 80% of voters would be denied their choice for president.

I'm not sure how that logic can be defended when even in a very contentious year such as 2008 [url=http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781453.html]only a little over half of the voting-age population[/url] could be bothered to turn out. Consider further that between the major two political parties, [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2008#Ballot_access]each only received about half of the popular vote[/url] (Democrats/Republicans, slightly over and slightly under, respectively), meaning that Barack Obama was elected with the support of about 25% of the population. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement. Of either candidate, for that matter.

Realistically fully half of the population doesn't care enough to vote, for whatever reason. Almost as if it doesn't seem worth it or perhaps that they don't really believe they're being represented. The last point is debatable, but the adversarial culture infesting politics these days is not. What else explains [/url=http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/01/analysis-republicans-sett_0_n_480801.html] the record use of the Filibuster by Republicans since 2008?[/url] There's not even the grudging respect you would hope that elected officials might show one another, just a willingness to drive the other party into the ground even at the cost of taking the country with it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yep, I'm Still Alive

Blogging strikes me as a bit narcissistic: you have to assume that you have something interesting to say and that others are interested in reading it. I think that's why I've never continued on with it for long. I'm working regularly now and life is running pretty smoothly. But that's not terribly interesting and I don't feel inclined to bring it up.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Switching Station

I've been writing a lot less lately. It's not a full stop, but the chair in my office at home definitely doesn't get warmed all that often these days, and I think I know why: it's the house.

I could also blame the fact that I'm working now, and time certainly does factor in but the major reason is all of the home projects I've got going on. Most recently I picked up an antique Budweiser light/sign at a yard sale and I'm working on restoring that and eventually hanging it up in the den. Then there's the mulch I need to finish putting down on the lawn. And there was the fountain on the property that I had to take down, ripping the wires out in the process and necessitating some reseeding in some areas.

But time isn't really the issue here. It hit me today that working on these things fulfills that same creative need as sitting at my desk and banging out a story. In fact I'd argue it does a better job of that since I'm a very tactile person and working on things that change my physical environment feels more rewarding than placing text into a file.

What does it mean for now? Well, my writing is going to slow way down. Or, it has. I'm not sure that's a bad thing. I don't intend for those skills to rust, but working at my own pace feels more relaxing rather than forcing myself to sit at a desk and produce content, which sometimes feels like a punishment.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Snows, White

I've seen two film interpretations of Snow White in the past few months, and one on TV. That's probably two too many.

Nicole and I saw Snow White and the Huntsman this past weekend. And while I didn't dislike it per se, I can't give it a ringing endorsement. Better than Mirror, Mirror? Sure, for as much as you can compare an adventure film to a comedy. Funnily enough when we went to see "Mirror, Mirror" weeks earlier, a trailer for "Huntsman" played and I whispered to Nicole "Wait, isn't that the movie we came to see?" Hell, the "Huntsman" trailer even begins with the "mirror, mirror" line. I hadn't even remembered that there were two Snow White movies this year.

So "Huntsman" styles itself as a dark-ish, action/adventure film and I wouldn't dispute that it belongs in that category. Where it begins to unravel is where it incorporates its source material and the dissonance with how modern movies are made and what is expected.

For starters, nowadays you can't have a helpless princess waiting to be rescued (unless that helplessness is played off as a sort of character flaw, or we're talking about something made for kids), no, a female protagonist has to be strong and independent, or at least must become that along the way. Both movies (and "Once Upon a Time, too) have their Snow White evolve along those lines. In the opening minutes of "Huntsman" we hear about a queen who pricks her finger on a rose blooming in winter, and wishes that her daughter would be as beautiful as the red blood against the white snow... and as strong as the rose that's blooming in defiance of winter.

Interesting. I read a version of Snow White years ago where some princes are out hunting. One shoots a hare and, when they see its blood against the snow, comments that a woman whose complexion was of those two colors would be the fairest in the land. There's no mention of strength; it's thrown in to "Huntsman" to push the notion of a strong Snow White. Nothing wrong with that, of course. In fact I think it's elegantly done

But this Snow White really isn't the strong and heroic type. She doesn't really do much of anything and always needs someone else to pull her bacon out of the fire. Except at the end, where's she's suddenly and completely trained in the use of medieval armor and weaponry. There's no real character arc other than "Well, someday she'll be great... okay, that's now." None of the crises she faces seem to develop her in any way, teach useful skills or build character.

So, Snow White is pretty weak. But what about the Huntsman? Well, we don't get much on him either. Apparently his wife has died, and we later learn in a throwaway line that it was very probably the evil queen who did so. Chris Hemsworth of "Thor" fame is pretty much just here for the action. That and a pointless love triangle with Snow White and her childhood friend, the duke's son William. There's never any tension here. It seems that someone who had a hand in this movie realized that their male lead was playing a peasant and that princesses marry princes. The movie leaves this open ended. As good a way to finish as any, I suppose.

On the other hand, it had just as much humor as "Mirror, Mirror" did.

Buckshot Blog Post

Y'know, I think the reason I blog as infrequently as I do isn't that I have nothing to say, it's that there's too much to say. So here it all is.

For instance, did you know that July 3rd was the 8th anniversary of the first date my wife and I ever went on? We went out to Friendly's and watched fireworks at my old college. While sitting in my Corolla afterwards (a 93, not the most comfortable car in the world) and waiting for the traffic to clear the parking lot, I called my parents to let them know how things went. Dad was incredulous because apparently he and mom did the same thing on their first date.

Well, they've been married since 1977, and Nicole and I have been together for eight years, so maybe there's something to that setup?

In unrelated news, during our most recent live D&D 3.5 group I summoned a pack of fiendish apes into the mouth of a gigantic sea creature. They wreaked havoc on its gums for all of about six seconds before the creature closed its mouth, crushing them all.

July 8th is my birthday. I'll be 32. Man does it get hard to muster up the energy for birthdays outside of your 20s. Even at 22 I was keenly aware that there we no more growing up to do, only growing old. Presents are nice though. Of course, even those have changed. This year I really only want beer and Home Depot gift cards, a sure sign I'm an adult or something like one.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Androids are Unequivocally Evil

The list of nonsensical plot points and dead ends Nicole and I came up with as were driving home from watching Prometheus kept us talking the entire way. And yet I can't say I didn't enjoy it. That being said, I need to vent. Spoilers aplenty up ahead, to read at your own risk.

1: What was the big damn deal about finding the cave painting in the opening when only a few minutes later into the film they reveal that there are many of these?

2: Why does Weyland hide his presence on the ship? The guy is a billionaire and has the hubris to, you know, ask "god" for eternal life. I doubt he cares what anyone thinks of his accompanying the mission. The two people effectively at the head of the expedition are doing so because they want to say "hi" to the people who made them,, so is Peter. So what's the big damn deal?

3: What is the point of David infecting Holloway? He has no reason to believe that doing so would further any of Peter's goals. If anything, they might hamper them since Peter Weyland supposedly hand picked many of the people on the mission. You could argue that David resents his maker and he does this to sabotage things, but that doesn't hold up when you consider that he doesn't do anything to the rest of the ship, or the crew, or any of a hundred other things he could be doing to actually sabotage this event if he wants to.

4: The biologist and geologist. One second they're freaked out at being stuck in the alien facility. The next, they're goofily dicking around with dick cobras. How does Mr. biologist not recognize the dick cobra's threat display? And before you go saying things like "Well, it's not like he could know what that hissing and flaring hood meant" well, what did you think it meant?

5: Shaw wakes up from being drugged, knocks two people out, runs to the surgery vending machine and gets the horrific alien squid thing out of her. How does nobody find her in the middle of all of this? It's not exactly a huge ship. And why does nobody care that there's an alien squid thingy on the ship now?

Funnily enough I actually enjoyed this. The visuals are good, and it makes you feel small and insignificant. I'd say it was successful tone-wise if very sketchy in the character and script departments.


How do people do it?

Just working a part time job and doing perhaps 85% of the housework, I can't seem to find the energy to write or do much of anything other than laze about after work. The screenplay I'm working on with my wife's cousin is stuttering along, but slowly. And I've started the sequel to "Up in Hell" but haven't progressed very far. I think I need to lock myself in my office and put Dimmu Borgir on repeat and get some writing done.

Friday, June 8, 2012


I've been working my new job for about two weeks now. It's pretty typical warehouse stuff. You might say I pick things up and put them down. Yeah, that about covers it.

But as I stepped into the shower after getting home from work last night, it dawned on me how satisfying it is to wash off the grime. It's a stamp that tells you you've been working hard. And I think that's part of the reason why I loathe the thought of taking a desk job: there's no tangible evidence that you've done anything that's really "work".

Aches and soreness are evidence. Stinking of sweat is evidence. And the layer of grey I need to scrub off every night tells me that, yeah, I worked. I'm not saying people who work at a computer all day are lazy, just that I don't see how that kind of thing can be satisfying without a recognizable change in your work environment at the end of the day, or a visible mark on yourself.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Nothing to See Here

So have some more Dimmu Borgir

Life is going pretty well. My new job takes up basically all the afternoon, so I find myself with less time to read and write. And really, I need to get off my ass and start submitting "Up in Hell" to a few of these markets I've scouted out. I'm itching to start the sequel and yet I feel like I shouldn't until the first one gets booted out of the nest. Then again, maybe being eager to begin a project is a good thing and I should jump on that while it lasts.

I volunteered at the American Craft Beer Fest despite protests from the social anxiety goblin. Lots of good beer was had and the work wasn't too difficult; basically just making sure that nobody was too drunk and that the brewers were behaving themselves.

Best beer: Dogfish Head's Sah'tea
Runner up: Maine Beer Co's Lunch

Worst beer: Amherst Brewing's Bloody Mary Pale ale (dear god, why?)

And we now have a bunch of coasters and sticker lying around the house that I need to figure out what to do with.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Not Much

Starting a new job today. Only part time, but there's still loads of stuff I want to do with the house and I'll have time to do it while earning a modest paycheck.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

No, This is Not My Guitar

I'm bringing it to a friend...

I though it was time for a short break from metal. And seriously I don't own a guitar. Though back when I had long hair I was often asked if I was in a band.

It's a wonderful song all in all, but there's one line I particularly love.

I came down from the room
I saw you in the rain
Laughing with some people
Hair dripping down your face

See that? He created a perfect image with truncated language. The action being conveyed is wet hair plastered across someone's face (assuming a woman here) dripping. The hair is not doing the dripping; the water is. But "water dripping from your hair down your face" really lacks something doesn't it? It's soulless and pedantic.

I think I write a lot like that. Not the good line; the awfully specific and mechanical one. Language is a tool used to convey information. it's nice to be understood, although I sometimes think I need to push past the boundaries of comfortable, certain language. Maybe that's what all this nonsense is about.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Prisencolinensinainciusol, all right?

 Great; that title looks like something that would set off a spam filter.

Hi blog. Been a while. It's amazing how easily you can be knocked out of your routine. A couple of weeks ago we lost internet access at our house for about a week. Coincidentally, the first day without it was the day I'd scheduled a blog update. I've been trying to do one a week.  I guess I find that my particular brand of nonsense fits a little better on Twitter where it can be chopped up into miniscule chunks like a former mafioso that's turned state's evidence.

Anyway, I had something I wanted to share. Listen to this before reading what's below it.

Made in 1972, Prisencolinensinainciusol was an attempt by Italian composer Adriano Celentano to write a song that sounded like spoken English with an American accent. It is, in fact, complete gibberish. The first time I heard it, the link was provided without any explanation and it wasn't until bout two minutes in that I figured out that, no, I did not just have a stroke, and my ears were functioning perfectly well.

 So, theoretically I'm a writer. And maybe that means I like words, but I also like seeing how much can be communicated without identifiable language. The overall tone feels like he's trying to explain something, doesn't it? Kind of fitting.

 And since I'm apparently getting traffic from Beeradvocate now, I thought I'd mention that I picked up one of these today.

 I have an unreasonable fondness for Smuttynose Brewing given that I've had as many hits from them as misses. Old Brown Dog? Hit. Finest Kind? Miss. Star Island? Hit. Winter Ale? Miss. Not saying that these are objectively good or bad, just that that's where my preferences have fallen.

Gravitation is either my first or second quad, and is an absolute hit in my book. This bottle is currently chilling (literally) next to the bottle of Really Old Brown Dog in the beer fridge downstairs. Kind of fruity with a bit of bubblegum and a big booziness. Gets to be a bit much as it warms up, but a delicious beer regardless.

 I think the more questionable thing is why I would link to what is ostensible a writing blog in my Beeradvocate profile. I think I was taking too narrow an approach; basically, I'm not just an amateur writer trying to catch a break, I'm also a guy who likes beer. And football. And cooking. Trying to present just one facet had started to feel really shortsighted and limiting.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

It's Baseball Season

Not that I really care much. Theoretically I'm a Red Sox fan since I live in Massachusetts and I've been to Fenway a couple of times. Oh, and I'll root for the Sox if pressed. I used to be an Oakland A's fan years and years ago when they had Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire and Ricky Henderson. Kids like home runs.

And I just cleaned all of my old baseball cards out of the closet of the room I used to sleep in in my parents' house. According to the most recent price guide I could find, they're worth about the same now as they were when I started collecting them around 1990-91-ish.

I don't really have a team to follow, so I guess you could say I follow nostalgia. The only team I really give a damn about anymore is double-A's own New Britain Rock Cats. Not because I'm a Minnesota Twins fan (they're a Twins affiliate), obviously, but because of those roasted peanuts with the dust on them, the vaguely spicy nacho cheese they used to have, grandpa and grandma and my aunts and uncles and cousins and my mother and father who used to go to the games and still occasionally do. And I'm a fan because the park used to be so much bigger when I was a kid, but now that I'm small I realize there's not a bad seat in the relatively small house, and the fall from the back of the bleachers probably won't kill me.

I suppose the presence of beer doesn't hurt either.

They used to be a Red Sox team. Hell, they used to be the New Britain Red Sox. I remember feeling a little hurt when the change happened, but you get over things like that eventually.

Go Cats! Beat (insert team I'm not familiar with here)!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Goin' Outside

Well, you know you're a homeowner when you're cleaning old leaves out of your gutters and desperately hoping that the wasps didn't also make a nest up there. From the looks of it, the only nests were in the old grill the previous owner left behind, and I sprayed those down with pesticides one night last week so hopefully that's the last of that.

We've got bunnies and chipmunks in the yard. It's kind of cool, although I now wonder if we also have things that eat bunnies and chipmunks living nearby too. The town we're living in now is thoroughly suburban but our area is kinda woodsy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Celebrating a few Small Victories

So if I haven't already mentioned it here--and I'm sure I haven't--my drabble, "Lab Rats" just won The Drabblecast's 2011 People's Choice award for best drabble (cue excited party noises)! The story first appeared in the Drabblecast's 229th episode, opening for the story "Singularity Knocks" by Bill Ludwigsen.

In other news, I just made sold a story for over the $100 mark for the first time, and it astounds me that people are willing to pay that much for something that could be interpreted as the product of a fever dream or mental illness. Still, it's a good excuse to open up that Ommegang Abbey Ale I'd been saving. Cheers!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pleasant, Controlled Screaming

George Carlin once said something to the effect of singing just being a form of pleasant, controlled screaming. I don't agree that that's the case with all singing, but there are some bands out there which fit the bill.

Last year I finished a novel partly inspired by the Diabolical Masquerade album Death's Design. Near as I can tell, it was released under the guise of a soundtrack to a movie that, in fact, never actually existed. Something about people being between life and death and quite literally running for their lives, trying to get out a neutral zone in between. The novel--which I've tentatively titled "Up in Hell" and, though finished, has not been subbed anywhere since I've yet to work up the nerve--turned out to be about puppets trying to survive in hell. When I'd started it I only aimed to make a short zany story about a sock puppet freaking out in amusing ways as its set upon by demons. It turned out to be something a  lot harsher and probably a lot less funny.

It's funny how music can drag you along sometimes. More recently, the band Alcest struck the same chord that Death's Design had, with a track off of Ecailles De Lune called, coincidentally, Ecailles De Lune (Part 2).

There's something beautiful in the contrast between words delivered in a hoarse scream and carefully controlled, occasionally dreamlike instrumentals. It's chaos rocketing over a well-ordered landscape. Can't think of a better way to describe it than that. When the screaming is only a part of a larger whole, and its placed against something more serene, it actually feels like it serves a purpose other than being loud. It feels like a fight has broken out and some lone individual is trying to make themselves heard among something more ordered and easier to listen to, if that makes any sense.

I'm not big on throaty scream metal, most of which sounds anywhere between ridiculous and unlistenable in my opinion. This parody video by a band calling themselves the Black Satans hits what I'm tallking about dead on. A lot of that really hardcore metal just piles on the evildarkgrimevilsatanblackness until there isn't enough contrast for it to mean anything.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Stupid Nonsense

I wish I had been born with one really big hand, like the size of a tennis racket. I'd just go around slapping the shit out of people. I suppose I could do that if I'd been born with two enormous hands, but really if that happened I'd be more likely to play basketball with people's heads.

It's funny how body shape affects your outlook on life. Like, for instance, I'm kind of a big guy. Not morbidly obese or anything, just kind of stout. Dwarven, we'll say. I sometimes go for that extra slice of cake because, hey, I'm a big guy. Obviously that might be part of the reason why I'm a big guy at this point, but that wasn't always the case. I was a pretty average kid until about 4th grade when my genes caught up with me, and prior to that I didn't eat any more than anyone else. So I guess my big-guyness came before the things that perpetuated that state.

I do have pretty big feet for my height. That's not so bad. Still, they're not comically big, just helpfully balancing big. If they ever swell up to about size 15 or so I might take up tae kwan do or ballroom dancing. Or anything that might cause bodily harm or property damage.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Finding a New Pizza Place

We used to go to Cousin's Pizza in Mansfield, or rather, they would come to use after we ordered online. I really liked them. Their pepperoni did that thing where it curls into a bowl full of grease. Now we go to a place called Briggs Corner Pizza, and it's not bad, but I still like Cousin's better.

We moved to a new town in December, and the biggest downside I can think of is having to find all new places to eat, buy groceries, buy miscellaneous stuff and so forth. It's mitigated a bit by the fact that we're adjacent to an area with lot of chain stores, but all those little local shops we used to like are now out of reach.

Other than that, I guess the other thing I miss is actually having a neighborhood to speak of. We're on one end of a cul-de-sac off of a main road, and there's nothing around for miles. It was nice being at the center of our old town, where we could walk to most of the stuff that was worth visiting. Here, walking takes you out onto a major road where cars are whipping by at 50 miles per hour or more, and it'd be about 3-4 miles to the nearest donut shop.

I mean, I like donuts, and I like walking, but people drive like maniacs around here.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Not Dead Yet

I'm alive and well, though obviously the blog is covered in cobwebs. My wife and I moved to new digs in a new town around Christmas, I got (and subsequently was laid off from) a new job, and we spent a lot of time visiting relatives.

But those are just a bunch of excuses. Really I've been playing Skyrim for like two months straight.