Thursday, May 31, 2007

Blogging or Sleep?

I've been up too late, too many nights in a row recently. There have been a few all nighters, and a few nights when the total count of hours was lower than I care to admit.

So for tonight, the answer to the nightly question is, "Sleep, please!"

Before I sign off, though, let me just sneak in a quick little rant. I am starting to get pretty darn sick of dial-up. Earlier tonight I was trying to load Ellipsis to see Carly's Round Robin entry and get caught up generally. It's true that I had too many tabs open on Firefox, but really, opening one more in order to take a quiz Carly recommended really shouldn't crash Firefox so that nothing works at all, not even closing a tab! I got Firefox going again around 10 PM, closed extraneous tabs and went away to watch Doctor Who for a bit. As of midnight, Ellipsis was still loading, and so was Outpost Mâvarin, which I'd started up at the same time. Two hours. There were still photos waiting to load!

If you wonder why I don't get to as many blogs as I used to, that's one big reason why. Lots of blogs these days are full of music and videos, little animated sidebar characters, blinking clocks, weather reports, Flickr and Frappr and Google Calendar and all sorts of fun stuff that I use too, and that I'd like just fine if the page would

just

hurry

up

and

load

already!

No more waiting tonight. No photo to slow down loading time. Just me finishing my rant, and going to bed.



Well, I almost signed off. Just going back into this entry to add my name at the end, 'cause I always put it there, and to slip in one photo after all. I said I would show you my Wacky Races car when I found it again. Well, I've found it. Here it is, Dick Dastardly's purple whatever-it's-called. Kind of looks like a cross between a dune buggy and a low-rent Batmobile!

And now I really am going to bed.

Karen

(See comments thread for more.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Mailboxes of Doom!

Quick aside: I forgot the Monday Photo Shoot last night, so I've added that to last night's entry. Please scroll down for a look. Thanks!


It's Round Robin time again! This week's challenge, "Mailbox", comes to us from Gattina of KEYHOLE PICTURES. The photo above, a neighbor's birdhouse mailbox, is the only "because it's pretty!" shot you get from me tonight. Time for a brief, illustrated rant, I think, and then to bed!


Regular readers of this blog may recall that I never heard back after submitting my first novel, Heirs of Mâvarin, to a certain major publisher 15 months ago. While it's barely possible that it's still under consideration, the most likely explanation is that the response, whatever it was, was lost in the mail. The publisher's guidelines now say to resubmit after six months rather than try to chase down a wayward submission, but doing so seems like a longshot at this point. I don't blame the publisher, and still hope to place other books with them someday. But Heirs is going off to another publisher, as soon as I overcome my cover letter concerns.

It's just the latest example of important mail of mine disappearing into some vortex of lost words. This is why I try never to mail anything any more. I have no confidence it will reach its destination. In the case of my three chapters and synopsis, it got there, but the reply never found its way to my mailbox. Or maybe it did, only to disappear before we got home that day.

As discouraging that this has been, I've had far worse. Take a look at this scene in front of a local post office. Rather pretty, isn't it? It's peaceful, almost pastoral in a desert-y sort of way. But this pleasant mail drop masks a dreadful, shameful reality. The following story is substantially true, although after all these years I may be a little off on the details.

Mailbox of doom #1About ten years ago, maybe a little longer (yes, I've been known to hold a grudge!), Teresa Murray and I used to mail out issues of the Quantum Leap newsletter The Observer from this post office and one other location on the east side of Tucson. In one case we spent at least an hour in the post office lobby attaching assorted stamps to about 150 copies of the issue. We sent them First Class, all over the country, to Canada and overseas.

Nothing we mailed that day reached its destination. Ever.

Mailbox of Doom #2
So we went to the expense of reprinting the issue, stuck it in envelopes, addressed them carefully, stamped them First Class and took them to a different post office, the one pictured above.

None of those arrived, either.

For the third try we took them to the main office, Cherrybell Station. Those arrived. You can count on one hand the times I've mailed anything from either of the other two locations in the decade since.

End of rant. Now go take a gander at more mailboxes!

::::Linking List::::

Gattina - POSTED!
Keyhole Pictures
http://gattina-keyholepictures.blogspot.com/

Steven - POSTED!
(sometimes)photoblog
http://sepintx.blogspot.com/

Karen- POSTED!
Outpost Mâvarin
http://outmavarin.blogspot.com/

Marie
Photographs And Memories Too
http://journals.aol.co.uk/mariebm56/PhotographsMemoriestoo

Janet - POSTED!
Fond of Photography
http://fondofphotography.blogspot.com/

Cosette - POSTED!
Birds of Venus
http://birdsofvenus.blogspot.com/

Suzanne R - POSTED!
New Suzanne R's Life
http://newsuzannerslife.blogspot.com/

boliyou - POSTED!
Percolation
http://boliyou.blogspot.com/

Carly - POSTED!
Ellipsis... Suddenly Carly
http://ellipsissuddenlycarly.blogspot.com/

Teena - POSTED!
It's all about me!
http://purple4mee.blogspot.com/


No mailboxes or letters were harmed in the making of this entry, except one piece of junk mail from my congresswoman.

Karen

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dramas and Drama, and a bit of comedy...plus the MPS!

I can't believe I forgot the Monday Photo Shoot! Perhaps it's because I didn't get the alert until TUESDAY...not, wait, that's totally not true, I just completely failed to notice a whole block of email. Chalk it up to my level of distraction and sleep deprivation, then - but I still should have caught it. First time in two years, I think, that Scalzi assigned one and I didn't get it in that night. Well, I'm just gonna shoehorn it in here, and pretend I posted it last night with the rest of the entry. Everything in red is new. Everything in green was posted last night/this morning. The only photo actually taken over the weekend (except what's in previous entries) is the TARDIS towel. The rest are after-the-fact photos showing the results of my activities.

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Show what you did with your Memorial Day Weekend. I figure most of you got some pictures in over the last couple of days, yes?

The sad truth is, this wasn't a big picture taking weekend for me. I forgot to take my camera to church, and other than that I hardly left the house. "Fun in the sun" is probably a good description of many people's Memorial Day in cooler climates, but it's a lot less likely where the high is hovering around 100 degrees. My car registered 105 at lunch today (Tuesday).

This has been a wasted day, if you can call doing pretty much exactly what I wanted at the moment I wanted to do it "wasted." I slept in from my near all-nighter, and then ended up doing a lot of Wikipedia editing while following a few unfolding dramas, only one of them fictional. A Wikipedia admin had taken offense at some postings about him (not by me) on a site I frequent, and overreacted by removing "about two dozens links" to the site from a number of Wikipedia articles. Others put them pack in, he took them back out, and so on. Discussion ensued. At issue was the concept of a so-called "attack site", and what should be done if someone off-Wiki posts the real names of anonymous Wikipedia editors.

Now, I'm not going to tell you the name of the admin or the site that republished his name, which was already easily findable via Google on one of several sites that go out of their way to "out" Wikipedia editors. You can track down this little drama if you care, but for the moment I'm more interested in discussing the principles than the specifics. The admin was angry because a) he was called a troll, and b) his allegedly real name was posted. Therefore the offending blog was an "attack site", and no part of it should be linked to from Wikipedia for any reason. There are a few problems with that premise, however. As one essayist has already pointed out, Wikipedia includes links to sites that say far worse things, if such links are needed to establish claims made in articles about the sites' content. It seems foolish to link to Neo-Nazi sites and yet ban links to a site that on several occasions complained about a specific Wikipedian. This is especially true when the links doesn't go to the offending material.


The anonymity issue is more problematic. Many people use online identities to protect themselves from having their privacy invaded, to discourage stalking, and to spare their employers, family and friends from embarrassment. My life is an open blog, and today I added my real name to my Wikipedia user page, in case there's one person left on Earth who hasn't figured it out yet. But for a Wikipedia administrator who regularly deals with contentious articles and editors, this is not a trivial issue. I gather that off-Wiki stalking and harassment of such people does sometimes happen. But on the other hand, if the information was already readily available online, one more site mentioning the same issue hardly seems like a threat.


Which brings us back to Barbara Bauer. The infamous literary agent, known more for her sensitivity to online criticism than for her professional success in placing books for her clients, recently filed what appears to be a second lawsuit in Federal court, seeking damages for defamation and libel. This time, a jury trial is requested. The fun part was that the
site on which a friend discovered this was a bit on the Web 2.0-friendly side. It offered present search strings regarding the plaintiffs (Bauer and her agency) and each of the many defendants. One option was to search "blawgs", which I thought strangely silly until I realized it was a portmanteau of law+blogs. I don't have anything new to say on the merits of the case itself, but the page about it was kinda interesting.

Putting some clothes in a plastic tub helped
me to find other clothes I forgot I owned.

I sorted through my shoes and threw a bunch away.
This shot should remind you of someone who will be
mad at me if I call her "fictional" again.

The third real-life drama was that I found more of those darn cloth-eating bugs today, in new and unexpected places. The good news is that I got some clothes stored away in plastic tubs. We'll see if that helps. One of the towels I'm trying to save from the bugs is my 20-year-old TARDIS towel. I've hung it up in my office for now.

Linda tells me that is really isn't the way to handle the situation. Other people tell me to bring in an exterminator (no, not a Dalek), but there are reasons we wont be doing that. I'm sending Linda's suggestions on to John, and we'll probably follow them. One thing, though: all those irreplaceable old clothes that John found eaten to shreds a month ago were in a cedar chest to prevent this very problem.

On the novel-writing front, I've come to suspect that I already wrote the scene I'm trying to write, about four chapters deeper in the book. I need to decide now whether to cut the earlier scene, or do something else with the character there.

John Smith's A Journal of Impossible Things

And yes, I watched Doctor Who, albeit not as much as you may expect. One thing I especially enjoyed in Saturday's Doctor Who episode was John Smith's dream diary, A Journal of Impossible Things. People have done screen grabs of each page seen on screen, and done their best to transcribe the scribblings on it. A sample:

Page 14:
Drawing of Rose, titled "Girl"
To the right of the drawing, it says "in my dreams, she keeps walking away I see her in my dreams".
To the left: "She is my ... In my dreams I keep asking a girl where to find me(?) and she is dressed in a most unmodest way. She will not answer me and she keeps walking away"

Oh! And while researching Peggy Cass this afternoon, I found this gem:

The Time God Appeared on "To Tell The Truth"

Oh, I'm so gullible. But it's from a satirist who has written for Lily Tomlin and Saturday Night Live.

Karen

Monday, May 28, 2007

Ten Feet Beyond the Road

Jess is back with a new blog, and

New Writer's Weekly Question #1:

In creating the world your characters live, work, and play in, what sorts of things have you had to consider? How do you go about creating a world that allows your characters to do what they need to do, and yet make the world accessible to your readers?

First of all, let me link to an important resource for this, which is also on my sidebar:

Patricia C. Wrede's Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions

As the name says, it's for building fantasy worlds, but I imagine parts of it would be useful for science fiction and other genres, with a bit of imagination and adaptation.

Now, I've told this story before, although not in much detail:

K
ate Wilhelm and Damon Knight (he's the guy with the beard, right) taught the last two weeks together. Damon seemed to contradict a lot of the writing advice we'd had to that point, even some of his own. He also discouraged the heck out of me when he said he had the impression that Mâvarin ended "ten feet beyond the road." I disagreed strongly, but the truth is that I wasn't big on concrete detail in those days. I've worked hard over the years to overcome my talking heads syndrome, in large part because of Damon's remark. Damon also taught about the business side of writing, which I found more helpful at the time than the actual writing advice. Oddly, though, I've since bought a book of Damon's writing advice, and it all resonates with me, nearly thirty years later.

The material of mine that Damon Knight was critiquing consisted of early drafts of the first three chapters or so of The Tengrem Sword, later to become Heirs of Mâvarin. I was no good at physical description back then; when you don't tend to notice what things look like, you probably won't describe them well, either.

But when I finally found a way to write past page 70 (short version: wrote in restaurants, and mostly didn't try to plot things in advance), mentioning how something looked (or sounded, or smelled) was something I tried to make myself do. And as characters fretted about what to do next, I worked through their immediate options, figured out the implications and wrote the scenes.

Among the things I've had to learn about Mâvarin:

  • It's not really a fake-medieval setting. For one thing, it's an alternate universe version of the eastern U.S., not England. for another, the technology is closer to the Age of Homespun than the Middle Ages.
  • There are no dragons, unicorns, minotaurs, griffins, harpies, etc. in Mâvarin. However, they exist in the mythology of Londer, so mages with the right talents can make a conceivably make a monster (but seldom do).
  • The average mage has two or three magical talents. Rani has four.
  • Some spells are "cross discipline" and require only generalized magical talent, not anything specific.
  • The main road from north to south parallels the River Misis, sort of a cross between the mighty Mississippi and the Eric Canal. There are barges on the river.
  • There are big controversies within magical communities around different styles of magic, especially spirit magic.
  • There's a book on an island in the middle of the ocean, which unlocks the secret of traveling to other versions of reality.
  • Londer is basically Victorian. Mâvarin is backward by comparison.
  • Del stayed in a blue bedroom.
More later. Must sleep now!

Karen

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pointing at the Past - and Thoughts on Identity

Right. 2:09 AM. Doctor Who Confidential is cued up on the other computer, the laundry (well, some of it) is in the dryer, and it's time to write my entry for tonight. Good thing I can crib half of it from my old AOL Journal, Musings from Mâvarin!

Because I'm totally insane sometimes in an OCD sort of way, I've spent an hour or two today updating two Musings entries from 5/21/2004:

Las Vegas: The Non-Gamblers' Experience
The Sublime and the Ridiculous: LV as a SF/F Destination

Blame John Scalzi and Joe Loong. John Scalzi wrote about people using moblity scooters to get around the Las Vegas Strip, which reminded me how much fun John (Blocher) and I had walking around the place three years ago taking photos. But when I looked at my two postings about it, I saw something Joe warned us about recently: an old AOL You've Got Pictures album was displayed as a Ken Burns style Woohoo slideshow.

I actually hate the old YPG albums; they used to display things too small inside a huge ugly frame, and and never worked well for me and my dial-up. And I love the Ken Burnsy thing. That's not a problem for me at all. I've even put a Ken Burns Woohoo on my church's main web page. But the tiny, grainy photos in that entry, taken three years ago with a Mavica and edited with whatever I had available at the time, are not improved by scrolling lovingly across an extra-large display of the dark, low-res images. So I've deleted one photo that was especially bad, edited full size versions of eight more shots and added them in. And yes, I left it Ken Burns style. Because I don't quite trust you folks to go take a look at the original entry, here is the revised slideshow:



Hmm. The slide show won't display for me in the AOL version of this entry. Stupid dial-up! I'll be interested to know whether it displays for anyone else. It could be a slow connection issue, or it could simply be the way I copied and pasted it in here. (I did get it to display when I loaded the individual entry, so it's probably a connection speed issue. YGP gets impatient with the wait while the Journals product is still loading the other pictures on the page, not to mention the darn ad.)

But all this is a silly thing to do, isn't it? These are extremely obscure journal entries, virtually unknown to the search engines and remembered only by me. When I posted those musings about our Las Vegas trip in May 2004, I only had about two or three readers. Grainy pictures aside, I wrote what I still think is a really good entry about Las Vegas becoming a viable destination for fans of science fiction and fantasy, but nobody ever saw it or commented. And that entire journal, Musings from Mâvarin, is virtually abandoned now. So why did I bother fixing up a three year old posting in a disused journal? Um, because I could, I think. And three years later, I still hope someone will read it and leave a comment. (And Barbara actually has done so. Bless you, Barbara!)

End of cross-posting, with revisions.

Today was, of course, the first part of the Doctor Who story I've been ranting about for several weeks. It was excellent - upsetting and scary and sad and touching and exciting and effective. I don't quite have a feel for the John Smith character yet, despite David Tennant's wonderful acting, but that may just be because as a viewer I'm constantly looking for signs that the Doctor is still in there somewhere, and because the episode has to do so many other things that we can't linger too long exploring him in the first half of the story. Martha, on the other hand, was completely accessible and believable. I'm not going to go on about the actual plot tonight; I just mention it here because it leads me back to a recurring theme in my own writing, that of identity.

When I was in junior high or high school, or possibly both, I remember being taught about the concept of image. It troubled me at the time. I couldn't quite grasp it, couldn't quite believe or approve of the idea that, aside from acting or outright lying, one person could be different things at different times to different people. I was certain that I was always Karen, no more and no less, whether I was talking to a classmate, a teacher, a family member or a friend. I was real. I was me.

To a certain extent that's still true of me. I do try to curb my eccentricities somewhat at work and at church, and don't blurt out everything I'm thinking at the moment I think it. But that's more a matter of self-control (which I don't have in abundance), not really image control. I still like to think I'm really Karen to everyone: to you and Carly and John and Father Smith and anyone else who encounters me.

But not everyone has the same impression of a person, whether the person is trying to project an image or not. Two people I like at work don't like each other much, apparently because of their interactions with a third person who liked one and not the other. M therefore doesn't have the same impression of A that I have. And that sort of thing can snowball, so that cliques form and people react to an idea of someone rather than the person herself. Back at my previous job, a mean-spirited person briefly worked with us. She sat in front of another employee who, well, didn't work very hard at her job. They gossiped with each other, and with another employee who was there at the time. Within a week, one of the people in the office was saddled with a false rumor about his or her sexuality, and I was being scorned by someone whose opinion of me had previously been neutral. The bad apples were soon gone, but the interactions between the people who stayed were tainted by what had been said. The damage was done.

And even beyond all that, people change over time. Why do we do that, and how? I don't know why this question haunts me so, but it turns up in my writing over and over, in many forms. One reason, we know now, is that brains physically change. A teenager's brain isn't quite formed yet, particularly the part that deals in understanding of consequences and self-control. We learn new skills and make new memories, and they are physically encoded in our synapses. Nasty lesions form as we get older, and brain cells get killed off by strokes and alcohol. Although the brain is remarkably good at rerouting around such obstructions, it's bound to have an effect. So our minds change, literally.

It's more than that, though. I do and say certain things because I lost my glasses that one time when I was eight (and again in 1986), because I really enjoyed that Business Law class when I was 47, because I watched Jim Kirk lose his memory one night in 1968, because Shiori died on Good Friday over a decade ago, because I never heard back from Tor, well, all sorts of reasons, a lifetime of reasons. Our experiences change us, our desires change us, the things we try to accomplish change us, and even the impressions others have about us change us. I tend to explore and exaggerate all that in my fiction, put pressure on a character and watch him or her change in response:

  • A researcher into ape behavior gradually becomes an ape himself.
  • Teenage twins learn separately that they have completely different names, along with the responsibilities that go with those names.
  • A boy becomes a monster, and must learn to integrate his human side with the animal he becomes.
  • A half-mad King would rather stay a captive than come home and rule the country again.
  • A mage loses his memory, and is afraid to reclaim it, preferring instead to become an ordinary person (although he isn't one).
  • A teenager in love makes himself forget her to protect her, and loses more of himself than he intended.
  • A college physics student goes a little crazy after being expelled from his original version of reality.
  • High school students start remembering other lives in a magical land.
  • A young woman wins a race on her birthday, and the prize involves being no longer human.
  • A child whose godmother is lost in the future teaches herself to become the one person who can save her.
  • A bored young aristocrat runs away to sea when things get difficult at home, and reinvents herself as a pirate named Kate.
One of the most potent of these scenarios, for me, is one in which a character must choose between a current identity and one that has somehow been lost. If Fabi becomes Fayubi again, what happens to the personality that was Fabi? If Rani can ditch his tengrem body, why should he return to it? If Kirok becomes Kirk again, what happens to the man who loved Miramanee? And if Martha can convince John Smith that the Doctor is real, has Smith any reason to become that person again?

Imagine what that would be like. If you were told that the life you remember is a lie, and that you're really a pirate or a princess, a mage or a Time Lord, would this be welcome news? To choose to reclaim that forgotten life would be a death, because you won't be you any more, at least not the version of you that you currently recognize as yourself. In one version of this scenario that I wrote, I worried for hundreds of pages about what was going to happen to the character when the time came. He clearly didn't want to be that other guy. In the end, that identity went to someone else, someone who was meant to be that person, who always longed for it but had been prevented from having that life.

Crel lurks inside me.
What if I were to find out I was Queen Cathma?

Okay, so it's exceedingly unlikely that anyone is going to tell me (except metaphorically or in jest) that I'm really the Queen of Mâvarin, or that I'll suffer from tv-style amnesia and later find out who I am. You're unlikely to learn that your father was a Jedi, or you've really been to the Land of Oz, or that you travel through time and space in a police box. But imagine for a moment that something like that has just happened to you. Suddenly you have a chance to leave behind your normal life and become someone extraordinary. Do you do it? Or do you cling to who you are?

Karen

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Meanwhile, back in the 1970s...

Having watched the 2005-2007 episodes of Doctor Who far too many times of late, I supplemented this tasty but limited diet tonight by watching two of the older serials, Spearhead from Space and Planet of the Spiders. They bracket the Jon Pertwee era of Doctor Who.

Spearhead from Space (1970) introduced the Third Doctor, first seen coming out of the TARDIS and collapsing. The serial reunited the Doctor with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and U.N.I.T., a partnership that lasted into the Fourth Doctor era and has occasionally resurfaced since. It introduced a new companion, Liz Shaw, and a new enemy, the Nestenes (and their living plastic henchmen, the Autons). There's a lot of fun stuff in it, but it's also rather tedious; it's a six-part story, and could easily have been done in five episodes, perhaps even four. I've always thought it seemed rather padded out with shambling and skulking Autons, not to mention sneaky Sam Seeley, the poacher who finds a Nestene "thunderball" after an alleged meteor shower.

Planet of the Spiders (1974) is the Third Doctor's swan song. Another six-parter, it has a long and messy plot involving a disgraced former U.N.I.T. Captain, Mike Yates; two Tibetan monks who are actually a) from Gallifrey and b) the same person; a mysterious blue crystal that kills a hapless psychic, doubles a mentally retarded man's IQ and is coveted by a giant spider; a bitter ex-salesman who allies himself with a spider in a quest for power; and squabbling brothers who want to free their people from the spiders' domination. At the end, the Doctor returns the crystal to its cave on Metebelis III, knowing the exposure to the place will basically kill him. He then gets lost in the Time Vortex for several weeks off-camera, is taken back to UNIT by the TARDIS, stumbles out into the lab and dies, only to regenerate into Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor) with Cho-Je's/K’anpo Rinpoche's help. See? Like I said, a mess. The mystical claptrap in this story is equally messy; I know very little about meditation and Zen and other buts of Eastern philosophy, but I sincerely hope it makes more sense than what Cho-Je tells Sarah Jane.
When these stories first aired, I'd never heard of Doctor Who, so it's not too surprising that these stories remind me of a different era from the one in which they were made. These are the shows I was watching back in 1990, when I joined a brand new Doctor Who club, was elected editor of its fanzine while I was out of the room and, a few months later, interviewed Jon Pertwee himself. My friends and I spent the decade watching Doctor Who and Quantum Leap, driving to and from Los Angeles to attend conventions and interview writers and actors, and writing about these two time travel shows. Yes, it was a great time.

But as I look as these old Doctor Who serials now, I can't help making comparisons with the newer ones I've been watching recently. The Autons and the Nestene Consciousness reappeared in the first of the 2005 shows, Rose, which introduced the Ninth Doctor. Like the Third Doctor, Christopher Eccleston's Doctor turns up having already regenerated offscreen, meets a young woman who will become his companion, and has to deal with shop window dummies that kill. But the resemblance between the shows pretty much ends there. The first story takes twice as long to tell as the second, and the climactic confrontation is between the Doctor and some seriously ridiculous-looking tentacles, with a woman scientist helping to save the say. Rose gives him a glowing CGI vat of living plastic to negotiate with. When negotiations fail, the Doctor and the planet are saved by a 19-year-old shop girl. The 2005 episode has clever dialogue and real emotion. The 1970 one has Sam Seeley, a stupid and greedy character who is probably based on a stereotype that, not being British, I don't quite recognize.

And yet in toto, the old series have much that is wonderful and iconic. Without Spearhead from Space, there could be no Rose; without Planet of the Spiders, no School Reunion. By 1970, viewers knew about the TARDIS, and the fact that the Doctor was a Time Lord, even if they hadn't learned all the ramifications of that. They had seen a series of companions come and go, watched the Doctor defeat the Daleks and Cybermen several times over, each, and even witnessed a regeneration, although it was not yet called that. If many of the episodes featured rubber monsters, spaceships on strings and caves with 90 degree corners, what of it? That's how it was back then. Even Star Trek looks cheesy by today's standards. And it was well worth putting up with the occasional silly tentacle creature to get to the stories about this amazing character, the Doctor, one of the greatest characters in the history of television.

I'm going to bed now. When I wake again, I'll get to watch the Doctor go somewhere he's never been before (outside of one well-regarded novel): out of his own persona and biology to be transformed into an all-too-human teacher named John Smith. The concept is somewhat similar to what one of my characters goes through in Mages, when he loses his memory and is not at all sure he wants to reclaim his old life afterward. So why does the episode that airs to day in England, Human Nature, make me so darn nervous? It's my friend the Doctor they're messing with - they'd better not screw this up!

Karen
K

Friday, May 25, 2007

Two TV Shows and Three Books

Aww, heck. I forgot this was Weekend Assignment night. Time to shoehorn something tv-related into my already-posted entry. I'll fix it up some time tomorrow.

Weekend Assignment #167: You watched some bad TV as a kid. Tell us your favorites. Now, this doesn't mean you realized at the time it was bad. Just now, in the fullness of time, you recognized that your viewing choices left something to be desired. For the purposes of this assignment, try to stick with shows that were aimed at kids, although if you can't think of any, prime time shows are okay as well.

Extra Credit: How much TV did you watch when you were a kid? A lot? A little?

Y'know, I don't really remember watching anything all that bad. The Bullwinkle Show and George of the Jungle are still great stuff, and even The Jetsons had their moments. Quick Draw McGraw is still surprisingly good, whereas I never liked The Magilla Gorilla Show (except for the theme song). The animated Star Trek series wasn't great visually, but the scripts were mostly decent, and anyway I was in high school by then.

The low key live action series Captain Kangaroo I haven't seen in decades, but my memories say that it was something extraordinary. I was bored by the Mickey Mouse Club reruns, but they weren't actually bad tv, and they weren't a favorite. The George Reeves Superman holds up surprisingly well today, so that doesn't qualify, either.

I guess if I have to choose something (and that's the game, isn't it?), then I'll go with one live action show and one cartoon series. Let's face it: The Munsters is bad. I'm sure I watched it, and had a certain fondness for the characters, but the actual stories are pretty awful, and the premise doesn't make a lot of sense. Exactly how are a vampire, a werewolf and a Frankenstein monster related? The Addams Family wasn't much better for actual plot content, but Morticia, Gomez, Uncle Fester, Thing and Lurch were wonderful characters, series composer Vic Mizzy's music was outstanding, and their "house is a museum" - a true Museum of the Weird.

On the animated series end of things (and this was pre-Scooby Doo, a show I never liked much), my big favorite one year was Wacky Races. The darn thing only had one plot: the same group of gimmicky, ill-defined characters race each time, with Dick Dastardly and Muttley cheating in an attempt to win. Their machinations backfire, and some other randomly-selected character wins the race for no particular reason. Yeegh. Can you believe that Michael Maltese, the great writer of What's Opera, Doc? and other classic cartoons under Chuck Jones, is one of the writers credited for this travesty? Well, he is. The only reason I liked this show, other than a certain weakness for Muttley and for Penelope Pitstop, was that my neighbors the Stockwell kids and I were heavily into Hot Wheels cars at the time, and the cereal box character Quisp, who appeared during the show's commercial breaks. These considerations do not good show make. But you know what? I have a Hot Wheels-style Wacky Races car floating around here somewhere, so you know I still have a small soft spot for the show.

On the Extra Credit: are you kidding? I watched a heck of a lot of tv growing up. I don't regret it one bit.

And now for the books:

The Last Colony by John Scalzi

Last night I got sufficiently sucked into John Scalzi's The Last Colony that I stayed up way too late and finished it. I don't want to write about the book in any detail tonight, but I have two quick points to make on the subject:

  1. This final volume of the Old Man's War trilogy is probably the best of the three. It's certainly the best in plotting and pace, and matches the others in likable characters and clever dialogue.
  2. Although this is intended to be the last book in the series - Scalzi said that night in Scottsdale that he metaphorically "blew up the universe" at the end of it - a further sequel would be much more doable than the author believes. If Sherlock Holmes can return from Reichenbach Falls, John Perry, his friends or relatives can certainly have interesting further adventures in the brave new world in which they find themselves at the end of the trilogy. I'm not suggesting that the author should be trapped by popularity into writing more of the same for the rest of his career. I'm just saying that he can write at least one more, in the fullness of time, if he chooses to do so.
Doctor Who: The Inside Story by Gary Russell


I've met Gary Russell several times over the years, but that's not why I bought this. Billed as "The Definitive Guide to the Making of the New Series," it was the best of the Doctor Who books at Borders this evening, and only two dollars more including tax than the $25 gift card I came across in my wallet the other day. I was kind of hoping for a recent Doctor Who novel that looked good, by an author whose name I recognized - Gary Russell for example - but they were all hardbacks, and none of them looked very promising. So I picked up this "making of" instead, and yes, I'm enjoying it.

Heirs of Mâvarin by Karen Funk Blocher

Last night's cover letter has gone to a second draft in response to suggestions, and I think (hope!) it's nearly good enough send out. One of the bits I worked on added started out something like this:

Nominally for adults, this bildungsroman, with its teenage protagonists, should have crossover appeal in today’s young adult fantasy market.

Oh, yeah. By all means, let's work in the literary term bildungsroman, and talk about what "should" be. And how about this?
The genre’s hidden royalty trope is just one of several ways in which the novel explores how external influences affect who we become.

Actually, the original sentence was even worse than the above, but I don't remember exactly how it went originally. But it was wordy and pretentious, I can promise you that, and it repeated much of was said in another sentence, two paragraphs away.

The current version still mentions YA appeal, but not with the weasel word "should," nor the borrowed German term for "coming of age novel." But yes, I did keep the word "trope." Is that a bad thing?

Karen

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Step One and Step Two

You'll be pleased to know that I took a few steps tonight in the general direction of submitting Heirs of Mâvarin to another publisher, since the alternative is to play the diminishing odds associated with resubmitting to Tor. I've been nervous about the cover letter; it's always the part that makes me insecure about submitting, not the novel itself but the ancillary material. But earlier this evening, on the 15 month anniversary of the submission arriving at Tor, I did a "save as" on the old Tor letter, revised it to fix the DAW guidelines, and sent it off to the usual suspects for beta reading.


Step Two is to make the manuscript itself conform to DAW specifications. I couldn't find anything in their guidelines to indicate that anything less than a full manuscript is desired. Unless I missed something, it doesn't even call for a synopsis. This could work to my advantage. I have confidence in the book itself, certainly more so than in the narrative shorthand of a synopsis. If someone will just read the actual novel, I've got a good chance of selling it. But first it needs to have the address and word count in this particular place on the first page, and the title and page number in this other place. I think the rest is okay; they don't specify Courier over Times New Roman, and the margins are already adequate. But I edited a word or two of the text itself; I expect I'll give it another once-over before I send it out.

While I'm at it, I'm probably going to submit to a certain agent who wants a manuscript rather than just a query. It means no simultaneous submission, but if it works it will be worth it.

Karen

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Keeping Our Distance

After my harsh (but honest) words last night about flowers, which I dislike largely because of their allergic properties, a representative of a species I'm extremely allergic to turned up this morning as I headed off to work. It's possible that there's something in the world I'm more allergic to than cats, but if so I've yet to see definitive evidence of it.

This particular cat, however, had no interest in doing anything that would give me an asthma attack. We both kept our distance, pretty much. I spoke kindly to it and took two pictures, but when I took a step forward (after all, I needed to get to my car), the cat dashed under the old Dodge van. I don't think there's a single cat out and about in our neighborhood that isn't at least half feral. Not one of them has ever come closer to me than this cutie, as far as I can remember.

My attitude toward cats is pretty similar to my attitude toward flowers. I recognize that they bring joy to lots of people, including most of my friends. They're kind of pretty, and kind of interesting, but they're just not for me. I rejoice that there are cats in the world, but only for the sake of the cats, and the people who care about them. They should live and be well, far away from me. This neighborhood cat, and all the cats on Calle Mumble, have that last part covered. At least this one, who reminded me slightly of a certain cat who famously had bacon briefly attached to him, was willing to stick around long enough to be photographed, for which I'm grateful.

And I'm sitting here now thinking about the cat and me this morning, and wondering whether I can get away with using the encounter as a metaphor. I have similar encounters every day, with many of you folks. The rather unreliable Blog Patrol hit counter ticks up, telling me of your visit, but like the neighborhood cats, I seldom see you directly. I must settle for being happy that you've stopped by at all, and guess at whether I have anything to offer you to make you want to stay. It's a case of intermittent reinforcement. Sometimes I write something I'm rather proud of, and the only response is the sound of metaphorical crickets. Other times I post something cursory, and it gets four or five comments. And so I wonder whether there are certain things I write about too often, and other things I should write about more. I mean, I could ask you right now to delurk and give your opinion, whether I mention my novels or Wikipedia too often, whether this blog needs more sunsets or more pictures of Tuffy, or more serious essays about something or other. I could drive myself crazy trying to work out what you want and try to give it to you, only to see you slip off down my driveway.

Feel free to give me your opinion or all that; I'd be delighted to read it. Ultimately, though, it doesn't matter if L wants to read more about my writing and submitting, M likes the most heavily edited digital photos, and S is just checking what I did for the Weekend Assignment. The truth is, I'm going to write, photograph and post according to what my brain happens to be doing that day, not on the basis of market research. Based on some figures Journals Editor Joe threw around a week or two ago, there are always going to be lots of people who read and don't comment. And that's all perfectly fine and lovely. Even if you keep your distance, I'm glad you're out there. At least you're not giving me asthma! But I can't begin to guess what you like about the Outpost, and what you'd like more of (or less of). Nor can I change what I write about on the basis of such a guess. All I can do is try to write on a variety of subjects based on my interests of the moment, and hope you like the result.

For example, I mentioned a week ago, and again a couple of nights ago, that I was stuck on a scene in Chapter 6 of An Adept in Mâvarin:

[Darsuma experiments with magic to try to find out what’s wrong. When she empties her backpack, Fayubi suggests that she resume wearing the mindclear necklace. It helps a little, for a while. Need some big impressive spell, and eventual destruction of the necklace.]

Last night and tonight I went with the "just let the characters figure it out" method to get unstuck. Rather than try to come up with "some big impressive spell," I let Darsuma work out what steps to take. She starts with a spell that turns up fairly often in the books, and then does a variant, and then:

The next step was to examine the known magic, such as it was, for any changes, either something added or something altered in aura or nature. Since nearly everything magical in the room was in her pack, she dumped it out on the bed. This time the result was a positive one. There was indeed something that had not been there before.

No, not something. Someone.
It's not hugely dramatic, but it works. It's logical, and it gets Darsuma talking with Fayubi's aura, which is where the scene needs to go. I'll take it!

Karen

Monday, May 21, 2007

Puckish Posters of Pretty Phenomena

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Make a poster out of a favorite picture. You can make a fast and easy "poster" using the Motivator online application here -- just upload or link to the photo you want to use, and then type in your text. Any photo is game. However, as I've highlighted the Motivator before (although not in a Photo Shoot), don't recycle the posters you may have made before.

You know I didn't do just one of them, don't you?

I realize that many of you folks like flowers a lot. They are a favorite photographic subject for quite a few of the Robins, some of whom do outstanding work capturing the subtleties of a single perfect bloom, sometimes whilst said bloom is being visited by some photogenic creature.

Myself, though, I just don't like flowers, and this expresses why. It's self-defense, mostly. I am allergic to many things, and flowers are about halfway up that list. One flower might not be so bad, as long as I keep my distance, but who plants just one flower? Here, to illustrate the point, is a flowerbed outside my office building. The image was an odd shape, so I did some pasting and cloning to fill it out. The original shot is of a traffic berm between two walkways, hundreds of feet long, filled with flowers.



I had a surprisingly hard time executing this second one, considering I've probably taken a few hundred sunset photos over the past 26 months. Most of them have a landscape orientation, and I wanted a portrait shaped image, big enough for the poster-making engine to make something with a decent resolution. My favorite sunset shots are among the first digital sunset photos I ever took, up on Mount Lemmon with saguaros in them. But they were only 375 pixels wide, and looked terrible when I uploaded them. The large versions are on a CD somewhere.

*****

Today my friend at work loaned me a recent issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and when I headed home this evening I happened to toss it on the car seat face down. When I got home, I was surprised to see a familiar name and image on the magazine's back cover:

My current reading - and the F&SF back cover

Heh, heh, heh. It is, of course, the book I'm reading now. My main hook as both a reader and a writer is characterization, and this book again has John Perry, a character I like a lot despite my previous musings about his not being a "damaged" person. It must be said, though, that aside from the character, aside from the banter, the strength of this book so far is the surprising twists and turns the plot keeps taking. (No spoilers this time, Paul.) Well done!

Karen

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Plan for Getting Unstuck

Okay, one down, one to go. Well, really, many more than that, but one more for now. How do I go about this?

(What the heck is Karen talking about? One what?)

King JorThis. I finally got the next bit of scene written up for the "otherworld" King Jor, got it posted on the fiction blog, and even took notes on what Jor wants to see happen next. As I've mentioned here before, I've been stuck for a while on this scene from The Mâvarin Revolutions, the sequel to the Mages from Mâvarin trilogy. Back around February my handwritten text for it was up to a bit in which the dying King says,

“So Cathla has fled the Palace. That complicates things. Hmm. There’s an idea.”

I wrote that at lunch one day in the food court at Park Place Mall, and then went back to work. If I ever knew what King Jor's idea was, I didn't write it down, and promptly forgot it. I've been trying to figure it out ever since.

One of the main things I do to get my fiction moving forward is to simply start writing, regardless of the fact that I don't know what the characters are going to do or say next. Basically I let them talk it over, and work things out for themselves. But this time, King Jor refused to cooperate. I opened my leather notebook several times to that page, but no new words appeared.

Prince Carmi. Original art by Sherlock; combined with photo and colorized by KFBEventually one day I managed to add several more paragraphs, in which Jor refused to elaborate on his idea until more witnesses arrived. This time the text ended thus:

Lt. Govan

That's all. No sentence, just the character name. Apparently I learned nothing from the Jor debacle, because again I forgot what the next bit was supposed to be. It wasn't until I sat and waited for chicken wings several nights ago that I finally realized that Govan was simply arriving in Jor's apartment, one of the witnesses the dying king was waiting for. So Jor asked him where the Princess and Commander Masan were, which led to an argument between Jor and his son, Prince Carmi, about Carmi's sister Cathla.

Finally, just tonight when I typed this up and then drove to Safeway, King Jor finally divulged what he has in mind. This time I took notes! It's not the world's greatest idea for preventing a war over the royal succession, but if King Jor were capable of doing that, the book would be over in fifty pages or less, and have a different title!

Now I need to work out a similar issue in Chapter Six of An Adept in Mâvarin, the first volume in the Mages trilogy. I think I mentioned this problem here before, too; basically, Darsuma needs to wriggle on the hook a bit as she struggles to find out why she's having memory blackouts and concentration issues. Having skipped over this and other unwritten or unfinished scenes for the last several edits and rewrites, I promised myself that this time through I would finally write or delete the placeholder scene bits, and also fix continuity errors as I found them. But again, I don't know what Darsuma has in mind. I've added all of thirty words so far, none of which tell me much.

So I've got a couple of choices:

1. I can force myself to just start writing, and hope Darsuma gets her act together.
2. I can sit on Chapter Six for the next couple or months until my brain finally gets moving on the problem, or
3. I can give up on it for now anyway, and keep going on other scenes.

When I was writing the bulk of Mages, I had this good little method going. I would add the next chapter or so of scene breakdowns to my master outline, and then write whichever upcoming scene seemed the most fun or acheivable at that moment. If the scene with Talber in Chapter 8 wasn't working, I could write that other bit with Rani from Chapter 9 instead. There were always two or three pending scenes available to be written at any given time, all within a chapter or two of each other.

But now, years later, there are only a handful of scenes that haven't been written up yet. I don't really have the luxury of skipping ahead, because the next bit is already written, and the next and the next. I need to just start writing, I guess, and hope that Darsuma does something soon!

Karen

Art by Sherlock, 2004. Drawing of Carli / Del / Carmi combined with photo, colorized and made way too effeminate by KFB, 2007.

Only Partly Scalzi-Centric

Thanks, folks, for all the anniversary wishes. John and I never did make it to a movie, largely due to our mutual lack of serious interest in going to see Spiderman 3 or Shrek 3. The other reason was that we were both busy: me giving blood, successfully (I often get deferred by low iron, or they can't get a needle into my vein), John clearing out the remnants of ruined, irreplaceable clothing and dead bugs he discovered the night I met John Scalzi. We did get out to Fuddruckers for a late lunch, and we watched today's new Doctor Who episode, 42. I gave John three tiki mug shot glasses I found at an antique mall. Then tonight at Target we bought a laundry hamper and plastic storage bins to try to protect the rest of our clothes from the bugs.

Detouring for a burger can be hazardous

The Target John selected for the evening's jaunt is probably the largest in town. That's his theory, anyway. It's one of two "big box" stores erected at El Con Mall in the last several years. It's a bizarre mall. It used to be a reasonably large, fairly standard shopping mall, converted decades ago from an early 1960s shopping center in midtown Tucson. It even had a few locally-owned businesses, such as a barber shop and a shoe repair service. Over the last five or ten years, that's all changed. Stores closed, and entire sections of the mall were closed off and in some cases demolished. The interior of the mall, such as it is, now atands virtually empty. At the same time, though, new buildings have been constructed surrounding the mall proper: the aforementioned Target, a Home Depot, a multiplex theater, a Claim Jumper restaurant, a Krispy Kreme (which was wildly popular when it first opened, but is now dead and closed), a Starbucks and, most recently, Tucson's first In-N-Out burger joint. When it opened about a month ago, it made the local news. A counter clerk at the In-N-Out in Chandler, where I went after the Scalzi appearance, said that the lines in Tucson were said to be four hours long.

Tonight was the first time John and I have been by El Con together since the In-N-Out location opened. We were both a little curious about the status of the fad. John Scalzi's fondness for the chain notwithstanding, the concept of waiting four hours to eat a hamburger is completely alien to John Blocher, and more than a little insane. "I don't even like to wait five minutes," he said. It's not much of an exaggeration; there are many restaurants I can never go with John, because he finds it very stressful and annoying and so-no-worth-it to wait for a table more than a couple of minutes.

Still, I was interested to know whether the lines were still insanely long, about a month after the place opened. Sure enough, as we drove by I saw lots of people inside, and a line of cars wrapped around at least two sides of the building, waiting for the drive-through.

John pulled out onto Broadway, headed for home; but I talked him into going back so I could take pictures. Here's the beginning of the "DRIVE THRU" lane, halfway across the mall parking lot, marked off by traffic cones.

When the cars are still hundreds of feet away from the In-N-Out Burger itself, a few of the location's many employees are there to take orders. At least, that's what I assume they were doing.


John suggested that I take the rest of the shots without flash, but the fact is, I messed up all the pictures. There were two problems:
  1. John was feeling pressured by constant traffic behind him (John was not in the drive through lane, and this was after 10 PM!), and therefore didn't stop while I took each shot.
  2. I forgot to verify that the dial on top of the camera was on the right setting. It wasn't.
Ah, well.

Aside from the Red Cross blood bank, spending time with John and a lot of watching of Doctor Who, I've put in a little time today on both the reading and writing of fiction. I'm well into John Scalzi's The Last Colony now, and enjoying it a lot.

AOL's congenial "Journals Editor Joe", Joe Loong, turned up unexpectedly in the book this evening, at least by proxy. His namesake is introduced on page 131, and promptly goes missing. His body is found on page 133. Yow!

Karen

Saturday, May 19, 2007

28 Years Later....

Okay, so this photo is from 1978, nor 1979, but that's close enough. Left to right, we have my stepmother Ruth, my Dad (Frank Funk), me, and my friend and college roommate Evelyn. On May 19th, 1979, these four people, plus my mom, my brother Steve, my other best friend "d", soon-to-be-ex priest Ed Van Auken, and most of all, John Blocher (along with his mother and sister) were in St. Patrick's Church in Syracuse, NY. That was was the day I walked down to aisle, accompanied by Mozart, not either of the traditional wedding tunes. Afterward we had our reception at Community House, one of last functions held there before the University sold the place.

The honeymoon consisted of camping our way from New York to Ohio, in an elderly Ford Falcon van, in the rain. A week before, I was finishing up my student years at Syracuse University, my graduation ceremony made a lie by all my incompletes, mostly unwritten English papers. At the end of the honeymoon, I was living in a duplex on 13th Ave in Columbus, Ohio with John and his best friend. Soon after that, John and I were in a little apartment on King Avenue that smelled of cat pee. Imagine my allergies!

I'm not going to recap my whole married life here. The point is simply this: I'm very happy about what happened 28 years ago today. On May 19, 1979, I married this smart, funny, creative, cantankerous man I'd met at the Clarion Writer's Workshop at Michigan State, nearly two years before. It wasn't a lavish wedding; we didn't want that anyway. The honeymoon was a modest one, and so was our life, for years and years. Money problems pretty much always put strain on a marriage, but we got through it all, ran a little store, moved to Tucson and had another twenty-one years of adventures and misadventures. We both went back to school, but not at the same time. We tried to have a kid, but it didn't work. John published books and trading cards (I helped with some of those), and then went to work for others as an editor. I became a travel agent, and then a bookkeeper, and then an accountant. We went to London and Hawaii, Las Vegas and Disneyland, and moved into a fixer-upper house, which still needs plenty of fixer-upping.

28 years later, John and I are still together, and likely to remain so. Today, after I've slept and given blood, we'll go to a movie, and watch Doctor Who together, and maybe go out to dinner. It won't be extravagant, but that's fine. It will be me and my best friend, enjoying each other's company. Happy Anniversary, John!

Karen

Friday, May 18, 2007

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction

Weekend Assignment #166: Name the three songs you listen to when you totally want to rock out. Note that they don't actually have to be rock songs -- they can be in any genre whatsoever, and from any era. They just have to be the songs that get you pumped up and ready to go.

Extra Credit: And name one song to cool you back down.


The song that comes to mind first is (as you probably guessed from the header) (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones. (Blogger doesn't like the link to the Wikipedia article, so here's a link to a page that can get you there.) The Devo cover of the song is fun, but the Stones version is pretty much the only non-Beatles recording I'd consider naming the best rock song of all time. In fact, Satisfaction probably is the best rock song of all time. According to the Wikipedia article, different All Time Greatest lists have put it at #1 and #2. And yet, we don't have it on CD. Odd, that.

In the Beatles oeuvre, uptempo division, there's lots to choose from: their cover of the Isleys' Twist and Shout, and their own compositions I Saw Her Standing There, Back in the U.S.S.R., Helter Skelter, and so on. I think I'll go with Get Back, 'cause of the Tucson reference in it.

I should have picked something from my favorite Beatles album, since I took the trouble to photograph it and fix the perspective. The vinyl version of Revolver was the first Beatles record I ever had. But what's rocked out on it? Taxman? Got to Get You Into My Life? Well, maybe. My favorite song on it is In My Life, but that's not a rocker, either.

The third selection has to be something by The Clash. There's plenty to rock out to in the first two albums, but I favor London Calling, the first Clash LP we bought and a little more sophisticated, but not as experimental as Sandinista! Let's go with the title song, London Calling itself. Or, if you like, we can skip ahead to Rock the Casbah from Combat Rock.

To cool down in tempo, but not in impact, my eye tonight falls on Simon and Garfunkel. The Sound of Silence isn't exactly slow or peaceful or comforting, but it does end with a definite movement in the direction of silence and introspection. Their older recording of the song, from Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., is less rocked out, and thus better for the Extra Credit here.

Having said all that, I must tell you that my current musical obsessions are none of the above. For about a month, I was playing the Beatles remix CD, Love, a couple times a day in my cubicle at the office, popping it in my computer and playing it though headphones as I worked. Now it's on light rotation on my computer and in my brain, along with the Back to the Future soundtrack. The heavy rotation goes to the new series Doctor Who soundtrack CD by Murray Gold. It's not exactly rocked out, but there are a couple of songs I'm obsessed with (I came up with an alternate lyric for one line that doesn't make sense), a nice rock instrumental in Westminster Bridge, and some rather haunting melodies in the more traditional scoring, especially The Girl in the Fireplace and Doomsday.

*****

There's another reason I named this entry for the Stones song. As of tonight, the daily nagging from Symantec to renew my Norton software was down to 1 day from expiration, so I renewed. It took hours and hours and two reboots, filled up my hard drive and tied up my computer's RAM and dial-up bandwidth, so that I couldn't really do anything else except read a few emails and struggle to clear a little disk space on my C drive. So I've barely touched the Round Robin postings again tonight. Sorry! I'll get there.

One more thing that was less than satisfactory today: you may have noticed that I finally put a comment policy on my sidebar. There have been several comment spams this week, plus a random insult. Much as I love getting comments (and I really, really do), a comment that has nothing to do with the entry is a letdown. It's just empty words. If you're going to tell me this is a "cool blog", or words to that effect, you should be prepared to show that you've actually read something in the cool blog. Otherwise I'll probably assume it's just a lame excuse to add a link. As for the insult, it was so non-specific that again, I have no reason to think the person actually read the entry, or anything else. It wasn't controversy, or dissent, or a genuine criticism, or a basis for discussion. Therefore it's gone now. I'm never thrilled with actual criticism of my words, but I'm far more likely to let it stand than random name-calling. I'm itching to tell you what this particular insult was - the disemvoweled version is only 4 letters long - but that's giving it more attention than it deserves.

Karen

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Primarily Pink, and Playing Catch-Up

I spent three hours tonight catching up on reading just one blog, which shows you how far behind I was on it. I have at least two other blogs I need to do the same with, blogs of friends who both write and photograph well. But not tonight! I spent another two hours whittling away at my email (from 60+ down to 48 on this screen name alone), shopped, cooked and did a smidge of housework...and all right, yes, I watched some Doctor Who and part of The Muppet Movie.

It all adds up to another late night, though, and I'm tired now. So for tonight I'm going to fob you off with some more photos, and then tomorrow I'll make my Round Robin rounds. So. First up: pink adobe architecture. This is part of an upscale shopping center, the Mercado I think it's called. This particular building includes a gourmet chocolate shop, "Choc-alot. " Good stuff, but I've only allowed myself two purchases there, ever.

This is a fairly typical house in my neighborhood, and as pink as it gets in real life.

The cloud over Safeway at sunset tonight really was pink, but the raw photo wasn't very dramatic. So I darkened it.


Also outside Safeway, I photographed the driver of the next car over!

Tomorrow, Scalzi permitting: Weekend Assignment

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Round Robin: Pink'd!

It's Round Robin Photo Challenge time again! Renee of Ode to the Muse came up with the topic this time: "Pink"!

As you folks have probably figured out by now, I like bright colors, especially ones associated with the "fun" version of midcentury modern style. Pink was an important part of the 1950s palette, especially as the color salmon. Oddly, though, Casa Blocher, a.k.a. the Museum of the Weird, doesn't have all that much pink in it. A lot of what it does have, I've shown you before, like the turquoise and salmon sailboat wall decor, and the three color pole lamp, and, goodness knows, our Xavier Cugat painting full of surgeons dressed in pink! Really, though, it's not my favorite color, mostly because of the pink ballerina wallpaper and pink paint I agreed to at age 4 and was stuck with for the next twelve years, back in my bedroom in Manlius.

So what else can I show you? Well, I took pictures of a few buildings, and my pink iPod, and a Funny Face cup, but it wasn't that interesting. So here's what we'll do. We're going to consider the possibility that there isn't enough pink in my life. For example...


What if I took my cue from Barbie, and had a pink house?


What if we redecorated the front room to match the Cugat?


And what if I even had a pink dog?

The three photos that follow were not edited to be more pink.


A winged bison guards an antiques mall.

Vintage fish wall plaques celebrate color.

Another Safeway sunset.

Now check out everyone else's passels of pink!

Karen


Linking List


Renee - POSTED!
Ode to the Muse
http://harmonysnaps.com/blog/

Karen - POSTED!
Outpost Mâvarin
http://outmavarin.blogspot.com/

Carly - POSTED!
Ellipsis... Suddenly Carly
http://ellipsissuddenlycarly.blogspot.com/

kerrin - POSTED!
a new day
http://kerrinsdailyphoto.blogspot.com/

Janet - POSTED!
fondofphotography
http://fondofphotography.blogspot.com/

Meg - POSTED!
In Quest Of The Truth
http://journals.aol.com/inquestoftruth/InQuestOf/

Cosette - POSTED!
Birds of Venus
http://birdsofvenus.blogspot.com/

Marie - POSTED!
Photographs and Memories Too
http://journals.aol.co.uk/mariebm56/PhotographsMemoriestoo/

Gina - POSTED!
Gina's Space
http://journals.aol.com/rbrown6172/Ginasspace

Teena - POSTED!
It's all about me!
http://purple4mee.blogspot.com/

Gattina - POSTED!
Keyhole Pictures
http://gattina-keyholepictures.blogspot.com/