I saw the Harry Potter movie over the weekend - only because my father wanted
to see it, I swear! It pains me to admit it, but I, um, really liked it. The story was fun, the production values were pretty good, and - heavens above - the child-actors weren't totally twee and annoying. That latter fact is a particular favorite.
I've never been a fan of the cutsey-pie school of acting. In fact, I have to agree with the general sentiment that the young lady playing Hermione is
probably going to be breaking hearts in a couple of years. Meanwhile, Alan Rickman is
going on with his apparent plan to be a latter day Leslie Neilsen - albeit with better taste in projects. I would much
rather sit through Dogma than Dead and Loving It.
So, at the end of the film, I'm sitting there, arms crossed and glaring at the screen, demanding to know if the groundskeeper gets his dragon back - I'm a sentimentalist, that way. To which I am told, of course, that I should read the books if I want to find out what happened to the dragonet. Damn it all, Alex and I have been stubbornly holding out as part of the tiny contingent of people that have not read the Harry Potter books. Now it looks like I might have to cave in. Drat!
Apropos of nothing - it gets like that after a few weeks of unemployment - the best part of Fantasia 2000 had to be the "Carnival of the Animals" section. The expressions of the yo-yo wielding flamingo were just too funny. I watched it several times and still laughed myself silly each time...
Stayed up late last night and caught a couple of episodes of The Prisoner on PBS.
(Quick note: re-runs of the The Prisoner are a sure sign of pledge-time
on KTEH, and last night was no exception. I keep telling the president of that
station that I could easily raise $20,000 in pledges in return for a promise
to kill Scot Apel live on air.
He got real thoughtful, but then told me it wasn't really feasible.
Damn...) While there were some wince-worthy moments - I saw Arrival
and Dance of The Dead - I was a little surprised by how well the show
is holding up to the passage
of time. I was also a little surprised to realize that the structure of that series had perhaps a tad too much of
an influence on my game-mastering/game-writing styles. I think I've just figured out where I picked up my habit of weirdness-for-its-own-sake
and writing myself into elegant but pointless corners...Geeze, what took me so
And I thought some of the costuming was just yummy. I'm getting weirder and weirder the closer I get to 30...
Thinking of writing, I stopped by the half-price book place and picked up a guide for short-story writers. I have no idea if it's any good, but it was cheap, and there weren't many titles focused upon short fiction. The hazard of going to the cheap-cheap-cheap bookstores is that one's selection is often limited.
I'm regarding the book with a bit of trepidation. I just hope that reading it won't be like reading Syd Field's Screenplay. Field's book is brilliant - it's the book for aspiring and experienced screenwriters - but it had a rather nasty wake-up-call effect on my own opinion of my talents/aspirations. It's amazing that I didn't trash/burn every single screenplay and storyboard in the house by the time I had gotten halfway through that book. Heaven knows, I was close. And I've not tackled my undone-feature since finishing that volume - mostly because I've realized that it can't be finished with the plot in its perpetually half-baked state...
I also picked up a $2 copy of A Year In Provence and chewed through that in a single afternoon. Very enjoyable - fluffy, but fun. Now I'm casting around for a $2 copy for Toujours Provence... Meanwhile, I'm reading Outnation: A Search For The Soul of Japan. It's a bit on the anecdotal side, but the author is making a conscious effort to avoid the two traps that most Western authors make when examining Japan - that is, making the country sound like Mars or, worse yet, that it's just like anywhere else. So far, so good. It's a change from my usual reading fare. I bought it specifically with that in mind. I was getting in a bit of a rut with the household collection of sci-fi, murder mysteries and historical fiction.
People might have laughed when Alex and I signed up with a startup hi-speed access shop - Astound -
but they're laughing out of the other side of their faces right now, as most of them were using Excite@Home.
Maybe that's an uncharitable sentiment, but, I have
a hard time feeling too sympathetic because a) I saw this coming about a month ago (the joys of working for two dudes who follow
hi-tech companies very closely, particularly those that are flailing) and b) There's no way AT&T is going to let all those
lovely revenues slip through their fingers. The stranded users will be back online shortly - after a wait just long enough
to make them willing to pay almost any price, I'm sure.
Things are looking good for the homeless cat... more news as events warrant - but he has not been forgotten!
Wow, the announcement of a minor Conclave to be held at 'some point' in the future caused a lot more fuss at CAST than I had expected. It was rather neat, actually. Given the court's panic right now, they're going to be absolute wrecks in six/seven/eight months' time. Heh. Still, as one player commented, it's good to have a plot that could unite the court and not feature an Antagonist Of The Week. The imminence of a conclave also allows for massive skullduggery on all sides. Heh heh.
Meanwhile, Patricia is totally bemused following her 'date' with the outspoken Sheriff of the court. I use the word 'date' loosely, as most dates - even those between vampires - don't usually involve soldering irons. Actually, as a player, I had no idea how/where things are going to go from this point. When I just let Trish off the leash at the court - when in doubt, wing it - she was...strange. Not quite stoned, but acting like it. Very mellow and prone to forget what she was saying - very distracted. Poor Jean-Michel seemed quite perturbed. So did half of the court for that matter. It's amusing that they're so on edge that even a calm-and-spacey Patricia worries them. Maybe I'm not losing my touch, after all.
I'm giving some thought to the possible
prelude for Arachne. If I'm going to write it, I may as well try to exert myself
and make it a decent piece - not my usual dashed-off bit of gamer-fiction.
There's no reason why I shouldn't put some effort into it and treat it
relatively seriously - and every reason why I should.
Let's start with the cute stuff.
He was taking a nap back here...
...but every time I tried to snap his picture, he would hear the camera and wake up. Hence the grouchy expression.
blame him entirely for that mess you see all around him. Max has discovered
that he likes nothing better than to go burrowing through a pile of
comic books. Although after he sat on my lap for fifteen minutes last night,
letting me pet him and make a fuss, I'm liable to forgive him anything.
Today's a big day for the little beast actually. First, he just turned 11 weeks old, by my reckoning. Secondly, today, I moved his litterbox and his food bowl into the "cat's bathroom" (god knows, we humans aren't using it) and I'm going to see if he can spend the entire day outside of his cage. Yesterday, he spent most of the day running around the house, but I put him back in his cage every ninety minutes or so, for a 'potty break'. And before you go calling the SPCA on me, this 'cage' of his is bigger than most downtown apartments. It has a litter box, his electric blankie, his food and several toys, and he has a radio tuned in to the light-rock station 24/7 - although that doesn't seem to chill him out at all. I think he's more into speed metal, if his behavior is any indication.
Thinking of pets living the life of Riley, I heard from Chris B. that he dropped his two ferrets off at a rescue place a few months ago - he really didn't want them in the first place, and he got stuck with them when JL ran off last year. Last he heard, the ferrets had been adopted by some rich, ferret-luvin' woman and are now - no kidding - on a world cruise on this woman's yacht along with a dozen fellow ferrets. On land, they apparently live in some kind of ferret castle with every toy and habitrail known to mankind - uh, ferret-kind, I guess. Oh, to be a ferret!
ask. I don't think anyone's going to be seriously hiring until after the New
Year. Two (or is it three?) more weeks until I can claim unemployment, which
should just about keep me out of debtor's prison. I think. Of course, if the
bloody State of California website wasn't falling apart, I might actually be
able to get those few essential details I still need in order to file. As it
is, most of the site seems to have been replaced with a So sorry, we're
experiencing technical difficulties error message. This is where my
tax dollars have gone to? To a website that can't figure out it's
load-bearing? No, of course not, my tax dollars have been spent on prisons, of
course! This is California, after all...
I watched Best of Show last night. It was amusing. Not "I have to have this on DVD" fabulous, but funny enough. A couple of weeks ago, I caught Drop Dead Gorgeous and I couldn't help noticing parallels between the two. Given that they were both slightly off-kilter slice of life narratives focused around American institutions, the parallels were actually inescapable... Alex, meanwhile, spent most of the viewing totally stunned by Christopher Guest. He had a hard time reconciling the Six Fingered Man of The Princess Bride with the down-home owner of a bloodhound...
Hashed out the first part of the full-length prelude for Arachne. That's about all.
Oh, and I discovered that the RPG Defense League has gone poof! and I'm not entirely sure where the back-up files are. Damn, damn, damn.
Proof that Max does sleep!
|I've never caught him sleeping before, but now that he's being allowed out all day, he actually wears himself out when he's within sight of me...|
I did some
much-needed spring-cleaning on my webrings today. Ugh. Lots of broken sites
all over the place... Now that the Webring/Yahoo merger has fallen apart, I've
migrated my rings back to new/old Webring host, and I'm contemplating taking Mightier
Than The Sword away from RPG
Gateway and back to webring, too - mostly because the traffic to the ring
through the current host just stinks, and webring offers a much better
back-end for the ring admins.
I know, it's fascinating stuff, isn't it? But now the time is right for a move, given that the ring membership has fallen to 14 active sites. A lot less nagging and hand-holding would have to be done...
Admittedly, the thrill of handling these things has long since worn off, but I'm rather fond of Mightier Than The Sword because it filled a void - at least, it did when I created it. I have no idea if the web is now cluttered with rings and 'burbs for RPG fic writers. If only the member sites weren't so fly-by-night. I let things slide for a while, I know, but even when I kept up with the thing, it seemed like every month another site or two had quietly vanished into the ether - it's hard to surf a ring when it's got broken links all over the place...
Another incentive to
get back to work - the pilot light in the furnace has blown out again. Coping
with it is a yearly ritual, but trying to type with numb fingers is a bit of a
hassle. I'm having to keep an even closer eye on the cover letters as I send 'em
out. Brr. Meanwhile, Tigger is taking care of two birds with one stone. He's
hiding from Max and keeping warm by crawling under the blankets on the
bed. It's totally bamboozled Max - the blanket-thing, I mean, not the cold. I
don't think he's noticed the cold, but I'm keeping an eye on him, just in
case. He can always go back into the sewing room with the portable heater if
he looks chilled.
I take back what I said about Outnation: A Search For The Soul of Japan being a bit too anecdotal. About halfway through the book, the author got down to brass tacks and is putting forth some very interesting thoughts. The notion of Japan being a fundamentally Platonic society is very interesting - but isn't that just another case of imposing Western values upon an non-Western entity? Aww, to heck with it. It makes as much sense as anyone else's attempt to explain the land of the rising sun.
Thinking of Plato, The Republic has become nothing more than a fading memory. Maybe I should dig up a dollar copy over at the used bookstore... I'm sure I'll get to it...one of these days...maybe...
teasing Alex for inhaling the best part of a large box of Ding Dongs
(memo for Brits: Ding Dongs are mass produced chocolate cupcakes with a creamy
filling - not actual cream, just 'creamy') in less than three days, I'm now
doing the same thing to a jar of dill pickles. I should just put a salt lick
by the computer, really... But pickles are so great. They're salty and
crispy and have practically no calories - a distinct advantage over potato
chips. And the sheer crunch of a chilled dill pickle, ah, bliss!
There's a certain poetry to the phrase chilled dill pickle. Well, maybe just cadence...Never tickle a chilled dill pickle...
Drat, I hate it when there's a small flood of players for a LARP, and they all want to be the same clan. Because of game-balance, one can't okay all of the concepts ("What do you mean, a quarter of the game is now Tremere?") but I hate to disappoint a player before they've even met the Storytellers. But game-balance is more important than any one person's tender feelings. Whenever I feel my resistance crumbling, I just have to say that, over and over.
I got the first draft of the Arachne prelude done. Now I just have to go back through it and plump and polish... I should have it finished by the weekend. I hope. It's already taken too much time...
No, no cute Max
picture today - but not for a lack of wanting. He has discovered that an empty
soda-case is an unparalleled opportunity for fun. He particularly likes
chasing his tail whilst inside the box... Max has also learned the joys
of crawling under the blankets, snugging up next to me and falling asleep. I
almost expired from Cuteness Overload when his head was poking out and resting
on my elbow as I was reading a book this afternoon. Who knows what will happen
when I go to bed tonight - tonight being the first night we're going to let
Max stay out the entire evening, instead of being put back into his cage...
To counteract all of this cuteness, I'm reading a copy of Joseph Goebbels' diaries which I picked up at the store today. I've gotten bored of horror novels. I decided maybe wallowing in the real thing would be sufficiently awful. So far, so good. Although, honestly, I primarily bought the volume over at the used-book store to use as a prop in the CAST game. I happened to quote the rat-faced fink at the previous court and Jean-Michel (a character I love to tease) turned green. Heh. Trish isn't going to pass up a button like that...
Besides, I have a sorta-resolution. Each time I go to the bookstore, if I want to buy something new to read, at least one volume has to be about something I hadn't considered reading about before. Last time it was Outnation: A Search For the Soul of Japan, this time it was Goebbels. Also, I picked up a book about the activities of the Russian "mafia" immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. I'm trying to stop my brain from rusting shut, you see... I also got a copy of Joseph Campbell's Hero With A Thousand Faces - finally! But I know that one is going to require a bit of careful attention paid to it, rather than being chewed through in a couple of days. With luck, I'll be able to see it through. It's one of those books that I've heard aspiring-writer-types need to read, anyways.
While at the used-bookstore, I really wanted to find some interesting material on sub-Saharan Africa, but I couldn't find anything engaging. I'm not interested in sensationalist volumes subtitled "The biography of a woman born into a harem!". Nor was I looking for vast coffee-table books on the pristine beauty of the Serengeti. And I really didn't want a white-man-braving-darkest-Africa treatise... Maybe I'm selling David Lamb short, but I flipped through his volume, The Africans, and I really had to wonder about his cultural perspective...
Contraiwise, I would end up totally at sea if I jumped into that 400 page volume entitled "Mandela", y'know? I'm looking for a general survey of sub-Saharan Africa that I could use as a jumping-off point to develop and pursue more specific interests. Right now, my entire knowledge of the continent north of Johannesburg and south of Cairo consists of a handful of (European/American) travel writers, and a slim volume of Yoruba folk tales. Hardly sufficient.
After Africa, I would like to tackle China. With luck, my pal Adam will be back from Beijing by then, and I'll be able to pick his brains for places to start...
Had a lovely day
with Jennifer to
commemorate her birthday. She stayed over after the Star Wars game, last
night, and we pottered around the local used-book stores today, and watched Big
Trouble In Little China afterwards. Well, Alex had a nap on the sofa, and
Jennifer and I mostly chatted through the entire thing. I'll probably lose my
fangrrl license for this, but I think Big Trouble really drags in the
middle, so I don't find it the most gripping of films... Still, some of
the production design is pretty keen... And gamers always add a their own
skewed perspective to that movie.
Jennifer is thoroughly in the grip of the Cult of Max, now... He had her wrapped around his front paw as soon as he started chasing his tail this morning...
Picked up another book on short fiction - Creating Short Fiction. I'm still tentatively picking at the first pages of that other tome I picked up last week. However, the latest acquisition contains some exercises that I considered rather intriguing - intriguing enough that I think I'll actually do the bloody things. Don't be surprised if you hear more about that over coming weeks...
Two days after I post the bloody story, I realize what I totally forgot to take care of in the final draft of the Arachne prelude. Damn. I hate that. Ah well, my popcorn-craving braincells are already thinking about "Part Two" of the series. Part One deals with Arachne leaving the FBI, now I want to cover the time, two years later, when she decides to quit being a cut-rate elite and join an Aberrant group with a somewhat more tolerant agenda.
The story has got me in a bit of quandary as I've already hashed out some bits with Rob and I have to reconcile those with the ideas I'm kicking around. I've got to figure out what a jaded, black-ops Elite would consider abhorrent, and how that line could be crossed by one of her associates that wouldn't result in Arachne simply killing the line-crossing nova in question. See, Arachne's got a Nemesis, and the circumstances behind that situation involve her once being a mostly-willing partner with The Nemesis but then, after he crosses The Line, she sold him out to The Other Side and left him high and dry. So, the question is, what could the Nemesis have done that would provoke that particular reaction, rather than Arachne just killing him - because she's become quite used to murder in the past two years...
It boils down to a personal conflict, I think, rather than the Nemesis breaking some principle that Arachne holds dear. Fortunately, The Nemesis is established as a selfish and sociopathic S.O.B., so it's quite plausible that he could do something to Arachne, personally, that would earn her ire. If he tramped all over her principles, she would just walk away from him, and the agency that they both belonged to. But if it's a personal matter, then she would feel compelled to indulge in something like revenge. I just need to balance it so that the "Personal Something" is a matter that redeems the currently hard-hearted Arachne and puts her on a humane, somewhat-sympathetic footing.
I tell ya, this popcorn-writing thing gets tougher when you try to think about it.
Meanwhile, Trish and
the twins are still jumping up and down for a conclusion to their latest tale,
which has been in the works for months. I think I've sorted out the conclusion
that the kids are reaching towards - getting Trish off her addiction. But the
trick lies in making the journey to that conclusion actually interesting
to read. Right now, it's more slice-of-life than conflict/resolution... So I
have to slide in some mustard - without copping out to Patricia having a
temper tantrum, or Eli being a snotty bastard. Both of those are shticks I've
resorted to when feeling lazy. Not good.
I'm trying to quit my habit of plotting-as-I-go-along, and that's well and good. Now I've got to learn to maintain my own interest in a story once the conclusion has been reached, so that I might confer that interest and concern to the reader.
I wonder if I could live with myself if I just went back to narcissistic popcorn? Probably not...
Alex's Star Wars game continues to unfold amusingly. Yahnna is alternately shouting at PCs or sulking on the bridge. Ahh, everyone is in their element...
I'm a bit tired
right now, but from 3:30AM to 5:00AM today, I bet I was having a way better
day than almost anyone else. Max stayed out all night last night - sometimes
he just won't settle down, and he has to be put away so Alex and I can get
some sleep, but last night went well. At 3:30, I woke him up because I turned
over a little abruptly, and he was asleep between me and Alex. Oh boy, I
thought, now we're in for it. Max is going to wake up and be super-hyper
kitty after a long nap. Instead, he crawled up the blankets, shoved
his head under my chin, purred like a buzzsaw and fell asleep. Squeal!
Unfortunately, Max is a very light sleeper, so every time Tigger snored (the Siamese snores, it's a long story) or Sandy scritched, Max would pop awake - waking me up, too - but then start purring again, thus earning immediate forgiveness. By 5am, my sinuses were blocked solid - I'm allergic to animal fur (another long story) - and the right half of my body was going numb from staying on one side so long - can't disturb the cutiepie - but darn, I had a big case of Warm Fuzzies going on...
This morning, as Alex got up, Max woke up and went into usual rambunctious-cat mode and I thought So much for sleeping in, but by 8:00, Max had burrowed under the blanket next to me (squeal!) and crashed out again. We both slept 'til nearly 10AM. I'm sure he feels great, but I'm totally discombobulated, now. I hate sleeping that late. I've got a headache and I feel all logy and stupid.
So, as penance, I'm going to go cleanup the bedroom, which has far too many temptations for Max to be a naughty - and noisy - kitten. Plus the effort might help ensure my getting to sleep before 1AM tonight. If I'm feeling super vigorous - highly unlikely - I'll tackle the den, too. Right after I've had breakfast, done a job search and read my online comix...
All in all, the morning's cuteness made up for being bloody terrified by the USA Patriot Act, yesterday. I finally sat down and read some of the fine print in that document, following a panic-laden IM from Greg. It wasn't quite as bad as he made it out to be - he was saying something about Congress having ceded the right to declare war to the President - but, lord, it ain't good. Non-citizens can be denied re-entrance to this country just talking about the wrong things. Great. Lest ye all start thinking "We don't owe non-citizens anything, anyways," let me remind you that there's a significant whack o'people in the country with green cards and visas (like me!) who are supposedly protected by the Constitution. It seems now that the First Amendment doesn't quite apply to us in the same way any more. Great.
And how charming that Britain has found a way around their policy of refusing to extradite to any country that still uses the death-penalty... It had come up that should the Brits capture anyone the U.S. wants for trial (or secret military tribunal, I should say), Britain's policy would make it impossible for said captives to be extradited to the U.S. But it seems it had been decided that that little principle can be overlooked if said wanted-person is captured on non-British soil. Great. Have fun with the re-election plans, Tony.
And it's not like one can pack up and decide to move somewhere better because...this is it. Sigh. That's it, I've got to become a citizen, primarily so I can vote next time it matters and I can stop having flopsweats about being deported for, oh, saying things in this journal... I know, I know, in reality, it's an almost impossible occurrence. But Captain Paranoia is an insidious bastard with his late-night whisperings...
Following an intriguing bit of advice in one of my many writing books, I sat down and did the first draft of the second part of the Arachne prelude all in one sitting, yesterday. My butt was numb by the end of it, and it's not a draft I would want to show anyone, but it has got a beginning a middle and an end, which puts it ahead of half a dozen other bits and pieces I have bubbling away on the back burner. When I woke up this morning, my subconscious had tossed up a couple of fixes to put in place, and I'm already pretty aware of what has to be done for the general descriptions of character and setting, so I'm feeling pretty good about it. I might be able to get to it later today, but I'm considering leaving it alone until tomorrow, just to see what else bubbles up out of my head.
Today was one of those days that made me think that learning to drive might not be all that bad. But first...
|Sleepily emerging from the blankets, in which he had been sacked out for nearly four hours.||Look at that handsome face! And I was trying to give y'all some scale, too...|
Sorry for the blur, but it was dark and I didn't want to use the flash.
|Giving my fingers a little wash. Clearly, I had just eaten something tasty.|
Because of that
four-hour nap, Max was a terror at midnight. But since I had - miracle of
miracles - cleaned up the bedroom and the den - he had very little
material to cause a noisy ruckus with.
Cleaning up those rooms was an exercise in humility. I was finding stuff in the bookshelves that was frighteningly old. Alex has six piles - each about two feet high - of comics and magazines and gaming materials to go through, and best of luck to him. Meanwhile, I'm moderately proud of the fact that I cleaned out all-but-one of the den's shelves - some of them haven't been tidied since we moved in, nearly two years ago - and put (guess! guess!) books on them. Oh, the excitement! True, I only did it so that the shelves won't immediately be restocked with old character sheets, game cheats and bits of string, but an accomplishment is an accomplishment, dammit.
So, today, I go in
to the city to meet with a recruiter. I'm not too keen on the breed, usually,
but Leslie (the recruiter) is in business for herself, so I'm thinking there's
a chance that I won't be lost in a pile (unlike something in my den, hrm).
Anyways... I had to leave the house at 9:30 to be sure of getting to the city
by 11. And it's a good thing I made my usual generous allowance for public
transit, as BART seems to have a policy of running at 35mph whenever it's not
sunny and seventy degrees. The bus ride to the station was fine. The BART ride
to the city was marred by the presence of some lunatic who hadn't taken his
meds or something. He was holding forth at strident volume about why he liked
white girls, and something about runaway slaves and Indian reservations -
you'll understand that I didn't listen too closely. When he started to get
agitated, I switched carriages.
The city itself was the usual collection of grime and seasonal decorations. The building I visited, 98 Post, was actually rather nice, in a funky historical way - high ceilings, plaster mouldings, etc. I'm surprised I didn't come across it during the most-recent office-search for Intelligent Capital, really. I wish I had had my camera with me. So, I chatted with Leslie a bit, stopped by Grain D'Or for a baguette for lunch, later, and then decided to stop by Lacis on the way home. The train to Lacis featured another looney - this one barking (literally) and spitting at his reflection in the window. I just got off the train after seeing him. I figured an extra ten minutes in my trip wasn't too hard to bear, rather than tolerating his company. And then, on the bus-ride home, I was stuck next to someone suffering from truly awful flatulence. Thank heavens it was a short ride. I wanted to hang my head out of the window like a dog, the entire way.
And throughout all of this, I was wearing high heels. What a pisser.
I got away from Lacis having only spent $9. I picked up another set of corset laces and some boning that I'm going to need. I found my black duck and my busk the other day, so I may as well make that underwear-corset I keep thinking about - and I'm going to need laces, etc. for that. I talked myself out of about $40 in patterns - all with the mental note of 'next year', given that most of them were Faire-y - and another $50 in books. There were some good volumes - John Peacock's History of Men's Fashion, and a couple of very useful books about making Victorian-era clothing - but nothing I couldn't live without. Although that copy of Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Revealed made me drooool. A shame it's $225. Still, there are persistent rumors that it might be reprinted in the next year or so, which would be extremely keen.
I'm feeling utterly un-Christmasy this year. Mostly because I can't go out and recklessly indulge myself in buying gifts for my friends. I love buying pressies for people - the whole game of figuring out what they might like or want. I'm big on buying people small indulgent things that they can never quite justify for themselves - unless the friend in question is so darn sensible that I know a sensible present would be preferred... but most of my pals are as goofy as I am.
Ironically enough, my own taste in gifts has turned somewhat practical. I need a bunch of bootlaces - because I've swiped all the laces out of my shoes to use for bodice lacing and cat-teasing. Warm socks would be good, too. And I would really like to get four rolls of duct tape and a few bags of fiber-fill, so I can make a dress form of myself. And bookshelves - just as soon as I can figure out where to put them (in the closets?) because I've got a lot of books. And fabric, and chocolate, and a new computer, and a dragonette to tease the kitten with, and... Okay, so maybe I'm not entirely sensible, just yet.
But I digress. Every year, I usually manage to dredge up some sense of occasion and even a bit of goodwill-towards-men but I'm poking around the cupboard of my soul and not even coming up with a crumb of yuletide cheer big enough for a who-mouse. I feel a bit guilty about that, although I'm not sure why. Maybe I should drag out the holiday decorations and do the living room up a bit... But what's the point? It's not like Alex and I are having anyone over for the holidays, and neither of us are big on the Christian thing - unless it's Alex's Vampire character we're talking about...
And a bah-humbug to you, too.
Not a darn thing. Whee! I'm ready to tackle the second draft of the Arachne prelude, but that's about it.
I love the internet.
After years of wondering, I have finally discovered the name of the utterly
fabulous artist behind Calamity James: Tom Paterson! In case you Yanks
are wondering, Calamity James was a strip in the British kids' comic The
Beano. Paterson also drew Sweeney Toddler for Whizzer and
Chips, which I would read only for his comic. Paterson would put
all sorts of funky things in the background which appealed to my quirky sense
of humor. Players from Diablo's Children might remember The Lost
Balloon On A Stick of King Eric The Easily Amused. You think I came up with
that by myself? No way! Or "Highly Spiced Hungarian Hairy Sossies"?
And the phrase "Dead funky lemming house music - thrash, freak, groove!" will make me laugh until the day I die.
I guess you had to have been there. But I'm glad I have the guy's name, now. Now I can try to find an e-mail address to contact the dude and write a squealing fangrrl letter... ;)
In a similar vein, I've decided to buy myself this shirt just as soon as I have money again. Ozy and Millie is hilarious and you should read it. Right now!
Well, you may as well go, as I've not got much else to say. I'm off to my mom's house on Friday to help her clean up for Chris' departmental seasonal party. It's going to be a heck of a day, all told. Help Susan out for most of the day, then change and go to Alex's office party - which we're expected to stick around for quite a while - and then go to Susan & Chris' party. I'm gonna be quaking wreck at the Aberrant game on Saturday, I can tell, already.
I have to go. I need to dig out my old Beano comics...
This is the second
year in a row I've had to deal with two holiday parties in the same night. I
don't want to do that anymore. It's just too tiring. And 'just a couple of
drinks' has a way of sneaking up on one, when done several times over. I spent
most of Saturday reading in bed, trying to convince myself that I wasn't
hung over, dammit.
That said, it wasn't that rough an evening. Alex's office 'do' was the first stop. It was the usual mixture of enforced fun ("Let's all guess who's who by their baby pictures!") and heavy drinking. Still, I met a few of Alex's co-workers, which was, y'know, the proper thing to do. And Alex won the aforementioned enforced-fun game, which garnered him an extra vacation day, and that's always a good thing.
My parents' party was just getting ready to break up by the time we got there. Popster had the smart idea of renting a bus for his co-workers from Berkeley, so the neighborhood wouldn't be jammed tight with cars. It also meant that the majority of guests would be cleared out a decent time - unlike last year's 2AM fiasco. So, by 11:30, Alex and I were helping tidy up and laying claims to a truly significant amount of leftovers. It seems that there were fewer guests than last year and they ate less. Fortunately, Alex and I both had games to go to on Saturday, so we could assure Susan that the food wouldn't be wasted - although our pals aren't used to being given pâté and jumbo shrimp... More for us, then!
I'm having great fun re-arranging my bookshelves. It's a series of little discoveries. Wow, that's a lot of books on Ancient Egypt...Hm, I seem to have two copies of Police Procedural I wonder who might like the other one...And why do I have so many duplicates of the Ian Fleming Bond books? Maybe some of them are Alex's...So that's where my copy of 20,000 years of Fashion went to! Etc. Now if I can just stop from sitting down and trying to read all of these books while I arrange them...
I've also been burning some midnight oil on the Electric Swinging Pussycat Closet. I'm going to have to set up another Tripod site to accommodate the latest bunch of images that have been scanned in - mostly early 60s stuff from Vogue. I'm waiting on a 1963 pattern book from Butterick - another 1400 page monster - that will probably suck up a few megs, too. I've been getting a few hits to the site - all through links on Rough Cut, but I'm hoping things will pick up once the search engines catch up to it...
The Aberrant game was interesting, and the plot definitely went in an unexpected direction. I have to agree with it, though. Too much of the group's leadership was NPC-dependent, so Rob and Dave - to my surprise - got rid of the NPCs (BOOM! Oh, was that your HQ? Sucks to be you!) and The Foundation is now a bunch of superheroes in a Winnebago. Believe me, Arachne and Blink (me and James) really tried to fight that one, but Geist was so keen on the damn thing, and since his wife has just been killed and all, we couldn't really say no...
Arachne turned out to have a much broader streak of humor than I anticipated, so there were a lot of mildly-naughty innuendo flying around the Winnebago as the party was going from Seattle to Chicago to New Orleans. A surprising number of 'dumb tongue tricks' jokes were made - and I finally caved in and actually used the damn power in a combat situation. Rob's been waiting v. impatiently for the first field-test of that body-mod, it seems. Boys, go fig. Put a six meter tongue into their game and they get all obsessive. Upshot: Jane must be carrying mouthwash with her at all times, as brains do not taste good. It seems that if I didn't want to tear the mook's head off, I should have declared that before rolling. Oopsie.
Odd discovery of the evening: Rob was heavily involved with the drama program at DVC, at just about the same time I was, but we never crossed paths, as we had different preferences for faculty. Damn, had I but known, I would have tried out for more shows... ;)
Yes, I have a Max picture today, but you're just going to have to wait for it.
Finished the latest additions to Electric Swinging Pussycat Closet - all new Vogue pix from the early 60s, and some redesign on the secondary site, so it's not so boxy. I should implement the new design on the primary site, too, but...I'm lazy. I've got a lot of pages on the primary site, and I'll have to re-code the tables and move the HTML for it all to work out. Ugh.
Alan called last
night, which was very unexpected.It seems that Alan bought himself a copy of Matrix
Revisted, saw my bit and decided I was long overdue for a phone call.
Admittedly, that wasn't a side-effect of the interview that I expected...
The last time he was seriously mentioned in
this journal, it wasn't precisely flattering - but there was a marked upward
trend, at least.
Actually, I was rather surprised how glad I was to hear from him. I kept waiting for a surge of the old irritation, but it seems to have left me for good - and that can't be bad. Alan is sounding a lot happier than he ever was during the stormy college years - and apparently I'm sounding a lot more chipper, too. True on both counts, I think. His film-work is a bit stalled right now. LA got all screwed up by the almost-strike at the beginning of the year, and all the smaller-crews - for TV movies and such - have taken off to Canada, so work is very thin on the ground. But, being a resourceful chap, Alan has taken up still photography and building a small portfolio. With luck, things will pick up for both of us in the new year...
do happen! Alex caught sight of himself in his office party photos and
declared - with far more zeal than similar declarations of days past - that he
is going to lose weight. His approach to the prospect is
less-enthusiastic - and less organized - than even my own attempts. But if
he's actually going to try this time, I'm happy. I might actually have some
support in my own efforts - rather than dragging myself into the living room
after a workout and being offered a bacon-and-egg sandwich by my loving
husband, which is the usual way of things, around here.
Jennifer keeps suggesting I try Atkins, but that diet's not for me. I might be able to punt most carbos, but I can't give up bread. Fresh-baked bread is one of my few pleasures - especially of late - and I'm damned if I'm giving that up. No, I've just got to revert to my 20gms-of-fat-a-day limit and be a little more enthusiastic about the exercise. It worked for me last time, and it'll work for me again, if I can stick to it.
Unexpected find of
the week on Morpheus - two and a half hours of Douglas Adams reading from the Hitch-hiker's
Guide To The Galaxy series. Neat! And well worth the 55MB download. I love
having a high-speed connection.
Speaking of which, you get to see your Max picture now. He's got a new sacking-out place.
...on top of the cable modem, behind the computer monitor...
Which makes a break
from him sacking out under my chin, I guess. Although I love it as our little
morning-ritual. After he's given Tigger some early morning grief, and I've
rescued Tigger and put him on the windowsill out of Max's reach, Max will
crawl back under the blankies with me, curl up against my stomach or under my
chin, and bliss out. It's super-cute, but it also means I'm sleeping way
too late in the mornings - usually 'til 9AM. But with the job market so bloody
dead right now, it's not like I'm spending more than an hour a day on the
I've discovered that if I wait until Jan 6th to file my unemployment claim, I'll get nearly $400/month more. The state is raising the max limit on payouts because, gosh, the cost of living in California has gone up like a rocket in the past few years. The benefit currently tops out at $920 per month (pre tax) which might be bearable if a person is living in oh, Eureka, but in the Bay Area, the post-tax remnant wouldn't even cover rent. The new benefit rates kicks in next month and, according to the fiendish charts I have consulted, I would qualify for $1310 per month - and no, you don't get an automatic increase in your dole next year if you file now.
Of course, that still wouldn't cover rent around here, but it's better than the smaller amount... About $400 better. But all this speculation is assuming that I can make it until the first check... Filing on Jan 7th would mean the first check probably won't come in until the end of January, if that... It would be a race to see which would come through first - the UI or the eviction notice...Despite that, I think I'm going to try holding out until the New Year. Alex and I are doing alright, so far, and we're hoping that Xmas money will bridge the gap...
And I am so very glad I deliberately overpaid on my withholding for the past twelve months. I had an extra $1200 held back by the Feds, as I heard the second year of filing jointly is just a killer. I decided that it wouldn't hurt me - much - to volunteer a little extra. If I don't get it back, I won't miss it, as it's already gone. But if I do, it'll help ensure the ongoing survival of Casa Cthulhu. February 1st, I'm going to be screaming for my W-2s...
This just landed in my in-box. Man, oh, man. Maybe it's time for little non-citizen-gal to shut up about her opinions regarding the lurching administration, as it seems that she might end on the short-list for a visit from the Feds. And a cardiac arrest, I just don't need... Ryan made some pithy comment about the Feds needing to follow every lead but, under that criteria, half the Bay Area needs to be interviewed... *Sigh*
Erm...not a lot. CAST is on a break, but I've picked up Sins of The Blood because a PC has voiced interest in researching Golconda and I hear WW has changed things around quite a bit with 3rd edition. With luck it won't turn out to be a waste of $20.
Y'know, when the
fates want to throw you an 'interesting' moment, they'll do it to you at
dinner. Dave came over to visit before heading back east to visit his family,
and we decided to go out for dinner. Unsurprisingly, we ended up at the local
Spaghetti Factory, as it's cheap and cheerful.
We walked in about thirty seconds behind Tony and Jenny-Lynn.
For the benefit of those who have lost track of this particular soap-opera: Jenny-Lynn and Chris are having a go at reconciliation after their marriage fell apart. One of the contributing factors to this collapse (although by no means the only factor) was that Jenny-Lynn and Dave kinda pushed things a little far when it came to whole 'boundaries' thing whilst JL and Chris were having a go at polyamory. Best laid plans, frailty of human flesh and all that...
Shortly thereafter, JL managed to alienate everybody - including myself, Alex and Dave - whilst she was trying to 'find herself' or somesuch. Outside observers just took the expedient of declaring Jenny a little nutso, but that she would return to something resembling normality within a year. Sure enough she has, to the extent of getting back together with Chris - although to my surprise, they're still keen on the idea of polyamory - but everyone else that got burned by her exit is still feeling a wee bit tender. I didn't/don't buy Dave's protestations that he doesn't care any more, and I don't think anyone else is either...
Hence an impending feeling of drawing-room-farce when we all walked into the restaurant.
All told, matters unfolded with civility. Jenny and Alex have been exchanging e-mails, trying to mend the rift. I'm doing my best to dump my lingering anger, then I can perhaps entertain the possibility of trust again. Dave, unsurprisingly, was doing his best water-off-a-duck's back bit. Thank god we ran into my/his/Alex's hairdresser, a groovy dude called Joe, holding up the bar, as that gave Dave and I someone to talk to after the initial greetings had been exchanged. No glasses were hurled, no nasty looks were given, so that was good.
But the best moment had to be, about two minutes after Tony and Jenny had been seated, Chris comes to the bar, needing to pick up an order for a table of his. I swear, I thought he worked the lunch shift of Tuesdays. Anyways, so he comes to the bar for a pasta daiquiri, or whatever the house-specialty is at the Spaghetti Factory is, and for one moment - according to Dave, who had a clear view - Chris looked like he was flirting with cardiac arrest. No doubt he was wondering a) if we all knew about Tony and JL's presence and b) if we didn't know, what the hell was going to happen when we found out.
I blame Dave's hot-headed Cajun reputation. Alex and I are total creampuffs. Heh.
So, as I say, it was an interesting moment.
Running into the ex-employee of Bay Books - who is now an assistant manager at Barnes & Noble - at the Half-Price bookstore, along with his buddy, another ex-employee of Bay Books, after dinner was anti-climatic, really. However, the blue-mohawked fellow behind the counter at Half-Price Books has earned my unending affection as he always asks after Max whenever I stop by. ;)
Speaking of which - more Max pictures!
|Playing with Missy during a visit.
He looks a lot bigger in this picture than he actually is.
He loves empty soda boxes. Really! Strange skittering noises are constantly emanating from the kitchen, wherein he is usually chasing his tale inside a box, causing it to self-motivate across the floor...
|He doesn't take much notice of anything else when he's in a box... That's my husband who is taking such delight in teasing him, by the way.||
No, really, he loves it!
Afterwards. "What did you put me down for?"
Tomorrow should be a
nice day. I'm going to get my hair cut, which is always a good thing for a
shaggy beast such as myself. When I ran into Joe on Tuesday, he offered me a
free haircut, because he feels justifiably guilty about blowing me off during
my last hair appointment. See, Joe's a hard working guy who always tries to
squeeze extra clients into the day, with the unfortunate result that he's
rarely running on time. I'm used to that and I'll tolerate a certain
flexibility about when I actually get seen when I visit him. Given that he's
the only hairdresser that will actually listen to me, I'm willing to
tolerate quite a bit - go figure. However, the last visit left me sitting on
my ass for nearly an hour, and I was already in a piss-poor mood - Alex had
just lost his job the day before, money was tight and this was my final
'treat' before hitting the Ramen diet. So I took things very badly, stormed
out of the shop and haven't been back since. That was almost a year ago...
I've gotten very shaggy in the meantime, as I'm damned if I'm letting
SuperCuts near my head again... So, anyways, getting a trim before all the
holiday family-visits would be nice. And I've told Joe to expect me at 9AM, so
I doubt he'll be 'squeezing anyone in' before then...
In the evening, Donavon's mom will be hosting her annual solstice buffet, which Alex and I have promised to visit. I haven't seen Linda since my wedding, so it'll be nice to chat with her again. She's a very easygoing, very smart lady whom I don't see enough of.
Somewhere in between the haircut in the morning and the party in the evening, I would like to get down to the ocean, even if I won't be able to stay there through sunset. My annual tradition has lapsed since, oh, the second year. *Sigh* But the weather is showing every sign of being nasty, and I'm wondering if it's worth getting frozen and soaked down at Ocean Beach. But I haven't larked about by the sea for a long time - over a year, I think - so it's probably worth the effort. I suppose I could just pack an extra pair of socks and a towel along with my MUNI fare...
Apropos of nothing: I've finally finished my black coat! I had to give up trying to line it, as it just wasn't coming together properly. But now that I've hit every cut edge with fray-check - I had to, and it took an entire bottle of the stuff - the inside of it is a bit scratchy. So I might have another go at lining it, just to get around that. But it's done! It's actually wearable now! Well, once I press it and get all the cat fuzz off it, that is...