Friday, November 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Vol 21

I swear I didn’t mean to have this many references to blood and horror!

1.       Been a while since I’ve done this. Of course, blogging in general has fallen off. Actually, a lot of things have; I’m becoming more reclusive by the day. Reclusion is like tasting human blood; once you get the hunger

2.       You know, of all the posts you read on today’s 7 Quick Takes Lists (hosted by Conversion Diary, of course), that last one’s probably gonna be the creepiest. Sorry, my mind comes up with weird analogies. Let me clarify; I’m temporarily letting my reclusive nature run away with me due to a number of factors, including an increase in allotted writing time. I do not, as of yet, have a taste for human blood.

3.       Remember a couple weeks ago when I said my external hard-drive, will all my video files broke? Well, turns out it’s a ‘Level 3’ damage, meaning that it’d cost over $1,300 to possibly recover anything, in addition to the $250 I already put down. So, that’s it; it’s gone. I’m not emptying my bank account for the possibility of recovering some files. Good bye every single one of my video files! Or, not quite; I remembered I still have an old, smaller external hard-drive, which included a goodly chunk of my video files (I can’t just use it permanently because 1. It’s too small for my purposes and 2. It’s formatted for a PC and I’m on Mac now). Not all by any stretch, but at least I didn’t actually have to start from scratch. Thank God for small miracles!

4.       I’ve been doing a lot of my writing recently at a small coffee shop not far from my apartment. It’s small, fairly quiet (occasionally it’s more, ahem, ‘cozy’ than I would like. Being the recluse that I am, I prefer at all times to maintain at least ten-feet of space between me and anyone whom I have not given express permission to approach), and has really good coffee and cookies. Very conducive to working, and I tend to get a lot more done there than at my apartment.

5.       Speaking of writing, some of you may have seen the report of what I’m working on the other day. For those who missed it, it’s basically “1st Samuel with dinosaurs.” Of course, I’ve also got ideas coming out of my ears; more stuff for the Gods and Monsters universe, a dream-based story that’s existed in one form or another for years, my ‘Teddy Roosevelt vs. the Jersey Devil’ historical fiction series, and a Se7en-style Batman fan-fiction, to name the most prominent pieces at the moment. So much to write, so little time!

6.       I’ve been reading H.P. Lovecraft for the first time. My first story was Dagon, which was something of a disappointment: falling asleep in the middle of the ocean and waking up in the middle of a desert covered in dead fish has it’s creepiness, but on the whole the story just didn’t convince me of the narrators insanity. I was thinking “okay, so you discovered a lost race of fishmen; get over it. Julie Adams got abducted by one of those things, and you don’t see her going all emo about it.” My second story was Pickman’s Model, which was refreshingly and delightfully creepy. “No, no, trust me; it’s just the rats. They keep trying to get out of that old well…”

7.       When it comes to music, recently I’ve mostly been incessantly playing songs from Newsies (yes, the Disney movie from the early 90’s starring a very young Christian Bale). See, I like musicals, and when I discover a new one I have the habit of fixating on a few songs and playing them repeatedly for a couple weeks. Seize the day!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

On Writing

Back when I was still blogging, I occassionally made reference to my 'current writing project with a very marketable premise.' Since November is writing month (not really doing Nanowrimo, but I'm trying to set a goal of finishing the first draft during the month), I figure I might let you in on a few things:

The title is (tentatively)  Lost City of the Dimetrodons. The premise is an epic-fantasy book-to-series set in a world where humans live alongside dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts. The dinosaurs aren't the sentient beings of the Dinotopia books, but just animals of varying degrees of intelligence, savagery, and domestication. I'm taking it as a challenge to make them as accurate as I can. So, for instance, the theropods are almost all covered in feathers, most pterosaurs are much too small to carry a human, and the big predators don't come running for the great taste of people. Of course, telling a good story and making it fun is more important, so if it ever becomes a toss up between science and storytelling, storytelling wins (for instance, I think my pteranodon is slightly bigger than it really was; six-feet tall standing instead of about four-to-five, depending on who you ask).

So, I've got the premise. I've got the core cast of characters (they fit rather neatly into the 'five man band' model, though I don't think they're stock fantasy figures by any stretch. At least, if anyone else has, say, a 3 1/2 foot, pteranodon-riding version of Cyrano de Bergerac, I'm not aware of it). I kind of have the plot, though it could use some streamlining. I just need to work on shaping it into a coherent whole. More on that as it develops.

Meanwhile, Hendricks continues its posting, and I just realized I need to edit/finish a particularly large chapter before it is scheduled to go up on Friday!

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Monster's Back

The few of you who have read this blog for a while may remember that my first blog was called 'Monstrus Dei.' I abandoned it after deciding I wanted to write in a different style, and because I couldn't really think of much else to say.

Now, though, I think that I've both developed my voice enough and have enough angry, sarcastic rants bottled up inside me that I'm reviving it. Or rather, I deleted all the old posts and am beginning it over again. It's no great loss: I don't think any of the old posts were that great anyway.

So, if you've got a fairly high tolerance for bluntness and sarcasm, go take a look.

Friday, October 11, 2013

7 Quick Takes Vol. 20: First Aid and Online Dating

1.     Today was our annual first responders training at work, and since I’m a first responder that means I spent most of my day watching a video on First Aid. My main takeaways were A. that if I ever need CPR I really, really hope the person administering it doesn’t take time to put on latex-free gloves or fiddle with a mask to avoid catching some infectious disease from my spittle or vomit while my brain cells die by the thousand due to a lack of oxygen and B. that according to the CDC, the human race should never have made it out of the caves, since apparently any spilling of blood is a biohazard outbreak only just shy of unleashing the T-virus. I know blood-borne diseases are a real thing, but seriously people? In the video they showed us, people were putting up caution tape because a woman got a mild cut on her arm. Meanwhile I’m imagining Ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, or even the 19th century and wondering why they didn’t all end in mass extinctions.  

2.     On that note, the video goes on to talk about how companies are required by law to offer Hep B shots to employees who might get cut on the job, and that if employees refuse, they’re required to offer it again if they do in fact get cut, along with a complete medical exam, preventative shots, and counseling. The last bit made me laugh: “after we’ve filled your head with horror stories about what might happen if you touch blood, we’ll pay to help you through the trauma if that actually happens.” I’m all for companies taking care of their employees, but this struck me as a bit much. I mean, good Lord! At this rate a broken glass in the break room could send a company into Chapter 11!
“Well, we were going to bring on two new guys this month, but Ted had a nosebleed, so hiring’s been suspended another year.”
 “Way to go, Ted.”

3.     I know I promised a piece about my retreat the weekend before last, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. Instead, I’ve spent my time writing posts about online dating that morph half-way through into Friday the 13th jokes. I’ll get to it sometime soon.

4.     Speaking of which, my stabbing hasn’t yielded much fruit yet, though I admit that I haven’t really started in earnest. The girl I was going to take a stab at didn’t come to anything, so now I’m searching for another girl who looks interesting enough to stab at. Stab, stab, stab.
      Just keep stabbing, just keep stabbing la! lalalala! I love to STAB!

       (hm, I hope none of my prospective matches see this).

5.     Thoughts while browsing Catholic Match: “Nice, but lives in California and doesn’t do long distance;” “Seems really insistent on ‘outgoing’ as a quality in a match, so much for that one;” “Her profile pic makes it look like she wants to bite my throat out;” “Perfect! But I already tried her and didn’t get a response;” “…This one’s entire ‘about me’ is a Bible quote. Thanks, that helps a lot;” “…And this one spent half her introduction talking about her dog!” “I already tried this one…but that was a really long time ago and she’s got a ton of common interests, so I’m gonna give it another shot.”

6.     On a happier note, I discovered that some generous soul uploaded a host of classic film serials. I love classic serials! I’ve been enjoying Federal Operator 99 all this week, which was actually a lot better than I was expecting. I mean, I love serials, but they’re often not what you’d call good. This one, though, is one of the better one’s I’ve seen; it has a worthwhile hero, a nicely oily villain, and an atypically gutsy and involved heroine. Usually in these things the girl doesn’t really do much except get kidnapped and imperiled (which I like, don’t get me wrong), but this one actually plays an active role in foiling the bad guys. She even rescues the hero at one point!  

7.     You know, it’s funny; when I’m at work, all I want to do is write. When I’m at home, I have to really force myself to sit down and get to it. Maybe it’s because there’re fewer distractions at work, or maybe I’m just in a ‘work mode.’

 Wherefore art thou, Conversion Diary?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Whims of Writing

So, I was supposed to be buckling down to work on my Epic Fantasy series. Either that or doing editing work on Hendricks. Instead, I hit upon an idea which has been percolating unseriously for a while and which I pretty much just started on a whim. Now I find it's just too much fun not to play around with. It's just a quick, fairly short book about a teenage girl who takes up a hobby as a cat-burglar.

The premise is fun enough, but what really makes it a blast to write is that it's in the first person perspective of a rather bubbly and easily-distracted teenage girl, who is reporting in semi-present tense. In the opening scene, for instance, she has trouble remembering which character from The Iliad the ancient mask she's stealing is supposed to be connected to, then complains that the method for beating motion detectors doesn't work as well as it did on Mythbusters ("Jaime and Adam lied to me"). It's frankly just too much fun to put down.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

More Online Dating Stuff!

So, my online dating experience has been pretty lackluster so far. I keep finding beautiful, interesting-seeming women with a lot of common interests who don't so much as glance at my profile when I messege them. Or they glance at the profile, but don't reply.

That makes me wonder whether I'm going about this the wrong way; am I supposed to open with an "I like this, this, and this about you and would like to get to know you better" message, or should I just dive right in with a chat invite? Anyway, that's what I've decided to try next. There's a very lovely young lady I've got my eye on whom I'm going to take a stab at...okay, I took a stab last night, but I'm not sure whether she was online or not, so I'll take another one. And I'll just keep stabbing until something happens!

Wait, that sounds wrong...

"Stab, stab, stabbity,, are you into horror movies at all?"

Friday, October 4, 2013

7 Quick Takes Vol. 19

Still hosted by Conversion Diary!

1.       I went on my long-weekend personal retreat last week. I’ve been meaning to write a dedicated post about it, but just haven’t gotten around to it. Consider this a foretaste. In any case, I had a wonderful time; I read and wrote and played my violin and walked around the woods hacking tree branches with my machete to use in a fire and just sat outside looking at Lake Michigan and reflecting.

2.       I loved the quiet of the UP (though I wasn’t as isolated as I had hoped; there being cabins on either side of me and Escanaba right across the bay). I could just sit and breathe and think for long periods without an distractions, and I loved it. Speaking of no distractions, there wasn’t any wi fi, so I got a lovely four-day break from the internet, reinforcing my previous suspicions that I use it way too much.

3.       As part of the reflection part I read (partly) through two excellent books: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Don Miller. I’d read both before, but enjoyed the chance to review them and re-absorb the powerful messages therewithin. They both helped me do some diagnosis and planning for making a better life for myself. I’ll probably talk more about that in the future when I’ve had more opportunity to digest my reflections.

4.       I also read some Plato, which was delightful, and it inspired me to do some work on a very casual book on Ethics I’ve been fiddling with. Ethics is sort of my passion philosophically; I love parsing and fiddling with it and coaxing out all sorts of lovely little rules and axioms. Most of my writing, though, was dedicated to the new book series I’m working on, about which I don’t want to say too much except that I’m aiming at the young adult market and it has an extremely marketable premise. J  

5.       So, I recently got a new desk-top computer to supplement my over-taxed laptop. This means that, for the first time in ages, I’ve been able to indulge in my hobby of making music videos. At least, I managed to make one before my external hard-drive, which contains all my video files, broke down, necessitating my sending it out to try to get the data recovered, which will take a few weeks and cost a considerable amount of dough. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away.

6.       Of course, everyone in the Catholic blogsphere has been struggling mightily to come to terms with Pope Francis’s recently revealed penchant for giving off-the-cuff interviews in which he says things that are easily misconstrued, which in the process means that a lot of his less-confusing and lovely statements get missed. For my part, I rather wish he’d be a bit more careful, but I also wish everyone reading him would calm down and listen a little more carefully. I still love Francis, though he certainly isn’t my style of Pope (I’m more like Benedict; bookish, quiet, and not really a fan of being with a lot of people). Speaking of which, we’ve been hearing from Pope Emeritus Benedict a lot more than I had expected, which is all to the good! If you haven’t read the released sections of his letter to the atheist mathematician regarding the latter’s review of his book, go find it now!

7.       I was shocked to hear that Tom Clancy – whom I haven’t read nearly enough but consider myself a fan of – died at the much-too young age of 66. Clancy was a conservative and at least in some way a Catholic, both of which are sadly rare things among bestselling authors. But what we’ll remember him for is his excellent thrillers like The Hunt for Red October and (the only book of his I’ve read and one of my favorites) Rainbow Six. Requiescat in pacem, magister.