Sunday, October 31, 2004

In which Chris’s cat gives me a good scare

I’m sitting here playing insanequarium, awesome game, and wondering why there are aliens in my fish tank, thinking if I had something like that one guy with the hair in mine I would be tempted to dump in some Clorox or something, and I hear this tremendous commotion from the window behind me.

I have the window open as I usually do when the weather is nice. I usually open the one that is the furthest from where I sit but today I opened the one closest which seems to have confused the cats. They love to come and sit outside on the ledge. My room is on the second floor and despite the neighbour girl’s attempts to get the cats to jump down they have so far resisted all urges to leap. Even the squirrels that come and shriek at them all day long don’t make the cats lose their sense of the laws of physics and cat injuries so I feel safe letting them sit out there as much as they want to.

George, Chris’s orange cat, is going nuts whacking at the window with his paw. At first I think he is confused about how to get out but then this thing comes flying across the room and lands on my leg. It’s a stunned, pissed off yellow jacket.

Now mind you I am allergic to vespids, which include the yellow jacket family. I also noticed a couple of days ago that my epi-pen expired quite some time ago. So I am less than thrilled that this denizen of death is twitching on my leg. Chris is at work and Cul and Cam are with their dad for the weekend. I can’t just yell for someone to come and remove this thing which is my default idea.

A part of me thinks how funny it would be for me to die from some stupid yellow jacket sting after I finally went to all the trouble of setting those health goals while another part just wonders what I am going to do and how I am going to keep from being stung when I pick it up off my leg. You probably think I could just move my leg and it would fall off but I was sitting on the bed in a funny position and I would have really agitated this vespid if I started trying to use gravity to get rid of it. Plus this way at least I knew where it was. I’d rather have it on my leg than under my leg.

I finally picked up a credit card receipt that was sitting on my desk and scooped up the yellow jacket. It started to protest just as I was dumping it out the window but I succeeded in my mission.

It was so freaky. What are the odds of the cat precisely batting this thing right onto me like that? Gives me the willies just thinking about it.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Setting some goals as per my God dream

I woke up early this morning and came up with some goals. I have been doing well with the one goal I set at the beginning of the year. People say you can’t set goals like this but the few times I have done it I have had success.

Last year I was in the hospital in October in NC for a blood transfusion. I was also in hospital in May with meningitis. In 2002 I was in for several days with a blood clot at the end of April and then I was in for 21 days with that retroperitoneal bleed. 2001 I was in with a blood clot.

So this year my entire health goal was to stay out of the hospital. Despite having a terrible brain disease which hospitalizes many people I have managed to stay out of the hospital and I only missed two days of work. Of course the fact that I work from my home is the only reason. I would have missed most of the year if I had to get up and go somewhere. But anyway that is one goal I have kept so far and we’re getting close to the end of the year.

Here’s what I came up with for my God mandated goals.

  • No more throwing up, unless I have food poisoning or something.
  • Stabilized vision.
  • No more being nauseas every single evening.
  • Able to complete all the activities of daily living I was doing in April of 2002. At that time I was training for the AIDS marathon in Dublin. I was not only doing normal things I can’t do now, like cook, but I was walking 15 on Sundays and training three other days a week. Now this might be unattainable for me for now because my skin is very sensitive when I am on these blood thinners and my feet kept bleeding and that is why I had to quit the marathon training. My socks would be soaked with blood when I finished those long walks. I’ve still got big scabs from my feet bleeding when we went down to the Washington Book Festival a couple of weeks ago. I have high hopes for this new blood thinner coming out of France though and hopefully when that is released here in American I will be able to eat broccoli and I will no longer bleed and bruise if you look at me funny. But regardless of my marathoning abilities I should be able to walk enough to do a day of extra work which often consists of walking around and then resting and then doing it over and over and over and over again. This is a very important goal which is likely many smaller goals rolled up into one.
  • Regain my cognitive abilities that have suffered. Work on memory retention skills and also the slurred speech thing. Both of these problems, which I believe are because of the brain swelling, absolutely interfere with acting. Unless I’m playing a drunk who doesn’t need to remember her lines the not being able to speak clearly or remember thing is going to cause me major problems. Both of these things have improved significantly since February but they need work. I also have this habit of substituting the wrong words when I talk. My kids and boss have learned to work around it but it doesn’t work so well with strangers.

Really it sounds like I need some rehab. If I had a traumatic brain injury I think I would have gotten some. If I had a real brain tumour instead of the psuedotumour I think I would have gotten some. It appears to be up to me to find out what to do and how to do it. I’m going to make an appointment to go and see the chiropractic neurologist for whom I used to work and see what he suggests.

Writing goals

Write this book called Bare Minimum for NaNoWriMo. Write the second draft starting in the middle of January.

Meanwhile for December and the middle of January work the second draft of Bluer. Keep working on these two until I can send one in for publication. Go to Vegas to see Penn and Teller and the Blue Man Group to celebrate. Squeeze in rewrite on Devil May Care and start submitting to agents.

Acting goals

  • Get new headshots.
  • Take lots of classes at the Conservatory. There are some great ones there and they cost hardly anything.
  • When healthier audition for Herb and do more improv.
  • Work towards getting voiceover work and industrials.
  • Get cast in Neil’s Death movie.

Friday, October 29, 2004

In which I find God or more accurately I bump into him on the set of a commercial and then we go to a party together

I had a dream this morning that I was working on a commercial. I'm not entirely sure what the commercial was going to be advertising, although Kevin said it could be for the University of Maryland and saving money for your kid's education what with the Maryland Terrapins and all.

I was standing on the set watching this baby crawling towards a big turtle. The turtle was doing its part by crawling towards the baby. Suddenly the turtle shot out a very long neck and bit the baby right in the face. There was such a huge commotion that I couldn't even tell if the baby was injured or not. The turtle seemed pretty smug about the whole thing.

This tall thin woman was wringing her hands and crying. She yelled "Why? Why does God let this kind of thing happen? How does it fit into His plan?"

Then God spoke up in this really great, thick Cockney accent and said "Me? Me? It's got nuffink to do wif me! It's not my plan, it's the director's plan. You won't catch me putting turtles and babies togefer."

And I thought, how very cool and so true that people blame things on Him that they do themselves and I had a really great moment.

Then we went to a party together and I was talking to some people about how I am sad because I am further from my acting goals each year and God asked me if I have set any goals for myself. He wasn't talking about acting goals he was talking about health goals because the reason I am further from my acting goals is because I am so sick from this intracranial hypertension.

I really didn't have an answer for Him. I started to say yes of course I have goals, like to walk around the block today but I realized He was right I don't have long term goals for being healthy. I just do things like take my medicine and vitamins and hope for the best.

Then God said "I can't help you reach your goals if you don't set them." And I knew He was right and I woke up and I felt so happy and secure and peaceful because it seemed that all I have to do decide what I want and He will indeed help me get it.

It's funny because for years I have been wishing God would just tell me what I am meant to be doing so I know I am on the right track but I came away sure that I am the one who is meant to decide what I should be doing and if that is writing and acting and being healthy then so be it.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Swing it Smoky!

I guess I am technically a swing voter so I put on some Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

I realize that most people know who they are voting for already but I am not entirely sure. I was just posting over at Ryan's Adventures about the fact that I am undecided. You can read Ryan's and my comments here.

I got a freaky spam from some guy who Sandy says is running for the Borg party. He says he's using nanotechnology to clean up the environment. I'm intrigued but skeptical.

And in other news, my beloved Cooper MINI is on the front page of as the most loved new car. Oh yes that Cooper is hot, hot, hot!

I'm going for NaNoWriMo again this year. More in a bit,

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

That's not a story

I was updating the Broker article at BrokerUniverse this week with a roundtable discussion transcript. One guy asks another guy a question and he replies "I have a story about that that I won't share."

Dude then it's not a story! It's a secret or it's something else I am too tired to name but it is soooo not a story.

A story here is an anecdote, something that you just need to share because it's funny or helpful or poignant. Stories make the world get along a little better, make people bond, help them laugh, make them cry, makes them feel and nod their heads and all that other good stuff. To bring one up and not share it is just plain mean.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Proof that I have totally lost my mind

Chris bought a tambourine at Renn Fair on Sunday. I heard him rattling it downstairs earlier today.

As soon as I heard it I thought "It's the ghost of Jacob Marley!" and I got nervous. Then as it got louder and louder and started up the stairs I leapt out of bed and prepared to flee rather than face the specter.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Baby steps towards getting a new brain doctor

I called Dr. Newman-Toker's office today to get an appointment with him. Because there is a possibility I will need brain surgery I have been too scared to even call him. After all Dr. Risamondo is treating my eyes so it's not nobody is looking after me but I do want a doctor who cares about all of me and works on taking care of the non visual symptoms. Dr. Newman-Toker's assistant who answered the phone said he wasn't taking new patients.

I offered to bribe him with candy, cash or flowers and when that didn't work asked if I could kill one of his existing patients and take their place. That last bit was a joke but I guess not a very funny one.

After I hung up I sent him an email because Zareh had said that Dr. NT really liked to communicate via email. I told him who I was, what was wrong and asked if there was any way he would take on a new patient. He wrote back very quickly to say he can't but thanks for the kind words and would I tell him more of my symptoms so he can direct me to a colleague. I'm hoping something good comes of this and I can get back to being healthy and working towards my acting and writing goals.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

In Which I Do Not Throw Up On Anyone at All

I made it through the day with the help of the very kind Herb, Zareh, Melissa and a few others. Herb filled out my voucher for me when I realized I couldn't see well enough to read it. He kept me company while we walked over to the courthouse and got breakfast and stood outside in the cold to eat it. Zareh insisted that I make an appointment with a neurologist about my psuedotumour and he got me lunch when I was too sick to get it myself. Melissa worried about me when I got very ill from the lights on the set and she asked someone to keep an eye on me during the exterior shots.

Lots of things went wrong but lots of things went right. Perhaps most importantly I have someone waiting for me to get well enough to audition for his troop which means someone has faith that I will get well.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

What's up with John Grisham

I read a bunch of his books this past week. The Summons, King of Torts and Skipping Christmas. He baffles me. To hear him tell it the area around my office in DC is a place where the inhabitants will kill you as soon as look at you.

Skipping Christmas has this bit with the protagonists' daughter coming home unexpectedly and she's got this guy she wants to marry with her. He's from Peru. The parents flip out and actually worry about how dark his skin is. Then they are relieved when they meet him and discover he is a couple of shades lighter than the dad. They go on to be more relieved when they find out he went to school in Britain. As long as he's not too dark and he went to school in a civilized country it's okay that he is going to marry their daughter when he has only known her for less than a month.

I mean really, what the hell is that? Besides bigoted and appalling.

Friday, October 22, 2004

There is more to being healthy than just being able to see.

Seriously, just ask Ms. Keller. My specialist has the attitude that because I can still see everything is fine and I am getting better. My precipitation is that I still throw up an awful lot, I can’t walk up and down the stairs without nearly passing out, I get dizzy every time I get up, I have fierce headaches, my brain gets overwhelmed and I have trouble remembering things.

Why can’t we find some way of treating me that also fixes those problems? I have a little bit of antiemetics that my family doctor gave me. Not a lot, maybe three or four left and I will take them when I am so sick I start throwing up blood. The scariest thing is that I can take them and still be pinned down by wave after wave of nausea. And so I ask when will I get better? Is there anyone who can answer that question? That’s what I was afraid of.
* * * *
I’m working on The Wire on Sunday. I’ve got an 8 am call time and I need to wear one business casual outfit and bring another. I’ve basically been wearing pajamas for the last eight months so that was kind of hard to wrangle up. I’m thinking the bright pink cotton “disco queen” set doesn’t count as business casual.
God if you are reading my blog I would like you to make sure I stay healthy enough to get through this day in a professional manner. Keep me from being blinded by the lights on the set and please don’t let me throw up on anyone. Shamus said this work is perfect for me because I’ll be sitting down all day. I don’t want to let him down and I don’t want to screw up. Amen.
* * * *
I’m reading Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott. I love her. I love her for many reasons. She reminds me that I am a very angry woman and that is okay. She reminds me that despite my deep anger and craziness I can still attain moments of grace and I can rise above my darkest feelings and impulses.

She can talk to me about Jesus and not get on my nerves. I think there are maybe four people in my world that can talk to me about Jesus without me wanting to hit them or walk away or otherwise make them shut up. It’s funny how I have such an antipathy to someone I would probably really like. The problem with Jesus is that when he is presented to me by most people he is this dopey sappy mournful fake martyr that makes me want to scream. Anne’s Jesus is a Jesus I would send email to and ask for advice and listen to his problems and give him advice.

Jesus is a character in Blue Shoe but not Jesus is a character in those Left Behind books. He’s offstage in all of them but he’s got a very different role in each. In the Left Behind books he’s this weird army commander who happens to love you and will torture and kill you to prove his love. In Blue Shoe he’s this guy who loves you and wants you to be happy and knows how hard it is to do the right thing consistently.

It’s particularly interesting to me to read this book after reading Anne’s essays at It’s fascinating how well she has taken her nonfiction and incorporated it into this piece of fiction. I’m about halfway through the book and I am simply head over heels in love with it.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The funniest political article ever

From the Guardian we have Dear Limey Assholes. I love this piece because it was brilliantly put together. We have the rabidly pissed off responses, we have the thoughtful intellectual replies, the sarcasm dripping right off the monitor replies, really a little bit of everything.

I’m curious about the Guardian’s motives. Were they looking for a good story? Are they on the Bush payroll? I don’t see how anyone who knows Americans could possibly think we would take kindly to someone from another country telling us how to vote. From what I see at the Vine we wouldn’t like it if our mothers told us how to vote. Maybe it’s some bizarre sociological experiment and we’ll get to read all about it in a big thick book next year.

Meanwhile read all about how pissed off Americans focus on British bad teeth when they get upset.

And are you talking about an IOU or a pert young girl?

I’ve probably spent more than my fair share of time at various message boards and reading other people’s chat while they play games at I’m frequently baffled by the use of the word “chit.” Someone was just saying “Chit on this game.” Some guy at the Vine has said things like “What is the obsession with chit?” since he was talking to someone who was calling MrSpittle MrShittle I’m guessing he means chit to substitute for shit, which ties in nicely with the other ways I’ve seen it used.

Let me digress for a moment about the person who called MrSpittle names. How funny is that? To take a name as repulsive as MrSpittle and try to make it sound worse is quite the exercise in futility.

But anyway to get back to this chit thing, anyone who has read even one Regency romance knows that a chit is young girl who speaks up for herself and is perceived as sassy and pert. It’s also an IOU which is also known as your vowels as in Sinjun’s got St. Claire’s vowels and I declare if he doesn’t make them good he’ll have to take a tour of the continent.

So how does an interesting word become a synonym for shit? I guess someone who wasn’t much in the way of being imaginative decided to change one letter to make a word to get past the censors. But here is where I have another problem.

If shit and chit are not supposed to mean exactly the same thing why should chit be treated any differently? Why should it get past the censors? If there are rules against cursing then shouldn’t it be treated like a curse and be against the rules?

Plus who would want to use it like that? Certainly not me. If I want to say shit I will say it. I don’t get a weird little thrill by cheating the system. Because that is my final analysis. People use that word that way because they think they are getting away with something. Now if I could just decide if that is really sad or really funny. I’m hoping it’s funny.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Who is your test group?

Carolyn told me something today that I found hard to believe. She was listening to the radio and the DJ asked what scares people more than death and to call in with the answer. The answer was spiders.

That's grand because people are indeed frightened of spiders but more frightened than they are of death? I asked if someone held a gun to someone's head and gave them a choice of a bullet to the brain or a spider crawling up their nose what they would take. Carolyn said she didn't know. I know. People would take the spider most of the time. I don't care how scared of spiders you are, imminent death is scary.

But I did eventually think of one group who would choose death every time. The arachnaphobic suicide prevention support group.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

What is the point of marriage?

I was talking to a friend today and he asked me why anyone would get married when they are sterile and can’t have children. This is my reply.

You get married when you can’t have kids because your partner is the one you want to be with now and next week and next year and next century if you can. The one you can talk to about anything and know they will understand. The one who lets you be yourself and champions you when the world is against you. The one who is proud of you for getting the little hard to do things done and understands when you can’t quite get it together today. The one who makes you smile and smiles when you tell them goofy jokes. The one who misses you just as much as you miss them when you are apart.

When you have a partner like that it doesn’t matter if they can’t have kids. There are plenty of ways for a sterile man to become a father. Some of the best fathers in the world don’t share DNA with their children.

Monday, October 18, 2004

What does that even mean?

Cam was trying to tell me about a film trailer he saw. I am quite negative when it comes to him telling me about things he saw on TV. I rarely watch it myself and I hate to hear recycled TV plots. But this was about a movie so I tried really hard to pay attention.

He said the commercial was for a creepy movie and says “If a person dies in a state of terror a curse is born” to which I asked what kind of delivery the curse had. He said he didn’t want to know what I was talking about. I asked it if was an easy birth or if it was difficult for the mother. It’s so ridiculous I just can’t take it seriously.

Then he said they showed two of the curses in the trailer. I asked if one had an APGAR score of three and one of ten but he didn’t get what I was talking about.

When I asked him what all this is supposed to mean he had no answer for me. What does it mean to have a curse that makes an arm grow out of your head? To me that is just stupid and boring.

I’m sure though if I ever encountered some sort of curse I would be in big trouble. I would do something to activate the curse, like wear white shoes during the wrong time of the year. Some ghostly grizzled mummy of a fashion model would start following me around telling me I must suffer the curse and I would be saying “But what does that even mean?” and arguing about continuity and logic of that particular horror universe until she gave up and bashed me in the head with some stiletto shoes.

* * * *

My own writing. I'm thinking more and more about this idea for a script about a family fighting over who gets to be more active in their child's life. That is essentially the theme although in a way it would almost be a remake of The Music Man. I figured out a way to make it into a sequel to I Am Not the Problem Here but probably only a crazy person would consider writing a sequel to a script that has not yet been shopped around much less made.

I worked on Bluer for awhile today. I don’t really know how to keep track of what I am doing with that book. One hundred words or so and kind of a big decision about the swearing thing. Taking it all out didn’t work for me. There is a part where she is talking about her broken heart and she says “That fucker can break and break and break.” I can’t find a word that works as well as fucker right there.

I’ve got other parts coming up that I think will not be as strong if she has to completely forgo cursing. I think if maybe she saves it for when she is totally freaking out then it works because it shows how out of control she is. She can also use it when she just wants to show some very strong emotion. As Andras’ teacher said there is a big difference between saying “it is cold outside” and “it is fucking cold outside.” So let me leave her as many tools as possible so she can tell her story the way she wants to.

This book is the most internal thing I have ever written. It’s not a style I usually use but I started it right after reading The Post Office which is pretty internal and more of a slice of life than anything else. Even after a year I am still too close to it to judge it particularly well. Maybe when I am done with this rewrite and let it sit for six weeks.

There are parts of it that make my heart sing because I love the language. I love how I said exactly what I wanted to say and I said it beautifully. But in general gorgeous, rich language does not a book make. So we’ll just have to wait and see.

I wrote a story called Pyrexia, Unknown Etiology at the end of June. I’m going to do the second draft this week. Tonight’s goal is just to read it and catch any typos that leap out at me. When I wrote it I was at the prime of my latest vision loss and I really couldn’t see the screen. I ran it through spell-check but heaven knows if I clicked the right word choices. I’m going to have to find someone to proof this thing before I do anything with it. I’d like to workshop it at Zoe.

I miss reviewing there. Two years ago I was a top rated reviewer for the month of November or September or something. Now I haven’t even logged in for ages.

I guess my blog takes up time that I used to spend on other sites. I started out posting stuff like this into a couple of rather longs threads at Project Greenlight. I did that for a couple of years. Then I used my office at Zoe for posts like this and then I moved to blogger. All told I have been blogging in one form or another since October of 2000. I certainly hope this blog lasts longer than some of my former venues.

So to sum up, a little over four pages, editing on Bluer and read Pyrexia, Unknown Etiology.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Googled to the Max

I consider myself a Google kind of girl. I confess I used to belong to the cult of the and closed my ears to the outcries of the followers of the mighty Google. One day my metacrawler just didn?t seem meta enough for me. I gave Google a shot and was hooked.

Google bought Blogger a while back making me a double Google girl. Now I?ve got the Google toolbar on my blog along with adsense. Adsense is going to put Cullen through college, right?

Then they came out with gmail. I love this system. Tons of storage space, very easy to use and it indexes everything so I can find it later. Neil Gaiman uses his account to back up his work which I think is rather brilliant.

I did a gmail experiment this weekend. I had about 400 emails from Dan in my hotmail account. I want to get rid of the account. I don't really read those emails but I don't want to delete them either so I sent them to gmail to be indexed.

I was a little horrified to see that my gmail notifier said I had only 134 new messages out of the 400+ that I sent over. We used to send each other critiques of insanely stupid spam titles like Your cock so big you trip over it and I got to fretting that gmail was blocking what it thought was spam. I am very picky about my spam. I believe I am the only person smart enough to be able to tell what is spam and what is not. I don't want an automatic spam filter. That is what my brain is for. I won't be able to use an email that disposes of my mail before I can see it.

I was quite relieved to see that gmail had sorted out my mail into conversations. One subject heading had turned into a 53 response thread. Gmail did not let me down.

Here I was thinking I was about maxed out when it came to Google but Kevin proved me wrong. He sent me a link to Google Desktop Search. Oh. My. God. Talk about a swoony bit of software. It?s just plain wonderful.

I use it all the time now. The Windows search always slowed my system down and took about half an hour on my box. The Google version takes about five seconds for me.

Since it also searches pages I have visited it makes doing research for my day job a breeze. Yesterday I was putting together the Weekend Edition of the Daily Briefing and my editor wanted to focus on Emerging Markets. The stories looked awfully familiar to me so I did a search and found I had indeed already formatted the stories for BrokerUniverse/Origination News Special Reports. Instead of bothering my editor I had the answer to my question in under a minute. It?s fucking awesome. What can I say? I?m very curious about Google?s ambitious book project. I can totally get behind the mission of Google, ?to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.? I?m all about being useful and accessible and I will follow this project with great interest.

* * * *
400 words of Bluer than the Night Sky today. Technically that is the second draft of that book but I am not sure it really counts as draft two. I cut 20,000 words from the 50,000 word first draft. Mind you I wrote the thing for November is Novel months and I knew a lot of it was going to go when I wrote it. I almost think this is the first draft v1.5.

But then again maybe it really is a second draft. When I wrote my second draft of Freeing the Madwoman I removed a couple of scenes and added a bunch more. I had a skeleton of a script when I finished the first draft and then I added all the lovely flesh. Perhaps that is what I am doing here.

I?m interested to see that on this round the female protagonist, who has no name because she is so disenfranchised by society we never learn it although I really know what it is, has more of a dialect and she decided she doesn?t want to curse at all. I?m going in and changing all the swears to other things. Maybe she is not as angry as she was when I wrote her last year.

When I say dialect I don?t meant that stuff like sho nuff that is so horrible to read and hardly ever works. I just mean she has more expressions from the South, like mashing the button instead of pushing it, stuff like that. In the first draft she has two distinct voices. She was raised in the South and you hear it when she talks about her childhood and then when she is an adult she is pretty much assimilated into a more boring style of speech. This time she is only boring when she is trying to discuss something clinically instead of getting emotional when she talks about it.

Im curious to see if anyone notices that she has no name. I noticed when I was about half way through that nobody ever calls her by her name and it seemed so important and such a symptom of her circumstances that I made sure the rest of the book was the same.

Sometimes when I wonder why I bother doing this, working on my fiction, sending it out, etc, when I could just write nonfiction for my work forever I will have to remind myself I am doing to see if anyone notices my poor nameless heroine.

Stephen King says 400 words a day and you will have a first draft in a year. I?m happy with today?s output. I hit my goal of more than four pages defaced, I finished reading Will Shetterly?s The Secret Academy, more than 400 words towards draft two of Bluer and I did some good research for the Entertainment thing I am going to do for BrokerUniverse. Go me!

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Doesn't the name "Viagra Soft Tabs" give you a mixed message?

I'm just sayin'

I don't know how I managed it but I did four and a bit pages today. Despite being beset by idiots, rulebreakers, daft buggers, vomiting and severe dizziness I did it. Too bad there is no prize available.

I've been reading Will Shetterly's novel in progress, The Secret Academy. Good stuff.

All of you Grapevine readers should go and bid on his auctions because heaven knows you can afford to patronize him and he could afford to be patronized. He's a terrific writer and all around great guy. Isn't a dedication or a character name the perfect Christmas gift for someone who has everything?

Friday, October 15, 2004

Four pages a day

Frederik Pohl wrote four pages a day for some insanely long time. I want to say fifty years but I think I am making that number up. He had trouble with his program when he quit smoking. For decades he would sit at the typewriter, and then later the computer, and “deface four sheets of paper” with words. Some he kept, some he trashed, and some went into projects he didn’t really plan on at the time he was writing but no matter what he wrote four pages a day. He’d write, take a sip of coffee, write and then take a drag of his cigarette.

When he quit smoking it blew his system all to pieces and left him at sea. He’s finally getting back into the swing of things but it has taken him a very long time.

I’ve been looking for some minimum standard of writing for a long time. I used to write a thousand words a day. Then I just wanted to write every day. I’ve been all over the place with my goals. I like four pages a day as long as I can count crap towards that total.

I’ve been hitting that goal, and more, since I saw Mr. Pohl last Saturday. Today I am once again feeling wretched. I was up sick until four or five am and then woke up around eight. Then I worked all day. Fridays are my busiest day as I do the BrokerWire and then the Daily Briefing and then put the Weekend Edition together. Plus of course take care of all the tech support needs of everyone at When I finished working I thought that is it. I can’t possibly do my four pages. I even was very halfhearted about seeing vorpal this weekend in my reply to him. I haven’t seen him in person in ages but I am afraid I will throw up on him if we hook up. That would never do.

I guess I will hit my goal but it will be oh so very hard and it will take much more willpower than I think I have.

I wonder how Mr. Pohl handles editing. I think maybe you should have a different standard when you are writing your second draft. Oh sure sometimes you are writing pages of new material but sometimes you aren’t. I am sort of kind of working on Angels but I keep thinking about Bluer than the Night Sky and Devil May Care and this romance I started a long time ago and a bunch of new ideas. It’s almost like I need an external editor who says hey now, work on Carnal Fear. And finish that damn Santa story would you? But then again some of these projects are so painful I don’t know if I am brave enough to finish them even if someone said I really should.

Four and a half pages today. I wonder how I managed that.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

My writing for today

I got yet another idea for a script today at Cam’s choir recital. There is no earthly way I could write every single idea I have. I would need extra-terrestraial assistance at the very least. I did more than five pages today. I worked on Angels a little. I started chapter two. It’s queer but I am so impressed with this story I worry I can’t keep it up. Plsu where did this idea come from in the first place? Will it continue to be as strange as the beginning of chapter one? What does it all mean?

An intimate venue

I went up to see One Ring Zero at Atomic Books Saturday night. I was worried about the van overheating again and I was really sick to my stomach so I nearly didn’t go. But I feel like I never go anywhere so I had better go.

I was too out of it to be aware that the band was actually playing so when I got to the store, desperate to pee, and walked in to see Joshua on the accordion and Michael on the theremin I had a tiny moment of dislocation and confusion. I hurriedly gave my plan of going straight to the bathroom and sat on the floor to watch the show.

The performance was absolutely amazing. It is unfortunate that the imminent danger of my exploding bladder prevented me from enjoying it to the fullest.

After the show, when I was feeling better, I bought a copy of As Smart as We Are and talked to Benn while waiting for Joshua and Michael from ORZ to be free to sign it for me. Benn showed me the new hardcover edition of the collected 1602 which looks damn sweet. Sadly I didn’t have money for it so we talked about Jonathan Lethem and how vorpal had suggested I read Motherless Brooklyn and Fortress of Solitude. Benn said I would like those two and named a book he thought would be a poor choice for me start with. I am well aware that as an owner of a little bookstore it is in his best interests to be able to recommend books to me but it points up yet another reason for shopping at the little stores. Not only is my money staying in the local community and helping support people I like but I get the personalized service which is very nice indeed.

I really enjoyed talking to Michael. Although he was obviously tired he was interesting and accessible. He asked me to come to the show the next day which he said was in Alexandria. I said I would try and then we were interrupted by the arrival of Rachel’s birthday cake. The boys from the band pointed out that Benn should have asked them to play her Happy Birthday which would have been very cool indeed. It kind of reminded me of this story Neil tells about seeing Tori Amos in this tiny little venue and the owner demanding that she stop her set and play Happy Birthday. I said goodbye, wound my way past the police cars responding to the guy throwing his girlfriend through the window of the café and went on to get Chris.

Sadly by the time we got home I was incredibly sick. I took all my ten million RX drugs with some lemonade and then ended up throwing up for a long time. Don’t ever take pills with lemonade if there is the slightest chance you will be sick. It’s beyond vile. Chris asked if there was something he could do and I asked him if he would behead me. He refused. I don’t know if that means I have done a good or bad job of raising him.

I looked up and saw that they were actually playing at the book store in Arlington, not Alexandria at all. I sat for a moment trying to decide if it was all a cruel practical joke, an online error or if it was a human error brought on by exhaustion. I decided exhaustion and went to sleep.

The next day I packed Cul and Cam up and we took the train down to Arlington. Can I just say that the station attendant at the New Carrolton Metro station was beyond wonderful? One of my kids had chewed up my SmartCard so it stopped working. She gave me the envelope to request a replacement and bought me a ticket while I filled it out so I could still catch the train that would get us there on time.

It’s a really good thing we went because when we got there the only other person there was Michael’s dad so we quadrupled the audience right away. By the time the show really got going there were about ten people but still we were 30% of the crowd.

We had a terrific time. Cam said he had never heard any music like. Cul enjoyed the clever lyrics and the banter as much as the music. Michael let Cam play the theremin after the show. I promised to come see them next summer at the JCC and turned down an offer to come see them again the next day in Richmond.

Continuing the theme of coincidences there was a woman who had heard them on the radio that morning and just happened to wander into the bookstore with no idea they were playing. Isn’t that the coolest? That’s even better than seeing them on purpose.

All the way home I had to fight to not get sick again. It was so hard but I made it until we were out of the Metro. Then I went home and collapsed.

The funniest part is I bought the CD to be polite and supportive and I have listened to it like twenty times in the last few days. Chris said one song sounds like The Polyphonic Spree and they do to a degree. But he came in with Jeff the other night and I was listening to Modest Mouse and he thought it was ORZ so they sound like more than one band. It’s interesting to me how we are gravitating to the lush instruments these days. I’ve come a long way from the very simple basic music of the Ramones when I was fourteen or so. Of course the Ramones still rule, I’m just sayin’

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

My confused thoughts about my writing for today

I worked on Angels in Black Suits today. I’ve had this weird feeling that it might be finished for awhile now. I wasn’t sure if that feeling is laziness, lack of ability to deal with the intense emotions the story raises or if it was a real feeling. Sometimes it’s very hard to tell what is going on in my poor swollen brain.

But ever since I read Lemony Snicket’s The Bad Beginning I have wondered if what I have is a complete story that can me made part of something larger later. Stephen King’s Dark Tower series is similar. He’s published parts of that as he went along.

I read the story today and made a few changes. It’s unbearably sad. I can’t tell if it’s scary or not but I guarantee it’s a heartbreaker when the heart in question is my own.

When I look at it I think there is more there but there isn’t. Every time I wonder why I stopped when I did and why I didn’t write the part I think is next. I wrote a little more of it and just like that it is done. Oh it can certainly still be a novel because there are so many questions it raises but then again many short stories never answer questions.

Maybe I will send it to my friend Jeannie and ask her girls to read it. Then maybe I’ll workshop it at Zoe.

* * * *

I wrote a little more than five pages today.

I’ve been asked to start an entertainment section for an existing newsletter from Right now I make the newsletter and send it out to 35,000 people or so. This would be more writing than the little bit I do now. I think I should make sure I have something ready by Monday. It’s kind of hard to go from little telepathic girls whose front doors hardly ever open onto the same planet to which wine is best for a mortgage broker. I’m just sayin’

In which I narrowly escape death from laughter

I’ve had this insanely stupid cough for a year now. It started out as whooping cough (because you know I get all the obsolete diseases) and has never completely gone away. Some of my friends get nervous when they are talking to me because I’ll start coughing when I laugh and eventually I end up throwing up or passing out although luckily I haven’t done both at the same time.

So I knew I was taking my life in my hands by listening to Neil Gaiman read from Anansi Boys. He’s been billing it as a comic novel, for now anyway, and when Neil is funny he’s very, very funny. I would put him in the class of Douglas Adams and PG Wodehouse.

I laughed harder than I have in ages. Possibly more than I ever have. Maybe I laughed this much the time vorpal was telling me about all the films he has been in, for instance he played Hawaii in Hawaii Five-Oh.

This was like a natural disaster kind of laughing. Each laugh built on the laugh before until it built into a tsunami or hurricane of laughter. For the rest of the day whenever I would think key words like “Taft” I would start all over again. It was great.

Sure everything turned black around the edges a few times and yes I couldn’t breathe once or twice and Cullen did indeed wonder who Neil would feel if I actually did die during the reading but the important thing here is that I didn’t and it was well worth the risk.

Cullen felt sorry for Neil because of the questions he got during his Q and A. Mr. Pohl got deep, philosophical questions while Neil got things like “Why sushi?” and someone correcting a word choice. It reminded of this time a friend was doing a play and the audience asked questions after. The two most memorable were “Where'dja get those socks at?” and “Do you like to dance and sing like Elvis?”

After the reading Neil very kindly resumed signing. Mind you he had already signed for much more than his originally scheduled time. I knew when I saw how much time they gave him it would never fly but I was not involved in organization of this event.

Best estimates are that there were 80,000 people at the entire Festival. Neil says he signed for about 500 people over the course of several hours. <= 500 people from all over the world are going to Fiddler’s Green. Eight of those people are going to dinner with Neil. I am one of them. So is the lady who was right in front of us in the signing line. How crazy are the odds of that?

Proving once again that he is the nicest person every born, Neil not only autographed my arm for me, but when some guy asked him to dedicate American Gods to “A real American God” he actually did it. And he didn’t fall over laughing, or smirk or anything. He paused for a second and then went on signing.

When I told Neil that two of us in line were having dinner with him next month he said it looked like the Book Festival was the meeting place for Fiddler’s Green people. Who would have expected so many of us in the heart of DC on the mall of all places? I told him I was going to the One Ring Zero party in Baltimore said I’d pass on his regards. It’s kind of too bad I was so out of it from being sick because Michael from One Ring Zero was a little disappointed I didn’t bring Neil along. Although I suspect Neil was too tired to go anywhere but to sleep.

I cannot stress enough how much Neil’s sense of fair play with his fans impresses me. I have seen him signing until you’d think his brain would explode and his hand would fall off but he is unfailingly pleasant and doesn’t seem to lose any body parts or any of the fizz that makes up the Gaiman personality.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Frederik Pohl, not just a man, an institution

Mr. Pohl started off with a reading from his book The Boy Who Would Live Forever. It’s the sequel to Gateway, a book I am sad to say I have not yet read and my library didn’t seem to have when I went today. It sounds wonderful. A very open ended idea that could go just about anywhere. The reading was funny and entertaining but nothing as funny and entertaining as Mr. Pohl himself. He opened the floor for questions directly following the reading.

One of the questions/answers had to do with artificial intelligence and the possibility of putting a human mind into a computer. Mr. Pohl talked about how every four years there is a big jump in computer capability and said that he expects in about 20 years computers will be as complex as a human brain and that at that point he would expect them to become self aware. If they can be that intricate and not know what they are he will be disappointed.

Then he talked about how a friend had said that the way to get a mind into a computer is to cut the corpus callosum, which is the divider between the two hemispheres of the brain, and fix up a device so a computer takes the place of the corpus callosum. This way every single thought you have will go into the computer and be recorded. After a few weeks you could turn off the organic brain and the uploaded brain would take its place.

This is fascinating to me but I have some problems with it. I don’t think you are really moving the mind into a computer. At best you are a making a Xerox copy of your mind. Just like a copy it is more of a snapshot than an actual representation of who you are.

What if you were just getting over a tragedy and you were in deep in a mourning period? Your thoughts and feelings would not be representative of your entire life or being. Plus can this inorganic brain grow and evolve as we do? Are we not very, very different people than we were ten years ago?

I would be extremely interested to see what would happen if you did a sort of experiment where you uploaded into the inorganic brain, let it develop for twenty years and then brought in the original mind, still organic, and compared the two of them. Would they be identical? Would they be anything at all alike? It’s possible that the organic brain could have degenerated due to physical problems. It’s possible that the uploaded brain will have stultified because of lack of stimulation. Anything is possible which is what makes it so interesting. Of course there are also very strong responsibilities involved also. Mr. Pohl also talked a little about how seriously the current crop of SF writers takes themselves and I really have to agree with im. I might want to write about this brain thing but, for now at least, I would be a little too intimidated to try it. I don’t even have a liberal arts education much less a degree in science.
Mr. Pohl responded to a question about whether he would choose immortality by saying he would live until bored and then he wouldn’t want to anymore. He said he didn’t fear death because when you are dead you never again have to do anything you don’t want to do. That’s a brilliant statement and certainly at odds with those who tell me I am going straight to Hell. I should think in Hell you have to do quite a lot of things you don’t want to do.

Someone got up to say as a member of the gay and lesbian community he was happy to see gay characters in Galaxy. Mr. Pohl said he writes about human beings and they come in all kinds. He has never believed in discrimination against homosexuals and there is no reason that you can’t govern a state, and here he went on to name a number of other things that of course should have nothing to do with what gender you happen to fall in love with but I interrupted him with a round of applause which was picked up by those around me.

He looked rather surprised by my clapping and maybe it was surprising but here we were in the heart of DC at this Festival which had the First Lady’s name all over it and by God I wanted to express my happiness at the rationality of what Mr. Pohl had to say. He finished by essentially saying he not only has never judged anyone by their sexual status but he doesn’t plan to start now.

Someone asked what it was like to be one of the last representatives of the Golden Age of Science Fiction and he asked “Do you mean what is it like to be over 80?” Then he talked about starting the first SF convention, various brilliant writers he knew, what it was like to be a total outsider who read stuff nobody else read, editing on the subway, his four page a day habit and how quitting smoking ruined it for him and a whole bunch of other topics.

He was so charming and sweet he made my heart hurt. At one point he said he called an older friend of his who is 96 to tell him he had just finished his new novel. The friend (whose name escapes me to my great shame) said he had also just finished a new novel. Mr. Pohl said he had just started a new novel and the friend said he had also. “At 96!” said Mr. Pohl. “I want to be just like him when I grow up.” It was so endearing to see this nearly 85 year old man talk about what he wants to do when he grows up.

I am so lucky I got to see him. It was totally serendipity. I had sat down in the tent because I was too sick to walk down to the signing tent and I just stayed there for every author until Neil came on. Thank God Cullen was back in time to hear Mr. Pohl because he’s old enough at 15 to remember what he heard and he’s so lucky at to have heard someone with such a weight of history behind him. Listening to a legend speak about something dear to your heart is a rare and wonderful thing.

* * * *

My own writing - more than five pages

Monday, October 11, 2004

Is romance feminist writing?

Catherine Asaro did a short reading and then gave a fascinating talk. She talked about how science fiction asks questions about the future more than it predicts the future, whether or not she would choose immortality and, most controversially I think, how romance is really a feminist writing.

She pointed out that the communicators on Star Trek are nothing more than cell phones. Catherine said that science fiction presents a puzzle in the form of what if this happened? Then what would happen? And then sets out to solve the puzzle. Of course I think that all fiction is based on what if this happened? as well as what happened next?

She talked about how her own doctorate fits into her work and how she has learned to keep the essays explaining the hard science separate from the fiction. She talked about how people view her books as bringing romance into Science Fiction.

Before I go on I would like to say that in my own personal world Heinlein brought the romance into science fiction. What is I Will Fear No Evil if it is not a romance? Romance runs deep in much of Heinlein’s work. Her most interesting point didn’t have anything to do with who was the first.

Catherine said that romance is feminist fiction. At its core romance says that the feelings and emotional needs of women are validated and important. And that this genre says the same thing about men’s feelings and emotional needs so its really empowering to everyone. I love this idea. Romance is so often trivialized by the world and romance readers are still often viewed as fat middle aged housewives eating bonbons and reading trash. I much prefer Catherine’s perspective.

An audience member asked her what she would do if she were offered the chance at immortality. She said she would take it and said that in her line of work, theoretical physics, you could spend decades learning the basics and then the rest of your life keeping up with the cutting edge. We don’t really live long enough to get to do all the things we’d like to do and if we had forever it would take the pressure off of society and we could accomplish so much more.

This is particularly interesting because I have often heard the theory that the reason we get anything done at all is because we have such a short time to leave our mark. Our lifespan limits give us a built in deadline and that gives us motivation.

I could totally see Catherine’s idea though and how so many cultures could relax if we could live forever or for a very long time. Think of how much pressure certain groups put on children to excel, to become doctors or lawyers, to be the best. Perhaps it would be okay for those kids to go off to Europe for a year of backpacking if their parents knew there was plenty of time to do everything.

Then we really could settle on new planets. The possibilities are endless and amazing.

* * * *

My own writing - I did a little over eight pages today.

What do Catherine Asaro, Frederik Pohl, Neil Gaiman and One Ring Zero have in common?

I saw them all over the course of the weekend and they were all interesting, thought provoking and entertaining in different ways. Plus we have stupid annoying security measures, breaking cars, Atomic Books, and stupid brain tricks to talk about. So let's get started! Cullen and Cam and I wanted to get to the National Book Festival on Saturday early enough to have a hope of Neil signing Violent Cases for Cul and The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish for Cameron. We were going to take the Metro from New Carrolton station to Smithsonian but I got kind of worried about time and decided to spend the money on parking and drive in. I've driven to that are a million times because it is just a few blocks from my office and I tend to be running late or I have gotten to the Metro station when there are no parking spots left many, many times. I started working at home two years ago when I was so sick and have had this unfortunate series of further illnesses in the meantime so I think it's probably been a couple of years since I drove in. It's for sure been at least a year. Still I have been in many times post 9/11 so what happened next came as a big surprise to me.

I decided to park in a garage in the Ronald Reagan building. I used to walk down and have lunch in this building all the time and the security was never a problem. This time there were huge barricades blocking the entrance to the garage. I thought at first the place was closed down but then a guard came out and asked for picture id. She then searched my van. This is the third time my van has been searched this week. The first time was when the kids went over to Fort Meade, the second when Chris went to NIH to see about selling his wisdom teeth extraction and then this time.

The security guards acted like I was a huge inconvenience to them. Maybe I was. My decision to park in their garage made them get up out of their little shack and walk around my van.

I started the van back up and heard this terrible noise. It was a grinding, tearing, screeching, squeaking, scraping noise. I had been worried because I couldn’t see one of the security guards who had been practically under my car when the other guard wanted to me drive on. He insisted she was clear of the car but for a moment that noise made me think she was trapped under the car and she had turned into a metal woman who was now being torn apart.

I wanted to park and get out as soon as possible to see what was wrong but the majority if the garage was closed off and we had to keep driving and twisting around finding a spot. Just as I pulled into an empty space my “check gages” light came on and the hood started jumping around and this noise like the creature from Tick Tock was in my engine started up.

We were afraid to open the hood but we did it anyway. The coolant in the overflow tank was boiling like mad. The really queer thing is that the car next to us had also overheated and there was coolant under that car. It was such a strange coincidence that I couldn’t even figure out what had gone wrong. It seemed like the guards had done something to my car and this car that caused them to overheat but what? It made no sense.

After much fretting I decided to leave it be for now and go on to the Book Festival. It was a couple of blocks away but the Festival itself is spread out over a seven block area. That should be a meaningless distance but since I got this stupid brain disease it’s like walking ten miles used to be. I had to stop and rest before we got to the science fiction and fantasy tent. Never mind the book signing tent; that was clearly out of the question. By the time we cleared the insane security walking out of the garage and got to the SFF tent it was 11:30. Ridiculous.

I don’t even understand the point of most of this security. Why do I show picture id? Nobody checks my id against anything so what exactly is happening here to make the world safer? All it does is show I have access to something that cane make me look like I have a driver’s license. Actually at one check point I was so pissed off I gave them my library of congress reading card and a look that dared them to question it.

By this point I was really sick again. The tiniest bit of stress and I start throwing up. My head hurts like it is caught in a vice and I get dizzy and my vision starts to go. I decided to get a good seat in the mostly empty tent and just stay there until Neil spoke. Thank goodness I did because I was lucky enough to see some amazing speakers.

Coming up, romance in Science Fiction, the man behind the institution, feeling sorry for Neil and the quirky One Ring Zero. Also the suspense of whether or not I throw up on anyone famous or on the Metro train on Sunday.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

$350 dollars worth of fun

I'm thinking that could make a fun movie. It would be about someone getting revenge on a very petty person who ripped them off for a rather trivial sum.

I have so much to talk about. One Ring Zero, Fred Pohl, One Ring Zero day two, Neil and the autograph fading from my arm but I am still violently ill. Why can't someone cure me? Why must I be constantly hurting and throwing up? Whose idea was this? Is this fair? I ask you.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Burning down the house

I saw a house on fire today. It was so strange. I kept thinking I couldn't be seeing what I thought I was seeing. I mean who sees a huge raging fire in the middle of town with nobody trying to put it out?

When I got closer I thought it was some sort of playhouse on fire. It looked like a house and had a couch and stuff in it. The flames were two or three times as tall as the roof and the smoke was terrible.

Then I realized the building was much too big to be a playhouse. I was terribly confused because a fire engine had just torn past me going in the other way.

Then I saw that the fire was on the front lawn of the Bowie Fire stations. I guess it was some sort of demonstration or practice or something. I hadn't even noticed that it was the fire house. My main memory of the Bowie Fire Department is all the trucks driving around with BFD on the front. That seemed to be their attitude today.

Tomorrow I will talk about Neil Gaiman and Frederick Pohl and One Ring Zero. And security and other things but now since I am throwing up far too much I shall stop here.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Thomson Media sold

The company for which I work, Thomson Media has been up for sale for what seems like most of the year. I've been worried about what will happen under the new owners. I got this job because I was working for a tiny little publishing company, Platinum Publishing, in Annapolis which was sold. I was assured by the president that nothing would change. The day our competition bought us they fired us all and closed Platinum down.

As a result I am skittish about the idea of my company changing hands. A press release went out today about the sale of the company and really it looks pretty good.

* * * * * * * *

The Thomson Corporation To Sell Thomson Media To Investcorp

STAMFORD, Conn., October 8, 2004 ? The Thomson Corporation (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC), a leading provider of integrated information solutions to business and professional customers, and Investcorp, the global investment group, today announced that they have signed a definitive agreement under which Investcorp will purchase the Thomson Media group for $350 million in cash. The transaction is expected to close prior to year-end, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

Thomson Media is a leading provider of largely print-based information products focused on the banking, financial services and related technology markets, including American Banker, The Bond Buyer, National Mortgage News, Investment Dealers? Digest, Financial Planning, Accounting Today, DM Review, Accounting Technology, Practical Accountant and EPICWare. More than 750,000 clients use Thomson Media?s publications, databases, and work solutions worldwide. Thomson Media had 2003 revenues of approximately $170 million.

Robert D. Daleo, Chief Financial Officer of The Thomson Corporation, said, "Following a rigorous and thorough sales process, we believe that the Investcorp offer represents the best value for our shareholders and the best home for our Thomson Media business. We are very pleased with the terms of the deal."

Mr. Daleo continued, "During the past five years, Thomson has transformed itself into one of the world?s leading integrated information solutions companies by providing its customers with subscription-based information products and services that combine cutting-edge technology and applications with world-class content to meet their unique workflow needs."

Sean Madden, Managing Director of Investcorp, commented, ?The Thomson Media properties are an excellent business, with a loyal customer base, unparalleled brand strength and appealing growth characteristics. The company is led by Jim Malkin and a talented management team and has established a strong competitive position in the financial publishing business. We are pleased to be joining ranks and believe we will have a very productive relationship."

Jim Malkin, Chief Executive Officer of Thomson Media, said, "Investcorp has been a trusted partner to many well-known businesses. Investcorp has skilled business acumen, a unique perspective on the publishing market and a track record of nurturing businesses by capitalizing on their strengths. I am confident that our advertising partners, customers, readers and employees will continue to succeed under their leadership and we look forward to benefiting from their experience."

Upon close of the transaction, Mr. Malkin will continue in his position as Chief Executive Officer of Thomson Media for Investcorp. Morgan Stanley served as financial advisor for Thomson on the sale.

About The Thomson Corporation
The Thomson Corporation (, with 2003 revenues from continuing operations of $7.44 billion, is a global leader in providing integrated information solutions to business and professional customers. Thomson provides value-added information, software tools and applications to more than 20 million users in the fields of law, tax, accounting, financial services, higher education, reference information, corporate training and assessment, scientific research and healthcare. With operational headquarters in Stamford, Conn., Thomson has approximately 38,000 employees and provides services in approximately 130 countries. The Corporation's common shares are listed on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC).

About Investcorp
Investcorp is a global investment group with offices in New York, London and Bahrain. The firm has four lines of business: corporate investment, real estate investment, asset management and technology investment. It was established in 1982 and has since completed transactions with a total acquisition value of more than $25 billion. The firm now manages total investments in alternative assets of approximately $8.6 billion. In the United States, Investcorp and its clients currently own corporate investments that include Aero Products International, PlayPower and EnviroSolutions. In Europe, Investcorp and its clients currently own corporate investments that include APCOA AG, Hilding Anders, Gerresheimer Glas, Minimax and Helly Hansen. Further information is available at

This news release includes forward-looking statements, which are based on certain assumptions and reflect The Thomson Corporation's current expectations. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from current expectations. The Thomson Corporation can give no assurance that the sale will be completed this year, or at all. Some of the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations are discussed in The Thomson Corporation?s materials filed with the securities regulatory authorities in Canada and the United States from time to time, including the Corporation?s annual information form, which is contained in its annual report on Form 40-F for the year ended December 31, 2003 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Thomson Corporation disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

* * * * * *

Kevin says this is good. Now we can start worrying about important things like will we be able to plug an Ipod into our Cooper MINI.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

All the world is for sale

I got a press release a few days ago saying the World Bank was for sale on eBay.

"Citing 60 years of failed polices and a track record of bankrolling projects that erode human rights and environmental standards, the people of the world have offered the World Bank for sale on the online auction house"

There you go. I didn't realize the people of the world were one entity with the ability to post under one username.

I wondered how long the auction would be allowed to run and sure enough I got another press release later in the day.

"eBay Censors Online Auction of World Bank!
Still trying to get rid of World Bank, People of the World post bank for sale on "Craig's List":"

Interestingly I see Craig's list has also pulled the auction.

"This posting has been removed by Craigslist community."

It just goes to show you that selling the world is a little harder than you might think.

I see that Douglass Clegg is selling the hardback rights to his book "The Abandoned" on eBay.

"This is the first auction for the rights to a limited and/or lettered edition hardcover ever done on eBay with an award-winning novelist who has had novels at such houses as Penguin USA, Berkley/Ace, NAL/Signet, Tor Books, Leisure Books, Pocket Books, Dell Publishing, as well as in the independent presses, such as Cemetery Dance Publications, Subterranean Press, Delirium Press, and Bloodletting Press.

"It is suggested but not required that bidders be Publishers of a legitimate small or independent press that has published at least one or more signed, limited and/or lettered edition hardcover books."

That's very interesting to me. Much more so than the selling of the Bank 'o the World. Current bid is US $1,925.00 with 3 days 16 hours left on a 10 day listing. That's not much.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Don't get mad at me oh mighty google lords!

After much internal and external debate I decided to give the google adsense program a try. I put a google search toolbar on my blog and an ad banner. I hope they look sort of all right and blend somewhat harmoniously.

Once I finished trying different sizes and colours I looked at my blog and there was the first ad, an ad for winning Neil Gaiman prizes. Now you are not allowed to click your own ads and run up your counts because you get paid per click and that would be cheating so I hesitated but damn it the ad was so compelling I gave up gave in and clicked. I ended up at a site and bought an ebook for two dollars.

So far the ad sense program is working for sheep such as myself.

Coopergasm time!

The new Cooper MINI convertible is on the front page of I want this car. I lust after this car. I think this car is hot, hot, hot. Of course I got the email about the convertible a few weeks ago since I am on the inside track when it comes to my future Cooper.

A very dear friend called me up today and asked me who gets to hear my secrets. At first he didn't believe me when I said he does and then he said that I'm too good.

I think it's time to return to the world of making mischief. Time for some mayhem, some confusion, some pranks, some roguery, some scalliwagitude, some fun, and what better vehicle in which to return to my former life than my beautiful Cooper MINI convertible?

Here is the deal. I get work as a professional driver in film and TV from time to time. MINI people, give me a Cooper convertible and I will take perfect care of it and get it in as many projects as possible. How is that for a fair trade? I promise all shenagins that call attention to my car will be positive for the MINI people.

I eagerly await the arrival of my swoonmobile. Thank you MINI guys!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Time for manipulation

I get spam from the Democratic party and the Republican party. It's deeply amusing to see how similar they are.

Look at these two excerpts:

Fight the Spin--Spread the Truth!

If we plan to win the election, we must fight back against their spin and make sure our friends and neighbors get the truth.
We need your help tonight!
Visit tonight during the debate so you will have the facts. Print and share them with your friends.
Immediately after the debate, visit online polls, chat rooms, and discussion boards and make your voice heard. The major news networks will all have internet polls after the debate. Make sure you vote in polls on:
and even CBS.
Make sure swing state voters know why you support the candidate by sharing your thoughts on message boards in target states.
Call Talk Radio shows in your area.
Write letters to the editors of your local papers.
Visit Chat rooms on AOL, MSN, and Yahoo!
Send this message to 5 friends using the form at the bottom of this page.

* * * *

Now look at this one:

Call to action on VP debate

Now we need your help again. Tonight, John Edwards and Dick Cheney will meet for the only vice presidential debate of the campaign. Once again, we need you to take action the moment they leave the stage.

There are four critical things you can do to help beat the name of party spin machine.

Forward this email to family, coworkers, and friends.

Vote in online polls.

Write a letter to the editor.

Call radio and television stations.

Your 10 minutes of activism following the debate can make the difference. It is important that we double our efforts from the last debate, because the name of party(s) are now copying our strategy.

Vote in Online Polls

National and local news organizations will be conducting online polls during and after the debate asking for readers' opinions. Look for online polls at these news websites, and make sure to vote in every one of them:

Wall Street Journal:
LA Times:
Akron Beacon-Journal:
Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune:
Orlando Sentinel:
Philadelphia Inquirer:
South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

And be sure to check the websites of your local newspapers and TV stations for online polls. It is crucial that you do this in the minutes immediately following the debate.

Make sure swing voters know why you support candidate by sharing your thoughts on message boards in target states. Visit our Debate Center after the debate for a list of message boards where you can fight the name of party spin. If you visit chat rooms on AOL, MSN, Yahoo, or other websites, be sure to let people know what you thought of the debate.

Write a Letter to the Editor

Immediately after the debate, go online and write a letter to the editor of your local paper. If you feel name of candidate presented an optimistic vision for the next four years, put it in your letter. If you feel name of candidate failed to explain the last four years of failed policies, put it in your letter.

Writing a letter is easier than you think. It takes just a few minutes and just a few clicks using our online media center:

Call Radio and TV Stations

TV and radio coverage immediately following the debate is where much of the spin is cemented. Make sure you call radio and TV stations to tell them what you thought.

* * * *

Do you see that? It's kind of scary. Getting spam from both of these guys is kind of like being hit by a padded weapon, not once but twice! God bless the two party system.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Is it really worth it?

Sometimes I see people at the Grapevine making lists of people they don't like or people they have argued with. I see them lash out under lots of different names to one person who said something they didn't like.

I cannot imagine. Who has time and energy to carry on a feud like that with someone you don't know? Who has time to carry on like that with someone you do know? Not me, that is fur sure.

Some of you all might remember I had a very hard time with the whole forgiveness issue a year or so ago and The Real Live Preacher wrote a story for me that was very helpful. I used to think that I was incapable of forgiveness. I guess all I needed was a definition that I could live with. Certainly have had my share of people who have done extraordinary things in an attempt to hurt me, physically, mentally, psychically and financially, but if you gave me the chance to hurt them in any way I wouldn't take it.

There are people I have cut out of my life because I am not able to get past their continuing pattern of harmful behavior and I used to think that means I couldn't forgive them but I have, apparently without noticing, learned that I can protect myself, move on, and focus on the parts of life that bring sunlight instead of dankness.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Some thoughts on writing romances and exactly what defines said romance

I was critiquing a romance novel last night and it became very clear the book that I was reviewing was not a romance at all so I thought I would run down my own thoughts on what makes a romance and maybe why.

If a romance were a person it would be much more of an optimist than a pessimist. A romance is not cynical, it doesn't have harsh language, the heroine is unattached and so is her hero, the general feeling is one of hope and excitement in the midst of problems and concerns and there is a lot introspection into the feelings and motivations of your characters.

I read a fair amount of "genre" fiction. I guess westerns are the exception as I have just read a few. I have read thousands of romances, horror, mysteries, science fiction and fantasy. Romance is the most rigid form of writing I know if you aren't talking about structured poetry or screenwriting.

A romance is the story of two people falling in love. They must be unattached. The story is told from her perspective, although in gay romance you will of course find the story from the protagonist's POV, regardless of gender. You will find some of the story from other people's POV, but very little of it.

The reader should find it very easy to get inside the heroine's head, to think her thoughts, feel her feelings, worry about her problems and experience her joys

Everyone knows that two people are going to meet, fall in love, have problems and work them out. That's the way it works whether you are writing a rom-com script or a romance novel. The thing that makes the story is the story and the thoughts and feeling of your heroine.

In a way the writing is a lot like foreplay. First kisses are special, dreamy or awkward or interrupted but they are always a plot point in that they turn the story around and send it in a new direction. The first kiss is a point of no return. The hero and heroine can’t go back to pretending they aren’t attracted to each other because they obviously are. They might pretend they aren't interested but now the chances of fooling each other or themselves are greatly reduced. Since it’s so important let it be important. Build up to it. What does she think when he starts to kiss her? Is she excited, scared, nervous, crazy with lust, is she the one who makes the move? If so then how does he react?

The older romances used to really offend me. The guys were total pigs and then they were changed by the love of a good woman, like that is ever going to happen. Plus what kind of woman is attracted to a guy who treats her so poorly? We want a heroine who is smart and sassy and takes no crap from anyone. We want her to be what we would be if we were in different circumstances.

That's another reason she has to be single. She's the dream woman, a woman who is totally free which means she has all her options open. Sometimes The Bridges of Madison County is used as an argument against these romance rules but the problem is that not only is that a terrible, terrible book, it’s not a romance. It’s a story of infidelity and the couple doesn’t get together. It’s no more a romance than Romeo and Juliet is a romance. It’s no more a romance than a sonnet is a limerick.

It’s important to keep a romance a romance. It's okay to have a mystery in your romance. My favourite romances all have a mystery. Amanda Quick, Jane Anne Krentz, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Janet Evonavich, they all have mysteries but they are romances first and foremost.

I have known people for years and years and years, going back twenty years now, who want to write a romance to make money. They don't have a particularly compelling story they want to tell. They don't want to be swept away by their own story and fall in love with it and their characters. They have read that romances outsell all other fictions and they think that is the way to break in. Maybe someday someone will do that. I haven't ever seen it happen.

I think an editor can tell when someone doesn't respect what they are writing. I'm also reminded of Neil Gaiman talking about writing he did strictly for the money and how he never ends up with the money and hates the whole process.

These people who are in it for the money have often read zero romances, or one, or two and then they want to push the envelope with the rules of romance writing. You can certainly say you don’t care about the rules and rules are made to be broken and I very much agree to a certain point but as a mostly unpublished author who is attempting to publish something in a very rigid field I don’t know why you would want to.

Let's say you end up with a book that you think is barely within the guidelines of a particular romance imprint. You submit to a romance editor who starts to read it, expecting it to be a romance well within guidelines. Instead it's quite different. Her mind was prepared for one thing and now she has something else.

It’s kind of like when you pick up what you think is a coke and it turns out to be iced tea. It tastes terrible, almost dangerously terrible and you want to spit it out because it’s not what your mouth and brain are expecting. Or even when you really really want a particular food and you go to dinner and you order it and then they tell you they are out of that dish. No matter what you get to eat instead it just won’t do the trick.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

To dream a little dream

I dreamt about living with an elderly Jewish couple who had survived the Holocaust. I was sorting through their letters and photos with them because that is what they had to leave the world and they wanted it to be the very best legacy possible.

They were such wonderful people and I had this deep underlying sadness because they were so old and so sure they were going to die soon.

Then I dreamt I was on some sort of ship on some sort of weird colonizing mission. At one point along the crossing this guy who looked like Johnny Depp was showing me this amazing new invention that was dead boring, these little plastic bracelets that seemed a lot like those ties you use to tie off garbage bags or something, you run one end into the other and then tighten it down on your wrist. I have had something similar with my name on it at the hospital on occasion.

These were supposed to be so exciting because they had *gasp* compressed air in them for what reason I could not fathom. I put some on my wrists to humour the poor fellow and then on the wrists of my baby. Now I don't know who this baby is or where it came from. It was about nine months old. Old enough to be kind of heavy to carry around but too young to do much locomotion on its own which will become important in a moment or two.

Suddenly someone did something terrible to the boat and it sank, just like that. There I was clutching this baby and frantically trying to save its life. I knew instantly that this had happened many times before and I had never been able to save the baby. We both drowned every single time because I couldn't swim and hold the baby at the same time. I tried stuffing it into my shirt but that didn't work. Then I tried kicking its little legs with my hands but that didn't work. Meanwhile I had to blow little gasps of air into it as we were pretty deep under the water, pulled down by the force of the ship sinking.

Now that I am thinking about it, I wonder. My friend magicalcat once told it appeared that Dan and I had drowned on the Titanic. I've always had an unreasonable fear of that ship and panic when I have to look at pictures of it under the sea and I absolutely freaked out when I watched the movie. But I digress.

As I was frantically trying to save this baby, and I guess secondarily myself, the guy who looked like Johnny Depp swam over and tapped the little amazing, astounding bracelets and we shot up to the surface and could breathe again.

Later after he had managed to put the ship back together, in some mystical dreamy way, he explained that the bracelets had saved our lives because they were filled with compressed air, which of course made them super duper floaty since it was more air than regular air.

Later this one guy wanted to go back to Spain, where we started, but I told him that was ridiculous since our ship had been sabotaged by those who sent us away. I didn't want to go back I wanted to go forward into our new life.

I would dearly love for someone to analyze that dream.

Friday, October 01, 2004

In which blogger eats my post and my lovely title which referenced Neil Gaiman's socks, killer mayonaisse, whales and other intersting stuff

I'm sure the new title is not half as good as the lost internal server title. Alas and alack.

This morning Neil posted about his missing socks. This afternoon he said "Several hundred messages in, 99% of which were funny, or useful, or both, and about socks."

I love that those of us who gather at the blog in Neil's name are useful and funny even when discussing something that could be dull like socks.

Here is my own personal reply sent off first thing this morning:

Dear Neil,

I must confess I am behind your missing socks situation. In a dangerously crazed attempt to raise plane fare for Fiddler's Green I've been teleporting them into my sock drawer and then selling them on eBay.

Please don't ask why I don't just teleport myself to Fiddler's Green as that is a tawdry, twisted tale best told under the influence of lots of alcohol. See you at dinner.



PS - you are correct in that previously unknown species of birds, gnomes and rats seem to be the number one buyers of the purloined socks.

* * * *

I got mail from Hellman's today. If you are West of the Rockies you know them as Best Foods or at least that's the way it was when I moved out here 20 years ago.

Hellman's wanted to tell me about their new mayonnaise with extra vitamin K and E!! How lovely. I am extremely sensitive to vitamin K and when I had to get a shot of the stuff two years ago when I was in hospital for 21 days I got a major blood clot and spent the next five days in ICU. Thank you Hellman's for adding the worst possible vitamin to your product.

Who needs vitamin K anyway? I can see the tag line now, Finally a mayonnaise for hemophiliacs.

* * * *

This article is front page of today. It's about a surfer who was lifted out of the water by a whale today. The story makes a point of saying the surfboard was not injured but the surfer "did pinch the middle finger of his left hand between the whale and his surfboard."

I like whales quite a lot and I don't see why would assume the whale was trying to hurt this guy. How funny that they even have to mention such a minor injury.

* * * *

Modest Mouse's Black Cadillacs song appeals to me more and more every day. I think the line we're done, done, done, with all this fuck, fuck, fucking around is a splendid motto for the rest of my life.

* * * *

I'm reading a book I checked out of the library because of the title. I didn't read the back or the front of the book, just the title, which is No Matter How Much You Promise to Cook or Pay the Rent, You Blew it Cauze Bill Bailey Ain't Never Coming Home Again.

It's beautifully written and interesting. I'm about 100 pages into it and I'd recommend it. We'll see if it passes my stringent ending test.