Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Bees in the walls

My brother Fred wrote to me and said:

I had to learn about bees last week, because a friend of mine had an unsuspected hive in the wall next to her chimney. It swarmed twice last weekend. After the beekeeper exterminated the hive, I had to caulk up the holes they were using. Further research indicates she'll probably need to have the wall opened up and the combs removed, otherwise rodents and insects will go after the honey.

Isn't that crazy? At first I just thought it was sad that the guy who exterminated the bees didn't take care of the whole problem and remove the hives and all but then I got to thinking that the honey is now probably poisoned from whatever he used to get rid of the bees and poisoned honey is not all that easy to come by. So I told him:

Maybe you could call a crazy nut who digs mad chemicals and tell them to come and harvest the honey. They get free honey and the chance to get high from whatever the exterminator used to get rid of the bees. In fact you could auction the opportunity off on eBay and make a fortune!

Gosh there is an idea for a murder weapon right there. Sell the rights to an independent film company! The important thing is to get someone else to do the work in getting the stuff out of the walls.

See how lucky he is to know me and get access to my wonderful ideas? Not everyone has a fiction writer with a diseased brain for a sister. I personally only four men who have that and they are all my brothers. :-)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

You have been killed by Shiny Pebble

Cullen and Cam entered the Halo II tournament at Balticon today. Chris was going to play but he wanted to go to a panel on the Seven Deadly Sins of Illustration and I was going to a panel on missing good books because they are marked for kids and teenagers so Bobbick ended up sitting in on the tourney for a little while.

He said he was watching and trying to figure out which of the many screens was Cullen's (who plays under the name Shiny Pebble) but every time he looked at a screen it said "you have just been killed by Shiny Pebble" so he figured Cul had it under control and left to go do something else.

Sure enough, Cul won first prize and is now the proud owner of three Halo novels and a very cool action figure. Go Cul!

We also sat in on panels on dinosaurs and art, how to use polymer when modeling and colored pencils. It was most definitely a good and useful day.

The only thing that was bad was that the van overheated just as we got the parking garage. Now the only other time the van has overheated like that was last October when we went to the Library of Congress Book Festival when it overheated at the parking garage also. There is something about skiffy and fantasy that makes the van too hot to handle I guess.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Bonnaroo 2005

My latest column is up. It's about Bonnaroo and includes a couple of pieces of advice about how to survive a three day festival with way too much going on. Really it's advice that works for this weekend's Balticon as well.

It's also got a little bit about Afleet Alex winning the Preakness.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Disturbing news

Cullen just brought this letter home from school:

Dear Parent or Guardian,

This letter is to inform you of an incident that has occurred within our school community that is of great concern to us. We learned this morning that a science teacher at our school has been arrested for the possession of child pornography that was located in his home. Anne Arundel County police arrested the teacher today.

And then there are a couple of paragraphs of blah blah blah. If the kids know anything they are supposed to call a hotline.

I am particularly disturbed by the fact that this is the second time that a teacher in our county has been busted for child porn. The other one was in charge of the drama dept at another high school near where we live. I did several plays with him when Chris was very young.

I know, innocent until proven guilty but it's hard to not think he is guilty.

Cullen said everyone assumed it was this one teacher when the original announcement was made and I feel bad for him. How awful for people to think you are that type of person.

Cul says this teacher's house burned down and then the images were found on the computer. Plot of Donnie Darko anyone?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Kind of ironic I guess

Free heroin program still looking for addicts

Older women gamers

An interesting discussion at Boing Boing about women gamers. I think the last guy is skeptical of online gaming because he's maybe thinking of Halo II and the like but it seems to me that the majority of people I see playing Pogo are women and I tend to hang out in the rooms for forty and over so I know for a fact that there are plenty of women who older than forty playing online games daily.

I have been really pleased to see how many disabled people are using pogo to play and to make friends. Thank God there is a fun way to beat the isolation of chronic illness.

Back to school

I signed up for Will Shetterly's correspondent school. I sent him all three of my scripts. Freeing the Madwoman, Drunk Terry Flunk aka I am Not the Problem, and Devil May Care.

He sent me the notes for FTM today and I am exceedingly happy. I have loads of work to do and he said I need to fix the things I thought I needed to fix but I am still happy.

My favorite part is where he said one scene was flat and to cut it. If only my brain surgeon would be so brave and decisive!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Brain Surgeon Say What?

Yesterday was my great big appointment with the neurosurgeon to decide if I should be getting a shunt to keep the pressure in my head lower.

The idea was that the lumbar puncture I did on 14 April would see if my pressure was still high and also to see if I got better afterwards. Did it help my headaches, vomiting, passing out, tinnitus, vision loss, all that fun tumor like stuff.

And the answers were all yes, my pressure was high and I did indeed feel better after the tap. My vision got better, my optic nerves were flat, I could walk a little farther without throwing up, I went two whole weeks without throwing up or being nauseated all day, which is really just as annoying.

I didn't have high hopes for anything this doctor would say, I don't trust him and I thought he was going to say he didn't know what to do but I did expect he would lay out the choices. I thought he would say okay, you can expect this if you do this and this if you do that. But he didn't. He asked how I was and how my vision was and then he said it was all up to me but he would think twice before putting a piece of plastic in his body. No doubt I smirked here because I immediately thought of a tampax applicator and he got kind of pissy and said that a piece of plastic is exactly what a shunt is and then he sat there staring at me like we were having a stare down. It was decidedly queer.

He finally said maybe I should have serial lumbar punctures to keep the pressure down but he would do the surgery if I wanted it. And that he would do it if I were going blind. Now you know that this is a recurring theme that I just don't understand. So here I lost my temper and asked what the hell is so holy about vision?

I said that I don't see why one of your five senses is so much more important than the ability to walk around without passing out or getting through the day without throwing up twenty-five times or being able to walk more than a block or holding down a job and he said he didn't know where I was going with this!

This is the second time this week someone has said that to me when I just said where I am going. My question is why is vision so important compared to everything else and he said that
"we like to save the vision when it's possible" and he said it in the most condescending tone I have ever heard.

That's when I said I don't see what is so fucking important about eyesight when stacked up against everything else and he got really defensive and said I hadn't complained about the rest of it, which is ridiculous because I certainly did.

Oh yeah, get this, he said that I could have post meningitis syndrome but I don't have hydrocephalus. Okay now hydro means water and cephalus means brain right so why does this thing I have not count in that same ballpark? They talk about the PTC at the NeuroHydroDynamics conference, right?

He said PTC patients don't have more spinal fluid. And that they don't have less space. They just have more pressure. Why? Why? Why? How do you get increased pressure with the same volume of water and the same space? Is this magic? He said that it's just increased pressure and nobody understands it.

Chris said that didn't make any sense and you can't have increased pressure like that and Dr. Whatever said that pressure is an energy. Then he said a bunch of stuff that convinced Chris he was just making it up and they stared at each other like two angry dogs until I said okay I was done.

Then the doctor had me wait while he dictated his notes before I could get my films back. Not that he looked at my films, he sure did not, I guess he just gets off on making people who piss him off wait.

I don't remember if I blogged about it but on our other visit some family was screaming at each other in the lobby about how awful the doctor and the office is. I'm just sayin'

So end result, Dr. Neurosurgeon with years of training and practicing says I should decide what's best for me and nobody is holding a gun to my head. (really? I hadn't noticed.)

My decision? I got my MRI back and I left the office and I don't plan to return. I live in an area with excellent hospitals and doctors. There is no reason for me to have to put up with a jerk of a doctor who already said that when they do these surgeries they hand them off to the residents. Fuck him. I'd rather do surgery on myself than let him anywhere near my head.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Is that a joke Dr. Cook?

I'm reading Harmful Intent by Robin Cook. It's hard for me to get into his books because he always does the same thing at the beginning. He introduces a character and then kills them off. I've read quite a few of his novels recently and it seems like he always kills of a healthy young woman who is totally minding her own business. I know I will enjoy the book once I get past this initial introduction but it makes it just a little harder.

Today's book starts off with a nice young lady who is going to have her first baby. Of course we know she isn't really because she is the equivalent of the guy in the red shirt in the away team on a Star Trek episode but we pretend she is going to have a baby. On page four of the paperback version we find this comment about the obstetrician who is meant to deliver the baby:

Thank God it wasn't Braxton or Hicks. He wanted the case to go smoothly and hopefully quickly; if it had been either of the others, that wouldn't have been the case.

Of course this immediately destroys any chance of me forgetting I am reading and really getting into this story. For those of you not in the know when it comes to obstetrical terms, Braxton Hicks contractions are sometimes called false labor but what they actually are is pre labor contractions that are fairly light and help do some of the work of dilating and effacing the cervix so the baby can be born.

It's not a good idea to make silly little puns in a thriller when you're still trying to catch your reader and get them to stop paying attention to all the eleventyseven times infinity types of distraction and entertainment are out there. Just tell the story and if you must play around then do it later when we could use some comic relief.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Doesn't quite get it

A quote from a discussion about freedom of speech:

Rights are a privilege and if your rights hurt someone else, it is not your right!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Happy birthday Cam!

Cam turns 13 today. He's sitting in the chair in my room reading Chicken Soup for the Teenaged Soul. So far so good!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Magnets and sadness

This article about a new magnetic therapy for depression is interesting.

It's most interesting to me because there has been some talk in my PTC support group about how MRIs of the brain are very effective for alleviating depression. In my own case I have been much less depressed since I had the MRI and the MRV of my brain last year. Really you would think I would be more depressed but I'm much happier and at peace with thing than I was two or three years ago.

I'll be very interested to see how this therapy progresses.

No Child Left Behind

Cullen's school flunked the no child left behind sanctions and if they don't pass them this year the school will be taken over by some group. I am unclear on the details but apparently the students are under a lot of pressure and the threat of the group that would include truant officers on site is held over the kid's heads.

The school must be pretty bad, right? It's a very good school and the only one in the county with the IB program. Old Mill passed every single test last year except for Special Ed Math which had a 100% failure rate. That is correct, one child was in the program and that child could not pass the test so the entire school is jeopardized. God bless the no child left behind program because there is nothing that high school kids need like more anxiety and fear.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Exploring the possibilities

Boing Boing has an interesting post about a gentleman who was found soaking wet, dressed in a suit and tie with the labels cut out, on the streets of Sheerness, Kent, UK. He is quite anxious and hasn't said a word since he was picked up on April 7.

When asked to draw a picture of a flag or write his name he drew a lovely image of a piano, complete with workings. When he was sat down at the piano he played for a couple of hours.

A hotline is getting quite a lot of calls as the people who are keeping him in a mental institution "for his own safety" try and determine who he is.

I read several articles about this man. His hair may have been dyed blonde. One theory was that he had been attending a funeral nearby and was somehow so traumatized that he can no longer communicate.

I wonder a lot of things. Was he wet with salt water? Did he indeed come out of the sea? Has he had bloodwork done? Is he human? Is he a time traveler? Is he a merman who found a piano that sank with the Titanic and has come ashore so he can hear how it sounds in the air? When you don't know anything then anything is possible.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Extremely Repulsive Behavior

Chris and I went to see Sin City and about ten minutes into the film something warm and wet lands on my arm. Some degenerate scumbag was chewing up popcorn and throwing it. How repulsive is that? God, now that I think about it I should have just thrown up on them. I never think of the perfect response until later.

Now I have had some trouble in the movie theater in the past as I am sure many, many women have. One instance is when I was about fourteen a guy was sitting behind me and he kept creeping his hand between the seat backs and groping my breasts. I clawed at his hand with my nails and drew blood and I told my mom, who was at the theater with me, and she said something to the guy but half an hour later he was back again. The whole thing was just awful and left me feeling insecure and like I could not stand up for myself. Fast forward to today and I start thinking about this and how awful behavior seems to be overlooked in the theater, maybe because it is dark and I got really pissed off.

I figured it I was going to do something I had to do it right away so I got up and I can't really see in the dark anymore but the guys sitting behind us looked pretty chill, like they were comic book fans and wanted to see the film, so I asked them politely and they pointed out who was doing it and I had some choice words for them and they left the theater. Chris said my body language said "chick ready to tear someone's throat out" so that worked out okay.

If you're familiar with Sin City you might understand why when Hartigan told Nancy that she grew up strong I thought me too, me too.

Friday, May 13, 2005

I'm just askin'

Do you remember where?
Do you remember when?
Do you remember what?
Do you remember who?
Do you remember how?
Do you remember why?
Do you remember?
Do you?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Vampires were first invented in 1920? Huh?

Someone said this in a review of Anne Rice's latest book -

Vampires were first invented in 1920

I think they know very little factlore, folklore or filmlore. As far as I know the first vampire novel was Varney the Vampire; or, The Feast of Blood published in 1847. Unless I have totally lost my math skills that predates 1920.

Wait, what about Polidori and the famous night on the lake that led to Frankenstein? That was in 1816 and Polidori wrote The Vampyre. That's a full century before they were "invented" according to that reviewer.

Of course there are rich legends of vampires in many cultures, including the Chinese vampire which has its feet on backwards so when you think you see it walking one way in the snow it is really going the other way.

I just hope that when I say something stupendously wrong I can listen to those who tell me I am mistaken. Actually I remember a few years ago when my friend Kevin N. was over to my house and we were talking about Barq's root beer and he said it had caffeine and I said no, root beer never had caffeine. He insisted that it did and I picked up the bottle while saying "Kevin there is no way in hell that" and here I saw caffeine as a listed ingredient and I finished "know what I am talking about!"

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Five rides for a penny

I was reading Strange Attractions today and a line in a poem that said "Five rides for a penny" caught my eye. Normally I would just think the poem was old, set in a time where you could get five rides for a penny but instead it gave me the absolute shivers.

I started thinking about why you would give five rides for a penny and then I asked my friend K. what he thought. He agreed and says he would be quite suspicious of the motives of the person involved.

I was writing an email to my friend A. to ask what they thought and I meant to say "If you were at a carnival" but I said "if you were a carnival" which is something altogether different but equally intriguing.

The bad news of the day is that I have been sick all day. Back to feeling queasy all the time, headaches, lots of trouble seeing. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A familiar business model

This article in the Guardian makes MacMillan's new no advance for new writers program sound an awful lot like Publish America.

Part of the objection is that traditionally an advance provides publishers with an incentive to market a book; they must sell many copies to earn out the advance. Conventionally, the smaller the advance, the less effort put into shifting books.

"I feel reluctant to pass judgment from on high," said Deborah Rogers, director of the literary agency Rogers Coleridge and White. "But what worries me is where are these books going to land in a bookshop? To make any book work you've got to support it."

According to Barnard: "We won't be spending as much on marketing and promotion as on novels that have had big advances; but we believe we can find new ways of promoting and selling these books." He said the books would appear in the main Pan Macmillan catalogue and would be "very posh books" with ribbon markers, sold at £15. He expected them to become "collectors' items".

Hmm, listing the books in a catalogue to market them, selling them at a high price and expecting them to become collector's items, that sounds a lot like Publish America to me.

We know that writers should be writing, right? Writers should not be selling their books. (Never mind this article from Publish America called "DEATH OF A WRITER, BIRTH OF A SALESMAN") Marketing is the job of the publisher. And look at this:

"There are literally tens of thousands of writers out there - and we have a responsibility to help them. We can't do that by paying a half million advance to every author."
That is a quote from Michael Barnard. It's rather disingenuous considering that the median advance for the Sci Fi Fantasy author is $5000. It's enough to make me scream the way this MacMillan executive takes something low and dresses it up like a good deed.

Ugh now I have a pounding headache and I want to throw up. Other people say it makes me sick and it doesn't quite manifest the same way...

Monday, May 09, 2005

Going from a sound mind to a diseased mind

I was just looking for something old at the Grapevine and I got sidetracked by this thread. Interestingly I thought I got meningitis in May of 2003 but I guess I got it in March.

I start off talking about music and various bands Spittle2003 might want to try and I get too sick from meningitis to finish my list. I just run out of energy and end up kind of giving up. Then at the end of the thread someone thinks I have forgotten about them but I am actually in the hospital suffering the tortures of the damned.

And of course I have not regained the energy that ran out and my memory is still shot. It's a beautiful disease. I cannot recommend it enough.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Tonight at the trading post

There is an interesting chain of exchanges that could happen at the Baltimore Craigs List site. Under barter we find these ads:

Trade Altima for big screen HDTV

They want to trade a running 1993 Nissan Altima for a big screen HDTV.

Further down the page I find:

Willing to trade 42" HDTV for pool table!!!!

He or she has a Phillips rear screen projection they are willing to trade for a pool table.

Then we find:

Slate Pool table for . . .

This guy has a slate pool table and would like to trade it for a pinball machine or a an arcade video game. Or anything interesting. He or she will consider all trades.

This pool table is smaller than the one the TV guy wants but sometimes people will settle. So there you go, if you have something interesting and can talk a good game you could end up with a car. The really weird thing is that all of this is on the same page. To figure this deal out all you really need is to be able to read all the entries on the page. I'm just sayin'

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The people change but the song remains the same

I went over to the Counting Crows website because I was a little nostalgic after reading a post at Penny Arcade. I have not posted there in at least a year. Adam is pissed off and calling people assholes, the assholes are being vindicated because it means he never loved them and the people who resent being called assholes are attacking the others. Yeah none of the names are familiar but it's all the same old stuff.

I had another complicated crazy dream last night. It was about a gypsy who told me"it will get worse before it gets stranger." Then she died and as her funeral caravan drove past where I was lying in a field taking to my friend A. a red flash came out of the hearse and lit up the skies and I got this weird mental power. Then my friend and I had to go on the run and we were hiding out with Neil Gaiman for awhile and then with the above mentioned Adam. We weren't just hiding, we were also figuring out this conspiracy that involved some terrorists smuggling pieces of a nuclear weapon in the back of some motor homes. Sometimes I think Tom Clancy is secretly writing the rough outline for my dreams.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Plot vs no plot

My new column is up. I talk about the sheep and wool festival, the Kentucky Derby and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie. I was interested to see that the Washington Post says the film has no plot whereas I warn viewers that when compared to the books the film has too much plot. Perhaps too much is too strong but it is certainly more plot than the books.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Jason Parker do not contact me in any way

Jason Parker do not contact me in any way.

Do not leave comments on my blog.

Do not send me email at any of my accounts.

Do not post on the Grapevine.

Do not contact me at all via any medium of communication.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I'm sorry, is that a one or a two?

Cullen had a paper due today. He was supposed to pick a country and find out how World War one affected the country. He picked Australia and we spent some time talking last night about what percentage of all Australians were killed, how many of the soldiers died, how many were wounded at Gallipoli, exactly what the Ottoman Empire was doing and other things that Cullen just didn't know much about.

He wrote a decent paper and then handed it over to me for some copyediting. He is meant to turn in the rough draft and then the finished product. We went over some changes to make the words flow better and talked about some things he could add like how important WWI is and how it's glossed over today even though it had a huge impact on how countries behaved when they were invaded during WWII.

He found a terrific population density map of the times from google image search, put the whole thing together, called it good and went off to school this morning.

The paper was meant to be about World War Two. How ironic that he wrote about how everyone focuses on WWII and ignores WWI and then his teacher refused to accept the paper for even partial credit while he wrote a new one. Funny old thing, life is.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Happy Birthday Pops

It's a little late, sorry. I hope you had a wonderful day.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Bare Minimum

I did a little work on Bare Minimum today, moving this one scene that was bogged down forward through the mire.

My male lead tells the female:

"I should hope so. It would look pretty funny for little Janey to be telling her kindergarten teacher that Granny once picked up a Chippendale dancer after the show."

And she replies:

"You wound me. She'll be telling them about how a Chippendale dancer was so smitten with me that he ran off with me during a show. And about how all the other dancers were so deeply in lust with me that they tried to stop him at the door and he had to throw me over his shoulder and fight them all off before he carried me off to his boudoir, dripping dollar bills from his g-string with every step."

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Currently topping the most hated list

For several weeks now the most hated practice/schmucks/feature/thing is when you are cheerily cruising along reading someone's archives and you come to a post talking about how terrific a new web comic is. You click the web comic and you end up at some dismal, soul sucking, pop-up spewing wasteland that is likely to age you by at least ten years before you can escape.

These horrors like to offer to be your new homepage and some go so far as to try and reset your browser and force you to stare at these desolate vistas every time you turn on your browser.

The aborted travesties of a webpage will also come up if you screw up while typing in a popular site like, well like our very own BrokerUniverse, if you type in brokersuniverse.com you get a load of garbage. The only cure I can see is to refuse to use these abominations and if you have a site that is popular and you decide you don't want it anymore don't let one of these gits get it. Give it to a fan who will keep it pure.

A perfectly lovely day

I got caught up on quite a lot of things today. I made a list of things I might want to write about for my column.

I read the beginning of a book of short stories by Jane Smiley. I like them but her writing in this collection is so spare that I want more. I find myself longing for just a few more words here and there.

Then we went off to see the Hitchhiker's Guide. I hear it is getting bad reviews and I will have to look and see why. I am intensely curious as to what Neil is going to think of it.

I enjoyed myself. It was funny and touching and sweet and surprising. I was pleased to see there is a little bit at the end during the last part of the credits. I always love that.

I saw my first big screen preview for Revenge of the Sith and it made me clap. I remember seeing the very first film back when I was fourteen and being carried away with the audience and how grand and glorious it was.

The new Love Bug movie looks awful. I suppose it would look good if I were seven and also if it didn't creepily remind me of Christine...