Friday, December 30, 2005

Last Column of the Year or Last Column For Good?

I posted my final column for 2005 this morning. It's about various First Nights in several states. The one in Austin sounds quite wonderful although I can't rule out the possibility that they just have a fantastic copywriter working for them.

As I type this there are no plans to continue my column at BrokerUniverse. Our sponsor didn't renew so I'll probably have another project to work on instead. I've got an idea for something and I hear we're going to be launching a new newsletters that will take up some of my time.

Not that I spent much company time on my column, I wrote it on my own time but you know how it is. When you stop working on a project that takes up twenty minutes a week you get a new one that takes up several hours.

I might move the column to the site we're working on. I've got some negotiating and thinking to do. I only have so much time and energy in a day so what's the best use of it? Such a difficult question.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

This is a test, please ignore

I'm taking a look at a counter my brother Fred is offering. Just pretend it's not happening at all.

Free Counters supplied by


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Talking about HIV

I've taken to reading some of the more interesting posts and articles that come in the Body newsletter out loud. Usually I read the more silly questions, like this week someone asked Dr. Bob if you could get HIV from a trash can.

I have never felt that Cam was paying attention but today he asked me several questions about what I was reading. Then I read him the question from the woman who is negative and just found out she is pregnant by her positive husband. She wanted to know if she and the fetus could catch HIV from the husband.

So we talked about the possible answers before clicking on the link and reading the official answer. It seemed to work out as a pretty lowkey way to address critical issues. Just one more reason to really like The Body website.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Story

Once there was this guy, his name was Joe. Joe was engaged to be married to this chick called Mary. Maybe they were crazy about each other and maybe they just thought it was a good idea. Heck, maybe it was their parents' idea. So there they were, this couple who weren't allowed to talk to one another in private, giving each other long glances on the street and wondering what it would be like when they cleaved onto each other and became one.

Well one day Joe hears this rumor that this girl, his girl, has already cleaved onto someone else and she's going to have a baby.

Now Joe was a decent fellow but he had his pride. He was not going to marry this girl when the whole town could see her belly sticking out. Sure some of them would think it was his kid but some wouldn't. He had to stop this marriage. But at the same time he didn't want to hurt her. Who knew how this had happened. Maybe she got swept away with passion or just maybe some guy hurt her and made her pregnant.

With a heavy heart Joe starts making arrangements to set her aside.

But then something completely unexpected happens. He gets a visit. This wasn't a visit from the Avon lady or the Mormons, this was a visit from an angel of the Lord. Mind you angels of the Lord don't usually come bopping to your door, grooving on a tune on their iPods, and this angel wasn't much different. This angel came to Joe in a dream.

In the dream the angel looked at him and said, "Joe, you're all right. You're a standup guy. But you're about to make a big mistake."

Joe crossed his arms and looked at this guy. The angel looked a lot like Elvis, not that young hot hip swiveling Elvis either, the old fat beat up Elvis. He didn't look like the kind of fellow you would go to for advice. But Joe was nothing if not polite. He smiled and said, "Do tell."

"Oh sure," said the angel. "You see that little girl out there, she hasn't done anything wrong. She's on the Lord's business and she's doing something big and brave that's going to break both you all's hearts in the long run."

Joe didn't take too kindly to hearing that, no man wants to hear he and his pretty little wife to be have some heartbreak coming on down the road, but he kept his temper. He knew when the Lord calls you why then you've better be prepared to hoe a long row.

"Can you tell me more?" he asks.

"A little," says the angel. "She's going to give birth to a boy, a son, a son conceived by the Holy Spirit."

Joe wasn't sure what this mean exactly, but he kept right on listening.

"You see, there's a prophecy and this man child is going to fulfill that prophecy. You remember that old story about the virgin having the baby and they shall call him Emmanuel? This is it, the time is now and you'll be that baby's stepfather. Guide him wisely."

Then Joe woke up with a start, with his heart pounding and his mind racing, thinking of all the wonderful and terrible things that were coming ahead, wondering if he and Mary and most of all the baby would be strong enough for all of it.

In the morning he took Mary home and they waited and sure enough she had a boy child and they named him Jesus. He went on to have many strange and wonderful adventures, but those are stories for another day.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah. Cheerful Kwanzaa, Splendid Saturnalia

We came up with the companion to the Of Mice and Men video game. It's the Scarlet Letter video game rated A for adultery. You can only buy it if you have committed adultery yourself. See how long you can stay in the stocks!

Have a perfectly lovely holiday.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas Light Warning

I've got some lights up in my window. They came with warning labels. Not so much the ones that say the house will burn down if you don't pay attention, these address a new concern.

Handling the coated electrical wire on this product exposes you to lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.
Wash hands after use.

Isn't that odd? Why? I cannot think of a single good reason why my lights should give me lead poisoning.

Thank goodness the State of California is watching over me.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Things I Learned While Writing This Week's Column

The house of Faberge can't use their own name anymore. It's trademarked by Unilever. How is that for crazy?

I recently read that Unilever owns Ben and Jerry's now. They also own Dove, the soap I use when I can't get handmade soap. What can you make with a Faberge egg, some soap and a bowl of ice cream? I don't know but I'm hoping it's still legal.

The other extremely odd thing I discovered is that Theo Faberge designed a Scrooge McDuck Midnight Egg. And it sold out!

What would the Tsar have thought of that?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Fun With Imagined Christmas Gifts

I told Cullen I got him a great Christmas gift; Of Mice and Men, the Video Game. Then I laughed like a maniac for several minutes.

I'm envisioning it as a role playing game. You gain experience points every time you kill a mouse. You level up when you accidentally kill a girl or a puppy. How do you win? That's the rub.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

My Reply to a Friend's Email Asking "How Was the Ape Movie?"

It was really good but completely insane. It was like 27 films in one. Very much like School of Rock at the beginning when Jack Black is wheeling and dealing. It's also pretty much a comedy at the beginning.

Then it's like the Perfect Storm or Titanic and then very much like Lord of the Rings when they get to Skull Island. Then it turns into Jurassic Park and then a Jackie Chan film with King Kong playing the part of Jackie.

It was quite intense and almost nonstop action, I think I would have been happier if there had been some breaks and some humor in the middle to relieve tension. There were some weird camera angles and a lot of chaos so I went home with a headache that just got worse and worse until this afternoon when I took some meds for it. But I imagine that a normal person is not going to get sick from it.

The acting is all really good.

The sets are wonderful, very complex.

I just wished I could have changed the ending. I know that's too silly for words but I didn't want to see Kong die. I wanted to leave or hide under my chair or something.

There were some major logic flaws like some people died from animals attacking them while other people were standing around armed with machine guns, so it was like they died just to get the body count up. But still there was nothing so awful that you couldn't tolerate it.

The natives on the island were very frightening to me. They're scarred and deformed and don't seem human. They mostly reminded me of the orcs from LOTR. The woman in front of me had a three year old with her and I think she is nuts. I would not bring a young child to this film.

But yeah, it's good and you should see it if you have the time and the money.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

In Which I Have No Raccoons

I think Chris and I are leaving out of here in a little bit to go see King Kong, which means we won't be out of theater until tomorrow morning so I'd better post now. I'm sort of shocked to see that there is a showing that starts at 12:20 am. The thing runs for 3 hours and fifteen minutes, letting out at 3:35 not counting trailers and ads.

I was mucking about at Amazon looking at the recommendations (I looked at nearly 1000 and most of them were dead on) and I found this game:

F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon

I thought it said Assault Raccoon and thought that it could quite a fun game with a waddling raccoon trying to strike fear into everyone's hearts. Sadly I was wrong.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Vanishing Director

I noticed something odd while researching my column last night.

Last May I went to a panel at Balticon about dinosaurs and art. One of the things we discussed was Peter Jackson's King Kong and the general look he wanted for the film. We also talked about the dinosaurs and how Bob Eggleton thought they were going to be nifty. Then he said that Peter Jackson was exhausted from making the three LOTR films and going straight to Kong and that another director had to come in when he collapsed.

When I started writing about the film last night I went online to find the name of the director and I had the devil of a time. I found some blog entries talking about it, including this

Production Diary: Day 131

4/15/05, 5:23 am EST - Xoanon

Peter Jackson is tired...let's face it, he is no Superman, I mean he is nearing the very end of production on King Kong and he is running on fumes. His crew are an amazing bunch of Apt Pupils, but they can only do so much. Peter is beginning to feel Buried Alive and needs some help, his Majestic film is about to collapse if he doesn't get some people in there to aid him. So he decides to call in The Usual Suspects. Take a look who aids PJ on his quest! [QT6 240x132px 8Mb] [QT4 320x176px 14Mb] [QT6 480x264px 18Mb] [Bit Torrents!]

Email us your questions and PJ may answer them in a future Production Diary!
but I couldn't get the link to work.

I looked for a long time and found no articles about the collapse. Nothing at all. I wonder why.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

New Portal Coming Soon

I spent a fair amount of time on the phone with my brother Fred yesterday discussing the best way for us to focus our energies for the new year. There comes a point where you get tired of coming up with brilliant ideas, sparkling prose and stunning code and not profiting from it yourself.

We're going to be starting up a new portal aimed at a particular industry. More info to come.

Today was name day with Fred coming up with most of the names. I liked the one with the word sphere in it the most but it did make me think of the horrid Michael Crichton film of the same name. Talk about slow and boring, this is it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

In Which I Jump Out of My Skin

Woke up this morning with a huge asthma attack followed directly by an hour of nonstop vomiting.

Thankfully my day got better and continued to get better so that I felt sort of okay by dinner time. Weirdly I was reading the insert for the grocery store just now and the ink made me extremely ill. When Chris smelled it his eyes started burning and he had to throw it away.

It's left me feeling all jittery and like I want to scream. It's quite odd and I hope it doesn't last very long at all as I need to go to sleep very soon.

I haven't written much at all this week but I'm doing a lot of thinking and trying to figure out what I want to do and where I want to be.

I need to decide what my plans are for 2006. Do I want to keep on doing my column or stick to fiction? Or do I want to do something else entirely? I haven't written a script in nearly two years.

I haven't done any acting in 14 months. That's incredibly depressing.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Robert Sheckley

Friday I wrote a column focusing on some of the excellent stories I have read at since I got the deeply saddening news that the entire fiction section is going away at the end of the year. I talked about thirteen stories that are particularly wonderful, two by Robert Sheckley.

Last night I visited Neil Gaiman's blog for the first time since I read the news about and read that Robert Sheckley had died. I was absolutely stunned and burst into tears.

He was a brilliant and incredibly funny writer. My earliest memory of his work goes back nearly 30 years, to when I was fourteen and got a copy of Can You Feel it When I Do This? and of course most recently I was reading his work this week.

It's a particularly bitter blow because when Chris and I saw Pride and Prejudice a couple of weeks ago he asked "where is the wit Mumsy? Who is writing wit like that?" and I thought and thought and could really only come up with a short list. It's seems terribly unfair that the list is shorter now.

He'll be missed by anyone with a love for clever storytelling.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Department Stores

I was listening to Cullen talking on the phone to his friend of Pakistan and I started to wonder if department stores have been phased out by stores like Target and Walmart. They had to do some kind of report about the guy who invented the first department store but Cullen's friend didn't know what one was, or why we call it that.

I started naming stores, Lord and Taylor, Hechts, etc. but became convinced that there weren't any left. I know Hechts was recently purchased by a larger company. Maybe it's just that I remember all the stores that don't exist anymore but am not doing so well with the ones that are.

Didn't Montgomery Wards go away? Sears vanished from the mall they were in. Is Penneys still around? Is that how you spell it?

I finally came up with Neiman Marcus but Cul's friend had never been there. There must be some middle ground between an expensive store like that and a cheap store like Walmart. Not that I think of Walmart as a department store, I'm just wondering where the middle ground is or if it's all been eroded away.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Spellcheck can be very annoying

I was just running spell checker on the stuff I wrote today for my November novel and I hit the wrong choice and replaced a word with something that doesn't work at all. I didn't even see the wrong word, I doubleclicked the wrong choice, resulting in some new word that doesn't belong. I'll have to go through the pages I wrote today and hope I catch it but I'm not as good at that sort of thing as I used to be.

A couple of weeks ago my eyes were particularly bad and I was writing back to someone for work and when I tried to say "sorry for the inconvenience" spell check had only one option for the misspelled word so I clicked it and it was only as the email vanished from my sight that I realized I had said "sorry for the incontinence."

Monday, December 05, 2005

Accidental Writing

I wrote 500 words of my book today. I got up early and was taking a bath when I started thinking about a conversation that Mallory and Kipling need to have later in the book so I wrote it down when I got back to my room. I didn't even take the time to dry or comb my hair; I wrote it with my hair up in a towel in a burst of typing.

I tried to go back to it this evening even though I was well past my December goal but my brain is slow and tired now so it was a waste of time.

In Christmas gift news I'm looking for a top hat for Chris but so far they are pretty dear. If anyone has a lead for me please drop me a line. Thanks.

I sent in a suggestion to I think if would be nice if Club Pogo members could buy things for other members' minis. Cam likes to buy things like skull backgrounds but he's got hardly any tokens while I have seven million and could certainly afford to buy him some nice outfits. I'll be curious to see if they respond to my email or not.

Cam set up our new Christmas tree. It's fiber optic. I know, I know but we can't have a real one because I'm so allergic I get pneumonia when one's in the house and we're a family of geeks so it's not really a surprise that we went this route.

I saw the fiber optic tree display and called Chris and Cullen over and they said ooh and aah and then "can we mother, can we?" and I said yes because it made them very happy and isn't that what Christmas is about?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Taking some time off

I've decided to take the month of December off and read. I want to read every single entry at the site before they vanish. I'm in the middle of 2002 right now so I've got an awful lot of stories to go.

I'm going to switch my expected word count for my novel to 100 words a day and relax. I'll pick up the pace again in January.