Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mirable and Clemma

I was extremely annoyed the other day when I used the social security database to look up the most popular names. Names I thought were too old fashioned to be popular are now the most popular, which is very counterintuitive to me.

Naming my characters is either a breeze or torture. For this new November project I have two female leads, teenage girls, who need some unusual names. I was thinking of calling one Mirrabelle but then thought I would go with Mirable, which has the power of miracle behind it and has a very positive meaning but I wasn't sure about the other girl. But I was looking at a site that had a list of names that could be made from just the letters of the word Miracle and found Clemma, a name that is so obsolete that the site says:

Popularity of the name Clemma for Girls
First Year in the Top 1000: 1887
Last Year in the Top 1000: 1887
Average Age: 120.00
Highest Percentage: 0.005% in 1887
Best Rank: #964 (in 1887)
Represented in the Top 1000 names in: 1 of 127 years (0.79%)
Total* Female Population in Top 1000: 7

Average age 120! Boom! Perfection. Now I just need one more name.


Holy Mother of God

This week's image challenge from the New England Journal made me dizzy.

You probably don't want to look at unless you have a strong stomach. Or just dig medicine. Or something.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My cup runneth over with paper

Just got an email from the library. They're holding 20th Century Ghosts for me (Joe King's collection of short stories that was just published - I ordered it in the summer) as well as Scott Westerfeld's Extras, the next book in the Uglies universe. There's a book for Cullen also, the next one by Terry Goodkind in the Sword of Truth series he's reading. I must have them today...

I'm right in the middle of Eyes of Crow by Jeri Smith-Ready. I met her at Balticon last year and made a note to buy this book but never remembered until Capclave last month when I ran into her in the dealers room and snapped it up. I started it yesterday while at the pediatrician with a wheezy kid and was a little dismayed to see what my brain translated as "archaic language" on the first page. When your kids are sick (no matter how big they are) you want something easy to read. But by page two I was falling into the story and now I'm on page 211 and just wishing for a couple of hours so I can finish it up.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Why I love Dr. Bob

Not only is he not phazed by questions about having sex with your couch, he actually has a suggestion on how to make it better! Truly a god among men.


Margaret Atwood loves me

Neil posted about a series of five love letters you could get The Times to send you and I signed up, which was kind of more of a hassle than I'm usually willing to put up with. The first one came today and was in a wonky format (at least in gmail) with dark print on a brown background, less than optimal as we say in my office. I copied the whole thing into a word file, again more work than I'm usually willing to do if I'm not actually getting paid, and was finally able to read it.

It's from Margeret Atwood and it's perfectly lovely and funny. According to the mail it is:

Extracted from Four Letter Word: New Love Letters, edited by Joshua Knelman and Rosalind Porter, published by Chatto & Windus on November 1, 2007 at £12.99. Editors © Joshua Knelman and Rosalind Porter 2007 Individual contributors © 2007
If you've got a spare thirteen pounds you'll be able to get it next week. In the meantime I believe you can still sign up and get your own letters with this link. You can also read a story by Lionel Shriver about the dangers of impetuous love.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

On the nature of time

Here's a video of some excellent zombie killing music. When I first saw these guys in concert I was fifteen I think and they looked so grownup. Now I look at them and I'm struck by how young they look. I'm sure it's not me, it's got to be some kind of warp in the space time continuum...

Good news, bad news

Wii Sports did exceptionally well at the BAFTAs, ringing up a total of six wins.

From Variety:

LONDON — Nintendo's "Wii Sports" took the lion's share of the kudos at BAFTA's Video Games Awards on Tuesday.

The sports simulation vidgame came away with six awards, including gameplay, innovation and strategy.

I don't think I'm familiar with the other games mentioned in the piece but Wii Sports is one of my favorite games, despite the fact that I despise sports. That's just how awesome Nintendo is.

And in the bad news department, Cam's other beloved rat, called Karma, developed a tumor in the last couple of days. For some reason my last post about her sister Paws vanished so I'll try and reiterate, although it's a painful subject.

We got these girls last year for Cam's birthday in May. They were about four months old and their owner was headed to Costa Rica (Peace Corps maybe?) and needed a new home for them. Paws was an albino Rex with Dumbo ears and Karma is an Agouti Rex with Dumbo ears. They both had the curly whiskers.

They fit in wonderfully and Cameron has been exceptionally responsible with them, only needing to be reminded to clean their cage maybe twice in the last 18 months. Then he went to Alaska to visit his dad over the summer and Paws started to go downhill. She gained a lot of weight, really getting huge and looking like those mice that are bred for fatness, and her hair started to fall out. I did some research and it seemed like she was stressed out so I tried playing with her more to keep her from missing Cam.

Fast forward to about a month ago when we took both rats to the vet and Dr. Gray said to try separating them and see how they did. They did poorly with Karma now pulling her fur out and Paws getting more and more depressed. We put them back together and Paws cheered up a little but not much and over the two weeks we tried many things to cheer her up, moving her away from my room so the neighbor's cigar smoke wouldn't come in through the window and get to her, and a million other things. Then she started crying, which in rats looks like blood and is very disconcerting if you haven't seen it before, which we hadn't. We've had rats before, in fact our last one before this, Ratsana, had an absolutely enormous tumor and never had the crying.

But it was the weekend and the doctor at the emergency vet clinic isn't exactly Dr. Rat so we waiting until Monday to take her back to Dr. Gray. This may have been the eighth, because I think I didn't have any work that day. By the time we got her there she was staggering and had obvious neurological complications, which she hadn't had the day before.

He said it was possibly an adrenal gland tumor, which makes the hair fall out, or possibly a tumor in her brain. Just in case we started her on glucose (pancake syrup) and antibiotics but by the time we got her back home she couldn't walk anymore. She worsened by the hour and Cam started giving her water with the syringe also. Finally we took her down to animal control, which is just a few minutes from our house, and asked them to put her to sleep.

It was an extraordinarily difficult decision but the people at animal control said she looked just like hundreds of other rats they've had with adrenal tumors and sadly those just aren't going to get better. The animal control people were very kind and respectful, which surprised me on some level because a dying rat, especially a white one with what looks like blood coming from their eyes, is not a site we're programed to handle well. "Disease, run, run," screams the hind brain and it's hard to override it with compassion.

Karma was very traumatized by Paws' loss, as were we all, and barbered off large swathes of hair. We got some new fellows, three little girls, Delirium, a tan hooded rattie girl for me, Master Chef (a joke name because that's what I always call the Master Chief in Halo) a black hooded rattie girl for Cullen, and Miss Bianca, an albino for Cam, but Karma has wanted little to do with them. Their cages are next to each other and she occasionally boxes them through the bars but mostly ignores them. But she did stop with the hair cutting so she's not as stressed out or feeling as isolated as she was.

Last night Cam was playing with her and he found a tumor, probably a benign mammary tumor. Coming on the heels of Paws' death it's quite a shock. I suppose that scientifically it's not that surprising because most fancy rats are bred from lab rats, who were bred to get cancer, and Paws and Karma are sisters from the same litter, and they're getting old for rats, or at least middle aged, but somehow it is surprising. And this thing just wasn't there three or four days ago but now it's the size of a pencil eraser, which is worrying. If she's got to have a benign tumor I want it to be very slow growing, because that way it won't bother her for a long time.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Squee!! I can't wait to see this. This looks like exactly my kind of film, scary but without pools of blood. (No offense oh master of mayhem.) Like Pan's Labyrinth it's in Spanish with English subtitles, although they worked so well in Pan's Labyrinth that I completely forgot the film wasn't in my native tongue. Neil talks about it here.

And speaking of subtitles, Cam was raised on Jackie Chan movies. My sister Megan and her boyfriend Jimi used to watch him for me while I was at work and they're megafans. When we took Cam to see Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon he hadn't been reading all that long and he was expecting a Jackie Chan film (I guess because it had martial arts in it so it must be Jackie) and when the movie ended he was so exhausted from all that reading that I had to carry him back to the car.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Children of Men again

I'm watching Children of Men again. It and Pan's Labyrinth were my two favorite films of last year. It's an amazing mix of bleakness and hope, triumph and despair.

And poor Theo's feet. I have to cringe.

If you were on a plane would this guy make you nervous?

Someone is giving away this chinchilla. They say they are flying away on a plane and can't take it with them. Really? TSA would really have a problem with this creature that looks like it will eat anyone who looks at if funny? Fancy that.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Stupid blood

My PT/INR is elevated again, 4.8, so no warfarin for three days then retest next week. I was pretty sure it was high because when I brush my teeth I spit out more blood than toothpaste (sorry, gross I know) but why is it high? It's not as bad as last time but that was only a few weeks ago and I'm eating more leafy green vegetables so you'd think it would be low not high.

I don't know why I can't have some of Scalzi's SmartBlood and call it a day.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Get ye to the theater before Sunday

There are only three performances left of my friend James Comtois' show The Blood Brothers Present: Pulp. It's three acts and some vignettes and he wrote one of the one acts which is garnering great reviews. You can read some of them here and here.

Sadly getting to NYC is out of the question for me right now so this is another one I'll miss. Bah.


WOW Papercraft

Here's an entire blog dedicated to World of Warcraft Papercraft, for you crafty players who want to get your craft on. (The crafty in crafty players is the sneaky, thoughtful kind of crafty, not the make stuff kind of craft I use later on. I just wanted to force the word craft into that one poor sentence as many times times as possible.)

You've got your Blood Elf, your sheep, your archery range, Demonstalker's Helm and a slew of others.

I didn't try any of these myself, I was actually doing research for this week's column and was sucked into the crunchy goodness that is WOW.

And now research awaaaayyyyy---

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Someone should consider a new hobby

From a WaPo article about responses to take down notices:

Ric Silver, the choreographer of the Electric Slide, says he spent three years contacting 17,000 Web sites about what he says is their "incorrect portrayal" of the famous line dance. Silver also told YouTube to take down a number of videos showing the dance, including one clip of a concert filmed by Kyle Machulis.

Machulis sued Silver for copyright abuse. As part of the settlement, Silver agreed to allow the video to be reposted with a tagline crediting him for the choreography, but he now says he's waiting for paperwork from the Library of Congress that will allow him to open new lawsuits over clips like Machulis's.

"I can't go to every wedding and bar mitzvah in the country, so this is all I can do to make sure people learn it right," Silver said.

I'm just saying 17000 is an awful lot and he doesn't appear to be stopping any time soon.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mashed plums

I was talking with a friend of mine and he asked me if I'd ever taken a creative writing class and I told him I'd tried two and dropped them both. The second one was because I had to drop out of school and go to work full time and the first one was because the teacher drove me nuts.

We had to do this project where we wrote a poem and then we had to turn it into a monologue, then a dialogue, then a play. I think that poems are poems and very different from a script. I asked my friend if he was familiar with William Carlos Williams' poem This is Just to Say and then I said I supposed you could make it into a play, maybe with a lot of arguing, but it would really ruin the poem.

Then he tried to say it would be like Waiting for Godot but he actually said The Stranger and I said yes, I ate your plums because the sun got in my eyes...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

White Noise

I have no idea what happened in this movie or what any of the secret messages were. I was totally confused throughout most of it and so was star Micheal Keaton if his expression of awestruck buffoonery was anything to go by. It was pretty disappointing because it could have been quite creepy but instead came out as a pale imitation of the Mothman Prophecies.

Cam and I got haircuts today, which is not that big a deal except mine was the first since May and Cam's was the first time he got one with paint in his hair. He was building set for Sueissical the Musical today.

George the cat got an almost clean bill of health today. He had a mild infestation of tapeworms, which he got from fleas or from eating rodents. Since the only rodents in the house are our pet rats I guess it was from some fleas he had a while ago that are now gone. He's on Revolution for heartworms and fleas and ticks and such so hopefully he won't get any more parasites. Our cats are all indoor cats so that should also help.

Friday, October 19, 2007

From Dusk til Dawn

The first time I saw this film I thought that Quentin Tarintino had two halves of scripts lying around, one a gangster film and the other a vampire film, and he kind of mashed them together and ended up with a big mess. But when I watch it again, almost a decade later, I like it more and the lumpy seams aren't as obvious to me.

Cullen bought an XBox 360 today and is blissing out on Halo three. I'm still slogging through these Anita Blake books. They're awfully grating but not as bad as some other series I have read. I'm up to Blue Moon right now. It's got more of a plot than the one that came before it, which seemed to be mostly about sex. I'm a bit worried about the ones coming up that I've heard called "pure porn." If I think Burnt Offerings was light on plot and heavy on sex I can only imagine what the latest ones must be like. But that's why I'm reading this series. Because I keep hearing about how awful it's become and how Anita has been degraded and I can't join in the conversations until I read them for myself.

Chris' cat George goes to the vet in the morning for shots and hopefully that will be the last visit for six months or so.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This is funny

I see posts now and again from people complaining about the NAACP and how there aren't any scholarships for white people.

Behold the Southern Mississsippi White Dude Scholarship.

Francis R. Conn, M.D. Premed Scholarship

Annual awards for juniors or seniors attending the University of Southern Mississippi who are enrolled in the College of Science and Technology and are premed majors. Selection based on academic achievement and potential. Preference given to Anglo-Saxon applicants. Due date, award amount and number of awards may vary.
I'm just saying.

Busy weekend

Cam and I were at Capclave this weekend, which was terrific. We saw some old friends and made some new and I spent a lot of time in the game room, a first for me.

Unfortunately on the way there Cam stabbed himself in the leg with a knife. Nobody knows why (maybe the cats know) but there was a steak knife in the trashbag and when he went to pick it up to take it out the dumpster it stabbed his leg. I took him to night time pediatrics and he got a tetanus shot, which made him feel feverish for the rest of the day, and we're watching the site for infection.

Monday I took Cullen to see the nephrologist. I liked her a lot, very no nonsense but also good with explanations, which is important to me. There is likely a kidney biopsy in Cullen's horizon, which she says is as loud as a cannon, a surprising thought.

Cam and I made the mistake of getting some chicken from a place near Capclave that seemed a little underdone to me and now he's throwing up and I'm pretty sick. His school sent him home yesterday and we're kind of limp and tired.

I'm not really writing anything besides my column because I've been feeling extra sick since the PICC line got infected. It's annoying because writing always makes me feel better but I feel stupid and making connections or even finishing a sentence is very hard for me right now. I feel a little like I did when I was first getting meningitis, although very little neck or head pain, thank God. But I'm falling a lot and dropping things and forgetting things like that square numbers do exist. It's frustrating and I hope I get better soon. Can I send myself a get well soon card?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Long but quite interesting

I watched this entire 75 minute video press release from E3 in preparation for this week's column, which is mostly about how much I love my Wii. I was surprised I had the tolerance for it, usually I can't stand watching video online and won't watch anything longer than Charlie the Unicorn. But I am fascinated by Nintendo's marketing and their "everyone is a gamer" philosophy and ended up not wanting to turn it off. I especially enjoyed the talk by Mr. Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo. He's quite charming.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Holiday today

We're one of the few companies that close today, which is good because Cam's rat Karma is pretty lethargic. We're taking her to the vet when he gets home from school in about an hour. Then if there's time I'll come back home and take Cullen to the credit union to transact some business. Then the library and probably the laundromat because our washing machine broke. That's how we party down at my house...

I finished the Destiny Project yesterday and what a lumpy mess it is. It's the lumpiest first draft I've ever written in my life. Usually I write pretty decent first drafts, in fact my columns are all first drafts since I don't have time for anything else, but this time I just went with a lot of different ideas and made some notes so I can tear it all apart and put it back together in a different order.

Now I just need to finish the Clive thing, which is feeling pretty uninspired right now, mostly because the big exciting scene that solves all the major problems scene is supposed to happen tonight, in story time, yet the actual story arch and character growth I set out to write about is just beginning. I'm about 49,000 words in and half of me says just chuck the whole thing. But maybe I'll just finish the big conquer the forces of evil scene (I don't think I've written one of those before, at least not on this scale) and then make a bunch of notes and when I do the rewrite start the story and character arch a lot sooner in the action. I'd like to have this thing wrapped up enough that I can abandon it come November first and start the third Kitta book. And I need time to rewrite the first two and the Gabriel book. Making time for rewrites is very hard for me at any time and for some reason it's been especially hard recently.

I know some writers do well when they take some vacation time and lock themselves away from the intertubes and other people but I do so much research as I'm writing. Not so much to learn about new things, although I do some of that, but mostly to check my facts because since I had meningitis some things just don't sound right anymore. Sometimes words don't even sound like real words so I look them up and some things are just odd so I look them up. Really? Really there's a fish that clamps itself to the side of sharks? Really there are birds that hang out in crocodiles mouths? And is it crocodiles or alligators? That sort of thing.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Too sweet for words

One Thousand Tragedies in One Night

Here's an interesting article from Variety about a show running on Arab TV for Ramadan starring a tranvestite. It's a parody of A Thousand Nights and a Night and I, for one, would love to see it.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Let's see what's going on

I'm waiting for the infection from the PICC to clear up.

Cam and another fellow had a collision during rehearsal and he sprained his finger. It turned dark purple and we spent Wednesday night at the urgent care. He has to wear a splint for a week.

Cam and I both read Scot Westerfeld's Uglies, Pretties and Specials trilogy and loved it. I wrote about it for my column this week. I'll link it once I have the permalink.

Cullen aced his first chem test.

Chris is coming down tomorrow and we'll go see Cam in a musical review at his school. He's doing a song from Little Shop of Horrors, the one with the line "What do you want from me blood?"

I'm not writing as much as I'd like to but then I'm not feeling so well. I keep thinking one more day for the Destiny Experiment but then it goes on and on. The rewrite on that thing is going to be insane. Like knitting an afghan then deciding you really wanted a twin set instead...

Monday, October 01, 2007

No more PICC line

I went in for my dressing change and my PICC line was infected so out it came. I always freak out more about things coming out than in. I don't like it when they take the needle out of my arm for a blood draw and I hate the extreme creepiness of the PICC line removal. Turn your head, take a deep breath then someone pulls this meter long length of silicon tube out of your heart. AAGGH.

So the good news is the thing is out and I don't have to worry about it anymore and the bad news is it out and I have no idea if the iron infusions worked so I may need a new one. Sigh.

I just finished Warren Ellis' Crooked Little Vein. Oh. My. God. If you're curious about this book read the first sentence. If you can get past that read the first paragraph, then the first page, then the first chapter. If you're still hanging in there you've got a pretty good chance of being able to read the entire book.

Despite the extreme freak-out factor, or perhaps because of it, it's an engrossing little book, crashing from hilariously funny to horribly disgusting and back again. And it's got one of the best endings I've read in a long time. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time you know that I dislike most endings but this one sizzles.