television


Saying it like it is, this fine Monday morning.

John and I went to see the movie Real Steel on Saturday, and for me, it was the best movie I’ve seen yet this year. The robots just left me speechless – perhaps because I’ve been waiting to write a really good robot story. I planned to at Clarion, but never got to it, and its been burning in the back of my brain since…well, any time I glance at my bookshelf and see Tanith Lee’s Silver Metal Lover and Metallic Love, both of which I adore like nothing else. Oh, and let’s not forget Electric Forest. Just wow. The way Lee paints obsession, and the non-human humanity of metal flesh (and affinity for).

Soon. I’ve got to write that one soon.

Anyway, the movie was just fantastic. I know, another father-son redemption story, but the son was just so spunky (although the female lead drove me nuts – how many times did she REALLY need to say the main character’s name when talking to him? Writer’s fault, there. But … she just seemed to try too hard. Her character, anyway, and the romance felt contrived. Although by the end she seemed to feel more organic to the story – in a typical woman sidekick way.) And I was very, very glad they didn’t push the “this robot is different because he’s real! cliche.” That would have been so disappointing.

So yes, go see.

Next up: Breaking Bad.

Apparently, this show started in 2008, but I haven’t really heard of it (or anyone raving about it, for that matter) until my friend Brooke started tweeting her love for it. Needless to say, John and I are hooked. Fantastic writing, fantastic acting, and the drama is actually a little too much for me at times – I’m in a constant state of tension watching it, so I may need a little break from it soon. As soon as I find out what happens next. But there’s not another show on right now that’s grabbed me in the same way – Walking Dead season 2 premieres next week, and while I loved the first 3 or so episodes of season 1, it petered out fast, so I have my doubts with that (despite the fantastic preview, which makes me want to sit and write a zombie story NOW. Still appealing, despite the over-and-done-with of the craze). And no Game of Thrones until….next year? So that leaves us with … Family Guy. Not really the same thing.

Let’s see – Embassytown, by Mievelle. I couldn’t even get through the last thirty pages, and so I finally put it down. Not enough character for me – I need a seriously zoomed-in-on protagonist, and Avice (best name EVER) was never accessible. And now that I think about it, nor was the physical world. Too much…technical detail. I think I’m just not the best reader for it, although I did see its genius.

So I’ve brought with me today Charles Yu’s How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and VanderMeer’s Finch, the latter a reread, because I’m craving dystopia/post-apocolyptia, per the usual. And because I need novels right now, as I work through Harvester the book, and to soak in as much as I can in terms of chapter to chapter motion, larger themes, and drawing all of that together in a seamless (and coherent) fashion.

Yesterday, I outlined the entirety of the first book including the male protag – it felt good to get that done. A 90k book, give or take, which is a little overwhelming (despite the fact that my first 2 were over 120k, 120k disasters) given the content I want to make sure comes through. How does one (e.g. a person like me) actually, successfully, depict the end of civilization as Heloise knows it? Especially a civilization like the Resplendent City of Free Living?

Probably a paragraph at a time. An image at a time. A thread at a time. Patiently. (Which is not something I carry around in abundance.)

Anything I didn’t cover? Oh, I’ve started a blood elf mage in WoW – their ability to one-shot others is just too brutal/impressive not to. And since I have leveling gear, it should go fast. And, I’ve been wanting to play some Bioshock and Borderlands again. Perhaps because I have been thinking about my first Clarion short, “North like a Star,” and wanting desperately to revise it – the Borderlands world, the raw violence of it, bears comparison to Bellis’ world.

Pumpkin. Pumpkin everything. I also have that on the brain. There’s a fantastic new grocery store here, with beautiful organic produce, so I bought quite a bit of it and hope to cook it all this week – lovely chards & greens & mushrooms & leeks and so much more…perhaps tonight the Veggie Potpie Stew from Appetite for Reduction, after a run. It’s 70 degrees today! Maybe we’ll get a real fall here.

Happy Monday!

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As I seem to be trending blog posts on Tuesday, here we are, although I forgot to upload my pictures as I couldn’t get up early enough for the gym – the goslings and the weekend trip will have to wait.

Another 1k words on the SF short today including a lot of deleting. Currently, it sits at 4,148 words. Both good and ugly things are happening in it, writing-wise, and I’m trying to let the ugly alone until at least the second draft; so far, the smoothing out I’ve tried to do has resulted in even more awkward dialogue and choppy, unhappy women. But there’s a lot of firsts for me in this one: a same-sex relationship, a Lovecraft/Kiernan-inspired monster, and a barely-oxygenated planet, so I’m cutting myself some slack.

I started Barker’s Books of Blood last night – I can’t wait for more. Also, still working my way through the Datlow anthology, but spending the weekend in Houston took a good chunk of reading time away. The good news: more thyroid meds & progesterone, so hopefully that will help!

Yesterday I found a tick on my ribcage while I was changing for a run. I haven’t had a tick on me since I was about twelve years old – us kids used to get at least one a summer, maybe more, from the woods, but I wasn’t impressed at all, so I drove home as quickly as I could for John to remove it. As I tried to keep from panicking that there was a parasitic creature wedging its head inside me, I realized that I had plenty of blood. In fact, the little guy saw me as a warm, useful habitat that offered nutrition and safety (because if it had known what I intended for it, would it really have latched on?) What if I named it? It could be a fantastic story: the woman and her pet tick. (Although a more original title would be necessary.)

The story ended when John pulled it out with the tweezers and flushed it.

We watched the second season of Dollhouse : refreshing in that there were less “What is the Dollhouse?” and “Why does the Dollhouse exist?” questions, that drove me batshit crazy, and a few great oh shit moments that we didn’t expect. The post-apocalyptic ending, though….meh. I felt a little let down.

Speaking of oh shit moments, I made the mistake (or was it?) of looking up what happens in Game of Thrones. Those are some big oh shit moments coming up.

I wish Clarion would get here faster.

That’s right, tax hell is OVER. And I have no more excuses, which is why I’m working through the next revision chapter of Harvester the book (funny how much someone wanting to be a beta reader pushes you off the couch – thank you, Wendy! I so owe you), proofing Lightspeed content, reading slush, sending my rejected stories back out into the world, and finally (promptly) returning crits. And I will make good food again! There really is a way to abuse the pizza delivery man.
Oh, so a blog entry. Here’s the deal:

Go read Tom Crosshill’s “Mama, We are Zhenya, Your Son” in this week’s Lightspeed. It’s very…well, just read it yourself, so I don’t have to give anything away.

Game of Thrones
premiered on HBO on Sunday. I will admit I’ve never read the books, and I also preface this with the fact that I’m a hard sell for epic fantasy these days. (I’m plugging away through the second Rothfuss, but mostly because the alchemy stuff fascinates me, and John tells me it’s worth it.) However, once you get past the “I am this kind of person and I live my life like so because I enjoy a, b, and c” lines, (which to be fair, are necessary for a new world – but oh, how annoying they are), it rocks. I’m fascinated by the White Walker everything, and the end absolutely HORRIFIED me. Like, to the point of tears horrified, and I wanted to do serious harm to the villain who did the serious crime.

We’re in the second season of Deadwood, which is thrilling me. I am simply in awe of the writing, and not a damn complaint about the acting. A peer commented to me that he thought the second season was slow, but I’m not finding that the case at all; even the contrary, as the Wilcott/Chez Amis everything is…terrifying, for lack of a better description.

What’s next? Oh, the next season of Dr. Who this weekend! I can’t wait.

We saw Hanna two weeks ago. (Maybe Limitless this weekend, which fellow Fragment Ilan assures me is worth it.) Very entertaining, and the music was especially excellent. I wasn’t too fond of Cate Blanchett, though; she didn’t seem to fit the role (which I don’t believe I’ve ever said about her before).

Reading: the Rothfuss, like I mentioned, and I’ve just finished Gordon Van Gelder’s Welcome to the Greenhouse anthology, which I will blog about separately. I’ve started Daryl Gregory’s Pandemonium, which is so far very accessible and entertaining, and Shimmer’s new issue is waiting for me on the ipad.

What else? Oh, I started a Blood Elf Death Knight named Derne. And then I spent a week leveling up blacksmithing and mining because why the hell would I fly around the Outlands doing quests and NOT do my professions at the same time? A week, and like 3k gold, because that’s the way it works. Thanks to Beris, the shadow priest sugar mama (who happens to be nearly all Bloodthirsty-geared out, with even some Vicious gear). Oh, and John has started a raid team, and we need members. (If you want to raid Monday/Wednesday nights and you’re on Baelgun, hit me up. Apparently, we need one ranged DPS, two melee, and two healers.) Because, priorities.

No blog entry wouldn’t be complete without food, so here is the curry laksa (or Moskowitz’s version) from Appetite for Reduction. I’ve made a few other things from there in the last few weeks, but alas, this is the only picture. I’m really excited to make more from Veganomican, too.

Oh, and eggrolls! With Morrocan rice. They were phenomenal. I should have put tofu in them, or more strips of egg, but oh well. The downside was that they definitely did not keep. While flavorful, they were scary soggy the next day. Oh, and the oil wasn’t a plus, either. I’d like to try baking them next time. If that’s even possible.

There’s a bird singing outside my office here at work. I think I’ll go back to the Harvester chapter.

Finally, some great progress on Deadwalker, which is back to “The Seedling Garden.” I got hung up on the ending over the weekend, and when I passed it to John for help, he pointed out that several elements were backwards in the worldbuilding, so I had to switch those around. It was very frustrating, and then I remembered that I’ve encountered this frustration on every story with different mechanics to the world – and that these mechanics don’t always present themselves immediately. Or, now that I think about it, they never do. “The Light Stones” took a dozen (or more) rewrites to hammer itself out. So did Harvester the short. And the ending of “The Seedling Garden” isn’t clear yet, but since I spent hours trying to clean it up yesterday, maybe the elements will work themselves into clarity. Here’s hoping it will be slow day so I can make that happen. And because I have Lightspeed stories to read, and Fragment crits to do.

Took a break in the writing last night to do my first set of WoW PVP’s two-on-two (two’s) with John on Rhenza his rogue, and me with Beris my shadow priest. We got our asses handed to us in a few games; all my fault, of course, because I was so nervous and just kind of panicked, and level 85 or not, I’m still new to the game. But I’m starting to learn when do to what – fear, silence, psychic horror, shadowfiend, etc. – and we managed to win enough to cap my points for the week. And now the week has started over, so maybe tonight, too, depending on how much of “The Seedling Garden” I finish.

I finally took away the suitcase Kitty had been sleeping on upstairs, which now has a thick layer of cat hair over it. He simply found a new place.

Last night we had Chinese food and champagne – John got a new job, and finished the first prototype (there will be many, many¬† more in the future) of Carl the spider, his iPhone game! Very exciting. Sunday night, I went a little gungho with the Appetite for Reduction recipes. We had the Shaved Brussels Sprouts, the Broiled Blackened Tofu, and the Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Apples. The tofu was fantastic – tasted like chicken, honestly. I went a little light on the smoked paprika, since I don’t care for it very much, and I managed to burn the sweet potatoes/apples exactly as Moskowitz says not to do in the book, because I got distracted. The Brussels sprouts were great – mine weren’t crispy, but that’s probably because I had used frozen, not fresh.

Either way, a fantastic meal. I just wish I had the time to make three things from that cookbook every night. I did order another of her cookbooks, Veganomicon, which I should be getting shortly.

Reading: I’m about halfway through Strahan’s Best of SFF Volume 5, and I must admit, it’s not what I had expected. It’s entirely possible I’m getting more particular in my preferences, since that’s the way I’ve been heading with all the SFF magazines, and creating strong opinions as to what I prefer to read regarding novels. But I’ve loved Strahan’s “Best of” series more than any other out there, and of course every Eclipse anthology of his has just been stunning. This one, however, isn’t doing much for me. The stories are very well written, and there’s no shortage of excessive creativity, startling, in fact, and inspirational. But none have entranced me so far, which makes me a little sad. Nothing is better than a story that grips you from beginning to end. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it, though. The stories are excellent, and I’m sure will speak to others if not me.

We’ve also started FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which is now on Netflix. We had watched it online in subtitles as it was streaming back in 2009, and while it’s dubbed now, the voices are excellent (albeit different), and the show is still excellent, and highly recommended; it has the typical anime silly moments, but the layering! And there is no attempt to sugarcoat anything. (The seven deadly sins are PEOPLE in this show. Well, homunculi. So go watch.) I had new ideas for the people around Heloise in Harvester the book, and how they’re affected by her alchemy. What happens to them when she screws up, and is attempting to make the alloy work. It was very inspiring.

Now I just need more time.

Three more weeks of tax season!

***

Update on the reading status: go buy the Strahan antho I mentioned earlier. Maureen McHugh’s story is fantastic. I just stared out in space about halfway through, a little shellshocked. I want to write more about it, but don’t want to give out spoilers. And Diana Peterfreund’s unicorn story is gorgeous – this is why I love YA writing so much. Well chosen.

>Crazy tax madness! To which I have sought sanity by obsessively leveling up my undead shadow priest, Beris, in WoW. I’m having a lovely time, made even better by all of John’s friends that play with us, too. Beris is level 72, and even though John keeps telling me to take my time and enjoy the process, I’m anxious to get to 85 so I can raid with them, and also so I can create a death knight, which will be my reward.

But my current obsession lies with a recent discovery of the cookbook Appetite for Reduction, thanks to my friend Molly. She’s been commenting on FB as she works her way through the cookbook, and while I’ve thought wow, that sounds amazing, I hadn’t been too sold on the idea of vegan eating. It seems so extreme, not to mention how much I adore cheese (although lately, I’ve been uncomfortable with where my cheese and milk comes from….I just don’t trust the way products are sold to us, now with what I’m learning). But we went to Borders the other night, and I picked up a copy and immediately fell in love as we waited in line. I adore the way Moskowitz writes the recipes like she’s talking out loud to you, (and you are, of course, her good friend), and it certainly wins big points with me that she has both PCOS and hypothyroidism, too, just like me. And, the recipes aren’t jammed full of gluten – also helpful, since I have approximately zero ability to say no thank you to it.

The taste is what ultimately rules. Last night I made the chickpea piccata sans capers, as I had none, although I can imagine they’d add SO much. The piccata is supposed to be served on a bed of arugula, but since I didn’t feel like going to the store, we had it on an herbed lettuce mix, although I’m sure arugula would have held up better under the heat. I also added a lot of flax seeds for fun.

And then the polenta stuffing, which was like crack, even without thyme (I keep forgetting I’m out of it.) I just added more sage and cracked pepper.

It was unreal – I want to write that I had no idea food could taste this amazing, but that just sounds silly. Yet…still. No butter, no cheese, no dairy at all, and so unreal. Best of all, very affordable, easy ingredients, thirty minutes or so to cook, at most. And unbelievably healthy (she also includes the nutritional stats, although I don’t usually pay attention to that…although I probably should…)

And then banana chocolate chip bread (not from that book, of course…) for dessert – 1.5 cups flour, 1 egg, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 mushed super ripe bananas, lots of chocolate chips, and 1 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup splenda, I know, I know, and lots of agave nectar – no idea on measurements). Bake 60 minutes at 350, and that was that.

Tonight we’re going to try 2 more things from Appetite for Reduction: the gingered sweet potato/apple hash, and the hottie black-eyed greens. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited to make a meal. Well, except for last night.

And then the rest of the night, we drank wine and played WoW and watched Deadwood. What an amazing show – I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to see it. I’m so unbelievably fascinated by the stories introduced, the characters, especially Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane (which we proceeded to look up and educate ourselves about, since I’ve forgotten everything I may have learned in grade school about them). And the other characters! Some of the best writing I’ve ever seen/heard (?), and far better than Battlestar Galactica – I feel like a traitor for saying that, but it’s true. And of course being set in the Black Hills just makes my heart sing. Also tacky-sounding, but I miss home. SD will always be home, until…it’s not anymore, I guess.

Anyway, I probably drove John a bit crazy because I sat there and informed him of every single geographical spot they mentioned and where it factored in with Rapid City and South Dakota as a whole. Yes, I did. And we’ve only seen 2.5 episodes (yes, we stopped in the middle, but that’s WoW’s fault…) So more of that tonight, which I’m VERY excited for.

Lots of taxes today, and I’m thinking about a short I started awhile back, one of those that stalled out, and wondering if there needs to be serious alien contact/interference/drama in it – maybe that would bring the story back up to the front burner.

>John and the cat have a special relationship. John likes to put things on the cat – whatever is nearby. The remote, the xbox controller, pillows, my shoes, towels, etc., and usually Kitty will have nothing to do with it.

But we’ve been keeping Kitty out of the bedroom lately, since John can sleep better without less cat hair on the comforter, naturally, and now Kitty makes a mad dash for the bed and his favorite spot (right by my head) the minute the door opens. He did this just now, and John built the biggest kitty fort on top of him yet, complete with hand towels, tennis shoes, and pillows.

Kitty wasn’t giving up his spot.

Tonight, we get to see John’s family again – the Aunties & Grandma are in town for his sister Jen’s graduation, which was last night, and tonight we’re all going out. It’s really good to have family near, even if it’s new family for me. And I get to see my girls next weekend, too, which I’m SO excited about!

9 months of marriage today. 9 months of Mom being gone, yesterday. It’s gone so fast – makes me wonder what I’ve done with myself for that long.

Oh, and the BEST insight yet about why LOST has been the hottest mess this season. A very insightful (and maybe brilliant) blog entry. She’s 100% right, in my opinion, and now I must buy Palimpsest, just because of that.

>A harder day than I would have expected – the first Easter without Mom. We always celebrated this day so much growing up, and I can still hear Mom’s voice singing all the Easter hymns. You’d think that the joy of the resurrection would still mean so much to me, since it’s the reason why I’ll see her again one day, but all I can think about is how much I need her to be here now, and she’s not.

First holiday syndrome, again. I suppose it will get a little easier every holiday after this.

A lovely weekend with John anyway, and some much needed sleep. Some split white loaf tin bread, which was wonderful to make. Also, some cherry tomato margherita pizza, which I didn’t manage to take a picture of before we devoured it.

We also finished the first season of the BBC’s Skins – an amazing series. Only one of the kids has even somewhat of a functional family, which is heartbreaking. I’ve learned so much about life watching these episodes, and writing good, strong, believable and vulnerable characters.