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Lightning strikes maybe once, maybe twice [Apr. 22nd, 2014|04:21 pm]

The second landscaping guy came by today, and now all I can do is sit back and wait for these two dudes to give me their assessment. Great is my patio-envy, but little is there to be done about it.

I'd planned to wrap up this blog post and see about some work out in that very same yard, for it is getting scraggly in all possible places ... never mind the giant rectangle where the patio will go - where we've neither weeded nor mowed so far this year, heh.

But the best laid plans, etc. etc. etc., for now it's pouring down rain. Even if it stops, I don't feel like working in the mud. So forget it, for today.

* * *

New strategy last night in the Cat Karaoke wars. This time, when she hopped up onto the nightstand to sing into my ear at 3:00 a.m., I pulled her into the bed and held her there in a bear hug. She wiggled and fussed for about fifteen seconds, then started snoring. No further cat-singing ensued.

I'm not saying this is a successful tactic, mind you; just because it worked once, that doesn't mean it'll work again. But a good snuggle is probably preferable to a pillow upside the head.

* * *

I love it when the cover art goes live on Amazon. It just makes everything feel so much more...official, you know? And also, in my experience, it makes people more likely to preorder books like oh, say, Maplecroft (if you were so inclined).

* * *

Here's recent progress on my witchy art-deco horror novel about Lizzie Borden thirty years after her parents' deaths - now featuring ghosts and non-ghosts alike, anti-Catholic conspiracy nuts, supernatural political shenanigans, the mafia, and a Bonus! space-worshiping murder cult hiding behind the KKK:

    Project: Chapelwood
    Deadline: October 1, 2014
    New words written: 2250
    Present total word count: 72,275

    Things accomplished in fiction: Sent a very weird letter to a very nice girl, who wigged out about it; made plans to follow up on some of the details of that letter, while it's still possible to do so.

    Next up: One more trip down to Storage Room Six.

    Things accomplished in real life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; consultation with the landscaping guy; paid some bills.

    Other: Nothing else to report at this time.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 105,668
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You touched my hand, I played it cool [Apr. 21st, 2014|04:43 pm]

We've had a beautiful couple of days, I swear - sunny and in the seventies; and with the exception of a few spring storms here and there, it looks like we're over the long winter hump. I can't tell you how happy this makes me. I simply don't have the words.

What I do have is the unending parade of yardwork that needs doing. It's all small stuff for the moment, but unless I want it to work its way up to being a whole bunch of big stuff...well. It's like writing a book, sort of. A little bit every day...or everything all at once.

I've done it both ways. This way is better.
(For me. YMMV.)

* * *

Speaking of yardwork, the second landscaping guy will swing by tomorrow around 11:00. We'll get his opinion on matters, and see what the estimates look like, side by side.

I'm trying not to be too impatient about it all, but this weather makes me want to sit outside and work...and I would very much like a patio for that, please - before it gets too hot. Yes, I could hang out on the porch swing, but our front yard is un-fenced. And that means no canine company.

* * *

Speaking of canine company, Greyson is less thrilled about the shift in weather than I am. He's a woolly bastard, and he overheats easily; therefore, he has a groomer's appointment on the 28th for more than the usual bath/blowout nails/etc. Our boy's gonna be naked, and he's gonna be much happier for it. And also more ridiculous-looking, but so it goes.

The kitty would never stand for it. Then again, lately the kitty has been unwilling to stand for people sleeping through the night, either.

She's long had this weird quirk where she'd have to come to bed with us...lest she wake up alone, and roam the living quarters wailing her head off. It started around the time she achieved "senior" cat status, and the workaround has always been easy: Pick her happy-ass up, and put her in bed when you call it a night.

But lately, it hasn't been so easy. Even if we bring her to bed, there's a 50/50 chance she's going to SING YOU THE SONG OF HER PEOPLE for hours at a time, beginning around 4:00 a.m.

No, there's nothing wrong with her; the vet says she's the healthiest of all possible 15-year-old cats. (She's had bloodwork run and everything.) Yes, we've tried All The Tricks. No, I'm not looking for suggestions. I'm just venting.

Last night I finally got her to stop crying by chucking a pillow in her general direction.
I'd be a great parent, I bet.

* * *

Here's recent progress on my witchy art-deco horror novel about Lizzie Borden thirty years after her parents' deaths - now featuring ghosts and non-ghosts alike, anti-Catholic conspiracy nuts, supernatural political shenanigans, the mafia, and a Bonus! space-worshiping murder cult hiding behind the KKK:

    Project: Chapelwood
    Deadline: October 1, 2014
    New words written: 2614 (not bad)
    Present total word count: 70,025

    Things accomplished in fiction: Finished a word from our sponsor Big Bad; heard from the opposition, in what's either a declaration of intent or a suicide note - it's hard to say.

    Next up: Finish the note, and hand it off to its intended recipient - who isn't likely to receive it well.

    Things accomplished in real life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; ran a crap-ton of errands this morning, mostly shopping for this, that, and the other; not much else, but in my defense that's kind of a lot.

    Other: I'm pretty happy with the word count, especially considering that I was out of the house half the day. Something about lying in the den with the windows open and the sun warming my's good for productivity. I almost always write faster in the second half of a book than the first half anyway - it's something about the momentum of it all, I guess; but I'm not up to the big crazypants climax or anything, so I'm not rolling downhill quite yet. Still, having crested 70k feels pretty good, and it feels like the home stretch. Even though I know good and well it's not.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 103,418
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Your loneliness says that you've sinned [Apr. 20th, 2014|09:09 pm]

Just the weekend word metrics tonight, folks. Not that anyone's likely to see them on a Sunday night, but I'm trying to get my momentum back up in full swing - and reporting progress is part of that momentum. So here goes.

Here's recent progress on my witchy art-deco horror novel about Lizzie Borden thirty years after her parents' deaths - now featuring ghosts and non-ghosts alike, anti-Catholic conspiracy nuts, supernatural political shenanigans, the mafia, and a Bonus! space-worshiping murder cult hiding behind the KKK:

    Project: Chapelwood
    Deadline: October 1, 2014
    New words written: 2537
    Present total word count: 67411

    Things accomplished in fiction: Got some bad news that was entirely expected, but nonetheless shitty; learned of a plan that is likewise bad, but unsurprising; got our first POV glimpse of the Biggest Big Bad (as opposed to the junior version).

    Next up: Finish the new Big Bad's commentary; return to Storage Room Six for a consultation. There's not much good left in the city, not many good places left, either. It's not perfect, but the good guys will take what they can get. They don't have a choice.

    Things accomplished in real life: Neighborhood jaunts with dog; went to lunch with a couple of old friends and the husband; made plans for a visit with a different old friend; answered a bunch of email; fielded a couple of phone calls; did a couple loads of laundry; did some minor yardwork; did a bit of reading for the first time in far too long.

    Other: My discipline is improving, and progress is being made. Sometimes it's hard to get into the swing of things, when hopping from project to project - but I need to make the most of this time, before I fly out for San Diego at the end of the month. Because after I get back, I need to dive back into the next round of edits on Princess X - which are due in the middle of May. And as I've learned the hard way, I just can't work on both at once.

    Bride of Other: If you'll scroll just a smidge farther, you'll see that over the weekend I cracked 100k words (of fiction) for the year. I'd throw myself a little confetti party, except that it doesn't feel like enough. I wanted to hit an average of 1k a day, and so far that hasn't happened. Have I been a miserable slouch? No. But I can do better, and I damned well should. I pretty much need to, this year.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 100,804
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Knuckle crack the bone, 21 to win [Apr. 18th, 2014|06:28 pm]

This morning, the first of two landscaping/hardscaping dudes came out to check the premises. He took some measurements, we went through some catalogs, and he'll get back to me with some estimates once he's run the numbers. I liked him just fine, and I think he's good at what he does; he was my first pick, after all...though my second pick was such a close second that it was almost a coin flip, anyway. (And we'll see what the other dude thinks about matters on Tuesday.)

Not gonna lie, I'm getting pretty excited about it - despite what's bound to be an exorbitant price tag. It's a lot of work, and a lot of materials, but the results are going to be amazing. I've had visions of patios and paver walkways dancing in my head all day.

Which reminds me, Monday I'll take some photos and shoot an email to the historic zoning people, just to cover all my bases.

* * *

I checked the flower baskets today when I went out to do my watering - whereupon I spotted one wee little nest, a tad bigger than my palm. No eggs yet, and the birds wigged out when they saw me messing with the basket. (No, I didn't water it.) They were apparently watching from the dogwood tree nearby.

I can hear them right now, chirping back and forth to one another on the porch. I trust that means they've forgiven me the small intrusion.

* * *

Here's today's progress on my witchy art-deco horror novel about Lizzie Borden thirty years after her parents' deaths - now featuring ghosts and non-ghosts alike, anti-Catholic conspiracy nuts, supernatural political shenanigans, the mafia, and a Bonus! space-worshiping murder cult hiding behind the KKK:

    Project: Chapelwood
    Deadline: October 1, 2014
    New words written: 1236 (meh)
    Present total word count: 64,874

    Things accomplished in fiction: Read a sinister newspaper article over breakfast, and received an alarming phone call.

    Next up: Courtroom results and fallout. (I know I said that yesterday, but I really mean it for tomorrow.)

    Things accomplished in real life: Neighborhood jaunt with dog; replied to an email interview; met with the landscaping dude; cleaned the whole house even mopping the relevant floors; refilled all the bird feeders and watered all the new stuff except for the bird-occupied flower basket; started a load of laundry.

    Other: Cleaning the whole house eats up a fair amount of brain CPU, thus the lower word count today. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 98,267
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Good Friday [Apr. 18th, 2014|02:52 pm]

Ah, Judas. Demonized for centuries as a wicked traitor, and so he was, deep down at the basement level of his heart. But I suspect that at the other levels -- the foyer, the family room, kitchen -- he was as faithful and good-natured as you or I. A patriot, with justifiable anger at the Roman occupation of his country; an activist, with the courage and initiative to combat that occupation; a loyal friend to Jesus, Israel's apparent redeemer. His portrayal in the New Testament accounts suggests all of these things. Despite the mustache-twirling treachery of later portrayals, the earliest accounts of Judas's behavior on the day before Good Friday indicate that he was up to something other than betrayal, something more nuanced and carefully orchestrated.

In the evening before Good Friday, according to the surviving accounts, Jesus and Judas and the other eleven Apostles were secretly camped outside of Jerusalem, in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Jesus had been stirring up political trouble for some time, but was too popular to be arrested publically and in broad daylight without incident. At night, though, it was necessary to hide.) Judas shared dinner with his fellow Apostles and dismissed himself to go into town. Once there, he approached the authorities with a deal: for a sum of money, he would lead soldiers to Jesus' hiding place, where they could make an arrest without making a public scene. He was then paid, and led a group of Roman soldiers to the Garden.

Had Judas merely intended to shop Jesus to the authorities, he could simply have led the soldiers to Jesus and collected his blood money. Instead, he arranged a strange bit of cloak and dagger: he alone would approach Jesus and the others, while the soldiers hid nearby, and he would identify Jesus to them by a kiss on the cheek. Why go to such trouble?

A common view is that Judas kissed Jesus out of spite. But he had no reason to spite Jesus (his oft-presumed motive was instead greed), and openly doing so would have put him at unreasonable risk, given that he was surrounded by Jesus' loyal Apostles. (Minutes later, Peter would cut the ear off a Roman soldier with a swordstroke -- Judas's likely fate had he openly insulted Peter's Lord.) I suspect that, rather than for spite's sake, Judas used the kiss to remain in good standing with Jesus and the others.

Consider: without Judas to identify Jesus, the Apostles could all have claimed to be Jesus, Spartacus-style, or could all have remained silent, forcing the soldiers to arrest and transport the entire group. (In this age before visual media, people who avoided religious gatherings -- such as Roman soldiers -- wouldn't likely have known Jesus on sight.) What's more, Jesus and the Apostles may have scattered into the darkness at first sight of the soldiers. Which one would the Romans chase? The Romans therefore needed to know from the outset which man was Jesus. And a description would not have been enough, especially in the dark. "You can't miss him. He's the bearded guy in the robe and sandals." They needed Judas to both guide them to the hiding place and identify his Lord.

Now, had Judas pointed out Jesus from a distance, the Romans would have advanced and taken Jesus immediately. The only sensible reason for Judas himself to approach the (frankly dangerous) group of men he was betraying would be that he wished to postpone the Romans' approach. Doing so would have the following benefit: Judas would appear innocent of any betrayal plot. Had the Romans simply appeared and tried to arrest Jesus, the Apostles would have rightly reasoned that they were betrayed by the one member who was absent: Judas. But had Judas returned from town alone, and approached Jesus with a friendly greeting, and THEN Romans appeared, he could claim afterward that the Romans must have followed him to the hiding place without his knowledge. His place among the Apostles would remain secure.

And a kiss was the ideal means of identifying Jesus to the Roman onlookers. Pointing, once he was among the Apostles, would have given the game away. Waving and greeting Jesus by name would have been vague, since a dozen men were present. A hug or handclasp, though more precise, could have been offered to Judas by one of the others before Judas was able to reach Jesus, cancelling its significance. The signal had to be precise, plausible, and unlikely to occur in the others' greetings. A kiss!

So with his kiss, if I'm right, Judas intended to appear loyal throughout the arrest. But why would you need a dead man and his disbanded followers to think you loyal? This motive would only make sense if Jesus were likely to survive the encounter with the Romans, and prevail over them. And here we reach the crux of the matter (pun intended!).

At earlier points in Jesus' ministry, the Apostles (Judas included) show that they believed Jesus to be a political -- even military -- revolutionary. In one town where the group was rebuffed, the Apostles asked Jesus to let them call down fire from heaven and kill everyone. (He instead rebuked the Apostles.) Elsewhere, they urged Jesus to hurry up and conquer the nation, and debated who among them would be second in command once that occurred. At this early stage in their understanding, these guys frankly thought like terrorists. It's no wonder Jesus was often fed up with them. But their attitude is understandable: their nation was brutally oppressed by foreign invaders.

With this background in mind, Judas' actions make more sense. Here was Jesus with the potential to oust Israel's Roman oppressors, but without the chutzpah to go through with it. By staging an attempted arrest, Judas could provoke a confrontation that would force Jesus to take action and begin the revolution, with Jesus and the Apostles on the winning side. And in order to keep his intentions a secret from the other Apostles, Judas would stage the arrest in such a way that he appeared to have been followed back to their hiding place inadvertently.

That all of this went awry when Jesus was arrested and executed explains why Judas, afterward, had such a sudden change of heart. Why go to the trouble and risk of selling someone out, only to return the the money and hang yourself the next day? Perhaps because you expected an entirely different result. Judas thought the attempted arrest would motivate Jesus to unleash the "fire from heaven" that the Apostles wanted to call down on that town I mentioned earlier. He saw himself and the others leading Israel to freedom under the aegis of his Lord; instead, he got his Lord executed. All was lost. Return your blood money, tie your noose; draw the curtain.

Most of my readers probably reject the idea that the Bible is inerrant or even reliable, and will therefore wonder why its accounts of Judas merit any consideration. For one thing, these accounts have curious historical implications. Had the writers of the Gospels intended to fashion Judas into a villain, fictionalizing Jesus' final days accordingly, we would expect a different account. The odd nuances I describe above would be absent, replaced by a more straightforward story of plotting, simple greed, and greater polarity between the loyal Apostles' motives and those of Judas. The authors' inclusion of these nuances suggests reportage rather than demonization. But even if we dismiss that, and take the work as fiction, it would be a fiction that shows greater depth and compassion than one expects from ancient literature. Here is the central villain of the story -- Judas, the Betrayer -- portrayed as though his goals were, like those of his fellow Apostles, essentially noble. Not the black-clad mustache-twirler of standard adventure fiction, but a tragic figure who rightly wanted to triumph over oppression, and who stupidly and fatally misjudged the means to that end. A person like you or me.
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"Fat acceptance" [Apr. 18th, 2014|03:45 pm]

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[Current Mood |annoyedannoyed]

Smoking never killed anyone.

It’s true. Technically. No one ever took a breath of tobacco and keeled over dead. It was the cancer, the emphysema, the heart disease, the myriad of other ailments that were CAUSED by the smoking that kills people. Same with drinking and driving. No driver ever exploded the moment he took a sip of beer. It was the wreck that resulted from the slowed reflexes and impaired judgment, which, in turn resulted from drinking, that kills them.

Stupid distinctions? Yes indeed. Because the root causes in both situations are clear. That’s why deaths resulting from drinking and driving and smoking-related illnesses are all classified as “preventable death,” just like suicide and overdosing on drugs.

Know what else is classified as preventable death? Know what the #1 most PROMINENT cause of preventable death is? Obesity-related illness. More people die every year from obesity-related illnesses than from every form of drug – be it meth, heroine, crack, steroids, all of them – combined. More people die from it than all forms cancer. And yes, feminists, that does include women dying from breast cancer. More people die from it than AIDS. It steals our sons and daughters, it makes children into orphans and wives into widows. It is the single largest burden on our still-broken healthcare system.

So you’ll have to excuse me if I’m in no rush to support this push to discourage anything that reminds people that yes, obesity is a problem, and no, it’s NOT just superficial one. When did we become a nation of people who have such an overwhelming sense of entitlement that we’d rather demonize people and ideas that promote HEALTH than admit to ourselves the importance of staying within a healthy range of body fat? When did people start deciding that society had more of a responsibility to ensure that people were happy and comfortable with remaining SICK than to encourage them to get HEALTHY?
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Eltingville Club Signing this Wednesday, April 23rd, at Comic Book Jones [Apr. 18th, 2014|02:03 pm]

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I'll be signing copies of The Eltingville Club #1 next Wednesday at Comic Book Jones from 3 p.m to closing. We'll also have copies of the recently released Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers, and some of my other comics and collections. As usual I'll be doing freebie sketches for anyone who asks. For more information here's the CBJ newsletter about the signing.

If you're in the Staten Island, NY area and have any interest, we hope to see you there. As for the rest of you out there in funnybook land, I hope you're able to get a copy of the beginning of the end of The Eltingville Comic Book, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Role-Playing Club when it hits the racks on Wednesday.

And of course, I hope you enjoy the book.

Eltingville #1
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- Мань, ты это... не перестаралась с депиляцией?... [Apr. 18th, 2014|06:07 pm]


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Я лишь края все подравнял, Всего-то раза три ронял, Шерстинки только что все снял, Не будешь больше? [Apr. 18th, 2014|06:07 pm]


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-сидеть тихо! не орать! едем папу выбирать [Apr. 18th, 2014|06:07 pm]


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