Friday, May 30, 2008
My brain is tired.
This evening I'm going to help people move out of their house. Good times. Did I mention I need sleep? Because I do. And watching last night's Lost finale didn't help me one bit--who came up with the genius idea of having TV shows on so darn late at night out here in the East? I'm betting my money on Communists. Isn't that what McCarthyism was all about? Fixing these sorts of issues? What's the point of a pointless witch hunt if it doesn't at least make it so that I can go to bed earlier?
Thursday, May 29, 2008
But time--that's the issue.
I've only been getting about six hours of sleep a night for the last while, and that's just not enough. But I don't have enough time during the day to get everything done that I'd like to do. I'm just proud of myself for managing to keep my writing moving forward. (And while I think of it, that's been going well. Consistently at over 500 words a day now, sometimes breaking above 600. Although I'm learning that this rewrite has better results if I just read the old chapter once through and then set it aside and write the thing from scratch. New cloth vs. old cloth. That sort of thing.)
Anyway. These sorts of experiences have led me to a conclusion. Science needs to start figuring out a way to make liquid sleep. Enough with the even flatter televisions and cloned iguanas. Start doing something useful, science! Think of it: we could have entire "sleep farms" where people go to get paid to store sleep, and then that sleep could be transferred to people like me. It'd be like a blood bank. And I know who I'd hire to store sleep up first: toddlers. All those wasted naps. All that wasted rest. It's a gold mine, I tell you! We'll be rich!
As long as we can do away with those pesky "child labor" laws.
Hmm . . . this requires more thought.
Which I'll get around to when I'm better rested.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Mainers have always warned me moose were dangerous. You don't want to see them, because when you do, they usually cause trouble. Sort of like squirrels. Which is no doubt why Rocky teamed up with Bullwinkle. They became an unstoppable force To Be Reckoned With. In any case, I was driving home, minding my own business, following a Mack truck. And that's when it hit me. No, not the moose. Mythbusters. I'd watched an episode where they found that tailgating a Mack truck could save you serious mpgs with the gas. But they also warned you like 1,000,000 times about how dangerous it was. I took a look at the truck in front of me and decided that--while I was probably saving some money right then in fuel costs--it would be wise if I backed off a ways. So I did.
Not ten seconds later, this horse comes galloping across the four lane road I'm on. A horse with antlers. A truck coming the opposite direction clipped the horse and sent it spinning into my lane. The Mack truck slams on the breaks, the lane next to me has a two car accident, and I have plenty of time to stop safely--because I'd given myself so much room behind the Mack. The moose (by this time I'd figured out what it was) must have gotten up and run off somewhere--I never did see it. I suppose there's a chance the Mack truck's still dragging it beneath it. Who knows?
I've learned several things from this.
- Moose really are dangerous
- Moose are very big
- I don't want to ever hit a moose in my Honda Civic. The moose will win.
- Watching Mythbusters has now saved my life. If I'd been tailing that Mack as close as I had been, I don't think I would have seen the moose come out into traffic. I was just listening to music and relaxing. The first I would have known about trouble was my head colliding with the bottom of the Mack's trailer.
- I don't know what prompted me to think about Mythbusters right then, but that prompting also saved my life. After all, it's not like I think about Mythbusters non-stop every day. Especially when it's in reruns right now. I've driven behind Mack trucks plenty since I saw that episode. This was the first time I really paid much attention to how close I was.
- Maybe God doesn't want me dead yet. If that moose had waited two seconds more to cross the road, it would have spun right into my Honda Civic. (See point three above.)
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Where was I? Oh yeah--the Bishop asks us to fill a certain role for an undetermined amount of time. (And yes, by the way, the Bishop is also appointed to his role on a volunteer, temporary basis.) We call this process "getting a calling," in large part because we believe that these "jobs" come by god-given inspiration. So we're "called" to do this that or the other.
Have I lost you yet? If you're Mormon, you've no doubt given up on this post, since it's stuff you're already really familiar with. But if you're not Mormon, you might well be lost by now. And have given up, because maybe you don't care.
But assuming you do care, I'll continue. So my calling is Ward Mission Leader. You've no doubt noticed that Mormons have a penchant for sending out young men and women to go talk to people about our religion. We call these people missionaries, and they too are called to a specific area of the world, termed a mission. The local Mormons are expected to help these missionaries as much as possible. The Ward Mission Leader coordinates this help.
See? That was easy.
Now, maybe this is freaking some of you out. "Oh noes! Bryce is now going to give out my name, address and favorite color to the missionaries, and I'll never hear the end of it." Let not thy heart be troubled. I need to explain a bit about my take on missionary work. Maybe you don't care. Maybe you do. Here it is:
I'm a Mormon because I personally believe it to be true. I've been in contact with other religions, I've thought about this matter a lot, I've prayed about it, and I'm convinced. I came to this conclusion on my own. I didn't need to have other people tell me I should do this or that. Yes, I was born into the church, but just because I grew up Mormon doesn't mean I'd stay that way. My mom loves Barry Mannilow and Barbara Streisand. I don't. Case closed.
So since I came to this faith because of the persuasive nature of the religion itself, I firmly believe other people can and should do the same. In other words, they shouldn't have religion jammed down their throats. I'd love to tell people more about what I believe, let them study it on their own and make their own mind up. If they don't want to study it right now, fine. If they do study it and think I'm wrong, that's up to them.
Long story short (too late): I look at my new role as trying to help people who are interested in finding out more find out more, and ensuring that those who are interested feel as welcome and well-informed as possible. I don't want to trick you into becoming Mormon.
And that's all I have to say about that for now.
And just so this isn't just a "Mormon" post, I'll also say that I loved Iron Man. Fantastic super hero movie. I also had my name day over the weekend (a Slovak tradition that I have gladly followed since marrying my wife). I got a block of bass wood in the outline of a duck--I want to take up whittling. Very exciting. And that's all I have time for right now.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Have a lovely Memorial Day, all. I'll be back Tuesday. Not that Iron Man takes that long, but still. Toodles.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Now that I've explained that, I'll say there's something ELSE new that's got me thinking. But I can't tell you what it is, either. Maybe after Sunday. So you'll just have to wait until then.
583 words done this morning. Yay for me.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
And that's also all the time I have to write today. I spent lunch looking at that Victorian house for a second time. Gorgeous place, with a capital G.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
You hear that, test readers? I'm gonna be needing some recruits in the not so distant future. At first just for the first few chapters, and then later on for the whole story. If you liked Parker or Barboy, you ought to like this. Parker's a year older, meaning he can drive, work and generally just get into more trouble than his almost sixteen self could. Putting him in a McDonald's uniform has been a lot of fun. Having him fight zombies . . . well, let's just say that I'm looking forward to the experience.
You might wonder what the big difference is. Why is it that I'm having so much more fun with this? I've been thinking about that, too. The thing is, I haven't let myself really go in quite some time. Ichabod's a fairly straitlaced fellow, without a whole lot of sarcastic wit. Tomas (the main character from Vodnik) had quite a few psychological hang ups--and I kept trying to NOT write Parker with him. Barclay (aka Barboy) couldn't make any pop culture references at all. If you know me, then you also know that a large chunk of the way I think is through pop culture. Take that away, and the tone just doesn't work as well. Buttersby and Meander are alpacas. They have no clue about pop culture. With Parker, I was still writing just to write. Not trying to do this that or the other. Not trying to not write a certain way or style. Being able to go back to that has been refreshing and fun. Now, if I just had more time to do it . . .
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I also got the first of my rejection letters from the queries on Ichabod that I've been sending out. Getting a query rejected is much easier than having a manuscript rejected. Especially when said query is for a mutant multi-genre book by a first time author. In other news, I've officially embarked on the rewrite of Barboy. Count me excited.
Monday, May 12, 2008
I also spoke in church yesterday for Mother's Day. Just a four minute talk, so it wasn't really anything too worrisome. For those of you interested to see what I had to say, I'll include the text of my talk after the jump. I used to not write my talks down, preferring to wing it. Now I tend to like having the chance to formulate it all out on paper to get it just how I like it.
Friday afternoon I broke down and mowed my lawn for the first time this year. Probably should have done it a bit earlier, but one thing I like about these Maine lawns: they're sturdy. I could probably pour gasoline over the whole thing, torch it, and I'd still have to mow it the next week.
Anyway--I'm off to slink back to bed and sleep for a few more hours. Toodle-oo.
Talk length? Four minutes.
Talk subject? Mothers.
Now, I'm all for short talks, especially when I'm the one giving them. But having to cram a life's experience with mothers into a measly four minutes? Mission impossible. Of course, chances are any of the other speakers would have gladly traded places with me, four minutes being traditionally preferable to a ten minute talk. But still. The subject's simply too broad. Four minutes is a good length to address the upcoming weather for the week, or last night's ballgame, but mothers? Where to begin?
There are famous mothers in history. Women whose first name alone is enough to identify them, so big an impact have they had on the world. Eve. Mary. But there are other mothers in history who have had as great an impact--or even greater--even if their names are not known. To prove this, you need only look at the impact your mother has had on you in your own life.
My mother taught me plenty of don'ts: Don't lie down in the middle of the road. Not even if you're tired. Don't play with cigarette lighters in rental cars. Don't believe what a street vendor tells you in New York City. She also taught me plenty of do's: Do take a shower every day. Even if you don't think you stink. Do spell-check your paper before you submit it. Do keep your eyes on the road when you're in the back seat of a car. It really does help with car sickness.
I think I can safely say that if I had had to learn on my own everything that my mother taught me, I'd be in a pretty sorry state, and that's just with the small stuff. I can state with confidence that I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't for my mother. If I'm courteous or well behaved, I give full credit where credit's due. If I fall short of perfection, that's because the student was less than able, not due to any fault of the teacher's.
Of course, now that I’m married and a father, I have the opportunity of seeing motherhood from a different angle, and it's only made me more appreciative of the things a mother does. All it takes is for my wife to get sick for even a day, and I suddenly remember the countless things she does--and how glad I am she does them.
Unfortunately, I think most of the good things we have in our life are easy to overlook. There's more than enough troubles to focus on. Work is busy, gas prices are up, the neighbor's dog won't stop barking at two in the morning. But what would it be like without work? Without a car? Without that dog? Well, pretty good without the dog, but miserable without the rest. It's the same way with mothers. Let's try to appreciate what we have while we have it, instead of only missing it when it's gone.
If mothers were to do nothing more than bring children into this world, their role in society would already be immeasurable. But they do so much more. A study was just released that calculated the amount of income a stay at home mom saves her family by staying at home. $117,000. In other words, if you were to hire someone to do your family's laundry, schlep the kids around to school events, do the dishes, clean the house, tutor the kids with homework, balance the checkbook, buy the groceries, make the food--do all the duties of a mother, it would cost you over a hundred thousand dollars a year. And that's not even counting the spiritual strength and stability a mother adds to a family. Would you want a hired substitute instilling values into your children? Would you trust them?
As part of a Christmas gift for my mother several years ago, I was asked by my sister to write a poem about my mother. I share it with you now not because it's particularly brilliant or memorable, but because if I had to cram my feelings about mothers into a condensed amount of time, this is the closest I could come. It's short, succinct, and nothing if not heartfelt.
How to express my thankfulness to Her
Who sweetly, subtly sets the course to steer?
A silent star to watch and guide, deter
The sailor from the craggy rocks of fear.
As soon as ship sets sail in sea of life,
He must rely on lore learned long ago.
The only knowledge useful when in strife
Is seaman's compass: stars that route from woe.
You are the heavens used to navigate
My life upon the dang'rous waters deep.
Upon the crooked seas you set me straight
And lead me to the boons of life I reap.
The lessons that you taught me I know well,
For if I learned one not from you I cannot tell.
Brothers and sisters, my four minutes is up. I'd like to close by expressing my admiration and respect for all the mothers in this room. May this day serve to remind us to appreciate and honor them every day.
Friday, May 9, 2008
I don't have a ton of time right now, but I also wanted to post a link to a project I did last fall that I just now put up on the web. It's a fantasy map of my campus here in Maine--basically I took a regular map and then spiffied it up quite a bit. I did the whole thing: drawing, aging, Celtic knot work, photoshopping. You name it. Though I only helped with the actual photographing. I really enjoyed it. It was part of a promotional campaign to advertise a new "leisure reading" collection the library started this winter. We were taking a "reading adventure" angle, and this is supposed to be a treasure map. It's now mounted on the wall next to the collection.
And now I can't remember if I've already posted about this. Too lazy to go through my blog and find out, so if I have, too bad. If I haven't, here you go.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
I feel a bit guilty that I'm so clueless about her gardening projects. But then again, I'm also clueless about her knitting endeavors. And much of her Quest to Make Good Slovak Food. I'd feel worse except for the fact that I know she's clueless about my Quest to Build a Perfect Computer, as well as my continuing Search for Good Ways to Waste My Time.
But then again, why is it that her projects all have practical applications, while mine more or less don't? Maybe I should feel guilty, after all.
Or maybe I should just stop thinking about it. That's a better plan.
We watched Topkapi last night, which had a very slow start and a leading actress who I'll have nightmares about, but the end was very intense and very well done, so if you can put up with the first half, it gets better. Rousing endorsement, right? Three stars.
Tonight's Lost. Will you be watching?
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Now I know what you're wondering: why, if I have all sorts of movies to choose from, did I settle on this one? Well, I have fond memories of the original Jurassic Park, and I've blocked the second one from my memory, which means that I figured it was worth a shot. Plus, it was short. Always good if a movie's iffy. When I saw the first movie, it was a big deal. Spielberg and dinosaurs. I remember going with my two good friends Nikki and Becky. Nikki spent the entire movie chewing the heads off of Gummi Bears, and Becky watched the whole thing through her hands, as I recall. Or was that me? In any case, I think I hyperventilated most of the film. It was intense, and I was an Impressionable Age. What can I say? So maybe part of me wanted to relive that experience last night.
Didn't happen. The movie was a let down over all. (And by the way, can I just say that the TNT "HD" version I DVRed was woefully lame? It was a stretched pan and scan, which didn't do much to help me like it any more than I would have anyway. Seriously Ted Turner. What's your problem? Cough up some extra cash and get the real widescreen versions on your lousy HD stations. Ridiculous.) Anyway--the film just seemed to be treading water, giving one excuse after another to have its human characters attacked by various types of dinosaurs. It was like there was a checklist of dinos they wanted to include. T-Rex? Check. Spinosaurus? Check. Raptors? Check. L-A-M-E? Check. When the script calls for a couple extraneous characters, just so they can be killed off early on . . . you know you're in for a let down. (Also on a side note, they cast "The Other Mr. Noodle" from Elmo's World as one of the guides that gets a grisly death. The thought of my son--who loves dinosaurs--ever watching this film leaves me in a cold sweat. He'd be mentally scarred for life.
Anyway, long story short (too late, I know), I'd give the film one and a half stars. Some cool effects, but effects do not a better rating give. I DVRed the original at the same time I grabbed this one from TNT. Maybe that one will do better for me. If I can stomach more of the faux-HD.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Last night I finally got around to watching one of the Road to . . . Movies: Road to Bali. I have to say I was disappointed, although looking through the various version on imdb, I'm led to believe I started with one of the weaker ones. I'm a Bing Crosby and Bob Hope fan, so I thought this would be right up my alley. And there were certainly funny parts. I mean, anytime you put a Bob Hope mask on a chimp, hilarity must ensue. I think that's Newton's Fifth Law or something. But the biggest thing that killed my overall enjoyment of the movie was the lack of a real plot. It was just one set up after another, loosely tied together. Of course, I realize the majority of the jokes were aimed at the audience of the time (1952), of which I am decidedly not. But still . . . Maybe I'll try one of the higher reviewed ones someday. But not today. Two stars out of four, despite all my grousing.
All right. I'll go back to sweating now. All I can say is that everyone around me better be darn glad I'm not Bruce Banner, because I'd be green and smashing things right now if I were.
Monday, May 5, 2008
I submitted Ichabod to another agent this morning. I would have submitted to more, but this one didn't require a query letter, just a synopsis. And since I finished my synopsis before the query . . . you do the math. But it feels good to be sending things out again--like all my time researching agents wasn't wasted. Of course, once those rejections start pouring in, then the bitter feelings will begin. But today, things are light and airy.
Sort of like the weather.
Watched Red Dragon over the weekend. As a prequel to Silence of the Lambs, it was intriguing. Ed Norton, Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes, Philip Seymour Hoffman--what's not to like? Definitely not for the squeamish, it was disturbing and diverting. Three stars, but no Silence. Loads better than Hannibal, but what wouldn't be?
I also played a fair bit of Mario Kart Wii, which I'm enjoying and my son absolutely loves. My favorite part is how well they've incorporated online content--for Nintendo, at least. If any of you are playing out there, I'd be happy to give you my friend code, and then we can race and see who really is a superior specimen of the human race and who's just . . . not.
Friday, May 2, 2008
If you both have webcams, you can video conference for free. I finally tried this out, and I was really impressed by how good the video was. I mean, we're not talking HD here, but it wasn't bad. And did I mention it was free? My wife has already called people at home in Slovakia numerous times, and instead of paying a ridiculous amount to talk with them, she payed nothing.
And people wonder why I love technology.
So bloggers, if any of you want to talk to me--or even see me--be aware that I'm now Skyped up. Drop me a line and I'll add you to my Skype friends list. Which is disturbingly short as of right now. Because no one else has Skype.
That I know of.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Low on time again today. There are two things of linkage I'd like to have you all see, though. First off, my good friend Tom O'Donnell just posted a few recordings on his blog--him playing piano versions of Donkey Kong and Dig Dug. Hard to explain, but awesome to listen to. Check it out.
And while I'm on music, I figured I'd let people know about Jonathan Coulton one more time. One of his songs (Re: Your Brains) came on my iPod yesterday, and I'd forgotten how much I liked it. You can listen to his stuff here. For those of you who don't know, he's the guy who wrote a song a week for a year, recorded them one per week and published them for free online. You can't still get all of them for free, but the link I gave you has some of the good ones for free still. Check out the brains one. Zombies + Office = Good.
And a writing update: my list o'agents is ready. I have about 20 for Ichabod. Now I'm just working on the query and synopsis, and then . . . we'll see. Toodle-oo.