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You know, considering how hard [ profile] warren_ellis has been banging the print-on-demand drum lately, isn't it interesting that he didn't just put Crooked Little Vein up on Lulu? It came out from a traditional publisher instead, William Morrow. Gosh, why is that, do you think? Do you suppose he wanted, I don't know .... money? Exposure? To have his book carried in bookstores? To have magazines and other media actually review it? To give it some kind of weight and legitimacy, maybe?

I keep thinking to myself, "Maybe I should try all this POD stuff," since the cool kids are doing it, and it's supposed to be impossible to get published these days and no one's reading books anymore any way and and and --

And then I walk into a great big fuckoff bookstore like Barnes & Noble or Borders, and I look around and think, "Hey, wait a minute! Somebody's getting published."

What's my conclusion here? I don't have one.
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After five days of being trapped in SIXBOX -- those of you who've been there know it's at the bottom of a steep driveway, and is therefore damn near impossible to walk out of if there's snow and ice -- I decided I was getting out of there if it killed me.

SIXBOX is less than habitable right now. The carpet in the dining room was torn up after the flooding, leaving cold bare concrete; I've taken everything off the walls, getting ready to paint; I've torn out my crappy old bookshelves so I can paint that wall, too, and replace them with something better, and consequently, there's an enormous pile of books in the middle of the floor; all the rest of my belongings are scattered around in disarray; and I haven't really tried to keep the place clean otherwise, because Jesus, why bother? So it looks kind of like London after the Nazis were done with it. And with the piles of snow outside and the overall feeling of isolation, I was beginning to feel like the 'BOX had turned into the Overlook Hotel. (If my cat had started talking to his finger, then I would know I was in trouble.)

(Oh, also, my job would really like to have me come into the office one of these days. Apparently, my boss wants me there badly enough that he said he'd pay for a hotel room if I got stuck on the East side -- which, yeah, is exactly how I want to spend Xmas Eve. What do I look like, Bob Cratchit?)

So, yeah. Getting the hell out of Dodge. There's supposed to be even more snow tonight/tomorrow morning, and if I didn't want to be stuck there during Xmas, I figured this might be my last chance. *dramatic music*

One of my neighbors saw me heading determinedly toward my car, and asked in horror, "You're not trying to get out, are you?" Apparently, he had tried earlier this evening. Shoveling himself out, maneuvering out of his space, trying to get up the hill, burning rubber, failing, and maneuvering back into his space took approximately an hour and a half.

I ignored his doomsaying and piled my car with food and Xmas presents, and took a snow shovel to its exterior. Never had to do that before.

God bless my little Subaru. I might miss my truck sometimes -- okay, often -- but it never could have made it out of the driveway in these conditions. The Subaru, with its low center of gravity, and its all-wheel drive, had a couple of minor false starts, but otherwise managed it just fine. That was, as I knew it would be, the worst part. Streets were not terrible and the freeway was pretty clear, so I made it to the U-District just fine. I'm meeting Ahna here at the Sureshot, and we're gonna go have dinner at a restaurant, so I can eat something that didn't come out of a can. I can't wait. I'll be staying at her place tonight, natch. It'll be nice to have someone around who can do more than meow.

My family have postponed their celebrations until the weekend, so I'm going to actually get to spend Xmas with Ahna for the first time. That kinda makes all this worth it.

Oh, yes, and to everyone who gave me their address so I could send them Xmas cards -- I'm so sorry, but I just haven't had a chance to mail them; I'm sure you understand. I will almost certainly be making them out on Xmas day and sending them out on Boxing Day.


Jul. 8th, 2006 12:50 pm
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(Yeah, okay, so this post is a little late. *shrug*)

Was supposed to meet up with a bunch of folk at Gasworks Park on the 4th of July for fireworks and whatnot.

After a late start, due to me passing out for a few hours in the afternoon and due to feeling uncertain about the weather (thunder and lightning!), [ profile] windbourne and I did make it down there. I even found parking, not horribly far away, after only about five-ten minutes of looking, which completely amazed me. (I nearly had to ram head-on into some asshole who thought he'd try to beat me into the space I was clearly maneuvering into, but I stood my ground and stared him down.)

So, yeah, we got there, and --

  • The entire park was fenced off and bottle-necked down to one entrance, so they could check people's bags for illicit booze, fireworks, guns, and nuclear weapons. We were greatly bemused -- no, pissed off, really. This is a public park -- how dare WaMu treat it like a private entertainment venue? Was this kind of security really needed? Thanks, The Man, for keeping us safe from the terrorists! Way to help put me in the mood for Independence Day!

  • My cellphone was Acting Weird, and while Ahna's seemed fine, she still couldn't get hold of any of our friends. I'm guessing this is what happens when you have too many cellphones crammed together in one small space. Anyway, upshot is, since we couldn't reach anyone, finding where our friends were was impossible. (If you were one of the people hoping to see us, now you know why you didn't. Sorry! We tried!

  • There were so ungodly many people on the hill that even if we could find them, we weren't sure we wanted to.

  • Not to mention, we weren't sure we wanted to be anywhere near the hideously tacky, huge, inflatable Statue of Liberty head on the hill. ("You maniacs! You blew it all up! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!")

  • There were food vendors (deep breath: Piecora's New York Pizza, Sugee's Strawberry Shortcake, The Frankfurter, The Corn Roasters, Athena's Gyros, Zoka Coffee, Elephant Ears, and Pioneer Popcorn) everywhere. And 96.5 Jack FM with a huge set-up blaring music. And banners hanging everywhere proclaiming the glories of our Corporate Masters. I had to sit on my hands to keep from tearing them down. It all had such an air of cheap, large-scale hucksterism, I just wanted to cry.

    I don't mind a little hucksterism -- the people in the neighborhood who'd been selling lemonade and sodas and parking spaces had charmed and warmed me, because it was honest and human and real. This was nothing of the kind; this was antithetical to it, anathema. This was the huge spinning gears of the engine at the heart of the world.

  • Personally, I could have done without the military helicopter flyby. Increasingly, this decade, the line between Love of Country and Love of the Military has become blurred, nearly erased. I wish I could publically celebrate one without the other. But the fact that I can't is practically a given, at this point.

  • Finally, when it was all over -- they didn't think to drop the fence. All of those -- hundreds? Thousands? -- of people, now all wanted to get back out through that same choke-point at once. What, did they want to check our bags on the way out?

So. Yeah. Fireworks sure were pretty. We'll be watching them from somewhere else next year.


(Afterward, though, we went to the Mercury for dancing and barbecue, and had such a lovely time we went home happy.)

Go team

Jan. 22nd, 2006 05:13 pm
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.... So I gather there's some sort of football game going on today.

Actually, I remember seeing something about that the other day -- specifically, a readerboard outside a business in Lake City that reads, "GOD BLESS OUR SEAHAWKS."

Take a moment, if you would, to marvel with me: the owners of this business have decided to use their readerboard, a business asset intended for advertising -- no, wait, strike that, they've decided to use the very gift of literacy itself --

-- to plead with their invisible superhero in the sky to intercede on the behalf of their tribe in ritual combat.

This planet frightens and confuses me and I'd like to go home now.
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I was at a grocery store earlier today, and I overheard a snippet of conversation between two men:

"Now, I know it was controversial, but I remember that play .... "

My ears immediately pricked up -- I don't know much about theatre, but I do have an interest. What play were they talking about?

They were, of course, talking about football.


Every day I pray that the angels will come down and tell me, "There's been a mistake. We apologize for the inconvenience. We're here to take you to the planet you were supposed to be born on."


Apr. 5th, 2003 09:28 pm
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So I got into my truck after work the other day, and noticed that there was a note on my windshield. My immediate thought was that someone had dinged my truck in the parking lot and left me a note with their insurance information, but that wasn't it; it was, instead, someone's commentary on my bumperstickers. Okay ....

Now, I realize that my bumperstickers might be a little controversial. I'm fine with that. From the Jesus-fish-like silver rocketship bearing the word "SCIENCE" to the red sticker with the bold white letters reading, "NO GODS, NO MASTERS", I'm perfectly aware that they might be a little in-your-face.

So I knew exactly what the anonymous scribbler was reacting to when I read the small, cramped lines of text:

Science is a faith
like any other,
your master is
the ideas of men
who could be wrong.

Now, my first reaction was pretty much: What the hell is wrong with people? I mean, I don't go around leaving notes on the windshield of every vehicle I see with a WWJD? sticker, now, do I? Do other people have such fragile worldviews that they must argue every last dissenting voice?

My second reaction was a little more complex; the problem was that the writer's worldview and understanding of science was so completely alien to mine that it took me a minute to sit and stare at it and puzzle out what exactly they were on about.

I'm not "mastered" by any ideas. As near as I can tell, the person who wrote this thinks of science as a bunch of these "ideas of men" written down as gospel in a huge book somewhere that I just blindly accept.

That is not science.

I have no faith in the ideas of men. I don't need any. I have no faith in evolution, no belief in general relativity. That's not how it works. These are theories; everything science brings us is theories. I'm perfectly, casually prepared to completely and faithlessly abandon any of them on a moment's notice, the second a better idea comes along. So is any reasonable person with any understanding of how science works.

Science -- or rather, the scientific method, for it is a process, not a thing -- requires only one simple belief of you:

The belief that the phenomena of the material world are observable, measurable, and reproducable.

That's it. That's all. And you can argue with me that this belief is a "faith," if you like, but frankly, if it's a "faith" you don't share, I don't see how you get out of bed in the morning, how you can function without that "faith" that, say, your doorknob is going to work the same way every time. Without that "faith", you're caught in the same damn mental trap as poor Descartes.

Observable, measurable, reproducable.

Everything else you might label "science" is just ideas built on top of this idea. Someone makes an observation, comes up with a hypothesis about what's going on, and devises an experiment to test it. And you know what? You don't have to take their word for any of it. You can do the experiments yourself.

I know. I have. I've measured the arc of the sun across the sky over the course of a season. I've measured the acceleration of falling objects to understand the force of gravity. I've watched a disc of paper and a disc of metal fall at the same rate inside an evacuated glass tube.

I don't have to have faith in science. I am not mastered by the ideas of men. I've seen them work. Anyone can do it. You can do it.

There are a lot of scientific ideas that I haven't tested myself, haven't thoroughly researched the findings about them, that I tend to accept on a day-to-day basis as being probably true. Again, I'm ready to discard them; none of them has my allegiance.

The people who "believe" in science have flown in the sky, plumbed the depths of the ocean, mapped the human genome, and gone to the goddamm moon. Those who don't tend to just dress up in fruity robes, funny hats, shout a lot, start crusades and jihads. And they assume that just because they believe everything they're told, then that's how everyone else arrives at their picture of the universe, too.

In a word: No. In two words: Fuck off.


Aug. 26th, 2002 05:27 pm
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Saw a bumpersticker today while I was out on my errands: God is Pro-Life.

Setting aside for a moment the dangerous lunacy of assuming that God is on your side, I was struck by a more pressing problem with that statement: it's obviously demonstrably false.

God isn't simply "Pro-Life." God is Pro-Everything.

God loves the little children; new-born babies staring wide and surprised at the world. He watches, like you do, their little hands, how they move, the way their muscles work and flex under the skin. He loves the little miracle of each breath. And still he smiles when their young mothers, knowing nowhere else to go, abandon their burdens in dumpsters and public toilets.

God loves little gray kittens rolling in the dust, soaking in the sunlight, stalking tender little birds and feeling them struggle and die between their teeth. God loves hand-drawn Valentines, young couples sharing hot chocolate on a cold winter night, drive-by shootings, and three-year-olds with big red balloons.

God loves the thirteen-year-old girl, lying awake and untaught and bleeding for the first time, who wonders if she's dying and is too scared to ask anyone. God loves the young boy, three years later, her first lover, who pushes the girl down a flight of stairs and hopes she'll miscarry.

God loved the Rape of Nanking and the building of the Sistine Chapel. He smiles when soldiers use bulldozers to bury their enemies, many of them still alive and pleading, in mass graves; he smiles when a child first tastes ice cream, when a young girl takes her first wobbly ride alone and defiant on a bicycle, when a young man feels the shock and wonder of his first orgasm. He listens with patience and love to each prayer a new mother whispers over her sleeping new baby, each prayer thought in that last everlong second before the electric chair switch is thrown.

God loves every Space Shuttle flight, every little sattellite, every single perfect ballistic arc a bullet traces in the air on its path toward a cheating heart.

This is the world He made. Every last little piece moving silently and flawlessly, clockwork unseen, keeping time in accordance with His plan.

Life and death, world without end, God loves it all. How could it be otherwise?

icebluenothing: (Default)
I just noticed that the back of my cereal box, here, has a blurb that reads:

The Nurturing Corner
Here Are Five Great Ways to Show Your Kids You Care:
  • Ask them about their day
  • Tell them your favorite stories about them growing up
  • Eat breakfast together
  • Give them at least one hug each day
  • Read them a bedtime story

Which reminds me of something I saw yesterday, an ad in the theatre, before Insomnia (which had excellent performances, by the way, but I think will be ultimately forgettable) -- An ad that featured a sad young boy left out of the games his peers were indulging in (an overweight sad young boy, mind you, since of course pretty and perfect people never lack for friends and happiness), whose miserable and benighted life was uplifted by another, more handsome child, who deigned to come over and actually interact with him. The message and motto of this ad was "Friendship: Pass It On." The ad was paid for by "The Foundation for a Better Life" or somesuch, whom I deeply suspect are Mormons.

My point -- and bear with me, there is one -- is simply this: If we, and by we I mean society as a whole, have reached such a nadir that it has become necessary to advertise "friendship" and "caring for one's offspring," then perhaps -- if I may make an indelicate suggestion here -- perhaps we're fucked. Totally royally fucked, as in, the human race may have been a good idea, and all, but it's time to pack it in and leave it all to the roaches.


May. 31st, 2002 03:09 pm
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I made myself chicken noodle soup for lunch this afternoon, and I used some of the hot sauce [ profile] treebyleaf bought me at Dixie's BBQ. You may have heard of this stuff -- it's called "The Man," and it's deservedly legendary around here. I have absolutely no idea what exactly is in this stuff, how it's made, or just how hot it is on the Scoville scale, but it's some of the most intense stuff I've ever put in my mouth. It's a dark, dark red, viscous substance, almost solid, like clotted blood. It has an oily sheen to it and it is shot through with chili pepper seeds -- the seeds, of course, being the part of the pepper that contains the most heat. This stuff looks dark and sinister and almost willful; you can tell by looking at it that it wants to hurt you.

I used maybe about a third of a teaspoon to flavor two large bowls of soup, and it was enough to leave me shaking, hurting, and blowing my nose every five seconds. And I was terribly happy.

It struck me that I might be a little hard-pressed to explain to an outside observer exactly why I do this to myself.

But I'll try.

Hot peppers contain an odorless, flavorless, colorless, oily substance, an irritant, an alkaline, a phenolic amide with a molecular weight of 305.42 called capsaicin (cap-SAY-a-sin), or 8-methyl-n-vanillyl-6-nonenamide if you're feeling technical. It binds to a receptor in the lining of the mouth, a protein called vanilloid receptor subtype 1, found in the membranes of certain nerve cells. When activated, VR1 lets positively charged ions, especially calcium ions, flow through the cell membrane. The presence of the calcium ions then opens more channels, which lets in more ions, and so on, in a positive feedback loop that's the basis of the nerve impulse. This is the very same receptor that registers pain from heat. Thus the feeling that your mouth is on fire. This pain causes the brain to release endorphins -- natural opiates -- inducing a mild euphoria. The brain sends out more with each new bite.

We seem to be the only animals that do this to ourselves willingly. Birds and reptiles don't seem to have the same receptors, and are unaffected by the heat; and most mammals avoid chili the way they would a poison. A 1979 study states that humans are the only mammals that "reverse their natural rejection" to "innately unpalatable substances" such as nicotine, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, and, well, chili peppers.

Of course, unlike nicotine and alcohol, there are benefits to the consumption of chilis beyond a simple state of drugged-out bliss. Hot peppers are high in vitamins A and C and bioflavinoids, and have a number of anti-oxidant properties; they're excellent scavengers of free radicals; they help strengthen blood vessel walls, increase peripheral circulation, lowers blood pressure, and temporarily boost the metabolic system. Capsaicin can inhibit glucose absorption through the stomach lining. It can reduce Triglycerides and low density cholesterol and increases the liver enzyme activity in fat metabolism.

But all the intellectual knowledge of their benefits in the world wouldn't get me to do this to myself if I didn't like it. There's something that feels like a higher purpose to the process, something ennobling, something pure. The burning sensation I get from chilis lifts me up out of my ordinary senses and thought processes; I feel like everything bad in my body, mind and spirit is being burned out of me. It's like a communion, like stepping forward and receiving fire from Prometheus. I feel more alive and vibrant; I feel prepared, now, tempered and forged, ready for practically anything.

Ready for more.


May. 5th, 2002 03:40 pm
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So I was walking through a parking lot, and a couple of cars had to stop to let me pass. I didn't quite hear the comment that was called out the window as I passed; I just heard that it ended in " -- faggot!"

I froze for a second on the far curb, shaken. The insult itself rolled right off me -- I don't much care what some stranger thinks my sexual orientation might be, frankly. But I hate getting yelled at from cars. Jangles the nerves.

The one clear thought in my mind: They can't do that. I could easily imagine the next person they yelled "faggot" at might well be someone the word would wound.

So I turned and looked, and saw that the car hadn't made it out of the parking lot -- they were stuck behind another car, waiting to turn out into traffic. I could run that far, catch up with them.

I did, and leaned in toward the driver's open window, and said, "Excuse me -- I didn't quite catch that."

Surprised-looking young man looked back at me and said, "Huh? -- I didn't say anything to you, dude."

"No? You're sure?"


"All right, then. My mistake. Thank you," I said, and walked away.

Now, maybe I had been mistaken. But I don't think so.

And I like to think I impressed upon them a couple of simple truths:

  • Just because you're in your precious car, it doesn't mean you're invulnerable.
  • Nemo me impune lacessit. Your actions may well have consequences. That's right, I'm a crazy son of a bitch, and the next one you piss off might be even crazier.

I walked away still a little shaken, amazed at myself for having the courage to do it.

Funny -- I'd just come from a movie that reminds us that "with great power, comes great responsibility." I'd never really considered before that the reverse is just as true:

If you take on great responsibility, it lends you great power.


Jan. 5th, 2002 05:01 pm
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Pardon me whilst I rant for a moment. I hate to have be the one to break this to you, but:

You're not a character from Alice in Wonderland.

No matter what some on-line test told you.

You're also not a robot, a corporate mascot, or a famous painting. You're not a James Bond villain, an evil criminal or a horrible affliction. You're not a Beatle, a member of Radiohead, or a Tim Burton movie. You're not a Pokemon (thank God).

You are most definitely not a fictional character from Absolutely Fabulous, The Breakfast Club, Empire Records, Enterprise, FFVII, Invader Zim, Lord of the Rings, Reservoir Dogs, Rocky Horror, Slayers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or any film by David Lynch or Kevin Smith.

You sure as hellfire and damnation are not David Frickin' Bowie.

You may well indeed be spiritually attuned with an Element, or with a totem animal. But frankly, if you don't have enough respect for such traditions to find the idea of taking an on-line test to determine them deeply offensive, I'm actually inclined to doubt that you are. Sorry.

You want to talk about test results? Great, I'm interested. Like when my friend [ profile] noiseinmyhead got a result of hGC-28000 / progestrone- 35.8 on her pregnancy test. Or when [ profile] retcon got 81% on his i-Net+ certification exam.

We deal with tests, our own tests and trials, every day. That's what we call life. If I'm reading your on-line journal, it's because I'm interested in your life. Could you talk about that instead? Please?

Don't take this as a diatribe against escapism. I'm all for escapism -- and for all I know, maybe you are a fictional character. I want to hear all about your flights of fancy -- the emphasis there being, I want to hear about your flights of fancy, your own words, not something you got for a few mouseclicks.


Nov. 29th, 2001 12:23 pm
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At 8:17 this morning -- or to put it another way, after I'd managed to sleep in for a luxurious, decadent stretch of, oh, three and a half goddamm hours -- the phone rang. It was a chipper little drone from MCI who was thoughtfully taking time out of his busy day to make sure I was aware of all of the illimitable benefits that having MCI Long Distance would bring to my miserable, benighted existence.

I wanted to shoot psychic tendrils of pure hate crackling down the phone lines to tear his aura to ribbons and let his soul wither away to nothing, but I figured he probably didn't actually have a soul, so I just hung up on him and went back to bed instead.

On a happier note, I realized this morning that I never counted yesterday's revisions toward my final word count. That brings my word count up to 681 words, which is almost respectable. Yay, me.

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The Northwest Bookfest didn't even have a flyer table, or anything like one. I looked around and even asked the information booth if there was anywhere I could put flyers, and they told me there wasn't. Isn't that ludicrous?

On the bright side, I ran into Hardrock, who pointed out to me that Peter Straub was going to be speaking in ten minutes. I have to confess here that I don't think I've ever read any of Straub's work, but, ummm, I've seen Ghost Story, and, well, I'm a big enough Stephen King fan that I was excited at meeting his collaborator. It was the most recent collaboration, in fact, that Straub read from today, Black House. It was quite good; I look forward to reading it, although I imagine I'll have to read The Talisman first.

I was a little dismayed to realize that the occasional cheering I'd been hearing in the background was from the large number of people who were watching the Mariners game on the televisions throughout the exhibition hall. "Seven to two!" were the excited words I was greeted with by the door guard when I came back in from putting more change in the parking meter -- it took me a second to realize she was telling me the game's score, a fact that of course I had to be interested in, I'm breathing, aren't I? Actually, no, I was here because of the books, thanks awfully.

How did I get to this planet? And when can I go home?

I left shortly afterward, feeling depressed about the flyers and alienated by the baseball, and drove off with the intention of going downtown to drop some flyers off at Borders Books. (Yes, Borders does have a flyer table. Yes, Borders is better set up to serve the needs of a local author like myself than the Northwest Bookfest was. Yes, that's kind of sick.) But silly me! Did I think there was somewhere to park downtown? No, naturally not. After circling uselessly for a while, I gave up and headed to the U-District, with the intention of leaving some flyers at The Comics Stand, which had been closed when I'd tried it on Thursday.

The Comics Stand doesn't have anywhere to leave flyers, either.

Undaunted -- okay, okay; really, really daunted -- I headed for Lake Forest Park Towne Centre to leave some flyers on the copious flyer tables there, and to drop in and say hello to [ profile] wendolen.

While I'm in Third Place Books, I hear an announcement that Timothy Zahn will be speaking in a few minutes. I'm not terribly interested -- the only book of his I've ever tried reading was his first Star Wars novel, and I couldn't get through it -- but as I walk past, I notice only three people have shown up to hear him. I instantly imagine how I'd feel in his position, and I take a seat.

I'm glad I did. I've met him before -- he and I were on a panel together at some convention a few years ago -- and he's fun and interesting to talk with. And that's just what this turned into; the five of us sitting around talking about science fiction, bad movies, and most importantly, storytelling.

I left content, feeling the connection with my calling that I hadn't found at the Bookfest.


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