Monday, March 29, 2010

Twilight for Men

As many of you know, I rag on Twilight a lot. Admittedly it's much deserved ragging, but I do. And that seems kind of unfair. And just now I remembered a series of books I absolutely love that, as the title says, are pretty much Twilight for Men. What series you ask?

Read this.

Have you read all of it? No? Then what the hell are you still here for? Get back in there!

Done now? Okay, good.

Here's a free online copy of the first one. The rest may be found here.

I am not at all ashamed to admit I love these books. Like the person who typed up the lol-arius post that turned me on to them, I acknowledge just how horribly wrong it is, and have even adopted their catchphrase as I read them. So there you go ladies. Some ammunition with which you may return fire and thusly not leave me feeling like some sort of twat. Because really I'm not going to stop ragging on Twilight until it's fallen out of my consciousness. Which at this point may be never.

Random thought: I feel like Paladin of Shadows should have an 80s cartoon (maybe GI Joe style?) theme song.

Also, these books are a prime example of when Amazon's POD service is a good thing. Guarantee this would never have been professionally printed if the author didn't already have a fanbase.

Some Random Musings

First things first, we are bearing down on Saturday quite fast. For those of you who don't know what day Saturday is, well, officially it's April the third. More importantly, Saturday is the day the new season of Doctor Who starts. This means that from Saturday until whenever the season ends (and really well beyond it) my fanboyism shall be in hyperdrive again. To give you an idea: Imagine the most rabid Twilight fan you can. Now multiply that by ten kajillion bajillion.

Why is this coming up? Number one, fair heads up of things to come. Number two, io9 has pictures of new TARDIS, which are a lot better than the pieces of concept art they tacked up on the TARDIS prop you can sometimes see in filming photos and videos. And so if the fanboy engines weren't already gunning, they're really approaching critical now. Consider yourselves warned.

So, what is this post really about? Nothing specific, really. Just a few thoughts which have been tittering about my mostly hollow-skull as of late.

Thought Primero: Don't you just hate it when you're in the middle of a WIP, and then your brain up and cooks up a fucking beautifully perfect idea for something else entirely? Because my brain has. I'm in the middle of working on something relating to my WIP, and I get to thinking if Daniel does have a middle name (which I'm still not certain he does) it's an H name. My brain then went Hamish -> Hector in terms of H names. This lead to Hector MacFarquhar. This lead to Hector MacFarquhar, badass Scottish DS living somewhere in England (the specific place changes quite often; brian needs to make up its mind) whose CID...okay, a lot of the police force, really, are working on a serial killer case. A serial killer who burns prostitutes. In the middle of the street. Think about that. Two o'clock in the morning. Some hooker's out looking for someone to shag. You're just walking along, minding your own business, maybe had a late night out at the pub or take crazy late university courses. And the prostitute just suddenly bursts into flames. No sign of anyone who could've done it to her at the time of the burning, but always a specific calling card left behind after. Christ I love that idea, but I can't bring myself to work on it so long as AGS is incomplete.'s so shiny...eeeeeee...please please please please please can I work on it? please please please I promise I'll be good and everything!

Two, something I have a few typed up of and have been waffling with doing to close Character Month (many posts for which are still very unfinished drafts, I admit) is a series of Fast Fact Files for at least Daniel, Paul, and Lucy, as they're kind of the Pivotal Three.

Also, Character Month kind of fizzled out after a week, didn't it? I do that. Way more often than I should. I start off on 9001, hit 50 for a while, and close on, like, 99.9. Go figure.

Relating to Fast Fact Files, in my boredom I typed up one for myself. It's been sitting saved as a notepad for like...four or five days now? Something like that. One thing I have been waffling over ever since I discovered the option was the ability to add pages to my blog. Really I have no idea what I would do with this other than their suggested "about me" page, so yeah. Plan is if there is interest to share it. So, Yea or Nay on that count, and Yea or Nay on making it a page? And don't feel like you have to say Yea. Vote honestly or I shall hire the foe of my ancestors to break into your bedchamber while you sleep, murder you, and frame your guards. And then I shall slay him for his deeds, even though my ancestor totally never killed him and, in fact, just kind of chased him to the back of the battlefield where one of my ancestor's knights mortally wounded him and left him lying to die. Sadly that is still way more awesome than the fictionalized version of events.

So, yeah, that's about it for now. I'm sure there were other things I meant to post but I can no longer remember at present. Actually there definitely were. And one of them was definitely very important. Like, The-Whole-Palace-Will-Burn-Down-If-I-Don't-Remember-Soon important. Oh well. Guess it can't have been that important if I forgot it. Right? Right?

Closing Thought: Probs going to be tinkering with blog soon to make it wider without making it look even lamer than it does now, which will probably mean re-skinning it. In the event of such a scenario, do not panic. There shall be free beer in the Deat...I mean, Observation Lounge. In all honesty, this is just so I can embed an HD copy of 10's regeneration into 11. That is all.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Welcome back, monsieur

"Young men make wars, and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men – courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men – mistrust and caution. It must be so."

So last week, I found a game that's pretty cool which goes basically: Post first four sentences of a published novel (or novella, or short story, basically a published work). People offer their thoughts on openings dispassionately, whether from blindness to source or forced dispassion in case of work they recognize. And thusly we do it again.

1. I returned from the City about three o'clock on that May afternoon pretty well disgusted with my life. I had been three months in the Old Country, and was fed up with it. If anyone had told me a year ago that I would have been feeling like that I should have laughed at him; but there was the fact. The weather made me liverish, the talk of the ordinary Englishman made me sick, I couldn't get enough exercise, and the amusements of London seemed as flat as soda-water that has been standing in the sun.

2. More than a hundred men were abandoned in the village. There was nothing to be done for them. They were drunk. A score of women stayed with them.

3. Except for the Marabar Caves -- and they were twenty miles off -- the city of Chandrapore presents nothing extraordinary. Edged rather than washed by the river Ganges, it trails for a couple of miles along the bank, scarcely distinguishable from the rubbish it deposits so freely. There are no bathing-steps on the riverfront, as the Ganges happens not to be holy here; indeed there is no riverfront, and bazaars shut out the wide and shifting panorama of the stream. The streets are mean, the temples ineffective, and though a few fine houses exist they are hidden away in gardens or down alleys whose filth deters all but the invited guest.

4. In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the Army. Having completed my studies there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as assistant surgeon. The regiment was stationed in India at the time, and before I could join it, the second Afghan war had broken out. On landing at Bombay, I learned that my corps had advanced through the passes, and was already deep in the enemy's country.

5. The moment I heard how McAra died, I should have walked away. I can see that now. I should have said, "Rick, I'm sorry, this isn't for me, I don't like the sound of it," finished my drink, and left. But he was such a good storyteller, Rick -- I often thought he should have been the writer and I the literary agent -- that once he'd started talking there was never any question I wouldn't listen, and by the time he had finished, I was hooked.

6. It was a wet evening in Paris. On the slate roofs of the big boulevards and on the small mansards of the Latin quarter, the rain kept up a ceaseless patter. Outside the Crillon and the George V, the doormen were whistling taxis out of the darkness, then running with umbrellas to hold over the fur-clad guests as they climbed in. The huge open space of the place de la Concorde was glimmering black and silver in the downpour. In Sarcelles, on the far northern outskirts of the city, Yusuf Hashim was sheltered by the walkway above him.

Oh, and as an addendum, here are the titles of last week's books, in case you didn't recognize any:

1. A Place of Execution
2. Live and Let Die
3. Vampire Science
4. Knots and Crosses
5. Death Note: Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases
6. 1984

And the titles of this week shall go on the end of next week's post, and so on and so forth.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


It would appear I have been given another award, by the greatliest Ms. Christi. A rather curious one, to say the least. How this thing works is I'm meant to choose five followers and make up things about them, but I can't re-give, and there go two of my followers. So we're going to draw on non-follower people who I can pester with this award. Bear in mind everything said here is totally for fun, so try not to take any offence. Apologise in advance if any offence does occur.

And lo! it doth exist.

1. Justine Dell. She's a man, baby!
2. Wendy/Quillfeather. In fact named Marguerite von Schell; works as part of a shadowy organization intending to assassinate important European political figures in the hopes of sparking a war which would be very much in the interests of her native Switzerland.
3. Roxy. Once loaned the Empire State Building out to Martians for a (failed) global domination ploy. Now travels the world, designing ludicrous lairs for evile geniuses from which they may engage in attempts to take over the world/sew havoc/whatever it is evile genii do. Writes under various pseudonyms to keep up with car payments and plane tickets.
4. Raquel Crusoe is in actuality a roaming blind goatherd, who has something of a habit of rescuing babies left on mountainsides to die.
5. Phil. By day, he is the easiest man in the universe to make feel awkward. By night, he is Captain Mohawk! Protecting the zany-haired drug and rave crowd from the police and using his incredible mohawk powers to convert the entire population into an army of Mohawk Zombies, one ridiculously remote farm at a time.

So there are my five. Apparently my followers all lead secret lives of secrecy. Anyway, no obligation to respond to this, but if you feel so inclined, please do.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spitfires in Space!

I said there would be a post on this thing, and lo! It hath arrived. I'm not entirely certain what to do with this thing, so methinks I shall just rack off authors I absolutely love, and why I absolutely love them. Oh, and it's probably going to be a little crime novel heavy, because I love the authors of just about every book in my veritable library of a book collection and I cannot do all of them, and also because I figure the rulesies said YA but I am not a YA person so I do it for mah ownz genre, with others peppered in.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
This is a man who deserves more props than could ever be given. I was never the biggest reader in elementary school, but I read a lot less before I read him. Admittedly, this is partially because I was only eight when I first read The Hobbit, and you don't really read a lot when you're learning to read, but still. Reading the Hobbit got me hooked on books. And, far more importantly, it was reading the Hobbit that first exposed me to the idea of writing. For years I had been saying all sorts of things about what I wanted to do with my life -- the crowning achievement there being that, when I was two, I would say I wanted to be a cow -- but the Hobbit closed the deal. I realized it were possible for me to write, and it were all I wanted to do. Only once did I waver in that conviction, at a time when I had been suffering from a nasty case of writer's block that lasted for a little over two years. If it weren't for Tolkien, maybe I would have wanted to become a writer, but maybe my interest in voice acting would have won out. And if I did decide to become a writer, it probably wouldn't have been until much later, and I would still only be working on the core basics of the craft right now instead of honing them as I write a novel.

But more than being the one who made me want to write, I adore all of his works. And I mean all of his works. Tolkien makes up the largest single author in my veritable library of a book collection. I have the compendiums of all his notes. I have the books full of incomplete histories with notes. I have the books with the complete histories. I, obviously, have the main body of his work. I have the scattered incomplete versions of Children of Hurin and the final, polished version his son touched up. For crying out loud, I have the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Anything this man put pen to, I've got a copy of. It's true just about all of his works focus on Middle Earth, but there's nothing wrong with that. It's a brilliant place with a lot to explore. And his few non-Middle Earth works are equally as brilliant. Writing wise, the man was just plain grand.

Arthur Conan Doyle
Come now, surely you knew some crime writer was going to turn up on this list. Although perhaps you thought it would've been the Queen of Crime. Personally, much as I enjoy her works, I've always found the Marple stories dull, and her writing style isn't very well suited to the non-Hastings narrated Poirot stories. Besides, Dame Agatha may be the "Queen" but Sir Arthur is, without a doubt, Rex Imperator. Edgar Allan Poe is responsible for creating the detective story, but it was ACD who was responsible for refining it and popularizing it. And indeed, Christie may have a better record of sales, but a common bloke on the streets is likely to be more familiar with the name Sherlock Holmes than Hercule Poirot.

Sure, ACD's writing isn't perfect, but like all of us, he gets better (compare A Study in Scarlet to later works like his Challenger stories) and what he lacks in technicality, he makes up for in believability. Whether reading Holmes, Challenger, or his incidental historical novels, one thing which continually stands out is Conan Doyle's ability to make you feel like you're reading about real men rather than some characters on the page. If a good writer makes his audience feel for the characters, then count ACD among the greats.

Christopher Paolini
Okay, so I don't love Paolini. In fact, Eragon was the only book of his I could stand to read and that was years ago. It's entirely possible I'd go back to it now and abhor it. But this is author appreciation and I do most certainly appreciate Christopher Paolini. The man was 19 when the vanity published version his parents put out was picked up by a major publishing house, and he has since had a fairly solid and successful career. Whether or not that career carries on beyond Inheritence is up to debate, but it's there now, and it's making him money. Sure, Paolini wasn't the first and there have been other, even more recent, young authors, but Paolini is the one who managed to make it closest to the public's eye (becoming mega-popular for a brief time, what with a film adaptation and all), and that really is what is important to me. I was always going to write and strive for publication, but I thought it was impossible for anyone who wasn't in their late 20s or early 30s, at youngest, to actually find publication. That Paolini achieved the success he did at the age he did showed me hey, it's possible (though doubtful) such could happen to me.

Ian Rankin
Squee! Admittedly he's pretty much just on here because I love his books, goddammit, but he is good. Really good. The Rebus novels are great, if not perfect. And his non-Rebus books are very solid, too. His recent book, The Complaints, is like, crazy good, too. I really hope he writes more like it. Okay, okay, so there is a valid reason for his being on here other than his being fantastic. One thing Rankin does that I love is super-realism. Obviously they're all fiction and some plots are a bit more outlandish, but they just about all feel like they could actually happen in Edinburgh.

Another realism point I love is his decision to make it flow in real time, so with the four year gap between Knots & Crosses and Hide & Seek, there's four years of Rebus doing his Rebus-ing we shall never see. Four years in which he got promoted, no less. Not many authors, particularly of a crime series, would allow their detective to flow in real time. He would either be ageless or several novels would be crammed into a short fictional timespan to maximize on the detective's youth. So I really love that he decided to go with the whole real time thing.

Val McDermid
First off, what is it about Scotsmen and crime fiction? I mean seriously. My three favorite crime authors are Scots, and they are all gods of it. Sometimes I wonder if my Scottish ancestry is responsibible for my love of the genre, which really has always been present (after I finished LOTR, I spent a lot of my elementary school days reading ACD and the like, and even when I was writing things like scifi and fantasy, it was always my favorite genre to read).

McDermid, like Rankin, tends to go for realism. Some of her plots, however, are a bit more outlandish, like The Grave Tattoo. Grave Tattoo in a nutshell is thus: Dude turns up dead in the Lake District covered in tattoos, local woman decides to investigate her theory of a connection of dead man to the mutiny on the Bounty, insanity and subplots ensue. But one thing that really aides all of her novels is her willingness to do research. Obviously research is required for writing any novel, and a good author does plenty. McDermid's levels of research are insane. And I mean insane. Holy frakin hannah did she pull out all the stops when she was researching A Place of Execution. She consulted newspapers, police, true crime writers, bloody everyone possible, and judging by the way she wrote the acknowledgements, it sounds like she spent at least a year doing all the research before she let her idea turn into a book. And it is like this with every single book of hers I have read. That, my friends, is dedication. That is precisely why she is so damned good.

I could go on all day fanboying over my entire bedroom library, but there's five samplings for you. Also, contemplating adding some sort of "presently reading" widgety thing to the sidebar. Contemplated adding one of those virtual bookshelves, but as I have said before, I have a library. I think any site's database would explode if I were to do such a thing. But might still do it. We'll see what becomes of both of these ideas.

I'm sorry, what's that? Oh, the title you ask? I know, I know, spitfires in space has absolutely nothing to do with author appreciation. At least, nothing to do with the authors listed here. And you would be correct. Spitfires in space relates to something INFINITELY MORE IMPORTANT than any author on the face of the earth, ever. Spitfires in space relates to the most important thing in my life right now.

No, not an actual spitfire. That's just plain silly. THIS:


In the hunt for a picture about a certain author (for a post to come later), I stumbled upon a blog post which gave me a rather interesting idea. I think they way they played this game of sorts works much better, so I'll describe the original first. Blogger & his friend read the first four sentences of their favorite novels to one another over the phone. Whoever was being read to gave the opening a score before revealing what book it was. As the blogger points out, sure, some author's voices are instantly recognizable, but some are not. And regardless, that's just a damn grand idea. There is another element to the post which I find quite grand, regarding the disparity which often exists between an author's writing voice and his real voice, and it touches upon the author whom I was looking for a picture of (and really, it is so easy to forget what he sounded like as a person, because his writing is just so different), but that's not the idea. There are some snippets from the source the person was using, if you're interested in hearing voices, though I imagine for a few them you could find copies of interviews and things (and in fact I know the only recording of ACD exists on YT, with full video of the interview).

Anyway, as I said above, I think it works better over the phone, but I do like that game of scoring the opening sentences of favorite novels. So, for sake of something to do while I think of authors to write my AAW post about, I reckon we can play the game here in blog-land. Admittedly, this is also because I'm curious to see how differently you people would grade them. Copypasta game to your place if you feel like having others score your favorites. Just a few simple ground rules: Some of the sentences may be instantly recognizable, either because you're familiar with the story or the voice is apparent. If so, great, but try to leave your personal biases about the author out of the scoring. Pertaining to personal biases, DO NOT look up any of the sentences. If you're unfamiliar with a segment, google it, and find it's from, say, Wuthering Heights, well, odds are good you're going to let that effect your decision. Scoring ought to be done blindly.

Now then, on with the game:

1. Like Alison Carter, I was born in Derbyshire in 1950. Like her, I grew up with the familiar limestone dales of the White Peak, no stranger to the winter blizzards that regularly cut us off from the rest of the country. It was in Buxton, after all, that snow once stopped play in a county cricket match in June. So when Alison Carter went missing in December 1963, it meant more to me and my classmates than it can have done to most other people.

2. There are moments of great luxury in the life of a secret agent. There are assignments on which he is required to act the part of a very rich man; occasions when he takes refuge in good living to efface the memory of danger and the shadow of death; and times when, as was now the case, he is a guest in the territory of an allied secret service. From the moment the BOAC Stratocruiser taxied up to the International Air Terminal at Idlewild, James Bond was treated like royalty. When he left the aircraft with the other passengers he had resigned himself to the notorious purgatory of the US Health, Immigration and Customs machinery.

3. The girl was headed for a fall. Carolyn watched her from the next table, with the appalled fascination of someone watching a car hurtle over a cliff in slow motion. The girl was breaking all the unwritten rules of the bar. Making herself look like easy prey.

4. The girl screamed once, only the once. Even that, however, was a minor slip on his part. That might have been the end of everything, almost before it had begun. Neighbors inquisitive, the police called in to investigate.

5. When Beyond Birthday committed his third murder, he attempted an experiment. Namely, to see if it were possible for a human being to die of internal hemorrhaging without rupturing any organs. Specifically, he drugged his victim so they fell unconscious, tied them up, and proceeded to beat their left arm thoroughly, being careful not to break the skin. He was hoping to bring about enough hemorraghing to cause death from blood loss, but this attempt ended, sadly, in failure.

6. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled up into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him. The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats. At one end of it a colored poster, too large for indoor display, had been tacked to the wall.

Travelling Back to the Here

Well, obviously, I've been around a lot more than I planned. Originally it was going to be Amy was back and we would go frolicking in the meadows (okay not really) until the end of days, but she got hit pretty hard by her allergies, and was so bad she couldn't even go out on Thursday. It also doesn't help that I started going on twitter via iTouch just to keep myself in the loop...and wound up totally addicted. I'm starting to wonder if that's why I continually forget about twitter. I force myself to forget it because I'm becoming far too addicted and egocentric. And yes I mean egocentric. Egotistic, too, but I find the more time I spend on sites like twitter and facebook, the more I begin to assume everyone's experiences are universal to my e-cave. Point is it's not good.

So now I'm back! From outer space! Okay, I'll stop that now, honestly only because my brain is blanking on the lyrics at the moment. Anyway, it's news stuff.

First up, someone made what is easily tied for my favorite facebook fan page. Toyota: Moving forward, even if you don't want it to. I died laughing. Personally it's tied with this page for me.

Secondly, I have once again pulled myself off my lazy arse to check out TV. I was much faster at it this time than I was with Castle though. Kept meaning to check out Castle from about halfway through its first season. I didn't start watching it until January, and I've been playing sporadic attempt at catch-up ever since. This time, it's only taken me since the second blizzard in February to get off me bum and check out show I have been meaning to check out. Still way too long, but I finally started watching it on Wednesday. It has become like heroin for me. What show, you ask?

If that doesn't answer it for you, I am forced to inquire as to what rock you have been living under. I'd been hearing about it and seeing promos and stuff for ages. Just never watched it because I was 14 when it ended. Maybe 13. Depending upon when exactly the last episode aired. I'm going to say 14, though. Anyway the correct answer, if you have been living under a rock, is The West Wing. Only a handful of episodes in and I am addicted to it. Definitely some room for improvement, but given that I'm not even halfway through the first season yet, I'm confident it'll get better. Spoil anything for me and I shall thwap you with a shoe.

Apparently Monday through Friday was author appreciation week for some people. Thanks to Mia pointing this out on her blog, I have decided to do a delayed AAW post. Of course the link on her blog says is for YA/MG but that's just not really my jig, so I'll be doing any author I very well please, thank you very much. Now get off my lawn you damn rotten lousy kids.

On the March Madness front, I'm not partaking of the Bransford's contest, a bit because while I have enough pages for what could constitute as a partial, I don't feel they're polished enough, but largely because I just didn't feel like entering. I know fuck all nothing about basketball. I've picked up a few things from talk around school so there were some "safe" bets there, but really I just picked whichever name I preferred. Kansas for the win only because everyone else seems to love them. I am totally not going to win but my current point stance is a lot better than expected. As of typing this, I have 180 points.

In more sports news, the Reds definitely did good Thursday. It was a shaky game, particularly comparatively to Monday's game against Pompey. 4-1 win with two good goals from Torres, one from Babel, and HOLYHELLYES ALBERTO AQUILANI. I am still totally stoked that the lad got his first goal for Liverpool and was a part of the starting XI. I've had good feelings about Aquilani since he was signed, and he showed promise in earlier appearances but he has unfortunately been dogged by injuries and illness, as well as not being quite up to form to handle the physicality of some Premier League matches (such as the very scrappy game against Blackburn in the last week of February). But anyway, on Thursday, the Reds played Lille again and crushed them with a pretty clean 3-0. Unfortunately there's still a pretty big shitstorm going on around the club...

Speaking of Liverpool, there's a very important game come Sunday. Manchester United, at Old Trafford. Last season was definitely the modern Liverpool at their best, and this season certainly seems to be the worst, but hot damn if we can't show United. 2-1 win in our first match against them last season, and a 4-1 trouncing in the second. This season it's a 2-0 win in the first match, and like hell will the Reds lose to the Other Reds on Sunday. It's definitely not another trouncing, but I'm certain we can pull out a win. Really, another win over Man U would make me happier than anything else this season. Someone needs to get to work on knocking Ferguson off his perch, and four wins in two seasons is a good place to start giving Man U the shakes.

In a last bit of football news, I damn near had a heart attack the other night. I have a fantasy club on an FB app. That team is a bit poor due to my having been an idiot and, well, I've placed myself in a position akin to Rafa, where I've lost funds and it's getting hard to make good transfers, but I need good transfers. It pained me to sell Gerrard, but his value was dipping and I couldn't risk it dipping any further. Plus I deliberately traded down 3 million for Kuyt, who has more points this season, and used that leftover 3 million on top of the cost of Benayoun to transfer for Arshavin. So the FB club has been seeing a lift in recent weeks. But that was not the cause of the heart attack. I joined the official EPL fantasy thing in gameweek 30, so of course I'm going to be behind everyone else, but I organized a good powerhouse club while spending wisely. In a league I set up with friends, lowest points earned for gameweek 30 were 52, average seemed to be in the range of my 57 and a friend's 63, and the highest apparent one looked to be 71, which is still higher than the rest but reasonably so. Then I scroll up and see a whopping 91 points earned in that gameweek. Holy frappamoli did my heart stop for a couple of minutes.

Anyway, as I said I was away on a mini-vacation from the webs that turned out to be not much of a vacation. And it wasn't even really a vacation from the blog, either, since apparently I had scheduled a post I totes forgot about. But I still went on a failed mini-holiday. The holiday was pretty much how expected, but with less Amy. A lot of chilling, a bit of playing out in the warm weather, and some interneting that got progressively worse as the week carried on (I swear I have a problem. Is there a Weboholics Anonymous?) Did go see Alice in Wonderland on Monday. Thoughts have been expressed elsewhere but if you really want a repeat I can type up a review-ish post I guess. Progress on WIP has been nil. Had some ideas, though, for things I plan to type up eventually. When this typing is meant to happen I have no idea.

Lastly, I may be barely able to tolerate mom's side of the family, but hot damn do I love it when they hold parties at our place. Six bottles of Guinness, fourteen of Heineken, and a whole bottle of White Zinfandel. Only bottled beers I enjoy and one of the few wines I enjoy.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A bit of fun, I guess?

1. It agitates me that society has reached such a point that google imaging "Holmes" turns up nothing but Katie Holmes on the first page. Not even the new, poorly-scripted, mediocrely-directed RDJ/Jude Law mockery of ACD film. No. Just Katie Holmes. The madness of it all.

2. Why is this scheduled for one am? Mostly because I can. Also because I am addicted to scheduled posts, but mostly because I can.

3. On with the post!

Anyway, the reason I was googling Holmes is because I wanted images of Vasili Livanov as Holmes, because he did it best. I know, I know, you're calling me mad right now. How dare I say anyone was better than Jeremy Brett, right? I never liked Brett. His performance was far too ham-tastic, and he only got hammier with each passing episode. It's sad to say but I was glad when I got to the episodes where his health was declining and he was much less lively. Of the English-language Holmes actors, I always liked Peter Cushing best, and the recent release of the surviving episodes of the 60s series solidifies that position. But Vasili Livanov still wins, and so does the Soviet series. Not only is it the best Holmes series ever with the best Holmes, Watson, et al. ever, but they get massive brownie points. Made in the late 70s and early 80s in Soviet Russia and they did their damnedest to make it look like Victorian England, and it actually kind of works for them. So definitely give the Russian series a try at some point, folks. It's astounding.

But this post is not a post about Sherlock Holmes. It easily could become that, but I refuse. No, this post today is something else entirely. Okay, not entirely. There's another reason I was googling Holmes beyond simple "Vasili Livanov". That reason is, well, Holmes is kind of the quintessential quirky character of literature. Hercule Poirot was definitely far quirkier when it comes to literary detectives (and oh how David Suchet was taken that role; I pity the next man to play Poirot), and we could go down so many more branches of literature, but really Holmes is the epitome of the quirky character, as it were. And that is very much related.

But first, this is what Vasili Livanov looks like now (photo ca. 2008):
There's another shot I prefer but it's a bit too big for blogging so we'll just leave it at that one. You can check out if you wanna see it. Or if you wanna hear some of the great music from the great Russian series.

Anyway, as I said, quirkiness is essential to this post. I reckoned as such: I post a few quirky things about myself, and if you feel so inclined, you do the same on your blog. Now of course, we're all probably a bit more odd in the upstairs than most, even the most normal of us writingfolk. But try to think of things that seem a bit more...innocuous isn't quite the right word but I'm saying it anyway. This is why I shouldn't write posts at the same time I schedule them for weeks later. But yeah, some little things about yourself that probably aren't the sort of thing most people would notice or really don't necessarily seem like they'd be too horribly quirky, but really they are. Or maybe they aren't and just seem as such. Anyway, five of them.

Here goes.

1. I wear my socks inside out. This is for two reasons. Number one, it's more comfortable. Number two, a lot of older cultures believed wearing clothing inside out was good luck. Granted, a lot of them said it was only good luck if you accidentally put them on an article of clothes inside out, but I figure it can't hurt. I like good luck.
2. If bacon, then fire. It has become a law of the universe. Whenever I make bacon, there is always fire. Sometimes grease pops out of the pan. One time what I thought was water on the bottom of the pan turned out to be grease. It's to the point where I have made a game out of If bacon, then fire. I realize this isn't so much a quirk as it is a travesty, but there it is.
3. I tend to just throw on any old clothes, but at the same time, I have a precise method to all of my outfits. Whenever I am going to school or anywhere that shall require me to carry things, I wear cargo pants. I only wear jeans when I know I'm going to be doing something like playing football or going hiking. I wear certain styles of trouser when just hanging out places, and other styles of trouser when going places. Different pockets for different needs, as well, and with a precise methodology to each pocket. Mobile always goes in the left waist. Wallet ass right. Important documents and/or electronics waist right. Other items other pockets depending upon outfit, but those are the three universals. Shirts are a bit more haphazard, with no planning going into school beyond "grab t-shirt from dresser", but there is still some planning behind them, mostly for sake of coordination.
4. I like to narrate my life. Sometimes in song, sometimes in one of the many random accents I can do. And yet I never narrate my life in a Manc accent, which is the only one I can do well enough to sound native. At any rate, you really should try narrating your life sometime, preferably in song. It's jolly good fun.
5. My bedroom looks like a bomb has gone off, but there is a very precise filing system. I even have it worked out to the point where I have candy hidden in places you wouldn't even dream to look for anything at all. Like the kit-kats hidden behind a loose piece of the framing that separates the wall from the ceiling. You'd be surprised how long it takes for those things to melt. I mean, those things have been in there since Christmas, and they're still going strong. Though, to be fair, it has been very cold lately.

So those are the only five I can think of without delving into lunatic land, which is the most wonderful place and I certainly never intend to leave, but it's quite contrary to the point of this post. Feel free to go ahead and post your own, or not, or whatever. This is a random half-asleep thought here. God save the man who gave me the schedule button, because I am probably going to be doing a lot of these random half-asleep thought schedulings.

And now for your enjoyment, a Russian Holmes spoof:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Vacation Time

So, today I had to trip down to DC to pick up my girlfriend because her direct flight got canceled and she had to reschedule, and I had to pick up my sister from BWI on the way back up. Worst road trip ever. Seriously. Not only did traffic suck (especially on the way up) but BWI and Reagan are a good hour apart if there had been no traffic whatsoever, and like hell was that going to happen. It was just one big, long, ass-numbing ride and I'm glad it's over. Ignoring the fact that the trip sucked, with the wonderful miss Amy back I will naturally be more distracted than I have been over the past week and a half, and my sister and I only get on well for about three days, so it's time for a holiday. I'm still going to make an effort to keep writing, but I'm definitely going to be writing less for a little while. And more importantly, with Amy back I'm going to be spending much less time online. I'll still be on quite a lot, because really I don't do very much, but I will be on less. So if I go unusually quiet in the coming days, that's where I am.

And now for the song to which I have been totally addicted for the past two days:

Finding the balance

What is perhaps the trickiest thing I've found with my WIP is finding the right balance between the two pieces of my characters. Daniel at work is a different man from Daniel at home, and Beckett at work is a very different man from Beckett at home. Once one begins working with Daniel the Inquisitive and Beckett the Regan, it becomes incredibly easy to keep rolling with them, not in the least aided by the fact that the investigation makes for (I think) most of the better parts of the story. But the glimpses of the characters at home are incredibly important as well -- for Daniel, because it paints us a better portrait of our hero; for Beckett, because without it he becomes a one-dimensional hard-ass Cowboy Cop, like Gene Hunt, who is incredibly amusing but just would not work outside pulp fiction, if we were to insert such a character into literature. Sure, my book isn't a literary masterpiece, but I like to think it's better than the old dime novels (much as I love them).

And whether focusing on home or work, it's important to find the right balance between thoughts and descriptions, particularly because I am using third person limited. It's one thing to say Daniel was confused by something. It's quite another to go into immense detail. This, so far, has proved to be less of a challenge, but it is still something I am forced to keep in mind as I go along. Too much detail about one thought can break the narrator's style and can potentially make the reader feel like they've been gipped in places. Of course, some situations call for more or less internalization. Daniel's brushes with Rocelyn, obviously, deal more with Daniel's thoughts and feelings than, say, Daniel walking down the street arguing with Beckett (I swear, if they keep carrying on like they do, I'm buying them rings and shipping them across the pond).

In fact, the balance in everything is important. Too much of the comedic side of Beckett's policing style, or too much of the more grim aspects of the case (okay, to be fair, we're not quite to this point), will shift the book tonally into all the wrong places and can make what would otherwise be fairly innocuous tonal changes seem like skipping from Inverness to Miami in a manner of seconds. Although Daniel is the main character and the bulk of the story is told from his POV, focusing too much on Daniel will ultimately just bog things down in a variety of ways. Some of what must be balanced is easier to handle than others, though I would say more than half of it requires at least some degree of conscious effort to maintain that balance.

I actually think probably the hardest place to balance it, even more than work vs home life, is the internalization aspect. In a lot of ways, they're all connected by the notion of internalization, too. In chapter seven, Daniel has a nightmare. He uses vodka to pull himself out of the initial paranoid post-nightmare haze, and then he just kind of auto-pilots himself into calling his brother and going along to church with his family. I feel like the segment works fine the way it is (whether future betas agree is TBS) but I did make a few changes as I went along. Initially, I really played up the paranoia. After all, we've all woken up from nightmares before. Particularly in the early moments upon waking up, when we're not totally awake and that dream is still fresh in our minds, it's probably at its most terrifying. And I've found some aspect of the nightmare keeps with me for a while. Even if I manage to suppress it, it usually takes a couple of days to drive that one, truly horrifying thought from my mind. So it makes sense to really scare the piss out of him right?

Maybe. If that's what you're going for. But the point of it isn't that Daniel is afraid -- yes, he is -- the point is it's Daniel the Man, not Daniel the Copper. And in some ways, it conveys that fear better. I have a decent sized closet...not sure on the exact size, but large enough to be walk-in. When I've had a nightmare, I often don't want to go into my closet and usually leave a gap in the shower curtain as an escape route. I move very quickly when grabbing clothes, when getting dressed, when showering, when doing anything that involves me being in a place that isn't a "safe spot" (of which there's really only one given the current set-up). And so Daniel moves quickly when he showers. He just throws on the first clothes he grabs and gets the hell out of his bedroom.

And because chapter seven involves Daniel going to church, we obviously touch on his opinions about it. Daniel's an agnostic with a slight atheistic bent who dislikes the way church works. Sure, this is spelled out slightly with a bit of backstory, but slightly. And it really only tells us what that sentence there tells us. Exactly how much he dislikes church is revealed steadily, through little touches, like the description of the church. It doesn't go into insane detail, but it paints both a portrait of the church as it is, and a portrait of the church as Daniel sees it. It's also incredibly easy to fall back on a bunch of bitter grumbles about hating his brother. Instead, his slight dislike of (not hatred) is revealed steadily through little things, like simply stating that Daniel followed Zeke to his M3. Remember: It's established early on that Danny's living in a lower middle-class apartment he can barely afford in the poorest district of the city.

This isn't to say "infodumps" don't exist. I wouldn't call them infodumps, per se, but you could possibly label them as such. Mini-infodumps, if you really want to use that term. When Zeke is driving Daniel back to his place, Daniel is pretty much on his last nerve (doesn't really get along with brother, finds the wife too bubbly, hates his nieces and ends up going to church and lunch with them) and there's a brief spiel of thought in which Danny pretty much spews a whole list of vitriol at his brother. And immediately after he reminds himself that he doesn't actually hate his brother, that's just his aggravation with the fam speaking. We also get some mini-infodumps in (what I think) are amusing quick sentences about what the core building blocks of Danny and Zeke's DNA are.

[Permit me this brief interlude: If it were up to me, I would just let the dog come into the house muddy and leave him in the cat room (formerly my room, became my sister's when she went to college, became the cats' when she moved to Ohio) for the night. But no. I have to clean the mud off of him. He thinks the towels are a toy and immediately gets wound up the moment he sees one, and forever is trying to steal it and play tug-of-war. Some days I wish I had one of those supervillain chairs I could strap him into and just hoover the mud off or something.]

And as I said earlier finding the right balance extends to other areas. As I said in whichever physical models post in which I named who I picture Rocelyn as looking like (I think III), I'm toying with the idea of making Rocelyn Daniel's romantic interest. I may just leave it as Danny's crushing on her and can't bring himself to act on his feelings. If it becomes standalone, I think it makes for a more interesting aspect of the character. If it spawns a series, I'm free to explore the relationship aspect later. But if I do make Rocelyn and Daniel enter into a relationship, there are so many pros to that as well, both from a narrative and character standpoint. But regardless of which route I choose, planting certain seeds in both directions becomes necessary. Rocelyn is a very smiley person. She smiles instead of actually saying hello, she smiles instead of laughing (unless something is horribly funny), in fact she smiles for just about everything. It's like the guy manning the control booth in her brain accidentally set his mug down on the smile button. But at the same time, Rocelyn can't smile too much. Number one, that just comes across as lazy writing, instead of a quirk. Number two, if she smiles too much at Daniel...well, it either makes Daniel look like an idiot kid again who is totally misreading the signals (okay, this comes up validly at one point) or it pretty much only paves a road to eventual hook-up.

Again, as I said earlier, it all seems to bleed together. Everything is separate enough that is becomes incredibly easy to balance some things -- easy enough to balance some things without even trying. And everything is separate enough that it becomes difficult to balance some things.

True, every novel requires some degree of balance. Try writing a romance novel that focuses only on the main thrust of the romance with only the details of action. No sideplots, no thoughts. Just action and main narrative. Okay, you might still end up with a novel length work, but is it going to be anywhere near as good as a novel with all that other stuff? All right, from where I'm standing, I would say probably, but I am not the target demographic. I'm sure if I were to ask my girlfriend (who may in the future be referred to by name, so just to avoid confusion down the road, if you see the name Amy crop up anywhere, 99% of the time that would be who I'm talking about) she would say it would make for a better romance book.

But some things seem to require less balance. My Ian Goodenough stories -- which are throwbacks to ACD and Christie -- are pretty much just "X crime is committed or shall be committed, Goodenough investigates, Goodenough wins/villain wins". Just as the stories of ACD and Christie were. Sure, there was the occasional subplot, particularly in Christie, but it was still pretty much just the mystery. Stories such as this, on the other hand, require a much more deft hand to keep the ship on course. It's less like walking on the edge of the curb and more like unicycling on a tightrope.

This is, ultimately, one thing I have been noticing as I'm going along. Yes, I am making a conscious effort to keep everything as balanced as possible, and I doubt I will ever achieve a perfectly even scale (I doubt any novel has one), but it is the one thing I keep noticing as I go. The biggest edits I will have to make, at least from first draft to second draft, are edits for the sake of balance. Whether that be in the form of padding or cuts varies, and which of the two wins out will have to wait to be seen until the second draft is done (and the first draft isn't even done yet), but it is definitely going to be the biggest overhaul from First Clean Copy to Second Rough Copy.

And every once in a while, I offer a fleeting glance down from the high wire, and I'm forced to question just why the hell I came up here in the first place. I may have pretty good balance, but I'm an acrophobe for heaven's sakes!

P.S. Never ever accidentally type in acrophobia when you mean to type in high wire. Some wonderful photographry but holy hell did I just about shit myself.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ow-hay o-day ou-yay et-gay in he-tay ood-may?

I don't know about you, but I only seem capable of writing when I'm in a specific mood, when my brain is wired in such a way it seems I can't do anything but write. Writing outside of that mood doesn't always end in catastrophe, but most of the time it does. It yielded an unnecessary 189 words earlier in this WIP and really mucked things up last night. Which is a shame because I'd written just shy of a thousand words and was a bit happy I'd nearly hit the 16k mark...for all of five minutes. That was when I realized Daniel wasn't totally out of character -- in fact technically speaking, he was still in character -- but he was out of it enough. And more importantly, throughout the WIP so far, we have only seen Beckett off-duty once, and Beckett off-duty is a different man from on-duty. Unfortunately, that piece pretty much finished him as a one dimensional caricature and no amount of anything could fix it down the line. And most of all, it was just crap. But when I'm in the mood, I write things like the description of headquarters or Daniel's breaking into the grocery store.

Maybe I'm just a nutter. Or maybe you need the ood-may too. So, how dost thou go about getting into the mood, if at all? In the case of myself, it just seems to happen randomly, often times even when the Muses haven't come singing their ideas.

History of Llanwerth: The Birth of a Community

Summer, 1945. America's sons have seen victory in the European campaign, many a time has Hitler suffered the amazing fist of Captain America, and the war effort is beginning to wind down in the Pacific Theatre. Europe has seen better days and the Soviet threat is so close upon the doorstep, but so far unto history has there never been a better time to be an American. Thanks to some good old fashioned warfare and elbow grease, America has pulled herself from the throes of an economic depression and things are looking up.

© Time Inc.

In that old slice of ground now known as Llanwerth, the towns have all begun to be be renamed to forms more recognizable by modern standards and the farming business is beginning to boom again. The boys home from Europe have begun to look for places of their own, giving rise to an explosion of suburbia. Though many settle for places a bit nearer to the city for an easy commute, some are willing to take the extra time for that little slice of heaven. It is these families who come out and see the transformation of towns like Wadefeld from happy vacation hole to an American benchmark.

© Time Inc.

The 1940s roll on and so does America's fortune. In 1947 the Levittown model springs up and is fast copied by developers around the nation. The construction of highways and turnpikes continues to march on. The already thriving towns of Wadefeld, Abernathy, and Allerton explode thanks to these efforts. In no time at all, the once abundant farmland has been shrunk to covering only about thirty percent of the area. More and yet more, the towns grow.

© Time Inc.

Soon construction begins on new, smaller towns along the plots of land surrounding the few surviving farms. Many farmers give up and head west, hoping to find better chances of a largely undisturbed life out in Nebraska, Kansas, and the like. Developers buy up the farms and bring them down to put up more homes. It soon becomes apparent that many of these locations are too small to ever constitute town status, and due to their closeness they agree to band together into townships. Life is great for the residents of the area, but as the 1940s draw to a close, a select few begin to see the ugly truth on the horizon.

© Time Inc.

Friday, March 12, 2010

This deserves its own post

It totally does. I've loved it since I discovered it back in June and I'm not really sure why I never posted it before, but there it is.

History of Llanwerth: The Good Ol' Days

The city we know today as Llanwerth didn't come about until the mid-1980s. Parts of the city existed as small communities as far back as colonial days, though for the sake of being concise we are going to skip ahead to the early twentieth century. To be precise, we shall be visiting a slice of land racked by the Great Depression, though perhaps not as harshly as other parts of the nation.

© Time Inc.
In the early 1930s, much of what is now known as Llanwerth was loosely connected farmland. Three small towns existed not far apart, each with trolley lines and railway lines connecting them to the two nearest cities so farmers could go into the city to sell their crops and purchase new equipment, or, on rare occasions, just spend the day.

© Time Inc.
Life isn't exactly easy for the farm folk, not only because of the Great Depression, but also because of weather conditions. Although the Little Ice Age ended in 1850 and the world has steadily been warming, winters are still harsh and in the early 1930s they are especially so, with frequent heavy snowfalls bordering on blizzard conditions. Winter crops such as winter wheat and sweet potatoes cannot be grown because of all the snow, and although most farms have alternative products to offer, the income is barely enough to keep themselves afloat. Snow continues moving in the direction of these farms, but as the spring comes round, it quickly turns to driving rains, washing away large amounts of what could have otherwise been bountiful harvests. It isn't until 1936 that conditions stabilize to a more familiar year.

© Time Inc.
Life fares a bit better for those in town, who are largely wealthy businessmen who work in the city but enjoy the quaintness of the country. However, even the wealthiest of the townsmen feel the effects of the economic downturn. Mom-n-Pop shops are closing and homes are hitting the market.

© Time Inc.
In spite of this, people seem to be moving into town just as quickly as houses are going up for sale. A cycle of sell-buy springs up, and soon more than half of residents are in town for only a year before monetary issues drives them elsewhere. Roughly forty percent of those who survive the first year end up leaving after their second year. Very few people remain in town for the long haul.

© Time Inc.
It seems as though any moment now, all life will just disappear from this tiny part of the nation. And yet the clouds of war are looming in the distance, and close on their heels come the golden rays of fortune...

The Growth of a City

Well, I got a bit bored, so I'm working on a line of posts detailing a rough overview of how Llanwerth became Llanwerth, from the early 1930s to, at the very least, the mid-1980s, when in my mind it first became the city. First post is scheduled to hit the blog in about an hour. Gonna strive for one a day over the weekend, so that'll carry us to the end of the 1950s, and we'll see how it works out over the rest of the week.

Our Favorite Things This Week

1. Wigan v Liverpool. It was incredibly frustrating to watch, and visibly even more frustrating for the lads on the pitch. I'd be lying if I said the Reds played well. But I always look forward to a match. Really the biggest highlight for me was the commentary. Normally I go with Fox Sports (the Australian one) because I like their pundits, or if I can't get them I go with Sky Sports. ESPN usually has crappy pundits. But I was forced to go with ESPN and OMG IT MADE MY NIGHT. Martin Tyler, who is a very good pundit, was on it, doing his usual narrating every last thing that happens and naming every player with the ball. He was aided by a Scotsman, who made little comments at sporadic intervals that ranged from no value whatsoever to "What the fuck are you talking about?" Why is this so lolsome? I have been playing bucketloads of FIFA 10 since Christmas, and double bucketloads since I discovered the Be A Pro: Seasons feature. FIFA 10's English pundits (you can change languages and get different pundits and I think there might even be North American pundits) are Martin Tyler and Andy Gray. Andy Gray is an awful pundit whose comments range from no value to "What the fuck are you talking about?" This holds especially true in FIFA 10, where the majority of the things Gray recorded (whether scripted or riffed I don't know), he says things like "Well, I may be being critical, but if you don't hit the target, you're never going to score a goal" and you're just like NO SHIT SHERLOCK! But OMG I died laughing when the game started. Only way it could've been better is if it actually was Andy Gray.

2. Series Fnarg trailer with Google's transcription captions on. It apparently can't handle anything non-American, and if you think Series Fnarg trailer captions turn up lulz, ohmigod the things I got from the Greater Manchester Police's channel. Also, SERIES FNARG! Not only is that the greatest name ever but SERIES FNARG! Please make it Easter now please please please please please please please please! And as a slight aside, it's kind of weird for me to be so excited about Series Fnarg. Usually I'm a bit timid about the incoming of a new Doctor, then they are favorite-in-the-making for a couple of episodes after, and then they settle into a rank somewhere. But holy hannah if I am not excited for the new Doctor.

3. Senior skip day!

4. That Where's Waldo site Mia linked to.

5. It's Proper Vampire Month on Facebook. Like Pokemon month with the Pokemon pictures, only you make your profile picture your favorite vampire for the month of March. I almost went with Nosferatu or the Hammer version of Dracula played by Christopher Lee, but then I remembered Christopher Lee did a German film called Count Dracula in which they tried to make him look like the Dracula Bram Stoker described, and OMG it is lol-arious. The wikipedia article on Dracula has the picture of him I'm using.

6. As you can probably tell, I've been re-watching LOM and A2A.

7. Met an awesome 70-ish year old man. Is automatically awesome forever because he has two medium sized girly looking dogs: One named Humphrey, the other named Bogart. Made my Thursday.

8. The Ghost Writer is not quite as good as the novel upon which it is based, but hot damn is it good. Masterful filmmaking. Definitely go see it.

9. Over the course of several hours, friend and I posted the lyrics to Sei ein mann on one another's Facebook walls, one line at a time. Absolute highlight of my week.

10. Brad had things he needed to get done so instead of just giving me a lift in the Pretty Pretty Shiny Shiny™ I got to drive the Pretty Pretty Shiny Shiny™. Audi A-4 handles like a dream. I wants it. Okay so I still need a little practice with the stick shift, but considering I'd only ever seen people use one up to that point and never actually used one myself (although I did know what to do), I did pretty good.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Act III Scene I - In which Nick rants until he is calm again

Whoever decided education should cost money is an evil bastard. No. Not evil. Evile. A slimy, smarmy, evile bastard. Seriously, do they not understand I am poor? Okay, not that poor, but at the moment I have zilch income, $270 in the bank, $126 in wallet, and shan't be job hunting until after graduation because I don't do my work as is. Having a job would just take away the time in which I do the little work I do. Okay, so I wouldn't be paying for university out of pocket, but what's in my fund will cover only tuition for the three years if I get into one of the two I really want to go to. R&B would still have to be out of pocket, so to speak, and absolutely out of pocket if I went with the private sector. The one upside to the two schools I really want to go to is it would be much cheaper to go to them as an international student than to a school here as an in-state student or an out-of-stater at the schools I've been looking at in New England. One of those two schools has the added upside of: Tuition fees do not change for international students, so I could complete my three years of study as an international student and maintain residency after graduation. Okay, so it wouldn't be much cheaper, but cheaper. A year of tuition as an in-state student would be about $17500-something at the school where my friend goes. A year of tuition as an undergraduate international student at Dream School A would be $15602, and Dream School B would be $14401. Dream School B is the one where fees would not change over the tenure of my study. There are different residency halls at each of the DSs, but we'll start with B because I have their thingy open right now. Going for the cheapest option on each.

Dream School B:
Residency Hall I - $184/wk or $9568/yr
Residency Hall II - $172/wk or $8944/yr
Residency Hall III - $105/wk or $5460/yr
Residency Hall IV - $141/wk or $7332/yr
Residency Hall V - $156/wk or $8112/yr
Residency Hall VI - $152/wk or $7904/yr
Residency Hall VII - $158/wk or $8216/yr
Residency Hall VIII - $188/wk or $9776/yr
Residency Hall IX - $127/wk or $6604/yr

Now I'm assuming these are cost per person and not cost amongst mates, because the average number of students seems to be 4-8 and $105/wk between 8 people seems egregiously small. Granted these numbers still aren't too bad. Even if we take the largest of them, that's $24177 per year. Where my friend goes is one of the cheaper in-state schools (sad, I know). Where my sister went for a year before flunking out was around that much per year. But that is still expensive! And one has to remember to would be moving costs! Obviously I wouldn't bring everything over straight away and even later on I'd leave some stuff behind and buy on-site, but there are still things I'd need to bring and even if I could bring them all on a plane (which I probably could), planes are expensive, man. Fortunately some of these are suites, which is what I'd be striving for ideally. The cheapest suite with single-rooms is the $6604 one.

Dream School A has several halls but all of the halls have the same types of rooms. The first option would be a suite shared by a minimum of 8 people, the most last and expensive would be a single-person flat. Going across the chart the costs would be:
Option I - $143/wk or $7436/yr
Option II - $128/wk or $6656/yr
Option III - $112/wk or $5824/yr
Option IV - $90/wk or $4680/yr
Option V - $75/wk or $3900/yr (specifically marked as per person on chart)
Option VI - $128/wk or $1536/yr (specifically marked as per room on chart)
Option VII - $225/wk or $11700/yr

Ultimately it would probably be cheaper to end up renting a place for myself. Dream School B is even nice and offers guides to help prospective students go househunting and such. They also have "unihomes" which are just houses owned by the university they rent out to students, and the biggest pitfall to a unihome would be it's only for during the school year, so I'd have to fly back to the States ever summer(!!! expensive!!!!) or find somewhere to shack up over the summer(!!!! not easy!!!!!). So we're just going to rule out the unihomes immediately, shall we? And when it comes to both DSs, there is the option of the private sector. But! the trouble with the private sector is, everyone I know is either already in university or out of university, and even if that were a non-issue, they're almost all in the north! Thus, any place I find would have to be funded solely by myself, at least at first, until I found a friend who was willing to split costs. These are probably on the more expensive end of things but a quick gander at places for rent in the same city as DSB shows $829/month for a studio (cheapest option - remember I am poor!) and a quick gander at places for rent in same city as DSA shows $483/month for a studio (again, cheapest option). I lack the income for this kind of monies, and sure I'll be getting a job to save up money over the next year or two to help cover these costs, but let's assume I make minimum wage -- $7.25/hr. Let's say I pull a $40hr week, just to be kinder on myself. Sure, that's $2030 in a week or $105560 in a year, but some of that has to go towards other costs. And let's bear in mind I probably won't be pulling a 40 hour week, and most important of all, I would need to find a job once I'm over there to be able to pay for my residency.

Of course this becomes a non-issue if I don't get in, but I'm going to keep trying to get in every year until I've finished university here, and more importantly, it's smart to save up the money now and not need it than get in and be all HOLYSHITICANTAFFORDYOU.

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh ugh ughity ugh ugh. It's times like these I wish we were communists and everything were free.

Dream School A
Dream School B

Y So Hot?

Yay for lame titles!

Anyway one thing I've noticed lately is a lot of people seem to be writing YA. Like, a lot of people. Nothing really wrong with this, but I can't help but wonder, why?

And since I feel that's not really long enough for a post, more random musings:

My characters have really filthy mouths. Again, nothing really particularly wrong with this, but they do. Particularly Beckett. I think Beckett says fuck more times in one chapter than he uses "the", which is the most commonly used word in the English language, understandably. In fact he probably says fuck more times than he says any other word, ever. He's like one big fuck machine. (No, not like that) Daniel doesn't swear nearly as much, but that's because Daniel likes playing the tepid newbie. He is a bit of a cautious newbie, given that Chapter 3 is the start of his first day and Chapter 6 is the start of his second day, but he's not nearly as bad as he initial leads one to believe.

Instead of swearing, Daniel is just an unlikeable bastard. He likes putting on acts to get things from people, something which makes him a pretty good cop, but is kind of assholish. Especially because some (maybe most) of it, like playing the idiot greenhorn, is done pretty much just to mess with his superiors. Daniel also breaks into the grocery store he used to work in at the end of chapter one to steal some milk and bread. Okay, to be fair he isn't actually stealing. He takes the stuff when he doesn't have any money and breaks in later to leave the money for what he took plus a little extra as compensation. Also to be fair, the owner is an idiot. His security system is so simplistic the wind could break it. Actually I think the segment where Daniel breaks into the store is the best written part of my WIP so far, which is kind of sad when you think about it. Might be tied with the beginning of chapter six.

That's another thing. I do really epic descriptions of things like Daniel's breaking into the store, or Daniel's apartment, or the police headquarters, and then I just kind of lazily describe things like the Browns' house as a pale blue terraced house. I feel like I should balance them out, but I can't bring myself to ruin the beautiful descriptions and I feel like if I ramp up the descriptions of other things the story will delve into purple prose. Maybe I'm just overthinking things here and everything's fine. We are our harshest critics after all.

Lastly, I've been considering two things. Number One: Drawing up a quick, crude map just showing the various neighborhoods of the city, no real street names or parks or landmarks or anything. Don't worry I will "borrow" the good camera when it comes to that. Number Two: Temporarily posting up the second chapter for your pleasure, because it's fairly short and doesn't really spoil anything and I think it's stronger than my first chapter. Bear in mind this would be a totally unedited first draft copy. I'm not even going to eye it over for typos. I'd just Ctrl+V it into a blog post. Thoughts?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Plan 11 from Planet X: The Attack of the Mutant Broccoli Ink Monsters of Neptune

So, my last three posts have been on physical models, because the only other interviews I have planned at the moment (and possibly the only other interviews period) are scheduled for later dates and aside from that I have only one other thing planned, but by nature that must go up on Friday, so yeah.

So anyway inspiration actually struck in school for once(!) and I scribbled down a decent bit of stuff. Some of it is definitely a delete, some of may simply be refined or may end up deleted, but the first paragraph or two are definite keepers. To show you how crappy my handwriting is, and give a glimpse of the surprisingly unfrantic-ness of my scribbles (and possibly some reading of things if it's remotely legible), I present to you said scribbles.

Admittedly they would be easier to read if I had a real camera and I had written in cursive instead of print. Although the first like half sentence is in cursive. Very sloppy cursive. Which is why I switched.

Also I just want to point something out here.

See that big box? The little writing in the upper corner there reads, and I quote, "Possibly delete? Do delete".

Now excuse me while I go continue being exhausted and tetchy.