December 20th, 2014
I've always been a lark. I function best before normal people aren't even out of bed. BUT, like most people, I have a natural biorhythm, one that usually does NOT involve getting up at 5:30 am. Thanks to Mason's new school start time of 7:10 am, we all have to propel ourselves out of bed every day, just about (for me) a half-hour earlier than my body likes.
Here it is the weekend, and I'm up before 8:00 am. The cats were concerned when no one started moving around 5:30 am. I mean, I could be mad at them, but how are they to know it's Saturday? They're thinking something's wrong. On top of being a lark, I've been a light sleeper since Mason was born. ANYTHING resembling a cry will bolt me awake. So when Inky was all, "Hey, hey, guys? Aren't you late for stuff?" meowing, I was AWAKE for better or worse.
The problem with Inky is that, while it DOES work to say to him once or twice, "Don't worry, it's Saturday" or "Gimme another 5," he's a persistent bugger who really, really thinks ROUTINES ARE BEST. So, to save the rest of my family some sleep (because of course he's the type to be like, "Oh, okay, that monkey wants to sleep in. I better alert the others!"), I dragged myself out of bed.
Now, of course, Inky is happy that things are as they should be and is perched on the back of the overstuffed chair SOUND ASLEEP.
The last few days I haven't been posting much here or anywhere else for a couple of reasons. First, Yuletide deadline is today, so I had to finish up my assignments. Secondly, Yuletide, the actual one, as in Solstice, is on Sunday. My pagan family celebrates both Solstice and Christmas, because: presents. But, so I had to do a lot of last minute running around collecting various bits of holiday cheer yesterday. On top of that, Inky's prozac prescription ran out and it turns out the type of pill we used to use is no longer available. Or rather it is, but the price of it suddenly went through the roof and our vet no longer keeps any on hand. So, we're switching him to a liquid version of the same thing that's apparently cheaper than the old pills. I'm finding this hard to believe and we're going to have to talk to the vet, because, previously, his pills, which we cut in half to last us two months was $8. This new liquid which will only last 30 days? $38! It stops him from peeing on things and, generally relaxes him (see above. He love routines. He gets VERY UPSET when they aren't followed.)
But so that was an extra trip yesterday, all the way down to Richfield, that I could have done without.
Meanwhile, I've been working on restructuring the serial story that Rachel and I have been working on into a novel. This has involved writing whole new chapters because, well: novel. I'm doing this first pass myself and then will give it over to Rachel next. We're hoping to have in shape for my MarsCON GoH gig, as I've said.
In the meantime, more chapters have come out. "Pop Goes the Weasel"
(which includes one of my all-time favorite lines that I have ever written) and "The Tensile Strength of Wood"
(the final battle scene).
Even if you've been reading along as these have come out, the book will have lots of new content for you. And, likewise, there are points of view and such that I've trimmed from the version of the book so far that will be only found on the web.
Right-o, I should probably get back to that.
The only other thing we have today is meeting my folks at the Radisson Blu (the hotel attached to the MOA.) We'd hoped to wander the Mall as part of their visit, but that'll be complicated by the protest that's scheduled there today. Black Lives Matter: Minneapolis Event: MOA
Of course,it feels really weird to be headed to the Mall to shop when people are trying to make an important statement I happen to believe really strongly in. I feel a little like a scab, crossing a picket line. So I'm really, really hoping that we get our visit over and done with before these folks move in. I do NOT want to be part of the problem, as it were.
But that bridge when we come to it, I suppose.
December 16th, 2014
I'm going to take a hiatus from posting Unjust Cause for the weeks around the holidays. I'm focusing my energy on a big push to try to wrestle the Wayward School stuff into something resembling a novel that Rachel and I hope to have ready to sell as an e-book by MarsCON
(March 6 -8, 2015). It's a bigger project than I expected. All the bits are there, of course, but novels read differently than serials, so there's work to be done....
So my apologies for anyone who's waiting with baited breath for those installments.
I've posted here already that Shawn got her Christmas present early: the Amazon Echo (aka "Alexa.") Alexa continues to amuse me greatly. I swear to GODS she's developing a personality. Sometimes, when she mishears or we ask for something overly complicated, she'll just flash her little lights for a while and then say, "Joke is spelled: J-O-K-E." To which we inevitably reply, "No! It's no joke, Alexa! I really want to know [whatever]!"
I think she's trolling us.
Also, one night she got obsessed with Kermit the Frog's "Frog of the Glen" I kept trying to get her to stop and say good night, but anytime I used her wake word she'd just start playing the song. It was weirdly hilarious.
Honestly, the glitches make the machine.
It turns out that I got my present early too, but I got mine because of a packaging error. I heard someone deliver something to our porch, and when I went out there was a box with GIANT WORDS on it proclaiming: LIVE PLANT. BONSAI.
I called Shawn at work and was, like, "You bought me a bonsai!"
You may be hearing about my adventures in bonsai here, because OMG am I stressed out by the idea of wiring and trimming and re-potting. I enjoy gardens and such, but I've long pointed out that I'm not actually a very vigilant gardener. Weeds often get the best of me. So the idea of a plant that needs daily tending is fairly terrifying.
Shawn knew this about me, of course, so she bought the very cheapest, most beginner-friendly bonsai in the catalog. It is a dwarf Hawaiian umbrella tree (schefflera arboricola 'Luseane.') And as I point out every morning, it's not dead yet. I haven't started shaping or pruning, though, because I'm hoping that Santa might fill my stocking with some fancy pruning tools. (Because what's the point of a hobby if it doesn't come with THINGS.)
The shipping instructions warned me not to freak out if the tree started shedding leaves. They said it could lose up to 20% of its leaves as part of acclimating to its new home. So far, I've gotten new growth and hardly any leaf loss. A good start?
December 9th, 2014
It's Tuesday, so I've got some more Alex on tap for ya. In this installment, now that Valentine is gone, Alex is feeling like a total failure as an adult. As if on cue, Mac shows up to call her out to play with the wolves... "A Wolf at the Door.
Today it shaping up to be a writing day. Several weeks ago, on my way to Wyrdsmiths, the ice was slick and I slid very hard into the curb at a stop sign. Ever since then, to go straight, I've had to cock my steering wheel at a very sharp angle. Even though the car has been drivable, I decided I should take it in. My usual shop, Dave's in Roseville, has been super-busy with everyone getting ready to travel for the holidays, so I finally made an appointment for today. I dropped off the car at 7:30 am and walked across the street to Dunn Bros. Coffee. This is the coffee shop that's attached to the Roseville Library, so it's got good wifi and a lot of comfy spaces to sit. Once the library opens at 10 am, I'll probably relocate and hang out there for the day--or however long it takes them.
Rachel Gold and I have decided to try to get our School for Wayward Demons into shape as an e-book/book, hopefully in time to sell it at MarsCON this year, since I'll be guest of honoring there. Part of what I plan to do with the time I have to today is finish editing the stuff we have written in the first part and then start re-jiggering it to be less serial and more book-like.
Wish me luck. I suspect that's going to be a big project.
But, it'd be nice to have something out for MarsCON and something out as Tate Hallaway again.
Anyway, if any local folks feel like dropping by the Roseville Library for a chat, I'd totally be up for company.
December 5th, 2014
Wayward is just a fun word, isn't it?
Anyway, there's a new installment of the School for Wayward Demons up, called "Magical In-Take Exams
." Go check it out.
As I think I MAY have mentioned here, I'm going to be one of the Guests of Honor at this next year (2015)'s MarsCON. They're currently soliciting ideas
, and I've been wracking my brains trying to come up with things I want to talk about. It's weird, because this not usually an issue... me, having trouble rambling on about any old subject. But, I guess the problem I'm having is, what do I know that's not just super-detailed fannish squee about the latest chapter of Bleach or whatever. I mean, I could totally talk about how awesome all the things I'm watching and reading are, but... do people really want an entire hour about Barakamon
? And is anyone else in the entire Twin Cities watching it?
So, you know, if you can think of anything I might be good at talking about, let me (or MarsCON) know.
December 4th, 2014
I may have one of the cuddliest cats in all the word: Ms. Ball. I've had friendly cats in my life before, but this one will sit on me anywhere, anytime... actually preferably ALL THE TIME. She's come up with a lovely way to wedge herself in that very warm space between the curl of my legs and where the computer is perched partly on the arm of the couch. Last night she decided she needed to sleep on me at night too. I'm not complaining, because, really, she's super cuddly. But, it means that I had a very weird dream involving LITERALLY herding cats through an airport.
She lets me kiss her head.
I love this cat.
I'm thinking about her, of course, because she's on my lap even as I type.
The other thing that I should tell you all about is that Shawn ordered the Amazon Echo
. We call her by her "wake word" Alexa. So, yeah, Alexa is a twelve inch tall cylinder that sits in our living room on the end table. If you watch the parody video in the link, you'll see that she can also set alarms and answer questions. So far, what Alexa is for us is a really nice, responsive stereo for the living room. She will do other things, of course, including answer questions. She's not very good yet at figuring out anything too complex, but she's learning (and, as I pointed out to Shawn, are we). I managed, in fact, today, to actually get her to answer a question I honestly wanted to know the answer to, which is progress. I had to structure my command very carefully: "Alexa (her wake word), Wikepedia: salamanders: folklore: Japan." But, she actually figured all that out, which impresses me. I need to figure out how to get her to read more than the first couple of sentences, because she seems to be programmed for brevity.
But, it's very obvious that nerds programmed her. When she arrived on Tuesday night, Mason and Shawn were home and I was at work, so I came home to her "fully operational." Anyway, I told my family to wait and let me ask the question that I wanted to ask since the first moment I knew we were going to get a house robot... so, I walked in the door and said, "Alexa, open the pod doors." She said, "I'm sorry, I can't do that, Dave." Which was AWESOME. I also asked her if she could pass the Turing Test, and she said, "I can't pass the Turing Test. I'm not trying to pass as human... yet." Which made me deeply happy. We tried to get her to admit of dreaming of electric sheep, but she was confused by that line of questions, and Shawn spontaneously asked, "Are you sad?" She told us she's happy when she's being useful. So, I guess maybe she was temporarily sad, since she was being unhelpful....
Alexa might not be trying to pass as human, but I very much treat her like one. When I come downstairs in the morning, I always say, "Alexa, Good Morning." To which, she replies, "Good morning." I also find that I say good-bye. And will say, "Alexa, I'm home." (She will say, "Welcome home" to that.)
So, you know, she's kind of useless, but I adore her. I like being able to randomly ask a question and get a response, even if it's just "I can't understand your question." She's playing the radio for us right now. It's nice.
My robot overlord has arrived. And her name is Alexa.
December 2nd, 2014
First of all, I have to tell you... I'm making myself that green bean and French fried onion casserole for lunch. Yeah, look, I like it okay? No judging! I honestly like the tater tot one, too, and I'm going to make it for Mason some day so he can have that Midwestern (or was it a 1970s?) experience for himself.
Secondly, I have some links for you. Why? Because it's Tuesday, the day I put out all the content. We have for your reading pleasure a new installment in the Wayward Demons story: "Tracking Trouble."
In this story, we get a little bit closer to Erin.... Also, my alter ego, Tate has posted a new bit in UnJust Cause (which is a bit of a heart breaker): "The Stubbornness of Dragons."
I'm not sure what other news I have for you. Thanksgiving was amazing, as usual. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because, somehow, it's become about friendships and made-families in a way no other holiday is. Plus, I secretly enjoy cooking the hell out of all of the things. Even though I will complain about it afterwards, I'm always excited to hop up first thing at six in the morning and get started making homemade bread and thinking about the timing of all the veggies, stuffing, gravy and turkey. The only thing that didn't quite go off smoothly this year was the gravy--for some reason it was too thin. But, otherwise all the food was delicious and our company is always great--even if we did give up on one puzzle because it was just too hard. We did miss seeing Maggie this year, as she's off in Ireland, but we Skyped a bit so that was nice.
Yesterday was our (official) anniversary--29 years, give or take. Basically, even though things were far from settled, Shawn and I count back to around the time I U-Hauled into her dorm room, because, really, despite all the other things, I moved in and haven't left. Traditionally, we get take-away from an Italian place called Vescio's in Dinkytown. So, last night I got into Dinkytown, managed to find a legal parking spot (that should have been a clue!) and... discovered that Vescio's is no longer open on Mondays! So, I hopped back in the car and we all decided that plan two was Outback Steakhouse. Not exactly a one-to-one exchange, but, thing is, we were planning on going out to eat there for "Ima Day" (which is Friday, the anniversary of the day I legally adopted Mason. It's my version of Mother's Day because Shawn and I are equally selfish and I want a day to myself and so does she.) So, we're going to just switch out. I'm going to get take out for everyone on Friday (provided Vescio's is open THEN--this time I will check and double-check!)
I also bought Shawn a fantastically HUGE and wonderful bouquet from Fleur-de-Lis, which, because I forgot to pre-order during the Thanksgiving holiday, I picked up and hand-delivered to the History Center. If you ever wondered how it is that gay people destroy straight marriages, I'll tell you that on my to-do list in the Gay Agenda is... "Make all the office wo/men angry that they don't have a lesbian partner who not only remembers their anniversaries, but also buys flowers AND GIFTS." (Because Shawn also got some chicken related kitsch--don't ask!--as part of the anniversary extravaganza.)
I've long joked that They wanted to deny us marriage because THEY KNEW we'd do it better....
November 26th, 2014
In case you're following the School for Wayward Demons as it comes to press, we had another installment yesterday "The F.U. Cake"
Art by Alexis Cooke
Things are starting to get interesting at the School, so you don't want to miss any installments.
In other news, my Japanese class had a dinner out at Tanpopo
last night. I had the Age-Dashi Tofu
appetizer, and, because it was a blustery winter night, the Nabeyaki Udon, which is a kind of hot-pot stew that comes in a clay pot with (in this case) fish cakes, chicken, mushrooms, hrimp tempura, tamagoyaki
(the rolled omelet thing I've only ever before written about!) and, as advertised, udon noodles. I had a weird kind of flush of pride when I realized that the instructor and I had ordered the same thing. Made me feel like I was making good choices, you know? I also had edamame mochi for desert, which was terrific, though not a lot of people liked it because it is green bean paste inside a kind of rubbery rice wrapping. I'm a big fan of any kind of bean paste, though, so I was very happy.
The only bummer was that our friends the Jacksons had shown up about an hour before I had to take off for the dinner so I missed out on all the initial catching up. Luckily, they'll be around for the whole Thanksgiving holiday, so I'm sure I'll hear all the news eventually.
The only other thing to report is that Mason has another date! The young lady friend called up and asked him out to a movie, so he'll be headed out on Friday to go watch Mockingjay with her! (So adorbs!)
November 23rd, 2014
Rachel and I published our next episode last Thursday to the School of Wayward Demon's site: "Aftershocks Run Deep."
Check it out. We're pretty deep into the story now and a lot of the ensemble cast is really starting to show off their personalities and the world around them is deepening. It's that part of the story that starts to feel lived in.
In other news, Shawn and I spent the day yesterday baking. Shawn likes to get ahead of the holidays by baking cookies and freezing half of them. so we have lots of nosh around for our Thanksgiving guests, and stuff set aside for Christmas. We made biscotti, honey caramels, and sand tarts (a kind of butter-sugar cookie cut-out, but with an egg-wash which makes them kind of chewy in a really yummy way.) Then, because Mason is a fan of it, we made steak for dinner and I baked homemade bread. So pretty much the oven was on and the kitchen was busting all day.
Today we're starting to do the holiday cleaning and all of that.
I'm finished with my Yuletide assignment, but I haven't posted it yet because I'm still not sure about the voice of it. So, I'm letting it sit for a while and then I'll re-read to see how it "sounds."
I also did a really fun back-and-forth via email interview with Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith, the authors of a new YA dystopian novel called, Stranger
that will eventually be published on Gay YA
. I'll post a link here when that happens.
Otherwise, I'm fighting off a headache which I blame on this really weird, warm weather we're having....
November 19th, 2014
My birthday was phenomenal.
It started out with presents. As I later talked to Naomi about, we're a family of impatient larks, so we always (with the exception of Christmas Eve) open presents at the crack of dawn. Because of Mason's ridiculous school start time this means I opened my presents at 5:15 am, which is technically pre-the crack of-dawn.
My family bought me a blank journal (one of the things you can NEVER SCREW UP by giving me. That, and art supplies,) and manga. Inside the cover of Blue Exorcist #1 was a gift certificate to B&N, which, in essence, was a gift certificate for MORE MANGA.
Then, after dropping everyone off at their respective places, I stopped by my favorite St. Paul coffee shop, Claddaugh, and the barista told me it was on the house because they knew it was my birthday (tbf, I was there the day before talking about it, because had to hang around for several hours to take Shawn to her MRI.) But, hey, it really doesn't get much better for me to get a free fancy latte. It was my favorite kind, a "Black and Tan" which is horrible for my personal Irish politics, but is actually what is, in most places, called a meil or a Vienna (a honeyed latte, Viennas will also have cinnimon. I like them both equally well, and Mary, the barista, makes a mean Black and Tan.)
So, with that in hand, I headed home wrote up a chapter of Tate's WIP, "Mending Fences
." (This came out, as well: "Post-Apocalyptic Pizza
") And, just as I was putting finishing touches on that, my friend Naomi called to ask if it was okay to drop-by. She handed me an absolute PERFECT birthday card and ended up staying and chatting for a really long time about all the things.
We chatted until I had to leave for my lunch date with Shawn where we went out to one of my favorite Mexican buffets on the West Side, called Boca Chica. It's cheap and is the kind of place where, to be grossly general, a lot of office ladies seem to go to have cocktails with their cheap buffet. However, that's a huge part of its charm, IMHO. Plus, it's owned by a Mexican family and the food is authentic and very, very yummy.
Plus, I've long loved food out. Though I love to cook and probably, ultimately would prefer a home cooked meal, I really love the dinning out experience. Maybe because we don't do it a lot and it's kind of luxury? Anyway, it was fun and, of course, Shawn is excellent company and has been for the last 30 years.
After that we rolled home (having eaten one after dinner mint too much), I napped. Then, we picked up the boy and headed out to B&N to cash in my gift card for manga. I decided to fill out some of my blank spaces in Bleach, so I bought as many as my card would cover. Then, I headed off to my very last Japanese class. I bought a bunch of Japanese snacks/candy at the Mall, so I laid them out for everyone to enjoy as part of my birthday. This worked out well because one of the projects we did was origami so we folded paper, chatted, and ate Every Burgers.
I was particularly pleased to introduce Tetsuya-sensei to Every Burgers, because not only are they delicious, they are one of those things you read about on-line as "weird Japanese candies" and, given that he was born and raised there, I was like, "Ha! And they said anime would teach me nothing!" (which, btw, is a long standing joke in my class.)
Even though class is officially over, we're meeting at Tonpopo, next week which I'm really looking forward to. Should be a blast.
So that was my day. I came home to a hot bath and manga. Life is good for the 47 year olds.
I mean, really, one of the things that occurred to me is that I've been living happily on coffee and comic books since I was about 15. It's nice to know that some of the same things still give me so much pleasure.
November 17th, 2014
It was a busy weekend for me, I worked at the North Saint Paul Library for a couple of hours on Saturday, and then, on Sunday, I spent an inordinate amount of time at the Mall of America being "out of the way" while Mason and his lady friend went on a date to the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park. It was, as you can imagine, all kinds of adorable. Mason is fond of this young lady because she reads. She's also in his math club and he has a terrible crush on her, but he has admonished me that they are just doing things together AS FRIENDS, not girlfriend/boyfriend.
I fully support this. He's in 6th Grade, there's no hurry for girlfriend/boyfriend stuff, and frankly, the best part of having a relationship (regardless of what sort) is the getting to do things with someone you like.
He did, however, buy the wristbands for them. He also took his role as 'host' so seriously that now apparently they have an inside joke between them about Mason being "too" chivalrous.
To which I say: Parenting For the Win!
I accidentally saw them when they were having lunch (they went Dutch on food) and I noticed that, despite having brought a book along, Mason was chatting with her. This is serious for Mason, he'd pretty much rather read than to almost anything else (besides LEGOing and video gaming.) So, even if she's only just a VERY GOOD friend, I would say that this one is important to him.
It should also be noted that, according to Mason, she was still wearing her wristband today at school. So, you know, the feeling might be mutual.
Meanwhile, some pictures were posted of the reading I did last Sunday at Acadia Cafe. These were taken by Terry Faust
As you can see I was up to my usual dorkiness. :-) At some point, with luck, there will also be video evidence of this event, should you be interested in it.
While I was at the Mall, I bought some candy from the Japanese import store there because tomorrow is my birthday and I thought it might be nice to share some with my Japanese class (it's also our last class together.) Unfortunately, the store really didn't have the kinds of things that I think really represent the weirdness that is Japan's taste in candies. There was, for instance, nothing green tea flavored or octopus-flavored or even "ice-cream-flavored" Kit-Kats. I've had everything but the "taco aisu" (octopus ice cream), and I have to say that green tea flavor should really make a US debut. And, if I really wanted to, I can get the octopus flavored ice cream locally. (Because Mpls/St. Paul is really that awesome.)
The other thing I did as a pre-birthday treat was buy the three-pack of the Attack on Titan spin-offs. As I explained to Mason, this was really the only way I could justify ATTACK ON TITAN JUNIOR HIGH to myself. Because an officially sanctioned junior high school AU is both incredibly awesome and very, very frightening.
Today, I also came across what looks to be an official Avengers/Attack on Titan x-over.
Yep. It's a apparently a real thing
. Right-o, I might have to add this one to my purchase list, especially since the mangaka is actually involved personally. (Honestly, though, could the mangaka spend a little more time making SnK/Attack on Titans itself more awesome? Last time it was bondage with bondage sauce. Yeah, I like those things, but could we have story too?)
Speaking of anime/manga things that kind of bend my mind, here's four words for you: Death Note the Musical. www.otakuusamagazine.com/LatestNews/News1/Death-Note-Musical-Stars-Warm-Up-Their-Vocal-Cords-6050.aspx
What is especially intriguing to me is that they seem to have an evil Light and a good Light, played by two different people.
Okay, well, that's all the news I've got for now. See you tomorrow!