March 16th, 2014
Yesterday was a busy day for me. It started at 9 am, when we took Mason to his final Level 4 swim class of the season. Actually, his final Level 4 class EVER, because he passed the test! (Whoot!) I was glad that I stayed to see his beaming face when he showed us his certificate.
I'd been considering bailing early, because I am Moon-Moon and accidentally scheduled a day of work at the library that was SUPPOSED to start AT 10 am, which was when Mason's class ended. But, when I realized my mistake, I was able to throw myself on the mercy of my scheduler at the library and she negotiated a 10:30 am start. Considering I had to work at White Bear Lake, I still didn't think that would be quite enough time. We had prepared Shawn with emergency taxi money JUST IN CASE. But, they actually let out class ten minutes early, so, believe it or not, I managed to zip everyone home (mostly, Shawn and Mason agreed to walk three blocks so I could make a quick turn around and get back on the highway,) and myself ALL THE WAY OUT to White Bear in 40 minutes.
I might have considered the speed limit more of a guideline than a law, but... well, I got there with 5 minutes to spare.
The White Bear Library is nice. It's small and, like Shoreview, doesn't have an automated check-in, but the atmosphere was relaxed...and GRATEFUL. I guess they had someone quit rather unexpectedly--I know this because a full-time position opened up there. I considered applying for it, but the hours were a bit wonky for what I needed. At any rate, I had a lovely time. I shelved a lot of books....
...which means I came home with a bunch.
I've decided to chronicle my strange book borrowing habits. So, from the White Bear Library, I bought home:
- GLADIATORS: History's Most Deadly Sport by Fik Meijer.
- THE COMFORT WOMEN: Japan's Brutal Regime of Enforced Prostitution in the Second World War by George Hicks.
- LIFE AMONG THE SAMURAI by Eleanor J. Hall (a YA non-fiction)
- HAWKEYE: Little Hits by Matt Faction/David Aja (graphic novel)
I.. yeah, I don't quite know what happens to me in the stacks, but SO MUCH looks interesting. I started GLADIATORS last night and I haven't learned much that I didn't already know yet, but what the hey? I may have accidentally picked up the second volume of the new Hawkeye title, but I thought I'd read it anyway.
After racing home, I connected with our friend Andrew from New York who is in town for the weekend. He came over and regaled us with stories about taking the taxi to our house (which was apparently much harder than you'd expect) and his current life. I could have happily hung out with him for the rest of the night, but we had a long-standing St. Patrick's Day (observed) party at naomikritzer
's we wanted to get to. So, I took him back to his hotel, and then we all went over. This is where Mason could have spent his night. He and Naomi's daughter Molly are huge pokemon fans, so they talked pokemon ALL NIGHT. Meanwhile, Shawn and I enjoyed the company and ate Naomi's husband's fantastic corned beef and veggies.
I was actually an amazingly wonderful day, but, by the end of it, I felt like I'd driven all day long.
I'm looking forward to today, because I THINK I successfully talked Shawn into a pajama day, and I'd really, really love to spend this Sunday lounging around the house.
....Oh, and in case anyone is on tenterhooks, Susan did not eat any of the minnow. She does seem to delight in terrorizing them by chasing them around, but we still have all seven after all.
March 14th, 2014
Since I had to go to the pet store for water de-clorinator anyway, I decided it was time to pick up some new fish:
I got Susan some white mountain minnows as friends, but... I think we're going to have to sit down and have a discussion, Susan and I. Susan... how do I tell you this, but FISH ARE FRIENDS NOT FOOD. Fishfood is a thing. Fishes are not food. Even if they are VERY FUN TO CHASE.
Oh, Susan. I have either bought you friends or a buffet.
March 12th, 2014
Since my other podcast project was kind of a dud, Mason and I have decided that it'd be fun to do a very on-the-fly, slapdash podcast about Bleach on the mornings that the chapters come out. We've decided to call it MangaKast (with a "k" as a play on the word mangaka, which is what one calls manga artists.) We recorded it at about 6:30 am, before breakfast, before coffee, and before school. So, I might not be the usual shining star that you may know me to be. In the future, I hope to at least get up in enough time to make coffee so I'm not a complete moron.
If you want to take a listen, the first one is up at: http://mangakast.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/first-ever-mangakast/
When you get there you'll see just a very little, almost easy to miss arrow and pause symbol. Press that and music will start. We start talking shortly afterwards. We don't even really do a proper introduction, but we decided that it's content over quality... yeah, that's it.
Anyway, enjoy if you will.
March 11th, 2014
You'd think we were having another baby the way Shawn has been scurrying around the house getting ready for the delivery of the washing machine. First, we intentionally delayed delivery so that the weather could be warmer. Shawn was very worried about (and, I think actually quite reasonably,) the condition of our icy stairs and our almost impassable boulevard sidewalk. So, during these last few warming days, I've been out digging and chipping like a champion. I got the sidewalk clear after several days of this.
Shawn, meanwhile, had measured doors, removed railings, taken off storm doors, cleaned pathways, and... like I said, at this point you'd think we were preparing for something much more exciting than a washing machine.
I spent the day waiting on delivery.
They were in and out in about twenty minutes, if that.
The new one is installed and the old one has been hauled off to the great recycling heap in the Sky. And... I sat here watching them just go zip, zah, and done!
Of course, who knows what it would have been like if Shawn HADN'T gone to all that trouble. It does all seem somewhat anticlimactic, however. I mean, it's not like I HOPED that one of the delivery guys would trip over the all the toy mice that cats seemed determined to lay in their path (which I did go through and systematically pick up once the delivery guys said they were on their way,) but you know, a little cursing about the stairs might have been nice. Instead, I get, "Thank you, ma'am, that was our easiest delivery all day."
Well, sir, you can thank Shawn and her hyper-concern.
Poor Shawn though, speaking of her. I got a call just as I was headed to pick up Mason at school. Shawn was running out to what the Minnesota Historical Society folks all call "1500" (pronounced Fifteen Hundred) to deal with a water leak. 1500 is part of the address of the off-site storage building that the Minnesota Historical Society uses to house their overflow collection which includes both objects and PAPER... well, there was a different kind of over flow
today. And paper and water? = Not Good. For that matter, super-old fragile stuff + water = also Not Good.
Of course, today is also the day that Ramsey Library called with an emergency "can you sub TONIGHT OMG???" request. I told them I'd try to get a hold of Shawn and could MAYBE promise to be there by 5:30 pm, but luckily, they were able to find someone else on super-short notice. I feel badly, because I could use the hours, but I'm just as relieved, since Shawn called back and said, "Yeah, no... we just found ANOTHER leak." When she hung up she muttered something about "midnight."
So... I guess we're saving dinner for her.
At least she's not on her own. Some of her colleagues are out there helping, of course.
I feel kind of guilty because maybe I sent all this anticipation for some BIG THING her way? Ah well, Mason and I have big plans to eat the corned beef I made (what? It's on sale for some reason!) in the crockpot while indulgently watching Anime at the table. We'd even stopped at Kowalski's for fresh sweet corn and potatoes.
Heh, nice night for us, at least.
(Meanwhile, all around us Rome burns.)
March 10th, 2014
My Sunday was good, though I got really exhausted by the end of it. Only later did I realize that my problem was that I was over-caffeinated and under-fed. I’d been trying to go on the cheap, as one does on the last day of the con, and, every time I went to get food, I’d managed to arrive at the con suite only in time to find the one lone carrot and the last scrapings of dip.
So, I was kind of… zombie-like when I finally got home at 5:00 pm. It was only after dinner perked me up that I realized, “Oh, d’uh. Food. That would have helped.”
A rookie mistake from a long-time con goer like me—for shame!
I had two panels on Sunday, “Timing and Pacing” (which could have been boring, but was actually, thanks to the amazing chemistry between the panelists, my best panel all con), and “Dull, Realistic Characters” (which, unfortunately, lived up to its name.)
The concept behind “Dull, Realistic Characters” could have been an interesting one. The idea proposed boiled down to: in reality, in a crisis, the best people to have on your team are the cool-headed, pragmatic ones. How do you write someone like that in a way that they don’t come off as dull and uninteresting?
You write them well, is the answer, of course.
I’d wanted to be on the panel to argue the premise. That those characters are dull. Or that you can’t show reality in a riveting way, ala, say, a movie like “Apollo 13,” which while it may have had some inaccuracies, basically portrayed real people in a real crisis acting calmly—and yet was an utterly heart-pounding and mesmerizing film.
We ended up instead, rather boringly, meandering around the subject.
Which is a shame, because there’s something kind of intriguing about this that we never got to—like, why is it that some people can write about what they had for breakfast and you think, “Wow, what a fascinating insight into their lives!” and other people do the same thing, only in a different way, somehow, and you think, “OH FOR GOD SAKE GET OFF MY FEED, YOU DULLARD!” and start hunting around for the “hide” button.
Because it’s true. I was once in a writers’ group with Terry Garey who wrote this whole scene about canning tomatoes. It should have been dull, dull, DULL, but it wasn’t. It was amazing. I don’t know if it was because I learned some esoteric bit of canning lore from it, or if there was a pivotal character moment that was subtly woven into the narrative, or if was just a kind of ‘cult of personality’ that can happen when someone just has a really good writing voice.
On the other side, I’ve read fight scenes where people are spewing buckets of blood and I think… f*ck, when is this OVER? Because it was just THAT dull.
To me, that’s a more interesting question. How does that work? What are the mechanics of voice? Does adding arcane knowledge (expertise about a certain subject) make dull stuff interesting, too? What are the other ways you can make narrative sparkle?
That could have been a panel worth being on. Alas, that was not the panel I was on.
Ah well. Speaking of questions unanswered, sometimes panelists click and sometimes they don’t. This was one of those where I felt like any energy I injected into the conversation got sucked into the great void. It happens sometimes. It happens sometimes with really fascinating panelists.
But otherwise, I had a great time catching up with jiawen
, and naomikritzer
Oh, the only other thing I wanted to note… when Mason and I came into MarsCON on Saturday, I looked around the little lounge area by the door for one of our tribe (which is to say the nerdest looking person) to ask for directions to registration. I go up this older gentleman in a top hat and I say, “Excuse me, but do you know where registration is?” Some other guy behind us answers me, and off we go. It was only later, when I was leaving the dealers room and I heard someone yell out, “Last call for autographs from Dr. Demento
,” and I turned, curious to see what Dr. Demento looked like, did I realize… yep, I’d asked Dr. Demento for directions to registration.
You gotta love cons.
Oh, and here's a picture goinked from Baron Dave Romm's Facebook page (photo credit to him!) of me on the "Getting into the Mind of a Fanatic" panel on Saturday:
Could be subtitled: "Author at Work." (I look very engaged, don't I?) My folks know... I get kind of a buzz from "smart talk" which is why I enjoy cons and panels so much.
Oh, the only other fun take away from MarsCON was a line from one of the Guest of Honor this year, Esther Friesner, on a panel about fostering imagination, in which she said, "I have a special relationship with 'What If?'" which struck me as both insightful and kind of funny--because, of course, my mind started writing the slash with "What If?"
Because I'm a dork.
Oh, and speaking of that, I spread word of the cult of "Moon-Moon" all weekend, as well as tried to convince everyone I met that they really needed to watch "Free!"
aka the gay swimming anime.
Oops, one last thing! My fellow Wyrdsmith, Adam Stemple, is interviewed on our blog today. Go check it out! http://wyrdsmiths.blogspot.com/2014/03/q-adam-stemple.html
March 9th, 2014
Little Red Reviewer gave my short story "God Box," which appears in KING DAVID AND THE SPIDERS OF MARS, a really awesome review. The full review is here: http://littleredreviewer.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/king-david-and-the-spiders-from-mars/
but the take away? The very best compliment anyone has ever given me about my writing, "Shit just got real."
To which I say? Shit just got awesome
The reviewer also said that it felt like the main character had walked out of a novel or a space opera series and showed us a slice of her life. That's high praise, indeed. Especially since for me, as a reader, that's the feeling I like to get when I'm reading a short story, too.
In other news, I forgot to mention in my previous con report--I'll have more tomorrow, but I'm exhausted and still processing--that one of the cutest moments of the con came after the Anime party, when Mason and I went looking for food in the con suite and we ended sitting next to two women who were probably twice Mason's age (which is to say about 20.) They had been at the Anime party and had announced that they were going to be hosting a panel at Detour called, "Name that Anime Tune." So, Mason sang them a good portion of the Toriko opening them (in Japanese, mind), they countered with my least favorite Bleach opener, then the three of us sang the second Bleach opener... all this goofy singing would be cool enough, but then the three of them sang the Free! ending them COMPLETE WITH DANCE MOVES.
It was pretty darling.
Mason has found his people.
Saturday morning Mason has swimming lessons, so, rather than negotiate the back and forth, he came with me to MarsCON. I stopped by registration for my badge and bought Mason a day pass.
This was Mason's first ever con. I thought for sure he'd hook up with his friend Molly and that'd be the last I'd see of him, but he ended up sitting in the back of the panel room, which was Kruschenko's, so there were comfy chairs in a kind of antechamber. So Mason didn't even have to listen to us drone on about "Getting into the Mind of a Fanatic." Actually, the panel was pretty good, though there were a lot of panelists and we veered into the NAZI analogy, despite naomikritzer
's valiant attempts to keep everyone on track.
The rest of the con was me showing Mason what a con is like. Mason, being Mason, adored the demonstrations. We watched a Korean sword martial art and we learned the difference between a Korean sword and a Japanese katana. But, Mason and I were pretty excited to talk to the Sa Ba Nim of that dojon because, apparently, you get to learn sword at any belt. We tried to win a sword, but, alas, we didn't get the prize. I did, however, get to cut paper with a bokken. That rocked.
Mason and I tried to go into the game room, but the rules of said game room kind of baffle me. Like, it's not clear how one starts a game. I presume that one can just sit at a table and open a game and people will join you, but every time we went in there were no open tables. It was also unclear how one jumps in to a pre-running game, or even if one can.
So, we took some jelly beans and left.
Mason really loved the prop room, and if the picture ever makes its way through the aether fem my ridiculously un-smart phone I'll be posting a shot I took of Mason standing next to a very, very realistic looking Dalek. Mason also really loved all of Umbridge's proclamations/rules from Harry Potter... and all of the Harry Potter props, actually.
Then when we came out of there the SCA people were doing a demo of their battles and Mason tried to watch that, but the SCA people were very... postalizing and kept wanting to TELL us things about their organization, armor, etc. Mason just wanted to see the bashing of heads.
After that we just kind of killed time waiting for the Anime room party to start. When it did, they'd started watching Wolf Children
, which I adored. Mason and I sat on the floor and ate girl scout cookies and commented along with everyone else. This might be the moment that Mason realized that the world is filled with nerdy otaku JUST LIKE HIMSELF, because he was beaming through the film, his ears all perked up, like he finally felt, as the heroine of Wolf Children says, "like he found his pack."
Oh, and my furry friends? YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS. It will make you cry. It made Mason and I cry, but damn it, I think it would be even more powerful for anyone in the furry fandom. The basic message is not only 'you need to accept who you are," but also, "let your children be what they are." And, bam! Right in the FEELS, if you know what I mean.
Also, I have to confess that they had an Anime quiz and Mason and I got THE ONE BLEACH QUESTION...
Mason says he knew the answer but didn't want to speak up. Meanwhile, I wrote down the year that the Bleach Anime came out wrong. I remembered it had a "4" in it, but didn't realize it was 2004 (I might have put down 1994).
THEY HAD ONE BLEACH QUESTION AND I BLEW IT.
I may have to leave the fandom in shame....
So, today I'm off to go back to the con by myself. I think I'm going to miss having Mason there. He's a good companion for these things. He and I have already agreed that he'll come along for at least one day for the rest of these.... and I couldn't be more proud. Leap, my little wolf child! Leap!
March 6th, 2014
Because everyone needs a regal-looking LEGO (space?) chicken or two:
I was inspired to build this fine-looking bird after looking through LEGO PLAY BOOK: Ideas to Bring Your Bricks to Life
's "barnyard animals" section. The book was a gift to us from Kelly McCullough of Wyrdsmiths, who has also, in the past, donated some of his LEGOs to Mason's gigantic collection. So, thanks, Kelly! This chicken is for you.
Now that I'm no longer in training, my hours at the library have been drastically cut. I'm working probably a totally of four times this entire month (though I was told by my colleagues at Roseville that that's actually pretty good when you're first starting out). At any rate, I was at Maplewood last night. I happened to decide to shelve things in the teen area, mostly for selfish reasons, mostly being that I wanted to see what kind of manga Maplewood had.
I'd finished shelving the manga and was starting on the YA novels when I overheard these two teen boys talking. "Oh, you really need to follow him." I glanced over my shoulder to see them admiring a Tumblr blogger who apparently does a lot of Power Ranger cosplay.
Suddenly, it hit me. Tumblr is full of teenagers.
I guess I knew that, but listening to this desperately nerdy kid talk to his friend… uh, I dunno. It made me feel old.
Speaking of feeling old, Mason came home the other day to grumpily inform us that there was a school-wide (Science side) assembly put on by Radio Disney featuring a presentation on….
Yep. He said he missed library in order to watch a woman dressed at Maizey discuss corn. Here, in case you're curious is, Maizey's Facbook Page: https://www.facebook.com/maizey.mn
From there, I lifted this shot, because, really, you have to see Maizey to believe her:
Doesn't she just kind of give you nightmares? I think possibly more disturbing are the temporary tattoos and stickers of her that I keep finding around the house, because in those pictures the person under the costume is clearly WEARING HIGH HEELS.
Because, you know… corn is… fancy? Well heeled? Deeply creepy? I'm really not sure.
When Mason came home and said he learned about "corn" I had a flashback to when he was in first grade and had been moved, for the first time, into an advanced reading group. He was reading a packet about "jeans" but I misheard "genes" and though, "Oh, cool, the science magnet is living up to their name, getting him going on all the cool genetic stuff right away!" But, then he had to shake his head and say, "No, Ima, not 'genes' 'jeans,' as in denim."
I was like, "Oh."
And Shawn heard that they'd had a Radio Disney assembly about 'porn.' We were shouting, "NO! CORN!"
Although… the high heels.
Okay, let's talk about one more thing so we can all banish that horrible thought from our minds…. hmmm, let's see. Susan, the loach, is still alive. I'm going to call the tank reconditioning a success. Now I just have to find time to get some more tap water conditioner (I ran out after the last tank water change) and we're good. I think maybe weekend after this one (since this weekend is MarsCON), I'll get her a companion of some sort.
Also, today I get to make another trip to the laundromat. Whee! Although I'm secretly looking forward to losing a few quarters to the pinball machine.
March 5th, 2014
came out today, I know you're all as excited as I am…. and since I know you don't want to be spoiled, I'll be sure to put my comments about it under the cut.( Read more...Collapse )
In other news, my Solstice present from Shawn finally arrived. Here's me in it:
So what am I wearing? That's a Scouting Legion hoodie from Shingeki no Kyojin
aka "Attack on Titan." These are the characters who go out beyond the walled city and fight the "baddies" (jury is out, given how sympathetic many of the shifters seem to be.) If you're not reading this manga or watching this anime already, I'm not sure I can entirely recommend it to you because… at first I was fairly traumatized by the action (though Tumblr fandom had warned me)… it's… uh, there are… well, let's just say the Titans eat people, like graphically.
However, it is the hot new thing all kids are into. And they're into it for a good reason. The story is strong and the characters are deeply compelling. I find it interesting because it's not like the usual shougen manga because the hero fights with a team and teamwork is critical to winning battles. Also, war sucks in a really UN-glorified way. People die. People whose names you've learned, whose stories you know, who you've come to love and sympathize with, die. And they don't just die HEROICALLY. Sometimes, like in real war, their deaths are stupid and meaningless and awful. In fact, one of my favorite characters, Jean is motivated to join the Scouting Legion because his friend (lover?) dies in a back alley and… they're honestly not sure it's him, he's been so disfigured. No one saw him die. And Jean becomes determined to go out in blaze of glory, because f*ck that. I also love Jean because he's a coward and admits he's scared out of his mind every time they go into battle. There's also a couple of shifter characters who bend my mind they're so awesome.
Also, if you're generally interested in non-binary gender representations in media, it's happening in SnK. Here's a Tumblr post about this character. http://teacupsandcyanide.tumblr.com/post/60922728975/on-misgendering-hanji-zoe
In Real Life™ news, I got put on another panel at MarCON this weekend. So, now in addition to the other Sunday (3pm?) panel, I'm also doing: Timing and Pacing, 11:00 a.m. Sunday, Krushenko's
See you there?