Wasn’t Psycho enough?

Have you heard of The Truth About Charlie? I saw a TV commercial for it yesterday, during “Smallville.” The scoop: it’s a movie, it’s directed by Jonathan Demme, stars Tim Robbins and Mark Wahlberg, and will be hitting a theater near you on 25 October. And it’s a remake of Charade. Gah.

First it was “we need to remake it because the original is in another language and no one will watch it.” Then it was “we need to remake it because the original is black and white and no one will watch it.” Then there’s George Lucas; no telling what’s going on in his head.

What is this, though? Can’t Hollywood leave well enough alone? I mean, Charade is one of the Perfect Movies — there’s just no way to improve on it. It’s like remaking Casablanca.

Oh wait, they already did that. I guess that particular crime made anything excusable.


All my friends are getting invitations to test-play the Game Neverending! But not me. So I get to read about how much fun it is without actually experiencing first-hand the so-called “evil” and “addictive” properties of the game. Heh.

Of course, the last thing I need right now is another distraction, so this is probably all for the best.

Update: Help! I just tried to sign up! Perhaps they will ignore me.


New things

1. On the doorstep this morning, a box of Harry and David “Royal Riviera” pears, courtesy of B.’s lovely “gift that keeps on giving.” They won’t be ripe for a couple days, but at least there’s something to look forward to this weekend!

2. 7 CDs worth of DDR music. Joy! Now I can have endless streams of hallucinatory arrows flowing behind my eyelids while I’m working, too.


Who knew?

Ah, yes, proving that there’s a market for anything: the All-World Monster Map.

Nobody ever dared to chart the native regions of the earth’s most fearsome monsters until BigStick.

The problem with travel, apparently, is that you never know when you’ll run into the lair of a pesky giant monster.

Operation void that warranty

Today’s main event (besides watching the Yankees go down in glorious, glorious flames): three-plus hours of surgery on a broken Playstation 2. Once upon a time, this is the kind of thing I envisioned doing for my entire life. In fact, I started college with dreams of building bridges, televisions, airplanes. Only when I realized I was more interested in taking things apart than building them (specialty: making useless things into messy, useless things) did I do a 360 on my field of study.

Anyways, this isn’t really a story about taking apart a game console. It’s more about conditioning. Consider, for example, the big sticker over the seam in the case that declares, “BREAKING THIS SEAL WILL VOID YOUR WARRANTY BLAH BLAH BLAH.” Standard scare stuff. Only, this thing is someone else’s refuse. Saved off the trash heap, right? I mean, even if it did happen to be under warranty, I wouldn’t have any knowledge of it. I certainly don’t have any documentation either way. But I still spent a half hour trying to figure out a way to open the case without breaking the sticker. Didn’t find one.

I’m the person disclaimer stickers are written for. The reason that “No trespassing” and “Danger High Voltage” signs exist — ‘cause you know, wow, I’m convinced! Good enough for me! And I rarely, if ever, hit the jackpot, or make the squad, or win the trophy, or, or, end up with a working Playstation 2. Only this time, I did!

Food for thought. In the meantime, bring on the DDR!


Game Neverending

My ability to keep up with the blog is being seriously hampered by the Game Neverending. Caterina and Stewart et al have a seriously entertaining, addictive little product on their hands, and yet it’s very difficult to articulate the reasons why in a way that would make someone who’s never played understand its appeal. So, really, I’m not even going to try.

I have a long and sordid history of unhealthy addictions to online games, so I’m going to try and force myself into some semblance of restraint. Wish me luck!


Now This is a postseason

I forgot to mention this when I found out that Dan Sanderson was its webmaster, but now that dlevy has brought it up, I might as well. It’s October again, which means that NaNoWriMo is less than a month away. I only managed 15,000 words last year, well short of the goal, but I’m ready to give it another go.

You should sign up too!

On a completely separate note, I have to say that this is shaping up to be the most interesting baseball postseason in recent memory. I find it quite compelling that all four of the division series were won by underdog teams (and none from the eastern divisions!). It gets harder at this point to determine who’s favored, but if the trend continues it’ll probably be the Twins on top, which would be just fine with me. Payback for Bud — how sweet it would be.

GNE lessons

Some random observations while playing GNE over the last couple days:

1. I have now read The Autobiography of Tom Bombadil in excess of seven hundred times. Shekel for shekel it might be the most efficient path to advancement but never again! It’s incredibly tedious stuff, and hell on the carpal tunnel.

2. I have become powerful enough to construct a cow from its constituent cuts. My god-like abilities will now allow me to not only rescue the poor creature after it’s been ground up into hamburger, but to reap much personal gain in the process.

3. Absinthe is weird and wonderful stuff, but are its benefits worth the steep price? Much like in real life, no. One can only assume the brand available in the game is the virtual equivalent to Hill’s.

4. The best parties are the impromptu kind.

5. Witness my horrifying transformation from simple laborer to heartless corporate entity! When I was a small potato, I would make money by honestly buying raw materials, creating finished products and selling them back to a retailer. Now, I’m making money hand over fist by pillaging natural resources from the forest, and repeatedly exploiting an ignorant marketplace by making them buy overhyped and underfunctional products. And it was all too easy; in the GNE world (as in life?), you can barter your conscience for money, but you’ll get more than enough to buy it back in spades.


Dreaming of beef

The weekly dinner expedition took us to Tempero do Brasil in the University District, where we dined on bife grelhado (perfectly seasoned Argentine-style ribeye) and chatted to a live soundtrack of bossa nova and samba music. Delicioso!

There’s nothing like the soft strains of “Manha de Carnaval” and good company to complement a lovely steak.


I thought I would get some sleep

Movable Type 2.5 is out, with lots of new features. I think I’ve finally managed to upgrade the site to the latest and greatest, but let me know if you encounter problems. I know the search templates look awful, but I’ll get around to fixing that at some point — somewhere between work, GNE, and setting up a ten-year high school reunion website (gack!!).

On the blog update front, c has a blog. sonjet’s has a new home. Read it, it’s lovely. Jimmy Carter doesn’t have a blog but he has a brand spanking new Nobel Peace Prize, which I think is really cool so I’ll mention it here anyways.

B. arrives in just over nineteen hours. I am excited and completely stressed out at the same time, which usually happens because I know there’s probably more than nineteen hours of cleaning I have to accomplish before then. Wish me luck!



Of course, the perfect time to get sick is when your sweetheart is in town for the first time in over a month. :(



I went to work today, probably not a good idea in light of my inability to swallow without pain. Still, I was going stir crazy sitting at home and needed to get out to preserve my sanity. In the end, about the same amount of work got done (read: zero), but at least I got exercise and fresh air (however minimal) in the process.

I’ve been getting sick a lot the last few years. The thing is, I don’t remember ever being ill when I was young. It was only after I started college that my body seemed to fall apart and the doors of the Grand Hotel de la Pestilence were thrown open for business. Miranda, also frequently sick of late, speculates that maybe computers give off evil immune system-killing rays. Now, that may not be so plausible, since I’ve more or less been around computers all my life, but intriguingly, only after I switched to Windows PCs did things seem go to hell. Aha! Very suspicious.

Anyways, Ms. Gaw is now apparently on the mend, so hopefully I will improve apace.

One thing I will note: my sense of taste has diminished precipitously in the wake of this illness (I can barely taste at all at the moment), and it’s really distressing. Most foods, when reduced to textures, are completely unappealing! Sauces are gritty and slippery, potatoes coarse mush. Crisp vegetables are shocking and unwelcome. About the only things I’ve found that I can deal with are either moist and chewy, or dry and crunchy. The appetite has adjusted to fit the circumstances: instead of any kind of normal craving, I have a strong desire for Honeycombs cereal, which I didn’t even like when I was a child.

Ha! Maybe I’m pregnant!

Picked up a CD of Noel Coward songs sung by Ian Bostridge today — what a wonderful, velvety voice that boy has. The songs are amusing and witty, as far as I’ve listened. I’m only up to track 5, “Mary Make-Believe,” as of this writing:

Is a form of flagellation
If a sensitive child
Lets it run wild.
It dips the firmament
Till all the world is
Permanently blue.
She’s exasperating.

Alas, I will not be hearing the balance of the music just yet. The NyQuil is kicking in, so it’s off to dreamland for tonight. May tomorrow be a healthier, happier day!


Weird dreams

I dreamed last night that four of us committed a series of brutal murders and were on the run from the law. We were eventually all tracked down and caught, after which two (not me) were experimented on and turned into lions: one male, one female. It was a slow process, and I remember a conversation with the lioness where she resigned herself to impending leonine procreation. Of course, they both eventually became real lions and were put into a zoo. Shortly thereafter, they broke out, killing a bunch of families in the process, and escaped into the wilderness. So I guess that particular program of social rehabiliation was a failure.

Nothing so weird happened to me, except that I had red hair for some reason.


Bride of 007

More strange dreaming; spent last night saving the world secret agent-style, kicking ass and taking no prisoners, all while wearing a wedding dress. NyQuil is weird, wonderful stuff, but I think a full recovery and getting out of this nightly heightened sleep-state will be a good thing. Sometimes the subconscious should stay, well, sub.


On recovery

Miranda pointed me at an adorable lawn gnome story from this week’s Seattle Weekly. Thanks!

On the health front, it’s been ten days and the sickness is almost gone. Only the occasional cough, or a brief twinge of muscle pain as I shift my body (yes, even that is going away!), are left to remind me of last week’s misery. I may even be able to sing by Saturday, which would be a blessed relief.

A high point, in spite of the bug, was last Thursday’s dinner outing to Shiki, in Lower Queen Anne. Homestyle Japanese cooking, and sushi to die for. Particular standouts include raw oysters on the half shell, heavenly with ponzu sauce; toro nigiri, the marbled pink slabs of tuna belly dissolving in the mouth with a sublime, smoky flavor; agedashi tofu, perhaps not as sophisticated but perfect for my ailing palate. All this with my taste buds running only at half-strength — o bitter fate! — but really, it was that good.

Alas, missing days of work coupled with lowered productivity afterwards has led to some long nights. But I’m going home now! Good night.


Pre-writer’s block

Roughly a week left until the start of NaNoWriMo and I’m still flailing around for an idea for my novel. Last year I tried to write something that was half-contemporary and half-fantasy, but completely came to a grinding halt when it came to writing (very much to my surprise) the fantasy segments. On the other hand, I had a lot of fun writing the bits set in our own world, so I think I’ll try for something with a contemporary flavor.

Sonya is writing a superhero novel, which is just too fab for words. Lish might participate too (sometime in between all the other stuff she has to do in November!); her advantage is that she’s already creating a character for a play she’s been cast in, and can use those ideas for her book. Cindy has two good ideas; some people have all the luck!

Meanwhile, here I sit on the edge of inspiration, trying to collect rainwater in a sieve.

I know the reason that I failed last year. It’s one that Chris Baty, who runs the whole enterprise, pointed out in one of the newsletters’ “tips” sections. I can’t find the particular page on the site anymore, but it seems that the relevant bits are in this year’s FAQ list:

Aiming low is the best way to succeed. With entry-level novel writing, shooting for the moon is the surest way to get nowhere. With high expectations, everything you write will sound cheesy and awkward. […] There will be much execrable prose, yes. But amidst the crap, there will be beauty. A lot of it.

It’s pretty obvious that my idea block right now stems from a fear of the very thing I’m supposed to be embracing. Well, since I’m having trouble aiming low, it can’t hurt to slum for ideas from those who are unencumbered by concern for my artistic integrity!

I’ll get the ball rolling. Let’s say that my tome will be a faithfully autobiographical tale subtitled… oh, The Adventures of Selva Morales*, International Super Spy. Post some interesting ideas as comments to this entry and I’ll use them! All of them. That’s right, every single plot element, character and/or setting suggested by your followups will find their way into my novel.


Jot down as many gems (or turkeys) as you want — just don’t try to tie them all together. That’ll be my job. Wow, this is starting to sound like fun!

* ha, insert protagonist’s name here.


aus bologna

Thanks so much for the story suggestions so far! Robot love, escalator shootouts, motorcycle races, evil vending machines, mall store Santas… Keep them coming. You are completely insane, and I love you all!

As for the rest of my life at the moment, I can sum it up in two words: mmmmmm, mortadella.


Collision emotion

Today, I get to whine.

First of all, I’m still sick. All that’s left is the hoarse voice, but since I need to sing tonight, it’s bad news! With five hours left, hopefully a last-minute binge of vitamin C will do something for me.

And then there’s the car accident. Last night, I was driving through a tunnel during rush hour; there was plenty of traffic, but it was moving well enough. Suddenly, a column of brake lights in front of me; I responded only a fraction of a second too late, but it was late enough, and I hit the car in front of me.

Now, I try very hard to be a safe driver. I had a pretty scary accident ten years ago that pretty much sits at the back of my mind every time I get behind the wheel. As a friend of mine says, though, cars just don’t seem to like me; the gallery of misfortune since that last accident includes three break-ins, getting hit by two cars (as a pedestrian), multiple breakdowns… So the bad luck continues.

Fortunately, no one was hurt and the damage to both cars was about as minimal as could be hoped for. Mine probably won’t require any repairs at all.

The really scary part of the evneing occurred a few seconds later. After we had both pulled over and gotten out of our cars, another accident happened in almost the exact same spot ours had, and it was far more catastrophic. My attention was drawn by a loud bang, like a gunshot; apparently the tires of a vehicle (let’s call it Car A) got blown out by debris on the roadway (ah! a possible explanation for the sudden braking that got me into this mess). An instant later, another vehicle (Car B) slammed into the rear of Car A, resulting in what I can only call an explosion of debris in the tunnel. Somewhere in all this another car got involved, bringing the local carnage up to five cars.

All things considered, I was pretty lucky. Nothing like a little perspective to explode into one’s life at the right moment. Thanks to Miranda and B. and everyone else who helped me settle the inevitable jitters.

For now, it’s back to the vitamin C.

Sing it, girl

Yay! I have my voice back!


Bathy goodness

Aromatic manna from the frozen north arrived today into my eager hands, courtesy of Rav. The take, all from Lush: “Breeze on a Sea Air” facial toner (“Made with fresh Hebridean sea water”), Aura Suavis bubblebar (my favorite!), and “Sweet Japanese Girl” facial bar (“Massage and exfoliate your face with this lovely little bar. Wash off and smile.”). The aforementioned enabler extraordinaire came into my office at work last Friday to give me a sample spritz of the toner, and that was all she wrote. I was sold.

What passes for winter in the northwest — bone-chilling rains and oppressive, grey skies — has begun in earnest. The three giant plum trees in the front yard have started shedding their bounty all over the grass, so I’ve been spending a lot of time soaked in the elements trying to clear away the mess. Nothing like an hour spent steeping in warm, fragrant goodness to cure the bad-weather blues.



Voices from the gallery

Just had to share some of the wonderful, quirky responses to my plea for NaNoWriMo suggestions:

Protagonist falls asleep after eating too much turkey and misses her flight to Ireland.
A haphazardly spilled cup of coffee yields a stain on the tablecloth which is a perfect map of Burkina Faso. The as-yet unmelted sugar cube is where Ouagadougou would be.
The prot. works for a random intelligence agency. The kicker is that the agency is remarkably stingy since the new boss decided to bring some “financial discipline” to the agency. Needless to say, things just go to hell after that.
Have one of the high energy physicists have polysplenia (multiple spleens) or some other condition where they have extra organs. Make the pocket universes be created in those extra organs.
We find out that a character has zemmiphobia when he/she comes face to face with… The Great Mole Rat!
perhaps the novel could contain the moment when the red HAS in the FedEx pickup box’s “Today’s pickup HAS occurred” turns to the green HAS NOT.
man from the bank falls in love with protagonist and writes (with pee) “I love you” in the snow in the wee hours of every morning outside the window of the protagonist.
the inevitable recurring inflatable love sheep in far too many scenes. Perhaps all the minor characters have them or just a few too many of the major characters.

And of course, Nina’s hoping for something resembling Westbound 90. Hee.

As you can see, I have my work cut out for me!

Please don’t be offended if your suggestion wasn’t mentioned, because I love each and every one I’ve read so far. Really! These are only a few of the shorter ones, so as not to overload your browsers. If you haven’t already, you can peruse the full list here.


Heavenly indeed

Scented candles, a hot bath. Turkish rose oil and orris root, courtesy of a Tisty Tosty bath bomb from Lush.

The Master and Margarita.

The Goldberg Variations.

The Dalai Lama?

Halloween horoscope, from Rob Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology:

Scorpio (October 23-November 21)

“So many poets have the courage to look into the abyss,” wrote Kenneth Koch in describing Nobel Prize-winning poet Saint-John Perse. “But Perse had the courage to look into happiness.” It’s a radical departure from what traditional astrologers say about you Scorpios, but I’d like to name Perse your patron saint for November. More than ever before, you now possess the capacity to set aside your fascination with darkness and gaze smartly into the complex depths of sweetness and light. Halloween costume suggestions: angel carrying a clipboard, cheery clown wearing a stethoscope and white doctor’s coat, a bride with a blow-up doll of the Dalai Lama.

Find yours. (Thanks janjan!)

In other news, had the first frost of the winter this morning (to accompany a large-scale shedding by the plums). It’s cold, very cold. Didn’t take long for the day to hit its stride, hm?


Fruits and fruitiness

Two quick snippets before I collapse into blissful slumber:

The literal fruits of B.’s generosity on the doorstep this evening: a box of Harry and David’s “Crisp Mountain Apples.” Tasty, and oh-so-autumnal (with, in light of these near-record temperature lows, an added flavor of aching nostalgia). Thank you, sweetness!

Lauren, tired of waiting for errorwear to get in on the game, has put some “403 Forbidden” intimates up for sale at cafepress. Mrowr!

[update: “Not responding”: The madness continues!]

Also, be sure to check out the lovely selection of ragingwomen swag.

Goodbye, cruel world

Less than an hour to go before the writing begins. I’ll try to keep things reasonably fresh and clean around here, but please don’t get too upset at the occasional cobweb or dust-bunny. After all, a secret agent’s only got so much time to clean when the world constantly needs saving.

Hope you all had a happy Halloween!

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