I like having Christmas on Tuesday. I panicked about shopping and baking all last week, and now I'm in pretty good shape with a day or so to spare. House decorated, presents bought and wrapped, goose ordered -- all I have to do is bake a cake for Christmas Day dessert, make sure everyone's packed to go to NC on Wednesday, and actually cook dinner.
I really like the idea of hobbies that involve immersing yourself in tiny details, like building elaborate towns and settings for your model train. Also gardening is appealing. Retirement will be awesome someday.
Is it trendy for novelists to drop quotation marks around all the dialogue? Or has it always been in the bag of tricks, and I just have been reading more books that employ it, lately?
I like my novelists to create effects, but I also like to pretend that they're too pure to be caught up in trends.
Plain people of Unfogged, this is hella depressing. Also, I'm kind of whining like an emo 10th-grader at Dalton. First I'll tell you the less depressing thing. I have been slowly improving in health, and reducing the amount of the medicine I am taking. Still taking 6 kinds of stupid, expensive medicine that makes me variously dumb and uninterested in sex, but fewer of each. And I was doing stuff. Being at work. I was still thinking that if at a certain point (some date to be set with my family) I wasn't making a zillion dollars or being a TV star or something, I would give up my business. I was lying down in the back seat of the taxi, recognizing my route by the trees, thinking why am I suffering like this for vintage furniture, instead of spending the 1 hour a day I feel OK with my children? Not that I don't love my job--it's very awesome. And then I developed some new lame cervical spondylosis or something, and I have to have an MRI on Boxing Day (weak!). That mostly feels like electricity and not super painful but is disturbing. Especially because my neurologist is being all bitchy and bored with it because it's not neurological per se; more like the nerves are getting pinched by some repulsive bone spurs which have grown as the bones in my neck grind together, long stripped of anything which might hold them apart. Me, being all positive and silver lining-y: "Well, I'll need to do physical therapy for this and for my spine problems (blah other spine thing whatever), and maybe it'll turn out that's what's been causing my migraines!" Famous neurologist: "No, that problem, can cause headaches, but only at the base of the neck. You just have a lot of different things wrong with you." (Actual direct quote).
I was doing my best to be grateful for all the good things in my life, of which there are a multitude, most prominently my bounding, healthy children who are tan and strong and smell like toasted pound cake. So all that was fine as far as it goes, but then in a hideous turn for the worse, on Dec. 14 or something I GOT SICK AGAIN FOR REALZ. Just, such agonizing migraines. I forgot it hurt that bad! Luckily they're giving me real pain medication now or otherwise I'd be right back in the hospital for New Year's (against which outcome, given that I have not evaded it, I am knocking ostentatiously on the headboard of my teak four-poster bed.) Fuck this. This amorphous constellation of health problems can drink a mug of piping hot dicks.
And my in-laws are here again! And last year I felt like a lame-ass daughter-in-law because I lay in bed the whole time they were here, with a pillow on my head. A light pillow. And I watched...CSI Miami, I guess. I had run out of good shows. I wasn't having a nervous breakdown anymore, so that was cool. And I'm not now; that's also really great! I did see drama club mercenary do something hilarious like a month and a half ago in a meeting: someone knocked their cup of coffee off the table around which most of us sit and DCM actually reached out across one person and caught it, upright. Still with some coffee inside! He may have been practicing for that moment continuously, over a series of less and less forgiving surfaces, since Ronin came out, but it was still pretty great. Short version: fuck being sick and fuck this and I don't want to be as sick as my sister! Not that I ever will be truly, but I mean, as taken out of life.
I'll stop whining now and tell you the depressing thing. I hired a new part-timer recently, who is wonderful. He's 20, and an art student, and I knew we wanted him as soon as I learned what he did: realistic portraiture in copperplate etching. Muahahahaha!! Obey my OCD demands to sand off all the rust from this delicate item with the finest sandpaper! Sand this piece to be painted, and clean it with thinner, and tape it off, and prime it, and paint it with enamel, and sand between coats if needed...behold the smooth, ice cream paint job! (Cream on the outside, cream on the inside.) When I got to work on Sunday he told me there was a dead kitten at the side of the building, about two months old. We agreed he would pick it up carefully with gloves and stuff and put it in the trash. (Sort of the only option. Narnian red clay is actually quite hard to dig in, and we had no spade.) But when he went to get back, there was another! Still alive, with her spine too wrong, kicking with her hind feet like she could get away from the hurting. She had shit and pissed all that was inside of her. We were at the base of a great staircase at the side of our industrial building, concrete and steel, 18 stories (9, but double-height). Someone was throwing them down. I told dude to walk up the stairs and see. I bent down to pet the poor little broken thing and she purred when I touched her! So I ran to the store and got a clean towel and picked her up in it, and I just sat down and cuddled her close and pet her until she died. I held onto her neck, and I pet her face with little finger touches, because that's what mommy cats do. She purred like anything, a little engine in there, before she stopped altogether. We never found any more (thank god) nor any malefactor. I want very badly to hurt that person. It also disturbs me that there is a (budding?) psychopath in my building. tl;dr fml
There's "Rex", that's for
redogs; Regina is not known to me but perhaps some people name their pets Queenie—at least one elephant was, though perhaps that elephant was no one's pet. It seems all too easy to assign the name "Pharoah" to cats—but it isn't. "Majority Leader" and "Minority Leader" have a nice ring to them as names—perhaps for a pair of tortoises?—and it seems all but impossible that there's no pet for whom "Whip" would be a good name.
Nick S. writes: A nice article in the Times about the Smitten Kitchen cookbook.
I thought of unfogged because I first heard of Smitten Kitchen from links here. But I think it is just an interesting story about "blogger-made-good." It does a good job of explaining what makes Smitten Kitchen a popular blog but, one thing that it doesn't mention is just how difficult it is to write well, week after week, for years. Good for her that she's made money off if it, that's not easy to do.
Heebie's take: It does seem monumentally harder to generate content for a site with a theme. Here my thought process is "post, quick, at least once a day, (sorry about the past week) and don't overthink anything lest you grind the posting process to a halt."
As a non-gun-savvy person, I do know the difference between an automatic (hold down the trigger, multiple bullets fire), semi-automatic (pull the trigger repeatedly, one bullet fires each time with no intervening steps), and non-automatic (between shots, there's an intervening step, which may be called "chambering a round", or I may have picked up archaic vocabulary from something violent I read once. But there's something you have to do between shots.)
What I don't quite understand is why not-even-semiautomatic guns exist anymore, mostly. That is, the 'chambering a round' step (if that's what you call it) used to be technically necessary, and then semi-automatic guns were invented. At this point, why are the old-fashioned kind still made -- what's the benefit of the additional step? One obvious answer is historical interest, gun hobbyists are clearly going to buy old-fashioned guns because they like them. But outside of that? Does it work as a safety feature? Are they cheaper? Is the answer that they really aren't made anymore except out of historical interest, and 'gun' should be understood to mean 'generally going to be semi-automatic? Anyone know?
When we were at the airport, a man in his 60s stopped me and asked "How do you do it? How do you go on raising kids in light of what happened yesterday?" I dutifully cried and said "I don't know, I guess you just compartmentalize." And then afterwards thought he was a big jerk and was annoyed at myself for displaying Motherly Sadness on demand.
I'm going to have a week off over Christmas (first time that's happened in a while -- there's something to be said for seniority), and could use something entertaining to read. Fiction, non-fiction, I don't care -- what have you liked lately?
Last thing I enjoyed was Felix Gilman's* The Rise of Ransom City. It's sort of a sequel to his Half-Made World, but as I was immensely relieved to find out when I read it, not the sort where exactly the same story picks up where we left off**. It's a fantasy Western, like THMW, but from a different angle. I was thinking of (and none of these are good or close comparisons) Twain, and O Henry, and L. Frank Baum a bit -- the narrator is an itinerant inventor/showman/not-really-a-con-man, who might be a recognizable figure in any of their stories. That was really what I liked about it -- when I said "fantasy Western", you probably thought "fantasy John Wayne movie, or episode of Gunsmoke" -- something like Firefly, that's playing on images and stories from mid 20thC TV, not so much directly from the 19thC west. This felt as if it bypassed TV westerns, and was drawing from a richer, broader world.
But I do read things that aren't genre, honest. So recommend me some.
* Everyone remembers him as, inter alia, a participant in the "Fuck you, Clown" thread, right?
**Generally, I hate that sort of thing. If you're going to sell me a book, finish it. Oh, if you've got a clear plan that's going to take more pages than you can bind together, I can tolerate your selling it to me in several volumes, but I'm not happy about it, and I generally don't trust you to ever get the stupid thing wrapped up properly. Anyway, THMW was a complete book, and this is a complete, different book that takes place in the same world, after it.
Afterthought: Von Wafer is also looking for recommendations, ideally something straightforward and non-turgid in prose style.
Oh my god that was terrible. It might make a good date movie -- I'd think any couple with a minimal level of attraction to each other would be driven to have sex in the theater just to have something to keep them occupied.
You want to know how bad it was? It was so bad that Sally no longer has a crush on Martin Freeman.