Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

D'Arcy Oake

Totally fun...just...fun...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I'm weird or something...

I've been trying to get into "Firefly"...and I just can't. I've gone through half a dozen episodes and the bad acting and poor direction are killing me. Nathan Fillion is good, but the other actors are flat or wooden, at best, most of them seemingly having reached the peak of their abilities in grade school. And the directing and editing are just ludicrous. I watched a duel by swords that didn't even rise to the level of beginning stage combat. "Buffy" quality, this is not.

But that's what happens when you buy into hype, I guess. I've had this happen before. A woman I worked with raved about Russell Banks' Continental Drift so I picked up a copy...and after 100 pages I chucked it. I could see the ending a mile away and everything was going to be just that way and I didn't need the depression that came with the moral lesson behind the book or whatever it was supposed to be. What's funny is, when I told her how I felt, she freaked out and all but stopped talking to me.

I don't feel that way when somebody doesn't like something I recommend. I love "The 400 Blows" but I know people who only think it's nice. I think "Grand Illusion"'s third act is what makes it a great movie, but others have argued it's not even necessary. I once lent my copy of Ozu's "Late Spring" to someone who loved Japanese movies, and got it back with a big shrug of, "It was okay, I guess; kind of slow."

I do get miffed when so-called film buffs and critics complain about the pace of a Japanese film, completely ignoring the whole rhythm of Japanese culture. It's like whining about the repetition in Opera Lyrics -- most of the time they're there more for the musical continuity and dramatic emphasis, and if you don't like it, you're not paying real attention.

However...with "Firefly" my main complaints are -- hell, everything about it. Barely adequate special effects. Derivative storylines. Actors who sound like actors when they're acting even as they aren't supposed to be acting. A hero who's always going to do good, even though he's a bit shady. It was sad to watch, and I love Joss Whedon's work.

Maybe I'm spoiled by the kick-ass perfection of the "Battlestar Galactica" reboot. But if I'm going to spend my time watching a space opera, it better keep me interested...even if I AM ironing at the same time.

Make me happy or go find yourself a black hole.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Just one of those days...

...where all I want to do is curl up and read a book ro watch a movie and not think beyond the instant. So I'm slacking off and offering up a ludicrous competition -- someone actually asked who the better writer is -- Tolstoy or Dostoeyvsky? I've read both and fall more in the Tolstoy camp because of his humanism...but here is what Ellen Chances, Professor of Russian Literature, Princeton University had to say:

The question, in my mind, is meaningless. One of the worrisome tendencies of contemporary society is its impulse to rank. Who is better? Who is Number One? The question should not be, “Who is the greater novelist?,” but rather, “What do I learn from reading the books of Tolstoy or Dostoevsky, or of anyone else?

Why does everything have to be a race? Why does everything have to be competitive? This implies that there is a winner and a loser. Why does the reading of Tolstoy or Dostoevsky or of anyone else have to be part of a “success” or “failure” story? Framing the question, “Tolstoy or Dostoevsky: Who’s the better novelist?,” in this way does a disservice, it seems to me, to the act of contemplating the meaning of these writers’ books.

Asking the question is equivalent to asking, “Which is the greater food, milk or orange juice? Which is the greater food, blueberries or strawberries? Which is better, the sky or the grass, night or day?”

 To me, both Dostoevsky and Tolstoy are equally great writers. Each focused on some of the important “big questions” of life. Dostoevsky’s Ivan Karamazov, in The Brothers Karamazov, asked how a just God could have created a world that includes the suffering of innocent children. Tolstoy, through his character, Levin, in Anna Karenina, asked what the meaning of life is. Both Dostoevsky and Tolstoy asserted that the essence of life cannot be found by relying on the intellect alone. Both Dostoevsky and Tolstoy understood that being true to the authentic rhythms of life means respecting the non-linear nature of life.

Each of the two offers profound insights about psychology. Tolstoy emphasizes the ways in which people relate to one another in a societal context. Dostoevsky digs deeply into the individual human psyche. Tolstoy paints a world in which extreme things happen to ordinary people. Dostoevsky shows us the extremes of which people are capable. Each of the two writers describes crises in faith. Each describes the journey to a life of spiritual values.

Both Dostoevsky and Tolstoy write in a way that conveys the energy of life. That energy comes about, in Dostoevsky, through the clash of ideas, through the tension he creates through suspense and the use of words like “suddenly.” Ivan Karamazov says that he loves life more than the meaning of life. Tolstoy shows a love of life of this world – the smell of the earth, the beauty of a flower. He speaks about living a life of authenticity.

Both Dostoevsky and Tolstoy make me think about what is important in life. Both urge the reader to appreciate those things that money or competition cannot bestow – love, and life itself…

…So who is the greater writer, Dostoevsky or Tolstoy? Both Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are great…And then there is Chekhov, and Pushkin, and Mandelstam and Akhmatova and Bitov… And that’s just the Russians…
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FWIW -- I think the chapter in Anna Karenina where Levin reaps wheat with the peasants as he worries and ponders and pouts and realizes is perhaps the most perfect joining of prose and poetry and the emotions of the heart and soul ever written.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter cleansing...

I am currently sneezing my fool head off because I cleaned my apartment, today...and DAMN, I think I killed three generations of dust bunnies. Now their ghosts haunt my eyes and nasal passages. And that's with me wearing a mask all day - well, a wet bandana over my nose and mouth...which may be why it didn't start hitting me till nearly 7pm.

I still have a stack of paperwork to go through but I'm too bushed. I will say, my apartment's the cleanest it's been since practically when I moved in...over 4 years ago. Shit. I also have a lot of ironing to do. Not sure which will be gotten to, first.

Jake and I continue to mull over the revelation he brought to me. I can see it...and see how it works...but it means major changes to one character and I'm not sure I want to do that. Nor is he sure how he feels about it. Which probably means we'll go through with it, because it's hitting our danger zones.

But at the same time, I'm scared of it. This touches close to something that happened to me and cuts to the bone. Hell, it hurts to even think about.

Suddenly I remember a moment at Blarney Castle, my first trip to Ireland. 12 years ago. I did the bit where you kiss the Blarney Stone...which meant lying on my back and leaning into a pit and putting my lips to it, upside down, after a hundred other people had just done so. You get your picture taken when you do it. Only, my encounter was not the norm. I scratched the tip of my nose, barely touched the stone, and when I came up, the photographer said, "That other one was the last." Meaning he'd run out of film so my photo wasn't taken.

I fell into a funk, thinking it had all sorts of meaning, and wandered around the grounds. Then, by the Warlock's Cave, I saw a dragonfly slowly dancing around. It landed on my finger and I carried it to a nearby pond, where it crawled onto a reed. As I walked away, a poem came to my head -- I can't find it, now, but it was basically saying I was handed a gift...only with that gift came a curse...and that curse was to follow the muse. No matter where I was led.

I'm finally getting an idea of what that curse means.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

That lost feeling...

Now that Porno Manifesto if up and running...or about to...I'm going through decompression. I can't face doing anything except letting my brain drift as it recharges. Now I get to figure out just how deep in the hole I went to complete this. And wonder how the hell I'm going to get out of it.

I got my first royalty payment, which will help mitigate a bit of the cost. I have to wait and see how much Paypal takes out for handling it, but after the mess with my credit cards, no way in hell do I want my bank account to be out there...at least, not as much.

Okay...I'm officially brain dead for the night. I can't think of anything to say or discuss or even whine about. I did read a little about the ludicrous uproar the white folk in Topeka, Kansas are having over Michelle Obama being invited to make a commencement speech on the anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. But it's the usual "I'm not a racist" crap being spewed by right wing slugs.

And I caught up on the anti-Semitic scumbag who killed 3 Christians because he thought they were Jews, and the mayor of the small-town he's from who agrees with him. People are trying to recall that prick. Good.

Oh, and there's the right wing hissy-fit about Obamacare claiming to have brought health coverage to more than 8 million people and how it's all lies and smoke and mirrors and yap, yap, yap. When will people stop listening to the idiots who make unsubstantiated claims and realize the bastards are just using bullshit to obscure how the Oligarchs are looting America's treasury. I'm planning to swear never to buy anything from a Koch-affiliated company ever again...if I can figure out what all they are.

I did get that Japanese art site back, at least.

Friday, April 18, 2014

All done with PM, for now

I uploaded the book's text and cover to Lightning Spark...and it's already available for sale on Smashwords...so that is that. I've finally gotten all my books back out there and can concentrate on other things -- like OT or UG or CK...or just take a break.

Actually, I'll have to do that, tomorrow. My car's going in for servicing...after me having to shell out over $300 for a new muffler. I guess I should be glad it lasted this long -- 89,000 miles over 16 years -- but it hurt. Damn, it hurt. I've sunk so much money into these books, without much return, yet. I guess the next stage is to figure out how to make them more known or noticed or something...well, in the right crowd. Except for LD and DM; those are nice and mainstream...and ain't sellin' worth shit.

On top of it all, I've found there's a thread on HTRASG's page on GoodReads where people are actually ranting about how awful the book is. It's obvious none of them have read it; they're merely reacting to the title. I'd join in, just for fun, but GoodReads doesn't like authors to do that...and I can understand why. But apparently a lot of people were never taught not to judge a book by its cover.

There have been a number of really good reviews of it, lately -- thoughtful ones. Most of them seem startled they cared enough about Curt to follow through with the story, and are shocked they empathized with him. One of them even focused on the moment where Curt feels a thick, clean, nicely-washed towel and is hurt by how lovely it is...and it made them weep.

God, that makes me feel so fuckin' great.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gotcha!

Here we go -- this is the cover. Mystery. Suspense. Sex. Danger. You name it. It's amazing how a couple of small adjustments will change the whole feel of an image. For example, initially I had the guy in the window positioned in front of the guy with the knife...which made it feel like a slasher cover. But reversing that, with the knife in the lower corner made it more like he's prepared to protect himself.

Also, trying the nude figure in black and white along with the background image killed it. But pumping up the color in his face and desaturating his legs and knife, a little, just made it more intense...to me, anyway. And covering his ass with the title seemed to bring more attention to him being naked and added more of a sense of vulnerability than by putting the title below him, or above.

I'll sign it up with Smashwords, tomorrow, and get it going as an e-book. Then comes the fun part of setting it up on Lightning Source. And THEN comes getting it noticed...and selling. I've sunk so much money into this set of books, I doubt I'll ever get out of the red. But they're mine, now, and I've fulfilled my obligation to them.

God...what a relief.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hmm...maybe...

This is close...maybe close enough. I tried it in total monochrome, except for the title, but for some reason the impact was lessened. It's like the knife needs to be in color so it doesn't vanish. And I like his face being a bit red to counterpoint it. The model's expression is good, though.

I sort of think I need something more, but I tried it with a lens flare behind him and that looked goofy. I laid a window with a silhouetted figure in it over the background and that was interesting...but it felt a bit like a slasher cover. This one strikes me as a bit mysterious.

Is it possible this is still the wrong way to go? Maybe if I did a more precise job of centering everything. I just eyeballed where things go in this mock-up. I might narrow the banner behind the title. The letters are 72 point, which I like, but it can be a bit closer together.

Okay...more work ahead...but I'm almost there...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Damn you, Flash 13!!!

Looks like my Tumbler blog is gone. I cannot log back in and Tumbler is ignoring my requests for help. Same for an art site I go to based in Japan, where I've posted some of my work. I send requests and ask to reset my passcode and do everything I can to get their attention...and nothin' in response. When a company reaches the point where it can't -- or won't -- help its clients, the hell with it.

I did manage to finally get back into most of my sites, including Deviant Art. I've got some work posted on there, too.

I just got some images from Dan Skinner, whose work is on the site...and he gave me exactly what I was looking for. Even better, actually, because the look in the model's eye is nearly vicious. Very cool.

Now I need to pay him. Since I also paid (most of) my taxes, today, that wipes me out. But I've got my cover for PM. Don't need anything else except the wording. I'll get that done up, tomorrow.

I'm still plotting out the changes to OT...and as usual, one shift here means a cascade of alterations throughout the story. But it's better...much better.

And more than a little cruel.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Computers are spawn of the devil

I just spent nearly 5 hours trying to get my internet connections to work right. All of a sudden, I couldn't view videos or get into any of the sites I belong to, even when I input my ID and password. And, of course, you can't find any way to contact the sites, themselves; maybe they'll post a contact window that you fill in and send to them, but most are just lost. YouTube was the worst.

I finally went into Google and found out Adobe Flash 13 will not work on my laptop. It's got a bug that makes it go nuts on laptops made between 2004 and 2008, even if they're using OS 10.7.5. So I had to uninstall it and reinstall Flash 12. Now I can at least view videos on YouTube.

But I'm still locked out of several sites, and me asking to reset my password isn't doing a damn thing. What's crazy about this is, I keep a cheat-sheet of my passwords -- just reminders of what they are because I have a lot of different ones. Whatever was wrong with Flash 13, it screwed me up, royally.

But then, it's not just on my laptop. My desktop's having issues with the same problem. Not as bad as regards the videos; on my Mini it's just the videos won't play consistently but have little hiccups that make the image frees for an instant even as the sound keeps going, then it jumps to catch up.

Maybe instead of working on my French, I should learn Code.