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Hello LJ! [Oct. 30th, 2010|01:08 am]
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Remember me?  I used to post here a lot.  I used to post other places, too.  These days I'm posting mostly on that Social Network thing where it seems EVERYBODY hangs out.  Still trying to be one of the cool kids, in spite of long years of experience which should result in my knowing better.

Anyway, I'm back here, because I think LJ is going to offer me the best way to post updates on my progress in NaNoWriMo.  Why would I post updates on that, you ask?  Shouldn't NaNoWriMo be kept between a man and his, um, NaNo?  Who would ever want to read such updates?  Well, it works like this: I've proclaimed publicly that I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this year, with the goal of reaching 50,000 words on my novel by the end of November.  Fifty.  Thousand.  I must, however, combat the known fact that I am at heart rather lazy and quite capable of finding more entertaining things to do than to write fifty thousand words by the end of November.  Fifty.  Thousand.

To that end, I have made my userpic into a word count widget, which should update itself regularly as I update my word count at the NaNoWriMo site.  As I update here on the LJ, where perhaps seven people will read and scorn me if I fail to reach my goals, I'll click over and update on the FB as well, where closer to 300 people will briefly glance away from Farmville to scorn me if I fail to reach my goals, and then go back to milking digital cows or something.

This is not unlike the Anglo-Saxon boast, ladies and gentlemen.  I proclaim in front of all the warriors of Dane-land that I will slay the monster Grendel not only without the help of my band of Geat warriors, but without any arms or armor aside from my bare hands and bare flesh.  When Grendel shows up at the mead-hall later tonight, people are going to expect me to step up, and I dare not disappoint them.  So you'll be able to see, day by day, whether I'm reaching the word counts necessary to finish this thing.  Here's hoping I can actually pull it off.
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I wish I were clever enough to make this up. [Mar. 20th, 2009|11:37 pm]
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Woman shot in the buttocks.

For maximum humorous effect, "buttocks" should be pronounced in the style of Forrest Gump: "Butt Tox."

How, but how, does the Lexington-Fayette Police Department, understaffed and underbudgeted as it is, manage to put an officer named Dick Bottoms in charge of an investigation about a woman who got shot in the butt?  Does the CO actually have enough time to look at the duty rota and say to himself, "Hm, shot in the buttocks, that sounds like a case for Bottoms"?  Can I soon expect to see a Capt. Driver placed in charge of vehicle enforcement?  Why not place a triumvirate of Stiller, Smokes, and Gunn in charge of the local ATF?

And no offence to anyone in the Bottoms family, but can we not anticipate the jokes that might just stem from naming your son Richard?  Seriously.

I hope the young lady who was shot recovers well, and I certainly don't mean to belittle Lt. Bottoms or the good work he does, but you have to admit this is funny. 

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Zombie Author Produces New Bestseller [Jan. 8th, 2009|01:48 pm]
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The last time a new book from the late J.R.R. Tolkein was published (Children of Hurin, edited by Christopher Tolkein, who has published vastly more of his father's fiction than Professor Tolkein ever seemed to feel comfortable with), I was rather shocked and dismayed by the fact.  My actual words, pulled from the old blog:

If you've spent thirty years editing, revising, and connecting the fragments of this piece, can you really call it Professor Tolkien's book anymore?  Perhaps it should be "The Children of Hurin" by Christopher Tolkien, based upon the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien."  Let's try not to turn the professor into V.C. Andrews, okay?

Now we receive news of another Tolkein book new to print, and I find myself reacting rather differently than two and a half years ago.  We know what Professor Tolkein published in his lifetime, and there's unlikely to be any confusion on this point in any of our own lifetimes.  I now think it's interesting and useful to be able to examine the developmental process which the professor's writing underwent before he published The Lord of the Rings.  Not only does it provide a lens to study Tolkein's writing from a literary standpoint, it also serves as an introduction to older myths and legends which we might not otherwise be interested to read.  I mean, how many of us are really ready to run down to the library and immerse ourselves in the tales of Sigurd the Volsung?

Of course, if Children of Hurin and Sigurd and Gudrud have anywhere near the impact that The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion had thirty to forty years ago, we're probably doomed to see shelves full of cheap Tolkein imitators in the fantasy aisle at Barnes & Noble... oh, wait.  That'll hardly be a change, will it?

I got a good chuckle from the first comment on the article, which endorsed the passing on of intellectual property to prevent good stories from just collecting dust in someone's attic.  "A friend of mine has declared all her intellectual property becomes mine if she ends up dead or something.  I often tell her shut the hell up and write the goddamned book."

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World's Eldest [Jan. 4th, 2009|05:07 am]
Imagine being told this:  "You might just be the oldest person in the world, but we need to make sure everyone else your age is dead before we can say for sure."  That's not what the folks at Guinness World Records have told Gertrude Baines, but it doesn't seem far off.  Imagine receiving that phone call -- or perhaps nursing home visit.  Do you actually want to hear that the person who was oldest in the world is dead, and now you're next?

This perhaps is not the happiest line of thinking as we usher in yet another year without flying cars (seriously? we're, like, fifty years into the future at this point!  come on!).  At the same time, I know how weird it feels having kids who were born after the Cold War pointing out the grey hairs in my beard.  Gens X and Y are aging, with Generation "F**k You and Your Lettahs, Byotch!" taking the main stage.  Morbidity is only appropriate, in my opinion.

That bit of bleakness aside, here's hoping that 2009 is better to you than 2008 or any of its predecessors were.  Yeah, it's a few days late, but would you expect otherwise from me?

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The Political Post [Nov. 5th, 2008|03:02 am]

Yeah, I know.  Everyone's doing one.  I'm such a sheep.

I've heard a lot over the last few hours about what an historic day this is, which is true.  It's not exactly news, but it's true.  We've known the day would be historic for months now.  We'd either have an African-American president, or we'd have the oldest first-term president and first woman vice president in our history.  I think we can move past that now.

I still think we should be talking about this as "a new day," though.  It marks what I hope is a turn in the way we practice politics here in America.  I wasn't around for Watergate, but I've certainly seen the underlying nastiness of which Watergate was a symptom.  In the thirty-odd years since Nixon's resignation, that nastiness has become a celebrated feature of our politics.  In the twelve years since Clinton (not Hillary) was elected to his second term, Washington has been trapped in a partisan stalemate, stagnating our government and destroying any public goodwill for our officials.  The Republicans had Clinton impeached.  When Bush (W, that is) was elected (by methods fair or foul), Democrats looked for any excuse they could to impeach him in return.  If the Democratic Senate stated that the sky was blue, the Republicans appointees to any federal court would insist it was actually green.  Our campaign rhetoric has been almost exclusively "I'm not [the other guy], and boy are we all glad of that."  I'm hopeful, though, that this year's campaign has begun to change that.

When the networks called the election for Obama at something like five seconds after the polls closed on the west coast, McCain was immediately on the phone to his opponent.  Minutes later, he was addressing his supporters in Phoenix, graciously conceding the contest.

Remember four years ago?  An hour after the call came in for Bush, Sen. Kerry was still closeted up with his attorneys, considering the viability of a lawsuit to overturn the election.  Even after Kerry went ahead and conceded, Sen. Edwards was up half the night protesting that it wasn't done yet, that they would continue to fight.  Remember four years before that, when Vice President Gore allowed the election to turn into a month-long courtroom drama?

We could be cynical and say that McCain didn't do any of this simply because the numbers were too clearly against him.  I think, though, that McCain genuinely believes in the validity of the electoral system and that, whether or not he has the respect and admiration for Obama that he claims, he values and honors the fundamental principle of American government more than his ambitions for the White House.  The nature of McCain's concession speech put me in mind of an anecdote following the 1860 election (Lincoln's first election, for those who don't follow American history closely).  Stephen A. Douglas, who had defeated Lincoln two years previously for a Senate seat, lost the presidential election.  The two men were longtime rivals, and their political careers featured quite a bit of passionate rhetoric directed against each other.  When Lincoln was inaugurated as president, though, Douglas sat on the platform on Lincoln's right-hand side and held the new president's hat.

That's the sort of civility that's been missing in politics for my entire life, and I feel like McCain has done some work this year to attempt to restore it.  When his supporters in Phoenix tried to boo their new president tonight, he actually looked disgusted.  He only held up his hands for quiet and said, "Please," but that one word held entire worlds of implication.  "You're citizens of the United States of America.  You know the laws.  You know how it works.  Now grow up and accept that we just elected the man," was sort of the sense I got from him.  And then he said the coolest thing (this being a direct quote): "His success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance.  But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans... is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving."  We can question the sincerity of that line all we like, but I don't think there's any argument about the generous nature of the words themselves.

While I'm going, let me say a few words about our president-elect.  Tonight was the first time I got to view an Obama speech in its entirety, and I was amazed.  This man has charisma like the day is long.  The message I took from his victory speech was exactly what Sen. McCain had alluded to earlier: hope.  Hope is kind of a rare commodity in the country right now, but Obama seems to want to hand it out in buckets.  I'm good with that.  When he got to the "Yes we can" portion of the speech, I got chills.  Really.  And here's what he had to say about his defeated opponent: "Sen. McCain fought long and hard in this campaign.  And he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves.  He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine.  We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader." 

I've got this crazy idea that neither of these men believed yesterday that, were the other elected, the country would go straight to hell in a handbasket.  I've certainly heard that argument from various supporters of both camps, but never from the candidates themselves.  I really hope the rest of our public servants have been paying close attention to this election.  I think it may have been the mostly civil tone of the campaigns that brought out the vote in the crazy numbers that we saw, just as much as the historic nature of the election, or (heaven help us!) the issues.  For once, we had an election where we didn't hate both candidates by mid-October.

Kentucky politicians in particular could learn a lot from this.

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Because why not? [Sep. 22nd, 2008|01:33 am]
On two and a half hours' sleep, I drove two and a half hours to the Ohio Renaissance Festival, where a group of twelve of us wandered the fair for the entire afternoon. We then drove to the Hofbrauhaus in Newport to have dinner, and after that returned to Lexington so I could do a cleaning party at work. I actually feel as out of focus as the webcam makes me look.

Take a picture of yourself right now.
don't change your clothes, don't fix your hair...just take a picture.
post that picture with NO editing.
post these instructions with your picture.

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If at first you don't succeed... [Sep. 3rd, 2008|12:07 am]
The rejection letter arrived from Analog today. It's a form letter, listing some common reasons that stories get rejected by that magazine, but failing to include "As many submissions as we get every week, we have to reject most of it." That letter is now framed above my desk. I haven't decided yet whether I will rotate successive letters of rejection into the frame or just keep this first one up. Either way, the purpose is self-motivation. I work really well from spite.

Laura thinks I'm being too negative by expecting rejections from whatever magazine I submit to. I think I'm simply playing the odds. This is not about doubting the quality of my story. If I didn't think it was any good, I wouldn't be sending it out at all. The rejection letter doesn't say, "Sorry, your story sucks." It says, "We regret that we cannot make use of it at this time." I'm okay with that. They have limited space; they have to reject most of what's submitted to them, I'm sure.

Tomorrow, the story gets submitted to Asimov's Science Fiction, which I have only just this moment realized is at the same address as Analog. Same floor of the building, for that matter. This, of course, is because both magazines are owned by the same company. I have this horrible vision of the readers from the two offices keeping an over/under pool on the turnaround time between both offices receiving the same story.

Or worse, the same few readers are working the slush piles for both magazines. "Didn't I just read this piece of crap?" becomes a working catchphrase. Ugh. Best not to think too hard about that.

Anyway, the story goes back out tomorrow, and if/when I get the rejection from Asimov's, I think Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show may be next on the list. At least I won't have to print it off again for them.
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Before I kill you, Mr. Bond, try the bordelaise. [Aug. 14th, 2008|05:55 pm]
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File this under "No one would ever buy it if I made it up." CNN reports that chef Julia Child was once part of an American spy network, along with a Supreme Court justice and a catcher for the Chicago White Sox. The Office of Strategic Services ("OSS." It's so much cooler-sounding than "CIA.") employed something like 24,000 people during World War II, including Ernest Hemingway's son, Theodore Roosevelt's sons (the OSS was an FDR initiative; nepotism worked then too), and Stewart Copeland's father.

Don't tell me you don't know who Stewart Copeland is.

It seems like the sort of tripe I would expect from a Dan Brown novel, but it's fascinating just the same. I wonder if OSS pensions provided the funding for the future success of its operatives and/or their families? How else do you explain that Mariel Hemingway ever had an acting career?
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Let the rejections commence! [Jul. 28th, 2008|01:53 pm]
I've talked a lot over the years about writing, about wanting to write, about wanting to be a writer, about wanting to be a published writer, about wanting to be able to live on the proceeds of my writing rather than having to go to work. At the same time that I've done all this talking, I've also done quite a bit of reading, not just the kinds of things that I want to write, but also books and articles about the craft of writing. In this reading, I noticed what should be an obvious pattern. Not a single writer has ever been published without submitting his writing.

Yeah, I know. Staggers the imagination, doesn't it?

So I'm going about it rather the way Spider Robinson says he did it back in 1973 with his first "Callahan's" story. If I figure I can write at least as well as most of these jokers getting printed, why not submit something and see what happens? I have, therefore, sent in a manuscript of a short story called "The Man Who Might Have Been" to Analog, not just because that magazine was Robinson's first publisher, but because they pay a little better than most of the other SF magazines I've looked at.

I expect that, unlike Robinson, I won't meet with immediate success. This is not to say, of course, that I would turn down immediate success. Another reason I submitted to Analog, first is that they're one of the most respected names in the field. Being rejected by these guys would be like getting told my grades aren't good enough to get me into a Master of Literature program at Oxford. Being accepted by Analog, well, that'd just be a feather in my cap and no mistake, now wouldn't it?

At any rate, I figure I'll chronicle my repeated attempts to get some fiction into print here on this LJ. And I'll also work on getting the next thing written to start submitting. Follow along; it'll be fun.
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Doogie sings! [Jul. 17th, 2008|11:27 pm]
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Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, starring Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion, directed by Joss Whedon. It's free until Sunday night, and absolutely worth every penny.

Um, that is, I could well be doing the downloady buy-the-DVD thing here when it starts costing a little bit. Because this sort of ridiculous farce is what America -- nay, what the world -- needs! I wonder if they'll release the soundtrack? Hmm. Maybe best if they don't.
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