Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Home Stretch

Lots of fun the other night at the Wordo's Holiday reading.  I read a silly mash-up with Santa and his reindeer as Charles Xavier and the X-men.  I think the Patrick Stewart/Jean-Luc Picard joke got the biggest laugh.  But the funniest story was probably a post apocalyptic story about "Santa Chicken."   We had the usual mix of creepy stories, sad stories, and family dysfunction

The traffic in town is getting goofy.  I don't recall things getting so weird last year.  Yesterday we nearly got T-boned at an intersection when someone tried to make a right when their light was red.  I'm not sure if people are just preoccupied or if the weather's too warm for snow so they aren't concentrating on driving.   I'm working on not swearing at people.

Writing:  Well... this has been the Week of Craft!

Working out:  Managed to break 200 calories within 15 minutes.  I tried visualizing stuff, which helped the exercise go more quickly... but on the other hand every now and then my breathing got off.   Did the other free weight stuff; the 25 pound dumbbell was a little hard.  I felt the triceps exercise.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Meditations and Working Out

Send More Chocolate!  Alas, the last of the la Maison du Chocolat, sent as fiftieth birthday tribute, has been consumed. Man, that went fast.  I think next time I'll have to document the consumption so I slow it down.

Writing.  277 words in about an hour this morning... which will be interesting shoe-horning into tonight's story.   Luckily, the format lends itself to chopping and narrative summary.

Working Out:  Surprisingly, given how much eating I did this weekend, my weight went down a notch.  Got to the gym a little late, so I had a truncated workout.   Did the rowing machine uh, 170 calories in 15 minutes.  The machine is a little boring. I can't really watch the TV's in  the gym;I have to pay attention to how many calories per hour I'm burning or else my burn rate goes down.

So I decided I'd try Rowing Machine meditation and visualize Wiccan ritual symbols in my head while going back and forth.  At the very least, I think it improved my posture on the machine (and afterward).   Given the repetitive nature of rowing, it seems like a good way to let meditative images flow through my head.  Although chanting "Rhyton. Priest. Snake," under my breath might have garnered a few odd looks.  At least it's tamer and  less explicit than some of the unspoken chants I've thought....

After I ran downstairs for some triceps curls, lateral pulls, some curl-ups, and a very short free-weight session.   I did some free weights at home later in the evening.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mid December

Saturday we got a tree for the house.  We usually go to a tree farm about a half-hour out of town and then tromp around.  The tree hunt started out sunny, but as we got to Fern Ridge, the clouds rolled in and it became grey.  I thought it might rain, but it didn't.  

The Friesan We Didn't See
In the past, we've managed to be at the farm the same weekend as Friesan Horses, but we missed them and had a ride around the farm in the horse trailer pulled by a tractor.  After the ride, we found a tree pretty quickly.  Mark sawed it down and we took it home.  It's in the tree stand now, soaking up water and undecorated.  The house smells like pine.

This weekend was the weekend of craft.   I think I may be peaking out on craft.

As I've been writing this in the PLC parking lot, a woman of a certain age has driven up in her red SUV with Death Metal blaring loudly enough that I can hear it clearly through her car and through my car one stall away.  Now she's sitting in the car with the engine off but the music on.  I think the song must have ended, because she's getting out.  She's in a fuchsia rain slicker, and walking away with a poinsettia in her hand, looking like Amanda King's grandmother and not like a Death Metal Rocker.  

Writing:  45 minutes of mostly editing the Tuesday Holiday story.  Which is very silly and will probably need trimming or an abrupt end.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Rhyton. Priest. Snake.

I've been collecting pictures on a Pinterest Board called  "Rhyton. Priest.  Snake." (kind of NSFW) to try to work with various dream images I've had exploring the intersection of maleness, desire, and spirituality.   It's not working as well as I like.  

When I try to find images of desire-filled priests, I often wander into beefcake.  Not that I don't mind beefcake, but it's frequently not expressing a connection to spirit or connection to the numinous side of nature.   Maybe desire is the wrong word; maybe I mean fervor.  

Sometimes when I follow what can best be called radical fairy pins, I feel like I'm getting closer, but again it usually turns into lithe young men coyly arching their taut and lichen-clad bodies in the middle of a field.  Or illustrations of a heterosexual Cernonus flexing his eight-pack abs and wearing an afterthought.  Or pictures of random scruffy looking guys who've taped deer antlers onto their heads.

I really know when I've followed the wrong pin when all the images become frolicking Celtic fairies crap.

I sometimes have better luck following pins of Ancient Greek rhytons and other pottery, if only because they actually paint religious-feeling scenes of men presenting libations.

Oh well... imagining a spirituality which speaks to me is a work in progress.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Jounal: Writing About Love (and Sex)

Work-out:  160 calories in about 15 minutes on the rowing machine.  Plus weights; I got a pointer on doing a torso twist the right way (one handed, pulling with hand instead of bracing with both) and I started doing some tricepts curls... which I think I can feel this morning.

Writing:  About 45 minutes of writing.  I broke up next week's story into ten sections and sort of outlined what I want to do.  

The "Fifty Shades of Gay" flash piece I wrote got rejected.  I think I'm relieved -- I have a feeling that in terms of literature it's a little flat (although I did put character development into it), and in terms of erotica it's too vague (because I was sending it to a literary market, not a smut market).  I need to look at it and contrast and compare it with the last two pieces I've run through the Wordos table.  All three have had an element of sexual tension in them.  I'd intended for the two Wordos pieces to be funny in a Three's Company kind of way, but the first one creeped a few people out, and the second one got mixed reviews.  

One thing I've learned is that I'm not speaking to readers' belief or rule-set -- they don't accept that a story element is magic, they want to know how and why it works.   The other thing is that I want to explore themes of sex, love, attraction, desire, lust and modes of being, and I haven't yet figured out a way to disarm the lines of taboo around these in a way that preserves the story.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Angel Cloak Dream

I dreamed ...

Over all of the dream was the sense that I was going to be late for high school, and that 8 AM was looming.

I decided to run away to a small wooden cabin in the woods.  In the dream the cabin was somewhere in the woods on the hill where my folks live.  An angel had lived in the cabin, but he had left many years ago.  He had been a seven foot tall dark man -- I'm not sure if he was African or not, because he spoke with an Irish accent.  All he left behind was his large dark cloak.  It was of some thin black material, and it was more like a duster or a cassock with a hood.

I got into his cabin.  At one point Mark might have been there with me, but I"m not sure.  The cabin was cold.  I had brought some supplies, but I was still kind of cold, so I wrapped myself up in the angel's large dark cloak.  My dream point of view shifted and I watched myself from above looking down at myself, my white hands drawing the dark material around myself like a pea pod.

I dreamed in the angel's cloak, and I was reliving his life.  I was eating a soup or thin stew.  All I saw was a white porcelain bowl, a large spoon, and the broth.  I was in the point of view of an angry, slightly drunk father; I saw the meal through his eyes and heard the conversation through his ears.  I was eating with my sons, thirteen and fifteen.

We had a dysfunctional conversation, (in an Irish or Scottish accent) which involved the father (me) warning the sons about slutty girls, the older son weaselly not-accusing the younger son of hanging out with one, and the younger son (who would become the angel) whining that his friend wasn't like that at all.   The father (me) was getting angrier and angrier, and the part of me having the dream in the angel's cloak saw that the older son was baiting the younger son into a beating from their father.  During all of this, I was eating the broth and hearing the conversation like a radio play.

I think I woke up in the angel's cabin and the dream went on to other things...

Monday, December 08, 2014

Dec 8 Journal

Whew.  Saturday was a craft day.  I've designed some paper constructions which I think will come out very nicely, especially since Mark and I are teaming up and it will incorporate his origami to provide some visual tension. 

I did manage a mini-workout of sorts.  The gym at 5PM on a Saturday is very different  from a weekday afternoon:  much more grunting and hissing from manly men, and more folks working in pairs.  I had a quick warm-up on an excercise bike, followed by the usual free weight training.  
Sunday was a family day.  Actually, make that tech day.  I needed to do some computer work for my mother.  Luckily, the problems at her house were more configuration and "where are the files" hiding than otherwise.   Mark and The Child came along and had fun at my sister's house while Mom and I were ensconced in Mom's Computer Den of Iniquity.

Monday:  This morning was an editing day.  Earlier, I'd worked in critiques on a paper copy of manuscripts.  Today I transcribed corrections and changes to an e-copy of the files.  I'll have to re-read them, but I think I have two mail-ready manuscripts to submit (and I wish Daily Science Fiction would up their word-count limit to 2000).  

Tuesday:  I had some sort of "processing" dream.  I remember someone offered me a discounted membership (possibly to the gym) because I was turning fifty.  Mostly the dream was meta:  there were two sets of characters, and one set could influence the whole dream... there was something about singing in a tunnel.  I wonder if thinking about the relationships between dodecahedrons, icasahedrons and icasododecahedrons got my brain working on underlying structures and that simmered through my dreaming.

Tuesday morning's writing was me trying to come up with something for next weeks holiday reading.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Squirrel Sensei

Scene:  Saturday morning.  John is sipping post-breakfast tea and looking at social media.  Mark is preparing to bake gluten-free rolls.

Mark (talking about his bonsai):  "...and I have a waiting list for the aspen -- (suddenly unlocks the sliding door to the deck) Curse you squirrel!  Get away from my plants!"

John:  "Hmm.  Maybe I can ask around for what the Japanese word for squirrel is, and we can make a kami shrine to appease them."

Mark:  "We don't need a shrine.  We just need to give The Child a quarter every time he shoots one with his water gun."

John (nearly dropping his tea):  "But -- I thought 'we don't shoot animals with our squirt-guns.'"

Mark:  "I thought we had an agreement with the animals."

John wonders if he'll have to put on a low-cut dress and start singing into a wishing well....

Friday, December 05, 2014

Journal Bits

Wednesday workout:  manged 200 calories in 15 minutes.  Did various weight work.  I seems to be doing the endorphin thing -- at least that's the only reason I can think of for finding knee-ups on a knee-up station funny.  I'll probably get a reputation as "the giggling guy" soon...

Thursday:  Managed to arise at 5AM.  Worked in the critiques into the 950 word flash piece for about 90 minutes.  I think it's mostly ready, I should do another pass for anything I missed, and submit it this weekend.  The biggest problem the Wordos had with it was that they mistook a married couple for brother and sister.  There's a touch of "As You Know Bob" dialog, but I think it's justified.

On a different note, my wireless keyboard seems to be having problems with the space bar.  I'm hoping that it's not a sign that I need to get a new one.

Friday Morning:  The spacebar seems to be working -- maybe typing in a parked car is causing the problem.  

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Old Photos: The Fire Egg Shrine

 Several years ago, I used an X-acto knife to cut a hole in an egg.  I filled the shell with isopropyl alcohol.  (Careful, kids, this device is almost 90% pure divorcium.)
 Mark insisted that I not set the house on fire or display this for The Child, so it was in the back part of the yard.  Then I lit it.  Of course I had a camera, so I spent the next two hours (while the summer sun set) photographing it.
 I call this shot the "Virgin Mary" shot.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Retrograde Tuesday Dream

OK...  Well... not the best morning today, and I seriously think something's gone retrograde.

Smokey decided it was time to go out at 2 AM.  I'm trying to throw him into the garage where he can't bug us, but I wasn't awake enough to locate the the cat door cover.  So he got around my blockade and Mark threw him out at 3 AM. 

Waking up was difficult, but I managed to get tea and oatmeal started and then sat and stared at the ending of the story I'm working on.  Insert minor interruptions here, but I did manage to wrap up the manuscript.

Then I tried printing it. Which failed:  after two paper jams, the printer refused to return the ink cartridge to its resting spot and the internal gears whined.  Something's stuck in the printer, and it's not printing. I think it's broken, so now I have to figure out an alternative.

Work was... entertaining.  This is the part of the year where people sort of realizes there's only three effective working weeks left in the year.  And everyone's a little strung out because of the GTF strike.

I was going to work on Holiday Craft, but decided that I needed to print out the manuscript so that it would be done.  And it's my turn to cook dinner and shopping works more efficiently when I go alone... So I came home, unhooked the InkJet Printer and cleaned it.  While I was air blasting it, out rolled a ballpoint pen.  I fiddled with the paper handling mechanism and unjammed it from the cartridge assembly.   Then it was time to shop.  Probably a good decision to do less.

On the plus side, I did have a coolish dream.  I was watching a movie.  Insert samba music.  The camera pans above a North Easter European river (I think we're in Norway or something).  It's twilight, I'm guessing 5:30 PM.  The sky is orange, and the camera swoops down about six feet above the river and passes through a village that spills down the hills and out onto stilts over the river.  The buildings have a mid 20th century feel to them.  They're made of wood which has been weathered by rain and snow.  There's no rotting wood, but many of the small houses look like they could use a paint job.  

White light sources in and alongside the houses light up the mist from the river in artistic bands.  There's a persistent cloud of mist on the edge of a narrow deck or wide plank extending from one house over the river.  The camera moves in closer.  Through the thick mist, which now looks more like cigarette smoke, I catch the edges of a blocky, upholstered easy chair.   There's a middle-aged woman, the lady of the house, smoking so much we cant see her or the massive cube of a chair she's sitting in.

The camera pans along, and we see early evening village scenes with the introductory shots of the rest of the characters in the movie, who are housewives, and fishermen, and office staff, and handifolk.  The movie is gearing up for one of those madcap comedies.

Then there was a break in the dream and I got distracted from the movie... when we returned...

A group of Egyptian antiquities folks were working around a dusty cedar box.   The box is decorated with a Egyptian queen sitting on a big blocky throne of stone slabs, surrounded by ankhs, rods of dominion, neffers, sedge and reed and other hieroglyphs.   The sunlight was very bright, and everything was very dry and dusty.  The box is big and blocky, and somehow I know that the smoking woman's upholstered chair is inside.  Which is funny, because everyone dusting and preserving the box thinks it's an ancient Egyptian artifact.   

Monday, December 01, 2014

First Monday of December

Looking back, I've gotten out of the habit of posting my workouts.  I was fairly good last week, I worked out Saturday, Monday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  I continue to do the rowing machine to about 160 calories or so.  I've switched my routine to the weights-with-strings station and I upped my dumbbells to 30 lbs.

I'm going to try doing planks at random times during breaks between other stuff; I tried it in the craft store the other day while I was waiting for the cutter-plotter to finish a job.

Later... this afternoon I did 200 calories on the rowing machine in 15 minutes.  And I managed not to drop a 30 pound dumbbell onto my foot laughing when "I Guess You're Just What I Needed" started playing.  

Writing... I submitted my erotica.  I think in terms of writing it was interesting because it forced me to write from a character's POV that I don't necessarily share.  When I'm writing science fiction or fantasy, it's hard for me not to be in the character's POV as they fly a starship or cast a spell.  When the POV character did something in this story, I thought, "Ugh. I would never do that."  Anyway, we'll see what happens. 

I finished up a short story to bring to the Wordos table for next week.  I also polished up a 800 word romance (still needs work).  I've got some other things that are close.  The writing goal for December is to finish up the half-completed drafts and polish up things the Wordos critiqued.  There's a prompt swap story I need to work on, and also the Wordo's holiday short.   And I should submit manuscripts now before the rejections start rolling in.

Dreams:  I had a Dr. Who dream, which turned into a Returning to Arcosanti Dream, which ended with me tearfully singing "Memr'y" from Cats with someone who had created a steam-driven foundry out of snow (The foundry was cool.  But the duet?  Really?  That was twenty years ago...and it was doomed before it began...).   I'm guessing this might have been sparked by reading about the tarot card Strength, because I did a Significant Tarot Reading for this person, which turned out to be more about me (sigh).

Saturday, November 29, 2014

November 2014 Holiday Report

We had a nice Thanksgiving at my mother's sister's house.   There was lots of food.  And wine (when your cousin's a vintner, that helps on the wine front).  

Mark made a delicious (and gluten free!) cheesecake.

The cousins and second cousins (and the first cousins, once removed) get along very well.  One of the highlights of the day was assuring cousin Sameer that, yes, Oregonians in fact really did blow up a beached whale near Florence in the early 1970's.  Thank goodness for The Internet (you should have seen his face when raining chunks of exploded whale blubber crumpled car hoods).

The next day was Tree Decoration Day at my folk's house.  They do a lot of holiday entertaining, and like to get the tree up early.  It's an industrial strength artificial tree that's very tall.  It takes three or four grown-ups to set up.  

After about ten years, we finally figured out that unfolding the limbs at the bottom, one-by-one, and "fluffing" out the side branches makes the tree look a whole lot better than assembling the whole tree and then trying to fill out the places where forty-eight weeks of being in a box have flattened branches.

Although it can be cumbersome, it's much easier on the front door's frame than dragging a real live dead tree inside, there's no needles falling onto the floor, and we'll never have to fire up the chainsaw (in the house) to trim a few extra inches off of the trunk.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Navigating Literature

Last night at Wordos we were discussing Hugo nominees and invariably drifted into the "is it science fiction, fantasy, or literature?" realm.  I think the answer to one story is "yes" -- but on the other hand, the science part of some of the stories was pretty soft.   Sort of like if Dracula was a story with blood-sucking creature who could turn into a bat, but it focused more on the marital conflicts of the Harkers.  

In any case, it seems like science fiction and fantasy are picking up more literary bits from magical realism or slipstream.  This confuses the hard science fiction folks, and I'd have to admit, sometimes when I'm reading a story expecting it to be hard science fiction and it veers into literary territory, my initial reaction is to wonder why the author didn't do more research, because [dirigibles, water, computers, whatever] don't really do that.  And then to realize, "Oh, dirigibles are a metaphor for sex--so that's why they look like that in this story" later.

After Wordos I spent about an hour editing a previously critiqued draft at a near-by bar and grill.  I managed to snag the usual post-Wordos table and spread out with a salad and drink and manuscripts.  There's something to be said for having a large round table to use, and I pretended I was an Inkling in a British Pub.  There's a couple of places where folks indicated they were confused by what was happening, and I hope that I've clarified those.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Choosing a Pen Name

Another slow writing morning.  I did manage to start wrtiing around 5:30, which was good.  I started to work on the October Prompt piece, but only got about 182 words into it before I switched over to the erotica piece.  About 200 new words on that, and some editing -- once I figured out how vague to make the naughty-bits editing went really quickly.  I should finish polishing it and send it out.  But first I have to come up with a pen name.   "Bugrider" is an anagram of "Burridge", but while Bugrider would make a good children's author's pen name,  I'm pretty sure it doesn't work for erotica. Unless one has an insect fetish.  Not. Going. There.