July 06, 2012

Strange Aeons

At going on two years since my last post, this place has started to look like one of those old houses lining the lanes of the Internets, the windows darkened, the lawn overgrown. Did everyone leave, or are they still haunting the rooms, reclusive and coming slowly unhinged? It's hard to tell.

Well, for starts, I aten't dead, but I did take a long vacation from having much of a presence online. I recently  took up blogging again, at different digs; you should come visit over at Expense of Spirit, which is shaping up to be a different sort of blog than this is - a place where I'm writing the kinds of things I like to read online, about books and music and Art and all that. I'm having a very good time so far.

As to this old thing - I don't know. I started writing here over ten (!!) years ago, but to tell the truth, I wasn't really very good at keeping up the kind of online personal journal I intended this to be - when I had a clear picture of what I wanted to do with it, that is. Blogging as a field took off in a lot of different directions after I began, and I had a hard time focusing - as I often do - on which model I most wanted to adopt. So it goes.

So I'm not going to tear the place down just yet; too many fond memories, and I like having as much of a record here as this is of who I was between December 2001 and August 2010. And maybe someday I'll feel better able to let go and write the sort of things I intended to write, and I'll take it up again. Many things are possible in the world of the Web - including a little necromancy, if conditions are favorable.

But for now, I'm leaving this here as a signpost, which I hope will not look too very much like a tattered notice on a boarded-up doorway. Think of it as a message to fellow wanderers (who may or may not be lost), pointing to the next inn along the road while this place undergoes its Until Further Notice-ing. And maybe to my future self as well, who may find himself wanting a reminder of why he stepped away from the proprietorship of this odd little public house - and maybe, if fate should find it so, why he might want to start again.

In the meantime, no endings (nor beginnings neither), but a blessing on all my endeavors and yours, Gentle Reader. Om Sri Ganeshaya namah. And may all our paths be kind, and may they all lead, in good time, to home.

Dan Layman-Kennedy
July 2012

August 28, 2010

Ali Baba's a different species

I got your dogmatic, intolerant, proselytizing, anti-assimilationist Islam right here:

But, you know. Those mysterious Wahabis Shiites Sunnis Sufis. So strange. So hostile to modern culture. So very Not Like Us.

March 04, 2010

"Halle-verbal infix-lujah."

In honor of National Grammar Day:

To whimsically digress, let us invoke here the existence of the infix in English. The official party line, promulgated at the elementary-school level, is that English has prefixes and suffixes but no infixes. The thoughtful grammarian will have noticed that English has at least one infix, bleeping, as in abso-bleeping-lutely, in-bleeping-credible, and fan-bleeping-tastic. (The exact spelling and pronunciation of bleeping is subject to some variation.)

—Teresa Nielsen Hayden, in an endnote to "On Copyediting," in Making Book.

(And John M. Ford is still missed.)

February 23, 2010

In Dozens of Colors of Thread

So Elly, who is one of the finest writers and crafters I know, is starting to do how-to videos, and the first one out the gate is showing that she has as deft a hand with a video editor as she does with a blue pencil.* Behold:

Fantastic. And while the polish and perfectionism of her work is what I admire, it's the lolcats and the two-headed chicks that make her One Of Us.

(Impressed? She also sells this stuff, you know.)
*Proverbially. It being the Digital Age and all, I've never actually seen her mark up a hardcopy even when it was my prose she was providing with Gentle Correction. But Elly is an editor's editor, and the blue pencil, like the sword, exists always in the mind.

February 19, 2010

The Same Clown in a Different Face

Two things of note: first, HaloScan is now ded ded ded ded, taking with it the last couple of years' worth of comments here, which sucks but gives me an excuse to redecorate the place without worrying about preserving those bits of my old template. So - new look! New sidebars! New Blogger-hosted commenting engine!* Enjoy, if that's the word I'm looking for.

Second, today marks the anniversary of the first day of my latest time of unemployment. Which, as of a month ago, is now over, and I have a really fine job in a really excellent field (one where I can always go to bed at night knowing I'm not making the world any worse by working in it, huzzah), and I expect it will be a great experience as soon as I can get over my lingering Impostor Syndrome and waiting for the other shoe to drop. (Eleven months on the dole will fuck up your self-image but good, even if you're not starting off with the Neurotic Artist handicap.) Which means, Heaven and Earth, I practically have a career these days. Who knew?

We're not given anything forever, but for however long this moment lasts, it's all right.

*And probably long overdue, I suppose, but while I never needed to use it, I miss having a comment host that came with an optional disemvoweller.

December 21, 2009

Pantoum: Solstice

We light candles now,
For this is the dying time;
A little fire in the long dark
To heal the wounded world.

For this is the dying time,
And all things pass in their hour
To heal the wounded world.
Give way now to the cold and dark.

And all things pass in their hour:
Green and light and good cheer
Give way now to the cold and dark
All through this longest of long nights.

Green and light and good cheer:
Keep close and safe some part of each
All through this longest of long nights;
The shadow in its turn will pass.

Keep close, and safe. Some part of each
Your bounteous goods bring to shared table.
The shadow in its turn will pass,
Yielding at last to new morning.

Your bounteous goods bring a shared table,
So keep your revels as a bright beacon
Yielding at last to new morning.
Let wine flow, and tend the welcoming hearth.

We keep our revels as a bright beacon,
A little fire in the long dark.
Let wine flow, and tend the welcoming hearth;
We light candles now.

December 15, 2009

I decree today that life is simply taking and not giving

BODY: Holy crap, it sure is getting cold. Winter must be coming.
MIND: It sure is! It'll be the Solstice soon.
BODY: We'd better stock up on lots of fatty and sugary food, then, for the long trek across the tundra. You never know when the next mammoth is going to come along.
MIND: Actually, we don't need to do that any more. Remember? We got civilization about, oh, six or eight thousand years ago. You really should keep up.
BODY: Oh, right right right. But we'll still need to build up reserves for when the frost lifts and we'll be working from dawn to dusk in the fields, tilling the hard soil.
MIND: Yeah, not so much. Subsistence farming isn't the default for human beings any more either. We talked about this last year. And the year before that.
BODY: But... We're in the northern hemisphere! It's cold! Without the extra fat, we could die!
MIND: Have you seen us lately? Not exactly lacking in that department. Plus, we live in a nice house with central heating. And fleece blankets. We'll be fine.
BODY: But... Pumpkin pie!
MIND: Well, that does sound pretty good, but...
MIND: All right, dammit. Go get us a fork.

December 04, 2009

A River Too Weary to Flood

Good heavens, is that the time?

...I knew I was forgetting something somewhere.

Right. Back on the wagon, hopefully.

While you're waiting, have some JBE:

June 19, 2009

So the Buddha walks into a pizzeria...

(I've been feeling for a while like I ought to be doing cooking posts. Consider this as a test of the waters.)

Normally when I do Pizza Night, I build the suckers from the bottom up - homemade crust and everything. Tonight I didn't feel like going through the whole sponge-growing-and-kneading process, so I got some prefab crusts and threw some stuff on 'em.

Stacy is a Purist, of course, and got a half-plain, half-pepperoni.* I am Not, and had a need for a kitchen-sink kind of pie such as I have not indulged in for some time. Revelatory of something-or-other in my pyschology, I'm sure, I present the full list here. Thus, the Pizza with Something to Horrify Everyone:
Turkey ham
Hot banana peppers
Green olives (with pimentos)

I considered, briefly, throwing some diced onion in there too, but at that point it felt like gilding the lily.

*The last of the pepperoni side of which seems to have been discreetly made away with - and right off the island countertop, no less - by the Hoagie Thief, who is currently sleeping the sleep of the full and guiltless on the back of the couch.

June 09, 2009

Maestro Sartori

So yesterday, for the first time since the millenium or so, I went and had most of my hair cut off.

Several factors came together for this. One is, yes, that I'm still unemployed, and I was starting to feel less and less in love with my hair more than it was a liability to me. It's stupid and unfair that it should be so, but stupid and unfair are, alas, still forces to be reckoned with in the world. Better to pick a fight that can be won right now, circumstances being what they are.

The other thing was that it was just exactly long enough again to donate to Locks of Love, which is really what threw the balance for me. Conceding to the silly prejudices of the mainstream doesn't leave nearly as bad a taste when you have the excuse of doing it for a good cause.

Anyway, thus I come forth new-made:

Not a bad look for me, actually. And if I get tired of it - it's hair. It grows.

(Photo by the Missus.)

February 26, 2009

"Woe betide the favorites of gods who think they're funny"

Most of my (no doubt rapidly declining) readership probably knows this already, but a week ago I got my second laying-off these twelve months, and am back on the job hunt, in the teeth of the Econopocalyse and everything. So, uh, wish me luck, or something - not least that whatever gig I happen to land next doesn't have "Redshirt" listed as implicit under "Other duties as assigned."

It's bitter the need of the poor ditching boy
He'll always believe what they say
They tell him it's hard to be honest and true
Does he mind if he doesn't get paid?

January 20, 2009

Raise Our Eyes and Make a Start

I lost track of time today and realized that, entirely coincidentally, at 12 noon I was listening to "A Farewell to Kings."

I didn't make it into the office lunch room in time to see the inauguration coverage - by the time I got up there, there wasn't even standing room - but I look forward to watching the recaps later. For now, what I've heard of the proceedings makes me not only feel like I'm a citizen of the Republic again, it makes me feel like I'm a citizen of a Republic again.

Hail to the Chief.

January 17, 2009

Sleep Has His House

MaMa is gone. She died around 1:00 this morning, and an era passes away with her.

Talking to family this morning as we made the rounds of phone calls to pass the news along, the most shared sentiment seems to be relief. I think most of us had our big moment of grief and shock when we understood that the end was coming soon, and we've been anticipating this ever since. The best we could have hoped for was that it was as peaceful and painless as it was.

We're still going to have many moments of sadness as the reality of this continues to sink in, but the worst of this is past for all of us. Her pain is over, and we're no longer waiting to see how much longer her end would be drawn out. And we have the luxury, now, of remembering her as she was before her long decline, and loving that memory of her in all her strength and dignity. That was, I think, the only immortality she ever wanted.

I'm sure I will have more to say in the time to come, but for now, suffice to say that she will be missed, and not soon forgotten.

Deyr fé
deyja frændr
deyr sjálfr it sama
en orðstírr
deyr aldregi
hveim er sér góðan getr

January 16, 2009

Diamond Dog

Monty is home and hale and well, if a little worn out from his hospital stay. Stacy picked him up yesterday afternoon and he spent most of the evening asleep; he's on a bland diet and antibiotics and under observation, but seems to be doing okay. He's one lucky little guy.

Most especially glad to have him home again was Willow, who spent a whole lot of the time he was away moping and pining and being Velcro Kitteh on her monkeys ever since we came home the other night without him. For someone who spends as much time as she does as the Squeaky Toy that Moves, that's a lot of devotion. (Of course, I also caught her ambushing his tail last night, which goes to show there are a lot of things she's happy to have him around for.)

Stacy sent me this picture yesterday, shortly after his homecoming, captioned "I look so cute-- you'd never know I just crapped in the kitchen."

(Yes, that's a little red bandage that matches his collar over his IV spot. Poor guy has had that same place shaved three times now since the summer - after his first seizure, to get his teeth cleaned, and now this.)

January 14, 2009

Not Single Spies

Two things from the last day or so in the Not Good News column:

First, the latest word on my grandmother (better known to us, and most of of you, as MaMa) is that she is not well and fading fast; she's no longer able to eat, which likely puts her remaining time (barring bona fide divine intervention, which I doubt she would welcome even if she believed in it, which she doesn't) as a matter of days. This is not shocking news; she was moved recently to hospice care, and the clock's been pretty much winding down ever since. She is comfortable and well-cared-for and the end is being allowed to take its course, which has been her wish for a long while.

I visited her in her nursing home last April, when she was okay but a little confused, and it wasn't terribly long after that when she stopped knowing who people were when they came to see her. I've felt for a while now that going to visit would be much more for my sake than for hers, and neither of us would get much benefit or comfort from it. If that sounds like a shocking casting-off of filial duty, know that I've wrestled with my conscience on it enough to be prepared to live with myself. A better world would, perhaps, have had her last days spent surrounded by her family in her own home; that world would also not have robbed her of so much of herself in these past few years, so that she's simply existing as a shell of what she used to be. The sad truth is that she's been slowly but surely taking her leave for a while now, and this next step will simply be the final stage of a long process. The MaMa I will mourn is one who is already departed, and that's whose memory I mean to keep alive.

The second thing is that our Monty is currently in doggie hospital for the next couple of days, as we discovered that yesterday morning he ate an entire one-pound fruitcake* - full of raisins, which are very very bad for dogs. We took him to the emergency vet last night, where they are keeping him on an IV and watching his toxin levels. He was, for the record, his usual happy playful self when we took him in, and has been doing well - Stacy called this morning and his kidneys were in good shape (renal failure is the cause of most raisin toxicity deaths, for reasons that are still apparently a little mysterious) but his liver was hurting a little, so bringing him in for detox was the right decision. The doctor is optimistic and so are we, but we're a little anxious nonetheless, so if you have any good thoughts to spare for a very silly little dog whose dad was very careless about what he left lying around the house, they would not be unwelcome.

Updates as I know them.

Update 1/15: Mom talked to someone at the nursing home yesterday who said that MaMa's prospects are anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. That's imminent, but not quite as immediate as I first thought. It could still be more or less any time, though.

Monty's second round of blood work early this morning was pretty good. His kidneys are fine, though one of his liver levels went up some and we need to have him tested again in a few days. He's been perky and in good spirits.** They're trailing off his fluids and he'll get to come home tonight. We are, needless to say, greatly relieved.

*Those of you who were around for, or got word of, the Great Hoagie Caper of Thanksgiving 2008 will be less than shocked to read this. I suspect he put the whole thing away in less than 90 seconds, getting the wrapper off included.

**And, almost certainly, loud. We've been able to hear him on the phone whenever we've talked to someone in the same room with him. How is it that we ended up with the mouthy kid?

January 07, 2009

That's it. I'm putting my quill back in my goose.

Obviously, I needed humbling today. It seems there's this young drummer named Sara with a gift for polyrhythm and an ear for prog.

Here she is at 12, doing "Red."

And at 13, doing "YYZ."

That there is pure joy. I should live so long as to infuse all my work with as much.

(Via TNH, on BoingBoing.)

November 16, 2008

(with apologies to children of the '90s everywhere)

"Hey, Rocko! How's your novel coming for National Novel Writing Month?"
"Not so good, Hef. I'm still stuck on Page 1. I can't figure out what comes after 'It was'."
"Oh, you should try my technique! It's working great so far."
"Really? What's your word count?"
"I have... 150,462 words."
"That's fantastic, Hef! And only on week one! What's your secret?"
"Oh, it's easy, Rocko! I just write one paragraph, and then I copy and paste it 50 times. It's post-modern! Check it out: Copy... and paste. Copy... and paste. I just got another 378 words!"
"Heffer! That's cheating!"
"No it's not! There's no rule against it! I looked in the Official Rules and there's no rule against it."
"But you're not writing a novel at all! You're just copying the same thing over and over again."
"I dunno, Rocko. I think maybe someone's a little jealous of my shiny purple Winner bar. Maybe you should work a little harder on your novel instead of trying to be a literal critic or something."
"What?! I am not... I never... And it's literary critic, Heffer! LITERARY CRITIC!"
"Hey, Rocko, I think maybe you're taking this NaNoWriMo thing a little too seriously. I'm gonna go over to Filbert's and show him my work-in-progress."
*sigh* "National Novel Writing Month is a very dangerous month."

November 04, 2008

Time to Ring Some Changes

Yeah, this is about how I'm feeling right now:

Yes. We. Did.

November 03, 2008

Yes I said yes we can Yes

Want to talk about conspiracies of entrenched power? I'll give you one: decades of work, and the money to pay for it, have been spent on pounding the idea into your fuzzy little heads that all politicians are sleazeballs, political action is hopeless, no one goes into a public service career for idealistic reasons, democracy isn't a thing to be proud of, and your vote doesn't matter.

Are you aware that most elections in the United States are decided by fairly narrow margins? I am amazed that an online population that's watched Flickr, Digg,YouTube, FaceBook, and Twitter grow up out of nothing can doubt its own potential political clout.

The powerlessness-and-despair trope is one of the two or three nastiest headtrips the bad guys run on you. And why do they do it? Precisely because it isn't true. Your votes do matter. Political action can change the world. Faith and hope aren't private vices. They're forces to be reckoned with.

- Teresa Nielsen Hayden, here.

And, what the hell, while we're at it, this is pretty much still true too; also, what he said.

You know what to do.

October 27, 2008

"No, there is too much. Let me sum up."

1. Yes, I know. No, nothing in particular, other than inertia and a lot of "Oh, my, is that the time?" I had the best of intentions, but you know how that one goes.

2. Well, that, and I was persuaded at some length to join Facebook. Where I think I owe a bunch of people karma, or daffodils, or appletinis, or something. Damn place is crack cut with pure evil.

3. And because I'm so good at keeping up with all my other commitments, I'm also posting to a brand-new blog featuring the members of the writing group to which Elly so graciously invited me back in the spring, and which has been occupying occasional Tuesdays for me ever since. The good news is that this is one o' them group-type thingies, so my occasional dropping out of existence might not be felt quite so keenly there.

4. Yes, I am indeed doing NaNoWriMo this year. I seriously considered extending my hiatus another round, but this is NaNoWriMo X and I'm a sucker for a lost cause. And I might not even play to win this year. (Donations of coffee and pie can be sent round to the usual address, nevertheless.)

5. Uh, so, what have you guys been up to? Did I miss anything?

June 07, 2008

I Was Half the Way Down, Treading the Sand

For anyone still watching this space, a placeholder post; lo, I am not gone forever, but my last couple of months have been a heady mix of the very good and the almost comically dreadful, with little in-between except my suddenly inflated commute. Some of the high end, at least, I may feel inclined to elaborate on soon, but for the moment I'm far more out of blogging steam than I've been in a while.

In the meantime, in the spirit of catching up: those of you who missed OVO's February performance at the College Perk can now hear the whole thing, in almost the right order, on our virb.com site here.

March 21, 2008

The Adherents of the Repeated Meme

Tagged again!

Right, the Official Rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people and post a comment here once you post it to your blog so I can come see!
As chance would have it, my nearest book is Iain M. Banks' Excession, and the passage in question is a spaceship transmission giving the title shot (and for purposes of the excercise, I'm choosing to interpret "sentence" as "text ending with a period"):
Begin-Read point of Tracked Copy document #SC.c4: +
xGCU Fate Amenable to Change
Ethics Gradient
& strictly as SC cleared:
Excession notice @.
Constitutes formal All-ships Warning Level 0
[(in temporary sequestration) - textual note added by GSV
Wisdom Like Silence @].
(No, the whole book isn't like that; it's just how the dialogue between the Culture ships is written. For further context, the Fate Amenable to Change, Ethics Gradient, and Wisdom Like Silence are the names of the ships themselves, or at least of the godlike AI Minds who inhabit them, and SC stands for Special Circumstances, the Culture's secret service and intelligence organization.)

For something a little less obscure, I also have at hand Britta Sweers' fascinating study Electric Folk: The Changing Face of English Traditional Music, which I've been slowly making my way through for a little while now (it's very good, but a little dense and chewy). Page 123 is in Chapter 4, "The Electric Folk Scene: A Sociocultural Portrayal":
In 1965 Karl Dallas wondered, for instance, if folksingers were overpaid - not meaning to attack the stars of the scene, but rather the idea that even those without talent could make money. As he concluded in Melody Maker: "It's become very commercial, to be uncommercial" (Dallas 1965). Hence one problematic result of the musical fusions after 1967 was that electric folk groups presented their music within a commercial context - something that had previously been rejected by the revival scene.
Hmmm. I should probably just let that stand without comment.

This one's been around a couple of times now, so I don't know if anyone here has been hit with it already; who wants to risk the terrible Illumination that the books reveal?

In Poses Keen from Bygone Days

The blogosphere is awash in art of late, it would seem:

First, those of you who are fans of my late grandfather's work should check out this stuff that Tony found in one of the many recent attic excavations. Some of it's the abstract expressionism that he was known best for, but there's lots of atypical pieces there too. (I, of course, like the one that looks like a Great Old One, but YM, naturally, MV.)

Second, Spyder got tapped again to do some artwork for the award-winning RPG Burning Wheel, and is showcasing her fine illos for the upcoming magic-focused book here. (In case you didn't know, she previously did some interiors and the back cover painting for the acclaimed Monster Burner volume, which is a level of coolness I could barely have contemplated so few degrees of separation from when thumbing through the Fiend Folio in my fevered youth.) A great big hurrah to her for this new gig and another tally mark on her Srs Profeshunul Artist board. (Also: Mmmm. Wizards.)

Third, Elly (who is a colleague from my late place of employment and otherwise fellow-traveler, for those of you who have been wondering whence she came to the blogroll) has embarked on the ambitious project of a series of works inspired in part by Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, and chronicling the progress (of that, and other stuff too). Aeroplane is a work that's at the very least on my shortlist of Desert Island Albums: compelling, labyrinthine, bizarre, unsettling, and chockablock with strange earworms, which is why I sometimes find myself singing "When you were young you were the king of carrot flowerrrrrs" while I'm doing the dishes or some damn thing. (I recall reading that NMH's aesthetic was once summed up as "like Syd Barrett, but with more sex," and that's about right.) It's exactly the kind of effort I applaud, in part because it's the kind of thing I wish I'd thought of first, though my version would no doubt have more of a Mark Ryden sort of vibe going; I look forward to seeing what she does with it.

So that's at least a couple of you out there who have some catching up to do with the mini-zeitgeist, if you've been neglecting pen and palette of late. Show us yer canvases, baby! Whoohoo! (And this would have been an excellent place to note the official launch of Trixie Magpie, except the site's not up yet, nudge nudge, so you're just going to have to Watch This Space.)