28 December 2003

So I'm now on cold number three of the winter. Bleah. Double bleah. Usually I get one cold a year, if that. Not happy, but at least it's not as snotty or even as head-stuffy as the last two. Now to play Amerzone.

27 December 2003

My Inner Hero - Wizard!



I'm a Wizard!


There are many types of magic, but all require a sharp mind and a cool head. There is no puzzle I can't solve, no problem I can't think my way out of. When you feel confused or uncertain, you can always rely on me to untangle the knots and put everything back in order for you.



How about you? Click here to find your own inner hero.

24 December 2003

23 December 2003

The tendonitis is gone, replaced by a dull ache which is mostly ignorable. Rowena suggested I brought it all on myself playing video games. Actually, I think it was from slinging around heavy boxes of books. But the video games probably didn't help.


I got inspired, the other day, by an article on chapbooks I wrote for Creative Writing for Teens (I really need to get a new photo taken). I dragged out a novel I'd written bits of for Jack Hodgins' novel writing class. I'm not sure why I chose it, but it seemed to make sense. Something about gifts and it being that season, I suppose. Anyway, I pulled together some bits and wrote some more bits, and am generally happy with what I've got. Nine of the bits I stuck together in PageMaker, and now I'll have a holiday chapbook to give everyone instead of the usual "Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, etc, etc" card I sometimes send out. Stole the idea from Charles deLint (the chapbook-for-the-holidays thing). I've done it a few times in the past--I even used some of my awful poetry once. It's fun. Everyone should do it. Anyway, those of you who are far away will get yours eventually (not that I have that many people to send it to).


And, even more useful to current writing projects, I got an idea for a story for Vinland Stories (or whatever it ends up being called) that has nothing to do with the sea. It's very much a sky story. Has dragons in. I'm not sure how dragons got into these stories. Actually, that's not true. It happened when I decided to write a children's story (which became part of a chapter book) called "Dragon's Egg" and set it in Ravenswing (a village downcoast of Cobbleshore). That was followed by "Fox Point Dragon"; those two stories became the book Fox Point Dragon (which, come to think of it, could really use to be revised again and sent out to many, many publishers). Then White Foxes, Full Moon turned out to have a dragon in it (or will have, when I get that far). The Fox Point dragon will turn up, too, though maybe only as a mention. So now Vinland has dragons. I think the story is called "Where the Sky is Full of Dragons," but that could change by the time it's actually written. After all, "Hollow Bones" has had several titles ("A Gift of Bones and Motley Feathers," "Bird Bones and Feathers," almost "Bones and Feathers," "Bird Bones," and "Hollow Bones"--or maybe it's one title reworked until it's more or less right).

Getting behind on my blogging, I am. I started my quest to read all things alluded to in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with Sherlock Holmes. I've read some before, but never worked my way through the whole canon, and said quest seemed like a worthy excuse. The connection with League is that Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's big brother, is a character, though not a major one. Also the Sherlock Holmes/Professor Moriarty rivalry is mentioned. I'm reading a massive Bantam edition of the complete novels and stories. It's in two volumes and I only have volume one, but the 900+ pages should keep me busy for a while. I've already got through A Study in Scarlet which is kind of like two books in one--the usual Sherlock Holmes reconstructing crimes through clues thing, and an odd anti-Mormon western (the murderer's backstory). Got no problem with the anti-Mormonism (ever read the Book of Mormon? Very weird stuff) but the sudden switch between stories was a little jarring, even though it was the only way to tell the whole story without giving away the killer's motives (and identity) from the beginning. And, for some reason, I'm always surprised when literature of this age is so easy to read. I always expect it to be difficult. Dracula struck me the same way. And it's not like I've never read Doyle before.


And something occurred to me while I was thinking about Sir Arthur. I've read a lot of stuff about fairies (big surprise), and Doyle was a big supporter of the reality of the Cottingley fairies. What I thought was odd is that most commentators speculating on why Doyle believed in fairies mention his involvement with Spiritualism. I don't think I've ever seen anyone say that maybe Sir Arthur believed in fairies because his dad did. Both Charles Altamont Doyle (his father) and Richard "Dickie" Doyle (his uncle) were well-known fairy painters, and both were institutionalized (Charles Altamont, at least, was probably not insane, just a little odd. And he believed in fairies). Anyway, just a thing I thought of. Now I'll probably find that everything I read about Doyle and fairies mentions his father and his uncle and relates his belief to theirs. Oh well.

22 December 2003

Things Creationists Hate. (Link via Making Light.)
Happy Winter Solstice! Here's last year's very, very cool Astronomy Picture of the Day.

19 December 2003

A while back, Jessa Crispin of Bookslut (I think that's who it was) commented that people reviewing the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (crappy movie, from what I've read, but the comic is excellent) kept spelling "Quatermain" wrong, inserting an extra "r." It's easy enough to do (I've probably done it myself), but kind of sloppy when you're writing something for publication. Well, the other day I was arranging some books on the shelf, and I noticed that my old falling-apart Avon Edition copy of Allan Quatermain had that very typo on the cover. It says Allan Quartermain, extra "r" and all. On the inside pages, it's spelled correctly, though. It amused me.


But then I was thinking about the book again, and I went and got it off the shelf to flip through. And I realized that I've never actually read it. Or at least I don't remember reading it. I saw the abysmal Richard Chamberlain movie. I've read She and Ayesha and even Eric Brighteyes (more than once), but somehow I never got to Allan Quatermain. Unless I read it and don't remember, which is possible. So then I got the bright idea that I should read all the books alluded to in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the comic, that is), starting with the ones from which the main characters came. So I began to make a list.


I soon realized that this was going to be a big list. I consulted Ye Olde Internet, and found some fabulous annotations by Jess Nevins (now available as a book). There's a lot of reading there. But then I really like to read.


'Course, the search led me to this site, which has annotations for lots of comics, including 1602. But I think I'll wait to go through them until I read the whole series. Then I'll have an excuse to re-read it.


Oh, I have a lot of reading to do. Yay!

My wrist is feeling much better. It only hurts when I bend it all the way, so normal writing functions have resumed. More or less.

17 December 2003

Got tendonitis again. Hurts to type, hurts to handwrite, and I have a whole pile of stories trying to get out of my head via my poor right hand. Ouch. Must not give in to urge to play video games.

14 December 2003

Mr Picassohead: way too much fun. Here's mine.
I'm still wasting time playing video games (Onimusha: Warlords on PS2), but have lots of thoughts about writing projects. I think, for example, that Andry narrates the whole of Cobbleshore Stories (which I think is really called Vinland Stories). Quite what that means for each individual story, I'm not yet sure (ooh, love the syntax in that sentence). I also think that White Foxes, Full Moon is probably meant to be in third person limited (the limited part switching between Maring and Watcher as needed) rather than in alternating first person. The question now is whether to go back and rewrite the bits I've already done (all fifteen chapters) and carry on from there, or switch now and rewrite the earlier chapters later, or carry on in first person until I get to the end and then rewrite (and perhaps discover that first person was the right point of view all along).


Short pause while I investigate the crash from the living room. And chase away the cat, and reassemble the Christmas tree, which is now a little wonky. Grrr . . .


There must be a better name for Christmas tree that doesn't involve religion. I'm not giving up my tree, even if the cat does take it apart bit by bit every year.


Anyway. I've other things I'm thinking about with the writing projects I'm working on, but none I can talk about here without getting into symbolism and such, which is something I think every reader should discover on their own. I know what symbols I'm finding, but it doesn't mean everyone will find the same ones. So I'll shut up.

Happy birthday, Mom!

12 December 2003

Yay! I just finished Syberia. What a gorgeous game. A lot of people have said it was too short, but I didn't think it was all that short. Not as long and brain-busting as, say, Riven, but not nearly as short as Dracula: Resurrection. And I picked up Primal for PS2 for a measly $14.77 at Superstore, so I'll have something to procrastinate with once I get past that evil level of Scooby Doo (yeah, still working at it, almost got it but can't play for more than half an hour at a time or I get really irritated).

11 December 2003

I took the Gender Test. It thought I was a boy. Actually, my results fell pretty nearly exactly in the middle. Weird.

07 December 2003

Yeah, okay, King Kong has dinosaurs in it. But King Kong himself is a giant gorilla.
"Godzilla wasn't real. King Kong wasn't real. Jurassic Park wasn't real. This is. See how real dinosaurs lived . . . or didn't. Real. Big. Stories." What's wrong with this statement? Here's a hint. It's been bugging me since I first saw the commercial.
What happens when too many Mary Sues show up at Hogwarts? Pirate Monkey has the answer. (What's a Mary Sue? See Teresa Nielsen Hayden's blog post on the subject. It's where I found the link above.)

03 December 2003

It's the mentioning of my article that's really, really cool (and also Terri Windling's novel), not the article itself.
I was just reading the "From the Editor's Desk" page over at the Endicott Studio's Journal of Mythic Arts. Terri Windling mentions my article on her novel The Wood Wife, which is really, really cool. Except she used my full name, which I never use, and she spelled my last name wrong (which is understandable, as most people in the word spell it with a 'y'). So if you're reading the letter, substitute "Niko Silvester" for "Mary Nicole Silvester" in this passage:
. . . an in-depth look at shamanism in my novel The Wood Wife, titled "The Artist as Shaman," by Mary Nicole Sylvester.

and all will be right with the world (it's waaay down near the bottom). I'm happy just to be mentioned.
I think one reason I enjoy adventure games so much is that you get to rifle through other people's stuff (even if they are fictional people). Well, there are the dreamlike qualities, the lovely graphics and the nice ambient music and the uncovering of a story and puzzles to figure out, too. But when was the last time you snuck into a church vestry, nicked a hidden key and went through the priest's drawers in real life? How often have broken into a family tomb to see if a coffin was really occupied? Or wandered around an abandoned toy factory pulling levers to see if you could get anything to work?


That would be fun, but it doesn't happen in real life. Not to me, anyway. Though I once attended a class where the teacher brought in one of his desk drawers, complete with whatever happened to be in there when he pulled it out of the desk. We passed it around the class and each took an item and tried to come up with something to say about what that item said about the owner of the drawer, and how it could be used in a creative non-fiction piece. I suspect the exercise would have been better if we didn't already know who the drawer belonged to, but where would the prof get someone else's drawer?


So what does it say about me, that I like to poke through other people's stuff? That I'm nosy, I guess. That people fascinate me (morbidly, a lot of the time). And now my friends and relatives will be afraid to have me stay over, for fear I'll snoop. But that's the real appeal of the adventure game: I'd never really go through someone's drawers. I respect people's privacy too much. You know, do unto others and all that (Eek! Am I Bible-quoting?).


Okay, I did snoop once. Extensively. But I had good reason. I will not go through your drawers if you invite me over. Honest.

Today's Earth Science Picture of the Day: Super Typhoon Lupit. Doesn't that sound like a manga or anime title?

02 December 2003

I'm spending way too much time playing Scooby Doo: Night of 100 Frights on my PS2. I think I'd be done by now if it weren't for one really badly designed section with almost impossible jumps. I checked a walkthrough to make sure it wasn't just me being a crappy gamer.

You are gonna HATE this level, seriously. I wouldn't be surprised if many gamers actually abandoned the game at this point because of the taxing, frustrating and seemingly insurmountable difficulties that await in this level. Many of the snacks are obscured by poor camera angles, Scooby's shadow disappears, etc - really shitty game design that turns an otherwise enjoyable adventure into a headache.

Nope. Not just me. When I get too frustrated, I switch to Syberia on my PC, which is interesting and fun and beautiful. Much better than Scooby Doo. I should just give up on Scooby Doo, but I am too stubborn. It's genetic; all the women in my family are stubborn.


Really, I should stop goofing off and do something productive. (Can I use the excuse that Caitlin R. Kiernan plays video games, and she gets lots of writing done?)

01 December 2003

So what next, now that NaNoWriMo is over? Well, come March, there's NaNoEdMo.