Archive for August, 2012

My family and I were looking for something to watch on Netflix last night and came across a movie that was so bizarre that it was literally impossible to resist watching it.

This is the description:

 

Rubber

A car tire named Robert rolls through the desert Southwest using its strange psychic powers to blow up birds, bunnies, human beings and more.

 

HOW CAN YOU RESIST WATCHING THAT????????

IT IS LIKE THE PERFECT MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

~ Ian

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2 7 3 4 1 5 6

PUZZLE ON THAT OVER YOUR TEA AND CRUMPETS.

~ Ian

Where Alph, the sacred river ran, the time has come, the walrus said. The road goes ever on and on, and where is the horse and the rider? My name is Ozymandias, my angry lesbian breasts, and whiffling through the tulgey wood the rabbits quite forgot themselves and frozen there, like saplings stood. I ate the plums in the icebox, so shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? I’m a man of wealth and taste, I’m a Monday-morning lunatic, and I’m out there on the road always doing what I’m told. Can you help me? Midway through our life’s journey, I took the road less traveled in the forests of the night. Say what you mean, bear witness to the sunshine that I got in a bag. Summoned quite late to the tiniest court, my little horse must think it queer that my mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun. He was a good king! When that April with its sweet showers hath pierced the drought of March, we are not unreasonable– we will not eat your eyes. They say that you could hear her wailing clear to Botany Bay. From Hell’s dark heart I stab at the horror, the horror. There is no pain, you are receding to the music that we choose. On the day the saucers came, I will not say the day is done, nor bid the stars farewell. That is not dead which can eternal lie, and after strange aeons who mourns for Adonais in the tilted alley where I cried my mother’s name? It came upon a midnight clear, from its house at great R’lyeh. Bye, baby bunting, I’ve got to go– got to leave it all behind and face the conscience of the king. Half a league, half a league, half a league onward, abandon hope, ye who enter here. We’ll meet again, some sunny day, where late the sweet bird sings. For that is the road to fair Elf-land, where angels fear to dine at the Ritz. You have been eaten by a grue, you hide your beauty from the sun. The revolution will not be televised. Television dreams of tomorrow never knows. The cake is a lie. Good times never seemed so good.

I have heard the mermaids singing.

No one flies around the sun.

Exit, pursued by a bear.

~ Ian

 

The Epic Legend of Damien Fell

Chapter 9: A Storm of Shadow

Damien fell woke up in the darkness. The sky was lightning in the east, fading from inky-deep blackness to a deep rich indigo blue. Far away, off in the distance, he could hear the sound of wings……… relentless, pounding wings, wings that were heading in his direction, wings that were searching for blood………………

He bolted to attentiuon. “Get up!!!!” he shouted. ‘We have to go NOW!!!!!”

Princess Amberlae stirred sligthly, in a postcoital fashion. “Damien? My love, what is it?” she murmured.

“Quick!” erupted Fell. “I can hear them: bloodravens! They are seaking us!”

Shaira sat up. “Of course! Bloodravens, summoned from the deep skies of Hell. I should have thought of this!!!”

“WHat are bloodravens?” Asked Amberlae, her perfect brow furrowing prettily.

“They are a kind of demonic birds, summoned often by sorcerors who use them as spies and trackers. We must ride now, or else they’ll see us!”

“Too late!” burst Shaira, pointing up into the sky. “They see us!! They’re coming!!!!”

Muttering a sharp curse in the tongue of the Demons, Damien Fell drew the massive aelfynn longbow Forestsong to its full draw if three hundred pounds, nocking an arrow to the string. At that moment, the sun rose over the landscape, and Damien’s sharp half-demonic, half-angelic eyes picked out three tiny specks far off on the northern horizon. Muttering to himself darkly, Damien Fell fired the arrow and it went arcing across the moors. One thousand, two thousand, three thousand feet it flew, over a full mile of open Northern planes, and lost none of its momentum. Five seconds after Damien Fell let go of the string, shooting the arrow out through the sky, it struck the lead bloodraven in the wing. The raven gave a sudden caw of pain and anger, beginning to fall to the ground. Dam,ien Fell placed another arrow on the bowstring, drawing it back and letting fly. This one hit a second raven straight through the heart. It began to fall, keening widly.

But it was too late. The other bloodraven was already begnning to turn back, alerting whoever had summoned them to their presence on the open plains. Damien shot a final arrow after it, but it was out of range. There was nothing left to do. The bloodraven had vanished, disappearing into the open sky.

“In the name of the Nine Archdukes of Hell!!!!” cursed Damien Fell. “We must hurry, Shaira. Amberlae and I have to get to the Womb of SHadow and Light, or else our mission shall be all in vain!!!!!!!”

Sharia nodded grimly. “Aye. Let’s go.” And with that, Shaira prepared to mount her horse.

But Damien Fell shook his head. “No,” he said. “That won’t be nearly fast enough. I have a much better option. One that will carry use with ease to the Womb of Shadow and Light.”

And with those cryptic words, Damien fell spread his hands wide, gazing up to the sky. He closed his perfectly dark eyes, and cast his gaze up to the heavens, parting his lips and uttering a Wyrde of Powyre……………………………………………………………

“ELGAENOYL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” shouted Damien Fell.

The sound of the Wyrde of Powyre shattered the early morling science, and a sound like the voice of thunder echoed across the open plains of the Northlandsl. It echoed across forests and deserts, across jungles and seas. It traveled across four continents and two oceans, until it reached a cave on the far side of the world, in a long-forgotten mountain range on the continent of Ma’a’ka’la’uun………………….

In that cave, something stirred. There was a sound like the cry of an eagle, mixed with the roar of a loin. And from the far off cave four continents away, flying faster than the wind, speeding across the ocean with the noise of a sonic boom, were three beasts. They had the heads of majestic, beautiful eagles, and the hind parts of golden, tawny lions. One of them, the one flying at the head of the three, had head feathers of a beautiful golden-red hue. The others had simple gray-brown head feathers, but although they weren’t as majestic as the headfeathers of the leader, they were still pretty majestic.

From the continent of Ma’a’ka’la’uun, Jorquim, King of the Griffons, with his two mates, was flying to help Damien Fell.

They flew over half the earth at an unimaginable speed. They passed over Kar’ae’thaluun, greatest and most beautiful city of the Dark Aelves, and the place where Damien Fell’s adventures had began, so many days ago. From the palace of Karass Mor, where King Estuvi sat weeping on his platnium throne, pining the loss of his daughter, he looked up and saw the griffons flying overhead, screaming across the sky leaving trails of flames in their wake. At the ruined collapsed rocky tumble of the Fiendfang, the few remaining cultists and devotees of Lord Hateshadowe gazed up in wonder, beholding true beauty as it flew across the sky, glorious and intimidating in its majesty. Over Shadouwegaard they flew, and the dwarves who kept watch over the gates into the city stared upward as they rocketed across the sky.

And a thousand miles from Shadouwegaard, in the middle of the Northern Moors, they passed over Travyss Hawke, where a bloodraven whispered the location of Damien Fell in his ear.

Damien Fell has summoned aide,” he murmured softly.

Then we shall summon our own, said the voice in Travyss Hawke’s head, which called itself Lord Hateshadowe, and we will destroy him with much pain.

Yes………….” smiled Travyss Hawke, and an evil smile spoke in his head, whispering the word of power that was already forcing its way to his lips…………………..

ANERACAM!!!!!!!!!@” cried Travyss Hawke, and the earth split open, reveiling a massive giant bat that spread its wings and flew into the sky.

Come, my minion!!!!” ejactulated Travyss Hawke, and leaped onto the back of the bat. It spread its leathery wings like great sails, and beating it twice, flew off into the sky, uttering a high-pitched cryt hat shook the very earth itself………………….

***************************************************************

As Amberlae and SHaira watched in wild wonder, their eyes gazing upwards into the heavens where the griffons came from, Damien Fell smiled, and held up his hand, signalling to the King of the Griffons where to land. They came to the ground as fast as lightening, like the sudden rush of a storm.

Jorquim, King of the Griffons, landed at Damien Fells’ feet, and his two mates followed, flanking him.

I have heard your call, Damien Fell, said Jorquim. Your name is legend even among our kind, where we dwell on the long-lost continent of Ma’a’ka’la’uun. For what purpose have you summoned us? To whence shall we bear you?

“My companions and I must get to the Womb of Shadow and Light,” said Damien Fell darkly. “We cannot ride fast enough to get there. I fear that some powerful entity is after us. Bring us to the Womb of SHadow and Light, for if you don’t, terrible things will happen. It will mean the death of the cosmos.”

Proud Jorquim tossed his aqualine head nobly, thinking for a moment. After a while, though, he nodded. I will do this thing for you, Damien Fell, said Jorquim. But I demand a boon for my service.

Damien Fell nodded. “I am a man of honor, Jorquim.” He said. “Tell me what you desire, and I will grant it.”

Jorquim spoke again, and he said, I desire your service. When this is all over, when you have come to the Womb of Shadow and Light, you must come to Ma’a’ka’la’uun, where you shall be my servant for a year and a day. You will be my trusted knight, a warrior who will defend me from my enemies: the wyverns, and the manticores, and the giant ants, and the wasp riders. For, as you know, Ma’a’ka’la’uun is a continent of monsters, and life there is nasty and short. A legendary hero from a far corner of Evershyria will be a true asset to us in our war with the other monsters. 

:I will do this,” said Damien Fell. “I will go with you to Ma’a’ka’la’uun, and I will be your servant for a year and a day.”

Then it is done, said Jorquin.

As he spoke, there was a sound like the roll of thunder across the whole of the Northlands, and the sky suddenly went pitch black: not the black of night, no: for the night still has light, the light of moon and stars, and this darkness was the darkness that comes from absolutely no light at all. The world had fallen under Shadouwe. The sky and earth were filled with the keening whale of a thousand million tortured screaming souls. It was almost as if Hell itself had come to Evershyria, and covered the world with chaos.

“Hurry! We don’t have much time to get to the Womb of Shadow and Light!” shouted Damien Fell. And he leapt onto the back of Jorquim. Amberlae jumped onto the back of Qa’oshaabaan, his first mate, and Sharia took the back of his second mate, Skug.

The griffons beat their mighty wings in time, and they took off into the heavens, streaking across the frozen earth of the Northlands like meteors. The Griffons are creatures of the sun goddess Ashaetathalaa, and they glowed with their own holy golden light, even in the shadowy night of Shadouwe that covered the world. But they couldn’t fight the darkness forever. Tendrils and tenticles of darkness snapped and whipped around them, and the huge masses of pure unadulterated Shadouwe that boiled all around them grew bigger and boilier. From the darkness came a flock of what first looked like ravens: but no, they couldn’t be ravens, for they had wings that were leathery and thin like bats. However, they couldn’t be bats, either, because they had huge beaks filled with razor-sharp fangs, and they were also six feet in wingspan. Damien Fell unsheathed his massive broadsword Stormshadow, and waved it at the perilous beasts. “DROWSERYF!” he shouted, and his sword burst into flames. He swung the sword in a perfect cut towards one of the beasts, but it passed through the monster like a carrot through a whisp of fog.

“Demonfire!!!!!!!!!!” cursed Damien Fell. “I am a being of Darkness, and as such, can’t harm these conjerations of Shadouwe! Amberlae! Mayden of Lyghte! You must use your powers of Lyghte to banish these foul beasts!”

Amberlae nodded, and closed her eyes. From deep within her, she drew a breath, and found the word for the spell she needed. And opening them, her normally sapphire blue eyes burned with golden fire.

“NO’PALC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” screamed Amberlae.

Immediately the world, which had been flooded with shadow, suddenly burst into flaming, silvery light. The earth shook far beneath them, and the monsters that Damien Fell had been fighting screamed. Having been exposed to pure Lyghte, the beings that were conjurations of Shadouwe crumbled into dust, uttering one final scream of anguish as they vanished into wind-blown ash.

The griffons flew in an island of light, surrounded by a sea of seething, churning darkness.

“Well done, princess!” shouted Shaira from Skug’s back. “If I hadn’t believed you were a being of phenomenal cosmic power before, I certainly do now. That saved our bacon!!!!!”

“We’re not safe yet!!!!!!!!” shouted Amberlae. “To the Womb of SHadow and Light, griffons! And step on it!”

We are at your service and your lover’s, said Jorquim, and he beat his wings three times. Then, he shot off ahead, with the noise like a thunderstorm: the exploding sound of a sonic boom. His mates, Qa’oshaabaan and Skug, followed.

They flew over the hard cold snowy plains of the Northlands, until they passed over a range of tall snowy mountains and then came to a vast, open inland sea, racked with storms, with pirate ships and trade vessels plainly visible far below. Then after that, they flew over the Forest of Nokturnus, the largest forest in the world, filled with shadowy monsters and the race of Wood Aelves, of which race Amberlae’s mother was a member. They flew out of that forest, and came to the Plains of Bazaan Dûr, where the Seven Topaz Cities lie: Makkandor, and Jodhrhim, Bright Fharggülm and Quáyne, the twin cities of Lesh’amar and Zebbdôs, and the greatest of all of them, Great Marobhavandabar, the city where the half-immortal Emperor Ulkas CXLVIII sat brooding on his silvery throne. After that, they flew over the Marshes of Aeioubaldaar, and then over the Ebony Coast, with its rich jewelled cities. Finally, they passed over a narrow straight at the end of a peninsula, and came to a small volcanic island. In the center of that island was a massive volcano like a shattered claw stretching against the sky, with a waterfall of lava pouring from the volcano’s entrance. Jorquim and his two mates landed there, on a narrow outcropping of obsidian sticking out of the lake of lava a mile below, and there it was that the three companions dismounted.

“We have reached the Womb of Shadow and Light,” Damien Fell said.

END CHAPTER 9

I know that this is a little late (or rather, internet-late, which really means a day after the event), but I thought that I’d give some thoughts on the passing of Neil Armstrong.

I feel that the moon landing is one of the most important things that humans have ever accomplished. Not because of its political significance, or because of the difficulty of the task. These were both important things, but that’s not what the moon landing will be remembered for.

No, the reason why the moon landing will be remembered is because it was a young, fledgling species taking its first steps out of the nest, finally learning how to fly. For a brief moment, we walked on the surface of another world. For a brief moment, we transcended the bonds of gravity and flew. Not as individuals, but as a species.

I feel sorry that we didn’t choose to go further out, establishing bases on the moon and Mars, journeying to the outer planets and setting foot on the cold, frozen moons of Jupiter and Saturn. That instead of reaching for the stars, the United States instead decided to bomb Southeast Asia into a bloodstained pulp. That the moon landings were of their time, instead of being timeless, like they should have been.

With Neil Armstrong gone, the number of people who have walked on the surface of another world decreases. And that’s a sad thing.

Maybe one day, we’ll get our priorities straight, and instead of pouring money into building instruments of destruction, we can use that instead to transcend our planetary bonds. Maybe one day that’ll happen.

It isn’t happening now, though, and that makes me sad.

~ Ian

GREAT CTHULHU IS PLEASED.

~ Ian

PS: Why doesn’t WordPress’s spellcheck recognize the word Cthulhu? Or rather it does, just not when it’s in all-caps, I guess… meh.

PPS: WordPress doesn’t recognize the word “meh” either.

I got an email from friend of the site Blake Hihara the other day. It read:

My good sir Ian!
First off, I like the Gorillaz lyrics subtitle for your blog.
Second, what’s your opinion on the Harry Potter series and Hunger Games series?
Hope you’re doing well in SC.

Blake Hihara

First of all, good eye, Blake! Gorillaz is one of my all-time favorite bands. I love the way that Damon Albarn plays with the issues of identity and fame that come from being a rockstar in a tongue-in-cheek way, and besides that, their music is really damn good. It’s perhaps the most seamless blend of alternative rap, ’90s Britpop anthems, 1970s progressive rock, and modern-day electronic music that has ever existed.

Witness:

But the reason you sent this mail probably wasn’t to listen to the seminal oughties hip hop classic Feel Good, Inc, Blake. Why you sent me this email was because you wanted to hear my opinions about two of the three biggest YA sensations in recent memory (the third, Twilight, shall not be discussed here). So here we go.

First of all, Harry Potter. It may surprise you to know that, even though I was one of the biggest readers imaginable as a kid, I never really got into Harry Potter. Part of it was the fact that I hadn’t really gotten into fantasy yet (that came when my dad read me The Hobbit when I was eight). Part of it was Mary GrandPré’s godawful cover art (for all those who aspire to be illustrators, bear this in mind: a bad cover can kill interest in a book far more than a good cover can inspire it).

But even so, I’ve read all the Harry Potter books. And, my judgement is:

Meh.

That being said, I like the first three books far more than the last four. The first three books are pretty damn charming, I have to admit. I enjoy the fusion of the traditional British boarding school story with the portal fantasy elements. Plus, if you look at the first three books, they’re all mysteries, which is pretty cool: there weren’t very many fantasy mysteries out there when Harry Potter was published. It’s only with the explosion of Urban Fantasy (triggered in part, I think, by the twin punches of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Dresden Files, which both contain mystery elements) that fantastic mysteries became a subgenre all their own.

Of course, I think JK Rowling is a victim of her own success. Once we reach Book Four of the Potter Saga, the storytelling gets more bloated, the books get heavier and heavier, and the series loses its charm. By Book Five, the Harry Potter series isn’t a school story anymore, just a standard good-versus-evil fantasy that happens to be set in a magic school. And by Book Seven, there isn’t even that academic setting to hold on to. It’s just another immature gallivanting-around-the-country epic fantasy story with magic and villains and a cast of thousands. The only similarities between Book One and Book Seven just happen to be the Harry Potter branding on the cover.

Plus, there’s a lot of reasons why I have problems with Harry Potter that have to do with the storytelling itself. I hated the ending. “And they all got married and lived in the suburbs” is a bullshit ending, let me tell you. The whole “happily ever after” ending is maybe the most boring and clichéd ending imaginable (second only to the “and she woke up and IT WAS ALL A DREAM” ending). In addition, I hated the fact that anyone without magic got swept under the rug as useless. If I’d been writing the Harry Potter series, it would have ended with the magical world being exposed and Muggles and wizards joining worlds. The Muggles would have also joined in the final battle against Voldemort (I don’t care how much magic he has; there’s got to be a way that a special forces team with AK-47s could have helped somehow in killing You-Know-Who). I hated the fact that the Magical MacGuffins that Harry needs to become Master of Death are only introduced in the last book, seemingly tacked on. And I don’t like Ron, or any other Weasleys. I mean… really. Not one bit.

But that’s not the most egregious problem I have with the Harry Potter series. The biggest one is… time travel. Or rather, the fact that it is never used.

I mean, come on: the Time Turners were introduced in Book Three, and were never used again. Not once. You’d think that a Time Turner would have come in handy in the war against Voldemort. They could have easily saved Dumbledore with time travel. Instead, it gets completely ignored.

That’s the thing about time travel. Unless your whole series is about time travel (witness: Doctor Who), the very existence of time travel in your fictional universe is story-destroying. No problem can’t be solved without time travel! There’s a space probe that will destroy the earth unless it hears the sound of humpback whale song, but humpback whales are extinct in the future? No problem! We’ll just fly around the sun and pop back to the 1980s and steal us some whales! Simple! Never mind that a technique like that could have been used to save Spock’s life two movies ago. Time travel is just a narrative device, to be swept under the rug whenever it would interfere with the plot, right? Not something that, oh, I don’t know, DESTROYS THE LINEAR CAUSE-AND-EFFECT PROGRESSION OF EVENTS THAT IS ESSENTIAL TO GOOD STORYTELLING?

Yes, yes, I know. Rowling handwaves the whole time travel issue by saying “Terrible things happen to wizards who mess with time!” But, really, come on. You can’t use time travel to defeat a world-devouring dark wizard, but it’s perfectly acceptable to use it to help a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl get to her classes on time?

Seriously. The use of the Time Turner in Book Three has got to be the most frivolous use of time travel in the history of storytelling. EVER.

Blech. That got ranty fast. Anyway, I’ll turn to your next question, Blake: what about the Hunger Games?

Again. Meh. It’s more of a positive meh than a negative meh (which isn’t the case for Harry Potter), but I don’t feel strongly about the books. I like the fact that Katniss is a female character in a young adult novel who has a life apart from her various love interests, and the fact that she is actually competent, much less badass, is a refreshing change from Bella Swann and her ilk.

But I will say this: I have only read the first two Hunger Games books. And the reason for that is simple. I think the prose style is boring.

I don’t think that Suzanne Collins has a very strong narrative voice. And that’s one reason why I got bored easily with the series. Now, you can get away with this when you’re writing in third person, as writers like Isaac Asimov have proven. But when you’re writing in first person, like in the Hunger Games trilogy? You need to have a strong voice. This isn’t a recommendation. It’s a necessity. When you’re inhabiting a character’s head, you need to be able to identify with that character, and one way to do that is to make the character’s inner thoughts and narration interesting. You can’t afford to make it boring.

When I was reading Katniss’s narration, I was reminded of nothing more than Samus Aran’s bland robotic monologues from Metroid: Other M. And believe me when I say this as a gamer: anything that reminds gamers of Other M is a Bad Thing.

So, anyway, Blake. Hope that answers your questions. And to close off this post, I thought I’d bookend it with another Gorillaz song.

Have a happy Thursday,

~ Ian

The Classic: My dog ate my laptop. No, seriously. She just walked right in here and started chowing down. Terrible, I know! I was able to save the hard disk, and I have backups, but the computer’s totally destroyed. So I’m going to have to wait to get a new one before I start writing.

The Hipster: I can’t find a proper coffee shop to do my writing in! I need a coffee shop that has fresh free-trade organic coffee, as well as downtempo ambient music and a cute barista with a nose piercing and a nice rack. Anything other than such a coffee shop will simply JUST NOT DO. Since I can’t find this elusive vendor of caffeinated beverages, I simply cannot write.

The Hassled Parent: My three-year-old daughter fell off the kitchen counter and twisted her ankle. I had to take her to the emergency room, and when I came back I found that the nineteen-month-old had eaten a jumbo box of Crayolas and was pooping out rainbows. I had to go to the emergency room again, naturally, and when I came home, my loving wife who decided to keep working after we had kids came home, so I made her dinner and gave her a backrub before we went to bed at 9 pm.

The Freshman: Ohmygod, I had this MASSIVE paper that I had to write for my Psych 101 class, it was like SIX pages long, my professor is such a BI-OTCH! Anyway, when I was done my friend Natalie came over and wanted to smoke some weed and so I got out my bong, and then I forgot what happened until you just came in.

The Penthouse Forum: I was trying to write when this gorgeous redhead with massive double-D hooters walked in, fixed me with a fiery green-eyed stare, and then ripped off my pants, when we made hot sticky animal love all day on the kitchen table. Seriously. This actually happened. We sexed, and it was hot.

The Otaku: I stayed up until four in the morning watching Samurai Champloo. What? Like you haven’t done the same thing.

The Hyperactive Six-Year-Old: I tried to, but then a bunch of ninjas ran into the room waving laser swords, which are like lightsabers only bigger and awesomer, and I hat to fight them! So I got on my rocket skateboard and summoned my thousand-foot-tall dinosaur-dragon REXTOR XR™, and Batman came and punched a guy in the nuts, and… and… what? Why don’t you believe me? PLEASE BELIEVE ME!

The Put-On-The-Spot: Why I haven’t been writing? Well… um… there’s a funny story about that… um… *points* HEY LOOK A DISTRACTION! *runs away*

The Lights-On-Nobody-Home: *black stare* *drool coming out of corner of mouth*

The Bodhisattva: I was achieving inner tranquility.

The Actual: I was making a list of excuses for not working on your book for my lame blog.

~ Ian

For the last year or so, I haven’t done any writing that hasn’t been part of two categories:

1. short stories, and

2. lame bullshit that I put on my blog.

This means that the longest thing I’ve finished in the last year or so has been “Cassandra”, which is 16,867 words in length. That’s not a bad length, mind you: it’s a perfectly good length for a fairly long novella, which is what “Cassandra” happens to be. But currently, The Lotus Imperiate (my current project) is twice the length of “Cassandra”, and will easily make it to six times the length before I’m done with it.

Which makes sense too. 125,000 words (which is my target length) is a good length for a first fantasy novel. That’s about 350 pages of paperback novel.

What makes The Lotus Imperiate different from “Cassandra”, though, is the fact that I’m experiencing a lot of stress and tiredness with tLI.

I guess it makes sense. Short stories are a lot like sprints: best gotten over with as fast as possible. Writing a novel, though, feels more like I’m running a marathon. Pacing is hugely important– both in the actual story and the writing process. When I started out writing tLI, I wanted to hit 2,000 words a day, making it 10,000 words a week (I typically take weekends off from strenuous thinkings). Now I’m typically only hitting 1,000 words a day. It’s not bad, not by a long shot. But it means that in the month and a half I’ve been working on tLI, I’ve made far less than I’d hoped. I wasn’t sure if I was going to finish the book by summer’s end. Now I’m definitely not going to.

Part of my tiredness in writing this story, though, is the fact that it’s structured like a heist story. You get the idea: there are a couple of people who want to steal a MacGuffin, they assemble a team, the team encounters Difficulties®, the thing is stolen, et cetera et cetera. It’s a heist story in a fantasy world, true, and the people they’re trying to steal the MacGuffin from are gods living in a flying city. But the basic plot structure remains the same.

I’m still in the team-assembly part. I could have made it go faster, of course, but I wanted to build up the characters and their backstories/motivations before I got the team assembled. I’m still in that part at the moment, which is part of the reason that I’m bored with it. But I’ll be out of it soon. I hope. And that’s when all the action gets started: the sneaking, and the fighting, and the hiding, and the chases, building up to a Big Thing happening and then another Big Thing, where the book will end. (I’m not about to give out spoilers to my unfinished first draft of a novel, even if the only person who’s ever read it is me.) And that’s the stuff I want to get to. I’m tired of setting up the pieces. I want to get to the actual game.

Where was this post going? I don’t really know. Writing The Lotus Imperiate isn’t turning out to be the zippy fun ride that “Cassandra” was, though. And I guess I just needed to share my thoughts on the whole business. Yes, yes– this is a somewhat whiny rant. Tough. It’s my blog. I’ll say what I want.

What was I saying again?

Oh yeah.

Tired.

Carry on,

~ Ian

Some Advice For Spambots

Posted: August 16, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

I’m getting really annoyed with spam that goes like this:

I love this post! It’s so awesome, it is like drowning in a sea of fresh lemon-scented kittens! I will share this with all my friends and family. Thank you, Axolotl Ceviche. You have changed my life with your words!

To which I will respond: dude, you’re kind of undermining the compliments that you give to me by having the screen name “Sexy Asian Women Porn Hotline”. Or something of that nature.

Seriously, spambots: commenting on blog posts is about engaging in dialogue, not splooging all over the writer’s face with flowery compliments. I’m just glad that Akismet catches most of the spamposts before they get out into the world.

~ Ian

The Olympics are over, which makes me sad. However, that means that NBC’s jingoistic not-coverage is also over, which makes me happy. Because in the United States, all the Olympics we got were All America All The Time, I didn’t get to see much of the other countries’ events. I didn’t see any table tennis, or badminton. I barely got to see horse riding. And I only caught the last five minutes of one soccer game– the men’s gold medal match between Brazil and Mexico. (I was glad that Mexico won, however.)

And I will admit it: the United States is a sports powerhouse. We won 104 medals, 46 of which were gold– more than any other country. But how much of that is due to the fact that the United States is a huge freaking country, with over three hundred million people? How does that skew the bias?

Basically, what are the per capita gold medal rates?

I wanted to know, and nobody was telling me. So, I made it my quest to find out.

 

Here is the final medal count for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games:

Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States 46 29 29 104
China 38 27 23 88
Great Britain 29 17 19 65
Russia 24 26 32 82
South Korea 13 6 7 28
Germany 11 19 14 44
France 11 11 12 34
Italy 8 9 11 28
Hungary 8 4 5 17
Australia 7 16 12 35
Japan 7 14 17 38
Kazakhstan 7 1 5 13
Netherlands 6 6 8 20
Ukraine 6 5 9 20
New Zealand 6 2 5 13
Cuba 5 3 6 14
Iran 4 5 3 12
Jamaica 4 4 4 12
Czech Republic 4 3 3 10
North Korea 4 0 2 6
Spain 3 10 4 17
Brazil 3 5 9 17
South Africa 3 2 1 6
Ethiopia 3 1 3 7
Croatia 3 1 2 6
Belarus 2 5 5 12
Romania 2 5 2 9
Kenya 2 4 5 11
Denmark 2 4 3 9
Azerbaijan 1 2 6 10
Poland 2 2 6 10
Turkey 2 2 1 5
Switzerland 2 2 0 4
Lithuania 2 1 2 5
Norway 2 1 1 4
Canada 1 5 12 18
Sweden 1 4 3 8
Colombia 1 3 4 8
Georgia 1 3 3 7
Mexico 1 3 3 7
Ireland 1 1 3 5
Argentina 1 1 2 4
Slovenia 1 1 2 4
Serbia 1 1 2 3
Tunisia 1 1 1 3
Dominican Republic 1 1 0 2
Trinidad and Tobago 1 0 3 4
Uzbekistan 1 0 3 4
Latvia 1 0 1 2
Algeria 1 0 0 1
Bahamas 1 0 0 1
Grenada 1 0 0 1
Uganda 1 0 0 1
Venezuela 1 0 0 1
India 0 2 4 6
Mongolia 0 2 3 5
Thailand 0 2 1 3
Egypt 0 2 0 2
Slovakia 0 1 3 4
Armenia 0 1 2 3
Belgium 0 1 2 3
Finland 0 1 2 3
Bulgaria 0 1 1 2
Estonia 0 1 1 2
Indonesia 0 1 1 2
Malaysia 0 1 1 2
Puerto Rico 0 1 1 2
Taiwan 0 1 1 2
Botswana 0 1 0 1
Cyprus 0 1 0 1
Gabon 0 1 0 1
Guatemala 0 1 0 1
Montenegro 0 1 0 1
Portugal 0 1 0 1
Greece 0 0 2 2
Moldova 0 0 2 2
Qatar 0 0 2 2
Singapore 0 0 2 2
Afghanistan 0 0 0 1
Bahrain 0 0 1 1
Hong Kong 0 0 1 1
Saudi Arabia 0 0 1 1
Kuwait 0 0 1 1
Morocco 0 0 1 1
Tajikistan 0 0 1 1

As you can see, the main winners are large countries with high populations. It doesn’t hurt to be a European or East Asian country, either– India, with its population of over a billion people, only has six total medals, and Indonesia, the fourth-largest country in the world, only gets two!

But I don’t care about total medal counts, or even the number of gold medals. China and the US dominate, of course, but China and the US have huge numbers of people, and therefore have a higher potential athlete pool. So how many gold medals per million does each country have?

 

Gold Medals Per Million

Grenada 10.000

Bahamas 3.333

Jamaica 2.000

New Zealand 1.500

Trinidad and Tobago 1.000

Hungary 0.889

Croatia 0.750

Lithuania 0.667

Latvia 0.500

Cuba 0.454

Great Britain 0.446

Kazakhstan 0.438

Czech Republic 0.400

Denmark 0.400

Norway 0.400

Netherlands 0.375

Australia 0.318

Switzerland 0.286

South Korea 0.260

Georgia 0.250

Ireland 0.250

Belarus 0.222

Russia 0.202

France 0.169

North Korea 0.167

United States 0.146

Serbia 0.143

Slovenia 0.143

Germany 0.135

Italy 0.133

Ukraine 0.133

Azerbaijan 0.111

Dominican Republic 0.111

Sweden 0.111

Romania 0.105

Tunisia 0.100

Spain 0.065

South Africa 0.060

Japan 0.055

Iran 0.053

Poland 0.053

Kenya 0.048

Venezuela 0.037

Ethiopia 0.036

Argentina 0.035

Uzbekistan 0.034

Uganda 0.031

Canada 0.029

China 0.028

Algeria 0.027

Turkey 0.027

Colombia 0.022

Brazil 0.016

Mexico 0.009

Afghanistan 0.000

Armenia 0.000

Bahrain 0.000

Belgium 0.000

Botswana 0.000

Bulgaria 0.000

Cyprus 0.000

Egypt 0.000

Estonia 0.000

Finland 0.000

Gabon 0.000

Greece 0.000

Guatemala 0.000

Hong Kong 0.000

India 0.000

Kuwait 0.000

Moldova 0.000

Mongolia 0.000

Morocco 0.000

Montenegro 0.000

Portugal 0.000

Puerto Rico 0.000

Qatar 0.000

Saudi Arabia 0.000

Singapore 0.000

Slovakia 0.000

Taiwan 0.000

Tajikistan 0.000

Thailand 0.000

Well! Look at this! If we go by per capita gold medals, the United States is barely good at all! In fact, we’re just a perfectly cromulent midlist country!

We’re far better than China, though. China got only about a sixth of our per capita gold medals. And look at the front runners! All five countries that got more than one gold medal per million people is an island country– four of which are in the Caribbean, the other (New Zealand) being in the Pacific. This makes sense– island nations tend to have lower populations because of the restricted size of the landmass. And based on how big track is in the Caribbean, it makes sense that the top three countries (as well as four of the top five) are Caribbean nations.

It seems that, for a country to do well overall at the per-capita gold medal race, it should be medium- to small-sized in population and either located in the Caribbean or Eastern Europe. For a country to do extremely poorly, it’s best to be in Latin America, the Middle East, or South Asia.

Now, onto the next thing:

 

Total Medals per Million

Grenada 10.000

Jamaica 6.000

Trinidad and Tobago 4.000

Bahamas 3.333

New Zealand 3.250

Mongolia 2.500

Hungary 1.889

Denmark 1.800

Georgia 1.750

Estonia 1.667

Lithuania 1.667

Montenegro 1.667

Australia 1.591

Croatia 1.500

Belarus 1.333

Qatar 1.333

Cuba 1.272

Ireland 1.250

Great Britain 1.048

Armenia 1.000

Latvia 1.000

Sweden 0.888

Bahrain 0.833

Kazakhstan 0.813

Netherlands 0.813

Norway 0.800

Slovakia 0.800

South Korea 0.760

Moldova 0.667

Azerbaijan 0.666

Finland 0.600

Russia 0.573

Slovenia 0.571

Switzerland 0.571

Germany 0.543

Canada 0.529

France 0.523

Romania 0.474

Italy 0.467

Ukraine 0.435

Serbia 0.429

Czech Republic 0.400

Singapore 0.400

Spain 0.370

Kuwait 0.333

United States 0.331

Belgium 0.300

Tunisia 0.300

Japan 0.299

Bulgaria 0.286

Poland 0.263

Kenya 0.262

North Korea 0.250

Dominican Republic 0.222

Greece 0.200

Colombia 0.174

Iran 0.160

Hong Kong 0.142

Tajikistan 0.142

Uzbekistan 0.138

South Africa 0.120

Argentina 0.100

Portugal 0.100

Ethiopia 0.083

Brazil 0.073

Malaysia 0.071

Turkey 0.068

China 0.065

Mexico 0.063

Thailand 0.046

Afghanistan 0.040

Saudi Arabia 0.037

Venezuela 0.037

Morocco 0.031

Uganda 0.031

Algeria 0.027

Egypt 0.024

India 0.009

Indonesia 0.008

I find it amusing that the top five countries are the same on both this and the previous chart.

But anyway: there’s been some shifting around– mostly because the countries that had no gold medals actually won some medals of other colors. This means that there’s been some big jumps: most specifically, I’m looking at Mongolia, which was a bottom-of-the-list country in per capita golds, and has made a huge jump up to sixth place, at two and a half medals per million people!

Of course, the real bottom-of-the-list countries here are those that have huge populations but excruciatingly low medal counts: India and Indonesia. And these countries are the real losers of the Olympics. Because, really: that’s what the Olympics are about, aren’t they? Pitting nation against nation in a series of games of strength and skill, trying to find who is the best country– and the worst country. It’s about winners and losers. And the winners get sponsorships, while the losers– well, who cares about them?

Or so I was led to believe by NBC.

~ Ian