Archive for April, 2013

The ambiguity in sentence (1), At what time should we say that we will leave? stems from the fact that the clause what time can refer to either the time that the subset of people known as “we” is going to leave, or the time that the subset of people known as “we” will say that “we” is going to leave.

And you know what the best part is? To a linguist, this all makes perfect sense.
~ Ian
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I hate to make all these “I haven’t been a very good blogger lately” posts off, but here we go:

Sing it with me:

I haven’t been a very good blogger lately. 

A lot of this has to do with internet problems I’ve been having (the Coyote Crossing cohousing web server was haxx0red recently, as the damn kids say, and because of that my internet connection has been… spotty, at best). But much of it has to do with where my creative energy has been going. I’ve got all these ideas for blog posts that I want to write, but about 60% of my creative energy is going into Lotus, and the other 40% is going into Daughter of Flame. Which means that I don’t write the blog posts that I want to write, when I have the time to write. And then there’s classes, and homework, and San Francisco Giants games, and sleep. Beautiful sleep.

I’m sorry about this. Here: as a token of reconciliation, here’s the first draft of the prologue to Daughter of Flame. It might be very different in the end. But it is here anyway.

~ Ian

(Queens of the Stone Age, “Song for the Dead”)

 

Daughter of Flame: Loki 1

He walked across the desert, naked in the burning sun.

It didn’t burn his skin. He was a being of fire, after all, and a little heat wouldn’t be enough to burn him. In ages long past, he had danced in the hydrogen-fusion flames of the sun, done the backstroke in magma chambers at the earth’s heart, raised his mouth to the sky and laughed as lightning burned vast northern forests to the ground.

It wasn’t the heat that bothered him. It was the light.

His eyes were accustomed to the darkness of Niflheim. Twelve hundred years in the freezing cold beneath the earth (with only a meager break of a month, nearly eighteen years ago, and what a break that had been), and his eyes were light-sensitive. Even moreso, because of the snake’s venom, constantly dripping into his eyes.

Step after step, over the hard-baked, griddle-hot ground, he walked.

The man was tall. Eight feet tall, and thin. When he’d been young, he’d reminded those who saw him of a bundle of sticks hastily cobbled together into the shape of a man. He walked hunched over, but even that couldn’t conceal the fact of his height. (Even so, he was considered a runt among his kind…) The skin on his arms and chest and back was ghost-pale and freckled, with pale tan patches the size of thumbprints dappling his body, and covered in fine blonde hairs almost too light to be seen.

His hair was the bright red-orange color of a wildfire.

His eyes were the dark yellow of topazes.

Around his mouth, like a ring of mushrooms or standing stones, were a series of tiny piercings, as regular and evenly spaced as if they’d been sewn there.

He had many names, and gathered them like a dragon gathers jewels. In days of old, men called him the Skywalker, the Smith of Lies, the Mother of Serpents, Baldur’s Bane, the Betrayer.

He was Loki, god of chaos and flame.

And he was free.

***

Eventually, as Loki walked, the sun began to die in the west. Just before it sank below the horizon, he came to a road that cut arrow-straight across the desert, from east to west. Not much of a road, just a two-lane highway, lined by a barbed-wire fence and a row of telephone poles, wire strung between them like a clothesline.

There were two ravens sitting on the barbed-wire fence, watching him. They were as big as dogs, and as black as the void of space.

Loki smiled when he saw them.

“I see you there,” he said. “Don’t think you two can hide.”

The ravens just watched him impassively, as only ravens can.

“Now, I’m going to give a warning to you,” he said. “You’re gonna go back to old Glad-of-War and tell him. I’m off to Jotunheim. I mean to end it now. I’m just passing through at the moment, but when I do return, you better believe it’s gonna be at the helm of a ship built of dead men’s nails.

“And, just to be clear that I mean business…”

He reached out, as quick as an eyeblink, and grabbed one of the ravens by the neck. It kawed in protest, almost more annoyed than afraid.

Loki brought the raven to his mouth, and opened it wide. His jaw distended as if it were made of rubber. His mouth was full of sharp, sharp teeth.

He casually tossed the raven in. There was the sickening crunch of gristle and bone as he chewed, and then swallowed in one gulp.

“That’s what the All-father will get, when I’m done with him,” said Loki. “Just to make things more interesting, tell you what: I’ll be in the land of ice and fire. Gathering my power. Tell Odin that he’ll find me there, if he can’t resist a challenge. If I know him at all, and I do, he’ll come galloping into battle.”

And Loki turned away from the raven. “Well, what are you waiting for? Fly away, little bird.”

There was the sound of wings behind him. Loki didn’t turn around to watch the raven leave.

Far off on the highway, there was the roar of an engine, and a cloud of dust. Loki stuck out his thumb.

A white sports car with the top down came roaring up at ninety miles an hour, and pulled to a stop in front of Loki. The driver was a man in a black leather jacket, with mirrored sunglasses.

“Damn,” he said, whistling. “How’d you lose your clothes?”

“Long story,” Loki said. “Nice car.”

The man grinned. Not particularly bright, thought Loki. Good. “Yeah. Good eye.”

“Fuel-injected V10 engine, molded aluminum chassis, seven hundred brake horsepower, can go from zero to sixty in just four-point-six seconds.”

“Yeah. She’s a beautiful machine.”

“She is indeed,” Loki murmured. “Give her to me.”

“Wh-what?”

“Your car. And your clothes.”

The man threw up his hands. “Hey, man, if you think I’m gonna give you my car, you must be out of your mind.”

“Yes,” said Loki. “I am.”

And he snapped his fingers.

The man burst into flame.

Loki watched as the man slowly burned, screaming, fat and muscle going up in flames, bones cracking with heat, hair sending clouds of noxious black smoke into the evening desert sky. Strangely enough, his clothing didn’t burn.

Loki waited until the man was nothing but a pile of gray ash, and then opened the car door, took out the man’s clothes, and put them on.

The man had been tall, but he’d still been a couple feet shorter than Loki. No matter. Loki took hold of the force of Chaos, and stretched the clothes until they fit him perfectly.

Loki put on the sunglasses, and sat behind the wheel of the convertible. It was now matte-black, with red-orange flames curling along the sides.

“It’s been a while,” said Loki.

He put his foot down on the exhaust. The car’s tires squealed, and the exhaust blasted gouts of blue fire.

He was free now. The world had been without him for too long.

Time for a little chaos.

Your Linguistics Fact of the Day

Posted: April 20, 2013 in Uncategorized
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The sound [ɹ] (for those of you who can’t see that, it’s an upside-down lowercase r, and it’s the sound at the beginning of each word in the phrase run rabbit run) occurs in only 1% of the world’s languages, but is used by 20% of the world’s people. 

This is because the largest languages that use it are English and Mandarin Chinese. 

images

Akismet caught this comment in its multifarious filters, from a commenter named “Win Quibids Auctions”:

Well, I agree with what you wrote, but not with all of it. Regardless, it’s all beneficial material. Thanks!

WHAT DO YOU MEAN, WIN QUIBIDS AUCTIONS? YOU HAVE TOLD ME THAT SOME MATERIAL YOU AGREE WITH, BUT SOME YOU DO NOT? WHAT DO YOU MEAN? MY EGO DEMANDS THAT YOU GIVE ME AN ANSWER!! BE MORE SPECIFIC!!! ENGAGE ME IN DIALOGUE!!!!! TELL ME!!!!!!!! I NEED TO KNOOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(ahem)

*hits “empty spam folder” button*

~ Ian

(Monty Python, “Spam Song”)

some small consolation

Posted: April 14, 2013 in Uncategorized
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No matter where you go, no matter what decisions you make…

…your love life will never suck as much as this guy’s.

sokkamoon

 

That’s rough, buddy.

~ Ian

(source)

Who exactly is “Victoria”, and what is the secret that she is concealing?

~ Ian

Friend of Axolotl Ceviche Blake Hihara sent me a youtube video of this guy.

It’s kind of cool and freaky seeing this guy. Because he looks EXACTLY LIKE ME.

It’s seriously weird.

I will demonstrate:

If your headphones aren't keeping your ears warm, THEY AREN'T MANLY ENOUGH. (Also, weird faces are fun.)

If your headphones aren’t keeping your ears warm, THEY AREN’T MANLY ENOUGH.
(Also, weird faces are fun.)

Basically, what this means is this: there is some alternate, less-handsome version of me out there who is better at singing than me. Which means that we should probably never meet. For, you see, this man must be the anti-Me, and should we come into contact, we will undergo electron-positron annihilation, presumably blowing up the earth.

Or he is a clone. Or I’m his clone.

In any case: Things.

~ Ian

 

Normally, my dreams aren’t very interesting.

But lately, I’ve been having nightmares. And not the usual, I’m-in-a-public-place-with-no-pants kind. I mean full blown journeys into the surreal realm of terror. I’m talking about being trapped in a coffin of rotating knives, or having my skin slowly rot off my face and peel away to reveal gray and putrid flesh underneath. If this were a N.K. Jemisin novel, I’d be gushing dreambile. I’m talking real nightmares, dreams with sharp razorblade teeth.

You must understand. I’m not complaining.

Actually, it’s awesome.

I’m a fantasy writer. Dreams are literally the stuff that fantasy is made of. And because my tastes tend towards the darker side of fantasy, it’s even better. Occasionally I’ve had story ideas or worldbuilding come through in my dreams. Having nightmares– really scary nightmares– is like winning the lottery on Christmas. I wake up from these dreams with adrenaline flowing through me and a big smile on my face. It’s a great feeling, like my brain is giving me a key to into Jung’s shadow. I embrace the horror, and it fuels me.

Am I supposed to be scared by them? Eh. I’m not one of those idiot fantasy fans that the snobs in the Great Literary Circle Jerk think the genre is made entirely up of. I know the difference between fiction and fact, between dream and reality.

But dreams are important, and nightmares doubly so.

So come on, brain. Show me terror. Let me gaze into the ever-burning eye of Hell. Bring me to the edge of death and sanity. I’ll let the darkness flow through me, and turn it into an engine that powers writing like I’ve never done before.

Do your worst.

~ Ian

(Dream Theater, “Octavarium”)

(Present Day Ian: I haven’t been blogging much lately. But that doesn’t mean that I still don’t want to share stuff with you. This was a piece that originally appeared on January 7, 2012, a week after the blog went up. Which means that most of you probably missed it. Well, since I thought it was kind of funny, here it is again. Enjoy. ~Ian)

I understand that not everyone in the multiverse is a skier, and since I understand that there may be some confusion when I refer to ski terms, I have compiled this list of trail ratings for those non-skiers out there. Now you will know what I talk about when I describe a “blue” or “black” run. Don’t say I never did anything for you.

~ Ian

Standard American Trail Ratings:

Brown Line: Completely flat. Nothing interesting ever happens on these runs, because there is no challenge. Most skiers refer to the brown slopes as the “shits”.

Hazards: None whatsoever.

Green Circle: Mild difficulty. The “green” runs are easy, and for that reason, are constantly clogged with screaming children, screaming adults, adults going at walking speed, and people who generally have no idea what they are doing. Because of the various people clogging these runs, they are actually more challenging for experienced skiers. Finding your way down a green run is a bit like playing a game of Tetris on snow. In fact, most green runs are equipped with speakers that play the Tetris theme, speeding up as you reach the end of the slope. For this reason, the end of the run is usually the place where the most crashes happen. Watch yourself.

Hazards: Small children of indeterminate gender in enormous puffy board jackets that make them look like pink or yellow marshmallows; snowboarders who decide to sit down RIGHT IN YOUR BLIND SPOT to adjust their bindings; massive clumps of adult skiers from Southern California who have never been above a thousand feet in their life and flock together like spray-tanned chickens, going as slowly as possible and NEVER LETTING YOU PASS THEM; medium-sized children on snowboards who fall down in the middle of the run and NEVER GET UP, grannies on snowboards.

Blue Square: Moderate difficulty. Most ski resorts consist of mainly “blue” runs. However, do not be decieved by the rating: blue runs can range in difficulty from glorified green runs to ice-covered bowls that shoot you down the hill at forty miles an hour and leave you a battered, shivering wreck at the bottom of the slope. As always, decide what is best for your own difficulty level before you choose to go down a blue run. Everyone else on the mountain will thank you for it.

Hazards: Trees; rocks; chairlift poles; gondola towers; people going slower than you; people going faster than you; asshole teens on snowboards; asshole sixty-year-olds on telmark skis; blind skiers; deaf skiers; people listening to loud music on their headphones (so they might as well be deaf); snowmobiles going uphill; snowmobiles traversing across the run, just suddenly coming out at fifty miles an hour AND GIVING YOU A FUCKING HEART ATTACK; snow bikers.

Black Diamond: Advanced difficulty. The “black” runs consist mainly of high-elevation bowls near the peaks of the mountain, narrow chutes, Olympic-class mogul runs, and runs that look more steep than they actually are. These runs are specifically for more advanced skiers, and the lift operators will look for the black diamond tattoo placed in a secret place on your body after you take the Advanced Skier and Snowboarder Holistic Orientation and Learning Examination (also known as the ASSHOLE Test). Don’t be afraid to lie about your qualifications before getting in the lift line– if you are an attractive young woman, and you show enough skin, the lift operators may be fooled into thinking that they “saw” a black diamond tattoo that wasn’t actually there.

Hazards: Cornices; powder; small cliff drops; icicles; ice patches; moguls; professional snowboarders on their days off; people who like to ollie over other skiers/riders as they come down the mountain; people who run into you from behind (watch your back); overzealous ski patrol; underzealous ski patrol; chutes.

Double Black Diamond: Experts only. Don’t think I’m kidding– these runs are for only the best of skiers. Only the fabled Octarine Tesseract runs are more difficult than the “double blacks”. Do not attempt these runs if you doubt your courage, or your strength– for death awaits ye with big nasty pointy teeth.

Hazards: Broken bones; perforated spleens; abraded testicles; post-traumatic stress disorder; incontinence; paraplegia; quadriplegia; Bleeding Everything Syndrome; other skiers who are being escorted down the mountain on stretchers by Ski Patrol after snapping their necks like a twig; blood patches; scattered limbs; entrails strewn from various trees; large cliff drops; that sinking feeling you get when you realize the peculiar smell that has been following you around for the last ten minutes is coming from your own pants.

Octarine Tesseract: The most challenging of all ski runs, the Octarine Tesseract Runs are so difficult that they ACTUALLY BEND REALITY. Have you ever wanted to ski inside one of M.C. Escher’s nightmares? Well, NOW YOU CAN!

Hazards: non-Euclidean cornices; gravity vortices; temporal anomalies; bowls that are bigger on the inside than the outside; Möbius chutes; secret ice caves that teleport you to various other locations on the mountain WITHOUT WARNING; vomit; tears; hatred; madness; a slow but unmistakeable feeling that the world does not have any order, and NEVER REALLY DID;  the Abominable Snowthulhu.

Gold Star: VIP ski runs. Most people are never allowed to enter these exclusive portions of the mountain. In fact, they are never shown on the trail maps. However, savvy skiers know that they exist. Gold Star runs are always surrounded by “AREA CLOSED” ropes, but savvy skiers know that the ropes blocking Gold Star runs from the public are made of red velvet. Plus there is always a bouncer standing next to the ropes. That’s a dead giveaway. In Gold Star runs, there is always champagne powder– not the ordinary type, but SNOW THAT IS MADE FROM REAL FROZEN CHAMPAGNE. Look for the halfpipe filled with caviar at the bottom.

Hazards: Drunken celebrities; helpful butlers; murderous butlers; coked-out record executives lying in the middle of the run, blitzed out of their minds; Kardashians; very exclusive call girls; the 1%.

Platinum Star: Wait, you actually believe in the Platinum Star runs? Those are only an urban legend!

Pink Triangle: These are the gay sections of the ski resort. Originally imported from swinging French and German ski resorts, certain progressive states such as California and Vermont regularly have Pink Triangle runs. You can tell that you have entered a Pink Triangle run by the fact that loud techno music is playing from speakers on the chairlifts, Gore-tex and fleece jackets have been replaced with baby oil and black leather, and the seven-foot-tall Austrian gentleman who rode up the lift with you is trying to put his tongue down your throat.

Hazards: Regular Gay Pride parades coming down the mountain; Fetish Night (every second Thursday of the month); AIDS; one-night stands; the possibility that you may come to question the foundations of your own sexuality; the possibility that you will be shanghaied into a mob of impeccably-clad gentlemen with nice hair and lisps and forced to sing old Judy Garland showtunes.

Red Pentacle: Red Pentacle runs start on the actual mountain, but once you start going on the run, you suddenly realize that you are going down, down, down, into a fiery cavern filled with magma and hate. Soon you grow to realize that you can’t stop, and as you descend, you go faster and faster, skiing on the frozen corpses of damned souls. Eventually you see it: the vast, vulvoid iron gates of the Nether Realm. They swing wide, and a handsome, smiling man is there to greet you. He wears an impeccable suit, and sunglasses that seem to reflect flames in their lenses. “Welcome to Hell,” he says. “Our Dark Master is awaiting you.” It is only when he turns that you realize that he has a long, pointed tail…

Hazards: Sulfur; brimstone; eternal damnation; herpes; the possibility that you will have to spend eternity with Jerry Falwell.

The Bunny Slopes: In the Swinging ‘70s, Hugh Hefner purchased small portions of every ski resort in North America to turn into a Playboy Mansion-themed amusement center. However, when the financial recessions of the late ‘80s hit, Playboy Enterprises had to turn their ski runs back over to the ski resorts. Even so, the “bunny slopes” still have hundreds of gorgeous, exploited young women, bouncing out of their scanty bikini tops as they go over moguls on their pink diamond-studded skis. For those guests who want to look at a different kind of scenery as they glide down the slopes, the bunny slopes are the place to go.

Hazards: Boobs; tits; drunken celebrities; people having orgies in the middle of the run RIGHT IN YOUR BLIND SPOT; the vodka-filled sex grotto that’s located just to the right of the unloading area at the top of the lift.