Friday, December 31, 2010

Life in Idaho

Frankly, I just don't get the appeal of the little stick figures/Jesus-fish/whatever on the back of car windows showing your family make-up. But when I walked past this Pathfinder the other day, I had to snap this picture. What epitomizes Idaho life more than this? Guns and family.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I Know You're Dead and All, But . . .

Dear Stieg Larsson,

Until you become a much, much better writer than you are, you really need to get to the hook earlier than page 245 of 640. Dude, that's 40% of your book.

Just sayin',


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane

I don't think I've the original context of the remark, but I've seen it often enough that I don't doubt the veracity. But at some point Dennis Lehane characterized his Kenzie/Gennaro series as the kind of books that a guy in his twenties would write, as an explanation for why he'd moved on. Now, first of all, I don't blame a guy for not wanting to get stuck in a rut, to only write one thing his entire life (no matter how good he is at it). But that always struck me as an uncharacteristically dumb thing to say. What's that say about 1. the authors outside of their 20s who are writing the same kind of thing and 2. those of us out of our 20s who like to read that kind of thing.

Frankly, I thought that Shutter Island was more like something a guy in his 20s would write (particularly the ending) than anything else he wrote.

But hey, it's his opinion, and he's entitled to it -- as long as he writes things more interesting than The Given Day (which, to be fair, I haven't been able to get too far into, it's fully possible that if I'd read another two pages, I'd have loved it).

Still, imagine my surprise when I learned that a new Kenzie/Gennaro book was coming out.

It's a lighter read than the previous five books in the series, but it still carries that trademark Lehane punch. This book sure seems like a self-conscious attempt to stress the fact that our heroes, like the author, aren't in their twenties. They've aged, matured, get tired more easily want nothing to do with the violence that so marked their younger years. They're not the only ones who aged, Amanda McCready, the kidnapped girl from Gone, Baby, Gone is missing again, and again, he aunt calls upon Kenzie to find her.

By the end, Lehane takes his characters to an interesting (and predictable place) that probably closes the door to future installments -- not unlike what Riordan did to Tres Nevarre and what Koryta may have done to his PIs. I hope it's not the last I see of these two, but can understand why it would be.

In the end, a satisfying read. Better than many PI novels that came out this year, but not as good as it could've been.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Not at all what I had in mind

So yesterday when I said, "there'll be something different [than incessant NaNoWriMo bleating] tomorrow" I was thinking something different. I was just about done with an amusing little post when the whole day went sideways.

Well, technically, it was my van, not the day.
And, technically, it went across the road and did a 180 into a ditch and a fence, not sideways. But why get pedantic?

So you can get a glimpse of most of the damage there. Nothing major. It still drives (I think, need to get that confirmed), but it ain't pretty -- who cares? Makes it more like its primary driver.

The Princess, Arnold and Wonder Mutt were with me, and we're all fine. It took an hour and a half to get us out of there. The kids did well -- Arnold was pretty shaken up, but getting to sit in the tow truck seemed to help.

But that was it for me for the day . . . I couldn't focus, couldn't relax, couldn't work. I was just shot.

oh yeah, and I accidentally increased the font size on my cell phone's text messages and can't figure out how to fix it. Talk about annoying.

What's worse, is that I reacted this way to what's in all likelihood a minor inconvenience. It's just not that big of deal, ultimately.

Speaking of things that aren't big, friend/coworker (well, until he got laid off last month) of mine is going through a tumor scare, he's going in for an operation in a couple weeks. Got an email from him this evening after a consult with the surgeon. Apparently the tumor is of a borderline size. If it's size A, it's a pretty quick, simple, but painful surgery. If it's size B, it's invasive, will require some reworking of an internal system, probably some radiation or chemo, and well, something tells me the pain is in a different Area Code than the other option. What's size B? 2 mm or more.

One more time, that's two millimeters. For you philistines that don't grasp the beauty of the metric system, that's 0.0787401575 inches.

Roughly the size of the head of a pin.

So yeah, I get that little things can mess up your day, and I accept that. It's just that some little things are bigger than others.

like the song says...

Let the headlines wait,
Armies hesitate.
I can deal with fate
But not the little things.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

NaNo Post Mortem

All righty, I'm now 3 for 4 on NaNoWriMo (not even sure you can count 2007's pathetic showing as a try). As much as I loved the 2008 story, I think this year's is better. Now, how I got from a Science Fiction comedy in the vein of Hitchhiker's or Red Dwarf that I couldn't see past chapter 3 of to a mystery that I couldn't see past Chapter 1 of to a Hornby/Tropper-esque coming of age tale to an Urban Fantasy that morphed mere hours before I started into a straight-up Fantasy, I have no clue. But I really, really like what resulted.

The way the plot developed sorta surprised me, I'd envisioned three parts. Part I took place in 1985, would go on for maybe three or four chapters. Then Part 2 would be a chapter -- a little longer, maybe. And then Part 3 would make up the majority of the novel. Yeah, well, best laid plans and all that, right? I never got to part 2 (I wrote a bit of it tonight at work, after the month was over), part 1 just was too interesting. I'm still trying to decide if I make Part 2 an epilogue, and then pick up part 3 next November, or if I keep plowing away. You can see a short bit about it here.

So anyway, what about Frodo? Well, he didn't win this year, he had a hard time shuffling priorities around and it bit him (tho' he did put up a valiant effort the last night in two hours, writing about twice what he spent all day Saturday composing). So he's 2 for 3. BUT, I will say this about what he wrote, it's a whole different kind of writing than he's done before. His first two NaNo's were pretty cartoonish, with flat characters, and rather slapdash and out of control--the second was a great improvement over the first. But it wasn't until I read this year's work, that I realized how far he hadn't come then. His protagonist this year -- and a couple of the secondary characters -- were people, who acted like people. They thought, they spoke like someone you'd actually meet. Not a family of 4 who'd eat 500 pizzas a day for dinner or something. Does he have a long way to go? Yes. Is he a better writer than his old man was at that age? Probably. Anyway, not technically a win as far as the rules go, so chalk this one up as a moral victory.

I got a good deal of help along the way--back in August I threw up a post that got some interesting suggestions here and in other places. My old high school pal, Brent, saw something I said on Facebook and hooked me up with a great book about writing about fighting (I'll talk more about that some other time). A friend from college, Erika, who also also does this 30 day mad-dash, was a great source of encouragement -- not only in what she said, but also by leading me in the word count for most of the month, giving me something to shoot for. My kids were always supportive, even when (especially when?) they were distracting me from the work. And, of course, TLoML who listened to me moan about how impossible it was this year, pretended to give a crap when I babbled in the vaguest manner possible about minor victories I'd made, and generally indulged me in this for the month. Thank you all of you.

Enough about this for now...on to other things, there'll be something different tomorrow, like something about Neti Pots or...I dunno. We'll see.