Showing posts from July, 2013
Dear everyone:

Sorry for the radio silence. I have been busy having a cow. I was supposed to move into a wonderful co-op -- with, among other people, a woman named Cameron who works for these guys, wherein I hope to publish soon, possibly in conjunction with Moggie -- but their landlord nixed the idea at the last minute, because he wanted to rent the room I was looking at together with another one as a suite, which puts it way out of my price range. I need to be out of here Real Soon Now, because other people are moving in. I have in-person commitments that mean I can't leave the MBTA-coverage area. So I have been in a dead panic for days now.

In happier news, I have been provisionally hired at Circlet Press, a local (mostly) e-publisher that deals in sci-fi, fantasy, and other spec-fic erotica of all styles, genders, and persuasions. It's a quirky little female-owned business that skews delightfully nerdy, and a lot of it will also be work-from-home (or work-from-library, or …
Cold Case makes me cry. Every goddamn time.

In case it's not on TV where you are, YouTube has a bunch of episodes, which you can easily find by searching. You'll be able to actually buy it somewhere between next century and never. By the time this gets released on home video, not only will you be watching it on microchips plugged directly into your brain, but you'll be able to buy head-chips in shatter-proof plastic cases with Hello Kitty on the front.

The main problem is the music rights. See, Cold Case, as the name suggests, is a cop series focused on a (fictional) division of the Philadelphia police department that specializes in solving murders, and occasionally other things, where the trail has long since faded. In the cases I've seen, the actual crime happened anywhere from a few years before the "present", all the way back to one set in the beginning of the Great Depression  The interviewees tell their stories to the investigators in flashback format, …
I had a phone interview today with a publisher who deals in sci-fi/fantasy erotica. It went rather well, I think. I consider it a good sign when I confess to a smut publisher that I didn't get to the end of 50 Shades of Grey because it was appalling and the BDSM was worse, and she confesses that she thought the writing was so bad, she couldn't get past Chapter 3.

One of the biggest qualifications you need trying for a job like that one is an absolute lack of shame when it comes to sex. People have sex. People think about sex. People read about sex. Why this is a revelation to anyone in the rest of the popular press is beyond me. Pornography has been one of the fundamental constants of human life ever since cave dwellers discovered they could make marks on the wall with chunks of charcoal. Anyone who thinks their readers aren't firing up the cable modem once they've finished with the New York Times is deluding themselves.

I live on the internet, so I read a fair amount …
Dear British writers:

"To catch [someone] up" and "to catch up with [someone]" have distinctly different meanings in American English.

If someone else has gone on ahead, and you are going to meet them sometime later, that's "I'll catch up with you." It indicates that you will be leaving later but traveling faster, in order to close the distance between you. It can also be used in a metaphorical sense between two people who intend to meet casually at some other point later, and in this case it means "when we see each other, I'll want you to tell me what's been going on in your life since we met last".

If you have gone on ahead, and someone else is going to meet you sometime later, that's "I'll catch you up." In this case, the phrase has nothing to do with traveling per se, but rather indicates that when the other party catches up with you, you will then catch them up by quickly explaining what has happened in the…

Weekend Radio Theater

The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - "The Uneasy Chair"

The Adventures of Sam Spade - "Over My Dead Body Caper"

Box 13 - "Design For Danger"
It is 102°F in Boston today, according to the NOAA. The heat index says it may effectively get up to 110°F.

This happens routinely in Phoenix, where I grew up. The official response is 'quit complaining, you pussy, and go mow your lawn'. (This may have something to do with the fact that the dominant ground cover in Phoenix is Bermuda grass, which is elsewhere classified as the kind of pernicious weed that might take over the world if you aren't constantly razing it to the root.) I refused to go to my high school commencement for a number of what I still consider excellent reasons, among them that it was being held outside, on a football field, in the middle of the afternoon, in May, when the temperature was already in triple digits.

Even in Flagstaff, which is usually about 20°F cooler, people think nothing of scheduling unwise outdoor activities in the summer. I worked for Residence Life one year -- never do this, they are inconsiderate slave-driving bastards -- and they …
This week is a series of posts about depression, anxiety, family issues, and other brainweasels, for the people who have come on over from's various open threads. Hello, welcome, and feel free to comment here.

I do have other, unofficial drugs, besides the Xanax. Caffeine, for one. I started taking the stuff regularly when I was a teenager. My high school started classes at 7:20am, and my brain does not boot up until half past ten at the earliest; if I intended to show up, ever, I was going to need some chemical help. I still had a pretty appalling attendance record, to the point where I'm pretty sure they were supposed to flunk me for it, but someone evidently noticed that I turned in stellar performances when I did turn up and had the sense to lose the paperwork.

I take in 100-200mg a day, most if not all in the morning. I quit once for a solid six months, on the suggestion of a doctor who thought it might help the anxiety disorder. Exactly the opposite ha…
This week is a series of posts about depression, anxiety, family issues, and other brainweasels, for the people who have come on over from's various open threads. Hello, welcome, and feel free to comment here.

On the whole I consider myself fortunate that all of the very few drugs I've ever found that directly alleviate the depression, the anxiety, or both, are things I can only take episodically. They all knock me flat on my ass. If I take any of them, I have to block out 6-12 hours where I'm not required to do anything more complex than open water bottles and make myself peanut butter sandwiches. Leaving the house is definitely contraindicated. It's possible to go through life constantly, say, just a little bit drunk-ish -- but the problem with that is that you're always having to get a little bit more drunkish than you were the day before in order to cope, and that can snowball in a big hurry. Alcohol never did anything much for me, opiates do…
This week is a series of posts about depression, anxiety, family issues, and other brainweasels, for the people who have come on over from's various open threads. Hello, welcome, and feel free to comment here.

I am also prone to depressive fugues. I refuse all treatment for these. I drop into them after sustained periods of my stress levels being way too high, and every attempt I've ever made to "do something about the depression" -- as opposed to doing something about the thing that made my stress levels skyrocket in the first place -- has resulted in me just digging a deeper hole to hide in.

Note that I don't refuse help for basic deficiencies that happen to be symptoms of the depression. I snork down NyQuil like it's going out of style when I have a horrible cold, and I have no qualms about treating the symptoms of misery either, even if it's similarly ineffective at getting rid of the root cause. If depression makes me stop sleeping…
This week is a series of posts about depression, anxiety, family issues, and other brainweasels, for the people who have come on over from's various open threads. Hello, welcome, and feel free to comment here.

I have an anxiety disorder. My medical records say "anxiety disorder, NOS". NOS is for Not Otherwise Specified, and translated from doctor-speak, that means, "You obviously have a thing, but you don't fit precisely into any of the insurance company's boxes, so we've pasted together parts of two or three different checklists and then also written some things in the margins."

My anxiety disorder presents weirdly sometimes. If you've read more than two or three of these blog entries, you probably could have guessed that. The thinky parts of my brain work even when nothing else does; so I tend to go in and talk to people looking like a paranoid insomniac basket case, but sounding like I've just escaped my classes at the …
This week is a series of posts about depression, anxiety, family issues, and other brainweasels, for the people who have come on over from's various open threads. Hello, welcome, and feel free to comment here.

There is an open thread for anxiety sufferers over at Captain Awkward's place right now. The Captain and her moderators are generally very cool kitties about this stuff; if you want to talk to someone about it, or just lurk and try to figure out how other people work, I recommend you click on over and have a look.

Somewhere down in the 500-some odd commens, a few people start talking about CBT. In context, this is "cognitive behavioral therapy" -- I have been on the internets long enough to know that there are other things that acronym means, which are probably not used much by reputable therapists -- and it's one of the first-line treatments for anxiety disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy, at its root, is really about detangling your…
The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - "The Uneasy Chair"

The Adventures of Sam Spade - "The Over My Dead Body Caper"

Box 13 - "Design For Danger"
From time to time, I run into interesting people that I mostly fail to track down. Thus, I turn to you, the internet.

There is an English character actor named David Collings who keeps turning up in things. He plays Silver in Sapphire & Steel, has had several supporting roles in Doctor Who (Poul in Robots of Death and Mawdryn in Mawdryn Undead, and one other I can't recall at the moment), and did the usual flurry of appearances on all those murder mysteries I watch, mostly in the '80s and '90s, that mean I've started to recognize his face. The most prominent thing he seems to have done on film was take the role of Bob Cratchit in the 1970 version of Scrooge.

He's done a lot of Shakespeare on stage, including some that were filmed, but seems to do mostly radio these days. (He's done "The Dorabella Variation". "A Question of Proof" and "Money With Menaces" for BBC Radio. I provide them here strictly because if there is a way to l…
I've been procrastinating like a mad thing, so I've been playing with this. It's an online guitar tuner, sort of. You make a noise into the computer, and it attempts to tell you what pitch it is. I have a couple of friends who do this, mostly as a party trick, but both of them have had extensive training in both making music and thinking about it. I'm lousy at it. I tried to teach myself guitar once, and it was an unmitigated disaster in every respect -- I have weird synaesthesias, and one of them is that higher pitches should be closer to the top of my head, which is exactly backwards for guitars -- except for the tuning part.

I cannot match waveforms that are unalike. That looks rather stupid now that I type it, but I don't know any better way to characterize it. I can tune guitars to other guitars or to violins and pianos, and hell probably to banjos or harps if I tried, because they're all vibrating strings. The sine waves given off by piezoelectric tuners …

Slightly less old -- but much more odd -- TV

Sapphire & Steel is a very strange series. Mounted by ITV in 1979 as their attempt to compete with Doctor Who, it was theoretically a science-fiction adventure show. Really, it turned out more of a supernatural thriller. It was made on an even more desperately tiny budget than Doctor Who, which meant that very nearly the entire thing was studio-bound, lit for stage and shot on video, and littered with practical effects. The resulting claustrophobia works for it, rather than against it, and turns it into something quite different.

You really have to see these things to believe them. Fortunately, someone else also thought of that, and has edited the serials together into omnibus editions, and whacked them up on YouTube. They have no formal titles, and hadn't even when they first aired; they've since been dubbed Assignment 1 through Assignment 6.

Assignment 1
Assignment 2
Assignment 3
Assignment 4
Assignment 5
Assignment 6

You can begin at the beginning, as is traditional, although…

Quirks of the gifted

I check the referral logs on this thing from time to time. I've apparently gotten some hits from -- although I don't know what entry they linked from, or what it was linked to, because sometimes the log is a frustrating jobsworth. In honor of this, and because Moggie's birthday is coming up, I went and dug up stuff on David McCallum, who is One Of Us if I ever spotted one.

(I haven't gotten her to watch much if any NCIS, but Moggie has a cracking great crush on Illya Kuryakin. She named a laptop Illyana once, inspired by Illya's bit in the long version of the season one intro.
For the younger crowd, no, I don't know why two L's in that. Because in the 1960s Russia might as well have been on a different planet. It's spelled "Илья" in Cyrillic. They got his patronym wrong, too.)
McCallum does a great many of the amusingly strange things I spot in a lot of gifted-and-talented kids. I've no idea…

Yes, I do watch a lot of old TV

One of my sidekick's many amazing super powers is the ability to be ignorant of virtually every culturally-significant piece of media produced in the past hundred years. I have no idea how. They lived in England until she was two, then moved back to the US, and no, they aren't weirdly religious -- her father sailed a desk in the Navy for a quarter century and her mother used to ride herd on middle schoolers. She just somehow managed to grow up in a bubble with a television that would only tune in PBS.

I, and occasionally other people, have made it our mission to show her all of these random things, from whence all the weird quotes and references come. Answer to obvious question: Moggie also has the magical ability to pay some fucking attention to the world around her. She figured out approximately what a flux capacitor was about a decade before we realized she had not actually seen Back To The Future, and told her to apply her butt to the couch and watch it or else. She made i…

The weather, or: People can be such wusses.

The NOAA issued a hazardous weather advisory for most of New England yesterday. Apparently, 90°F counts as a borderline emergency out here. They also flip the fuck out whenever the ambient humidity drops below about 40%, and issue fire risk notifications.

Naturally, I took all the proper precautions: I refilled the ice trays, and put the vodka in the freezer.

One of the more amusing side effects of living in civilization now is that the people around me seem to consider Mother Nature to be dangerously insane. I suppose when you've built up your city to the point where sufficiently clever planning means you never have to walk more than about a hundred feet in the open air, you tend to lose your sense of weather as just ambiance that happens, and consider it to be an event that is happening, right now. I quite understand why this is the case for, say, major hurricanes, which amount to short bursts of environmental violence that pose a direct and immediate threat to anyone standing i…

Body language: Shyness

One of the kindly people who has donated to my Not Being Homeless Fund has requested more articles on reading body language. As Moggie is currently crushing hard on young Peter Davison, and he is an excellent example of one of the many things people tend to call "shyness", I thought I'd give it a go.

(Moggie has a thing for intelligent blonds. You should have seen what happened when I showed her what Ducky used to do on TV. Another piece of pop culture that is rather dear to my heart.)

Davison was pretty brutally shy on camera when he was young, especially when caught unawares. He was somewhat less so when he wasn't the only one being interviewed, as when he was booked with then-wife Sandra Dickinson, or with previous Doctors Job Pertwee and Patrick Troughton, both of whom were apparently quite gracious and friendly to their successors. He's still fairly quiet, but engaged and not trying to hide in his chair. Stick him in a seat by himself, and give him the full …