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So many snow and ice days, or partial days! Glorious. And often ill-timed, unfortunately, what with this being the busiest time of the year at work. Next Wednesday is supposed to be in the 60s, but Thursday it’s supposed to snow. Schizophrenic weather.

In much sadder news, we lost another Star Trek alum. The standard to which I hold all men is based mostly on 1. My dad and 2. Spock. Thank you, Leonard Nimoy. I raise my eyebrow in salute.

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A book update will have to wait, since I still haven’t quite managed to finish The Killer Angels. It’s brilliant! I’m just too busy. Soon, soon.

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This week included the NeedtoBreathe concert at Campbell University (excellent), ice cream at Sunni Skies (also excellent), learning how to feed and change a baby (educational), lots of great company (superb), and a whole lot of working like a dog.  At work, we’re running a 1000-attendee conference at the Raleigh Convention Center this week, so last week was spent scrambling like mad things to get everything done.  I will be one happy camper when Tuesday finally comes to an end.

I hate April Fool’s Day: my feelings are expressed well by this Chainsaw Suit comic.  A whole day in which I can’t trust anything anyone says?  How perfect!  Unfortunately, my coworkers really get into the spirit of the day.  Several people “quit,” one made it look like my computer was frozen, etc.  All of which might have been a little more amusing if it weren’t the busiest month of the year at my company.  Still, I will admit that the note on the printer saying that it only accepted voice commands from now on was a little bit funny…even more so when someone caught my supervisor yelling, “Scan!” at it.

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Books: I finished A Passage to India at last, and overall I did enjoy it…but I was plagued by the feeling that it could have been better.  Forster’s characters are symbols, and as such their individual actions as characters don’t always make sense.  He tackles very large themes and reduces them to relationships between individuals, which seems like it could work–but it seemed to fall a little flat.  I’ll be seeing the movie soon, I think, and the trailer already makes Miss Quested look ten times more interesting than she was in the book.  In the novel, there’s a line something to the effect that the issues Miss Quested brought to the fore were so much larger than she herself, people tended to forget about her as a person.  Sums up the whole book, pretty much.

I’m reading The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams now, which is so far excellent.  I loved Watership Down, was sorely disappointed by Shardik, and have had my faith restored by Plague Dogs.  I’ll admit there are a lot of Watership Down parallels, which may account for some of my affection for the story (there’s a practical-minded dog and a slightly crazy dog, a la Hazel and Fiver), but it’s unique enough to stand on its own feet.  The novel tackles experimentation on animals and several other heavy issues, and since I tend to read during meals, that’s occasionally been an icky experience, but it’s very worth it.  I still have quite a ways to go on it, so I’ll report more when I’m finished.

Another insanely busy week!  Apparently that’s just the new normal around here.  Waking up to a flooded apartment on Tuesday was less normal–our neighbor’s hot water heater leaked into our apartment and flooded the kitchen and part of the living room–but we seem to have that situation rectified by means of a shop vac and giant fans.  Lucky did not enjoy any part of that.  We weren’t hugely thrilled either, but I like mold a whole lot less.

In somewhat related news, this spring/summer will be the first one in five years during which I won’t be moving!  Our rent only went up slightly, so we can actually afford to stay put for once.  I’m ridiculously excited about that…and I’m wondering if maybe it’s time for a new bookshelf to celebrate not hauling books up and down stairs.  I hate when my shelves get so full that I start having to lay books horizontally on top of vertical books, and we’re definitely there right now.

I really can’t complain about being busy when it’s for such good reasons: this week was full of absolutely fantastic times with friends, including a visit to the Langdon farm, one to Rooglewood, and one to a new friend’s house for dinner and a movie. (Do yourself a favor and just don’t ever watch Starship Troopers.  I’m serious.  It was heinous, and the only enjoyment to gain from it is to tear it apart with like-minded individuals.)  All the same, trying to get my work done in between these social engagements has led to considerable sleep deprivation.  I made my bed after church, took a long look at said bed…and crawled back in until 1:00.  It’s a rainy, lazy day, and I’ve mainly slept, drunk tea, and talked with friends online.  Can’t beat that for a Saturday.

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 Books: I’ve been reading A Passage to India by E.M. Forster for what feels like my entire life.  I blithely packed a slew of books for my Richmond trip, thinking that I would have downtime to read, and then I didn’t even have a chance to crack a book open once during the whole week.  What I’ve managed to read of Passage so far (which isn’t even half of it) has been intriguing.  The book is a good look at India and British Imperialism during the 1920s, and I’m enjoying the perspective on Indian culture, so different from our own.  I’ll attempt to come up with something more intelligent to say about the book after finishing it, if I ever manage to do so.

In Five Glass Slippers news, the anthology blog for all five of us contest winners has launched!  Bless Rachel for actually getting the ball rolling, because I was prepared to procrastinate for another month or so.  Be sure to read up on the fascinating inspiration for her protagonist!  I hope to write up a post of my own about A Cinder’s Tale…uh…soonish.  Don’t hold your breath.

I’ve been delinquent in pretty much everything this week that didn’t directly pertain to my day job, since I was horrendously busy in Richmond for the conference.  There wasn’t even time to explore any historic Civil War graveyards.  *grumbles*  I did, however, have dinner at Penny Lane Pub, which was a fascinating and delicious experience.  Folks at a table near mine were talking about the Narnia books, and I was sorely tempted to pull up a chair and crash the conversation.  Instead, my coworker and I voyaged down the tremendously sketchy (by night, at least) Canal Walk, wandered around some historic buildings including the capitol, and found ourselves in Shockoe Bottom, which is intriguingly named, tragically historied, and home to a really nice coffee shop now.

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This will be short, since it’s been an impossibly long week…but it was made significantly better by the arrival of my check for A Cinder’s Tale!  I don’t think the thrill of getting paid to write fiction will ever get old.  I made stuff up…and people paid me for it.  COOL.  Speaking of A Cinder’s Tale, Anne Elisabeth Stengl talks more about it and the other stories to be included in the Five Glass Slippers anthology.  Check it out!

Next week I’ll be in Richmond for work all week.  The downside: the Edgar Allan Poe museum is closed whenever I’m not on the clock.  The upside: I’ll be going with lovely people and will no doubt manage to have adventures in spite of the tremendously long work days.

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Books: A friend loaned me Starship Troopers by Heinlein because I complained that the only Heinlein I had read (Stranger in a Strange Land) was…well, heinous, and not really scifi at all.  I TAKE IT ALL BACK.  (Well, most of it.  I may like Heinlein now, but Stranger in a Strange Land is still heinous.)  I love Starship Troopers, and I’m just about finished with it.  I want to sit down and write a paper about its military philosophy comparing it to various historical ideals, but I’ll probably settle for hunting down some more of his work and just pretending Stranger never happened.

Finally did a little housekeeping around the blog, so now there’s a fancy Publications page for you to peruse and actually some content (although not much) on the About page, among other belated improvements.  Be still, my heart.

It was cold enough that even in North Carolina, I was able to blow bubbles and watch them freeze.

New winter pastime!

The best part about Seascape did indeed turn out to be the sea monsters.  Great execution (excellent job, Southstream Productions!), but the play itself just wasn’t written quite as well as I would have liked.  It was still a very enjoyable evening, but after all of the hype, I was a little disappointed in Edward Albee.

This week saw the end of an era in that we finally finished the discipleship program.  I don’t know what I’ll do with myself on Wednesday nights; they’ve been booked for the last three years.  We spent a year getting together to learn Latin, another year getting together to read and discuss philosophy, and another year getting together for intense Bible study.

I think I’m going to get a mob together to see Ender’s Game at the cheap seats.  Anyone see it, and if so, what did you think of it?

My friend Sam just started her own translation and editing business, so check out her site!

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Books: I’ve been working on The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison forever and am only halfway done; it certainly is not a book you can rush through.  I’m not even really sure how to talk about it, it’s so unusual.  Imagine that Shakespeare read a lot of Norse sagas as a boy and then attempted to write Lord of the Rings, and you might come close to Ouroboros.  The novel is wildly creative and is told almost entirely in Elizabethan-style prose–and the novel itself was published in 1922, when heroic fantasy was still a fledgling.  Eddison was quite the medieval and Renaissance poetry fanboy, and he plops entire (obscure) 15th- and 16th-century poems into his work.  No one else could hope to write in Eddison’s style: you’d have to ingest Jacobean literature all of your life, as he did, to even attempt it.  Both Tolkien and Lewis admired aspects of Eddison’s work–so much so that Lewis invited him to read at The Inklings.  Tolkien said that Eddison was “the greatest and most convincing writer of ‘invented worlds’ that I have read,” though he did express frustration with Eddison’s willy-nilly naming.  Eddison first began thinking up stories for Ouroboros as a boy, and apparently was reluctant to abandon some of the elements he constructed in childhood, meaning we end up with odd character names ranging from Brandoch Daha to Spitfire to Fax Fay Faz.  Eddison’s creativity and language are definitely his strong suits: plot and character, less so.  The story itself consists (at least so far) of a very long war between the Demons and with Witches (with appearances by the Pixies, Imps, and Ghouls), none of which bear the slightest resemblance to the connotations those words imply (they’re all more or less human), and all of this takes place on the planet Mercury.  But the book reads nothing like how that description sounds.  For example:

“What kill-joy have we here?” said Spitfire.  “The trumpet soundeth only for travellers from the outlands.  I feel it in my bones some rascal is come to Galing, one that bringeth ill hap in his pocket and a shadow athwart the sun on this our day of festival.”

Or another example:

Nor could one hope in one night’s space to behold such deeds of derring-do as were done that night by Lord Brandoch Daha, that played his sword lightly as one handleth a willow wand; yet death sat on the point thereof. In such wise that eleven stout sworders of Witchland were slain by him, and fifteen besides were sorely wounded. And at the last, Corinius, stung by Corund’s taunts as by a gadfly, and well night bursting for grief and shame at his ill speeding, leapt upon Lord Brandoch Daha as one reft of his wits, aiming at him a great two-handed blow that was apt enough to cleave him to the brisket.

One more:

She answered, “Do not defile mine ears with their excuses.  They have shamefully abused us; and the guilt of their black deed planteth them day by day more firmlier in my deeper-settled hate.  Art thou so deeply read in nature and her large philosophy, and am I yet to teach thee that deadliest hellebore or the vomit of a toad are qualified poison to the malice of a woman?”

I am puzzled and enthralled and occasionally amused, caught up in admiration in spite of the story’s many flaws.  This book is bizarre and beautiful, and I highly recommend, at the very least, giving it a try.

I hope everyone had a marvelous Thanksgiving!  I certainly did.  We had the traditional meal on Thursday, watched Moby Dick (not your usual family movie night, perhaps, but we enjoyed it), and had a grand old time.  Today we drove out to my brother’s spiffing new place and got the tour of the house (he has a moat!) and his office (he has his own office!).  Despicable.

Today, the end of an era: I’ve finally finished listening to all of the RadioLab episodes from the past 10 years, or at least as many as are available on radiolab.org.  What will I do with my life now??

The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special was incredible, and seeing it with so many people who were likewise thrilled just to be there was a blast.  People were getting weepy over the opening credits, and the entire theater exploded at the introduction of various, um, characters, old and new.  Check out this  NPR article on why we’ve been travelling with the Doctor for 50 years and be sure to look at this list of 35 Easter eggs you may not have caught in the special.

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Books:  I’m working on the Collected Poems of Sarah Teasdale these days.  I became a fan of hers many years ago after reading “The Look” in high school, and I’ve been rather enamored ever since.  This collection is a little rough in spots–sometimes she can be a little on the trite, melodramatic side–but sometimes she’s perfectly brilliant.  Careful, though: her poetry will make you want to fall in love.

I’m also working on Cursed Pirate Girl by Jeremy Bastian, another NC ComiCon acquisition.  The story is billed as “our generation’s Alice in Wonderland,” and I really can’t improve upon that definition.  The artwork is incredibly intricate, and the book is worth checking out for that alone.  Check out a few of the pages on Amazon so you can see what I mean: using the tiniest of brushes, the artist fills each page brimful with intricate illustrations.

Max, the three-month-old son of one of my friends, passed away this week from hypoplastic left heart syndrome, so I’ll be going to the funeral in Eden tomorrow.  If you would like to show your support for the family, donate to the Sisters by Heart, the Ronald McDonald House, or the UNC Children’s Hospital.  I stumbled across this NPR article today and couldn’t agree more.

In happier news, I had a wonderful afternoon with the girls on Sunday afternoon.  We got together to talk and drink copious amounts of tea, and both of those goals were certainly fulfilled.

On Sunday I’m going to NC ComicCon.  Don’t get excited–it’s not the cool ComicCon in San Diego–but NC tries hard.  I wanted to support Anne Elisabeth at her booth, and I thought it’d be fun to check out the con once, even if the focus isn’t really on my areas of interest.  (Unlike San Diego’s ComicCon, which is an excuse for any kind of geekery, NC actually seems to focus on comics and collectibles.)  I’ll be dressed as River Song with slightly (massively?) more hair.  November is turning into a nerd bonanza, since next weekend I’ll be making my annual trip to the Carolina Renaissance Festival with a crew of fantastic people.

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Books: I’m rereading Ender’s Game before going to see the movie, for obvious reasons, and I’m smitten all over again.  Such a great book!  It makes me want to dive straight into the sequels and the parallel series, but I have a long list of booksale acquisitions I should really take a few stabs at first.  I know Orson Scott Card has announced he’s going to write more Ender books, but I have mixed feelings about that.  I have no interest in a novel that’s only written to capitalize on movie hype to sell copies, but if Card has more of the story that he wants to tell, I’ll happily read it.  I adore Card’s work at the same time that I really can’t stand the guy personally; I met him at a book signing in Greensboro several years ago, and he was a jerk.  He’s good, and he knows it, and he won’t let anyone forget it…but…he IS really good.

Very quiet week, which is probably just as well since the next one will be so hectic.  I’m leaving for Michigan on Wednesday!  I’m very excited, and I hope it’s positively frigid up there.  Summer and I are through.  I’ll report on my adventures in the north country next time.

Hoodlums ran through our apartment complex parking lot, breaking into a whole slew of cars in one night, which is rather unprecedented in our area.  There were so many break-ins, the police just went door to door taking reports.  Fortunately, my and my roommate’s cars were spared.  The perks of driving boring cars and not owning anything tantalizing!

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Books:  A friend gave me Cat-a-lyst by Alan Dean Foster, author of more scifi than you can shake a stick at, including the original novel of Star Wars (mistakenly credited solely to Lucas), the story for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, novelizations for the two most recent Star Trek movies, and a host of his own scifi and fantasy works.  I’ve been meaning to read his stuff for ages…but, sadly, I found Cat-a-lyst disappointing.  The ideas were extremely imaginative, but the execution was dull, and the characters were flat and incomprehensible in terms of motivation.  As a writer, I recognized all the signs of lazy, sloppy writing that annoy me in myself; I suspect Foster just didn’t put his usual effort into this one.  I’d like to read some of his other works to compare, because no one gets to his level of acclaim without having done something right.

If you like Shakespeare, Appalachian music, or any combination thereof, you should come check out As You Like It by Bare Theater!  At the very least, watch the trailer because it’s adorable.

I had a brush with heart failure the other night.  When I moved to my new apartment, I hung a large, heavy picture above my bed.  (You can probably see where this is going already.)  Since it was so heavy, I put a hefty nail in the stud to hold it.  It hung there peacefully for two months without so much as a wobble, until about 3:00am Saturday night when it came crashing down like a guillotine in the two-inch space between the wall and my headboard.  Let me tell you, that is not the best way to wake up.  I was fairly certain the apartment was being demolished around my ears, but once I discovered that wasn’t the case, I went back to sleep.  In the morning I discovered that the picture had sliced down hard enough to knock the electrical outlet partly out of the wall.  The nail was where it was supposed to be, and the picture hanger didn’t break, so apparently the picture just wiggled its way off the nail.  I hung it again (more securely, I hope), but if I die from decapitation in the near future, you’ll know how it happened.

I went to a book signing for my amazing friend Anne Elisabeth Stengl this week, which was lovely as always.  Her husband made some sort of obscenely good chocolate coffee cheesecake, so we ate and hung out at the Barnes and Noble afterwards.  I feel like I’ve done quite well in my friendships: I’m pals with accomplished authors and fantastic chefs.

I, sadly, am not a fantastic chef, but I was very brave this week and made edible books for an upcoming book-and-tea-themed baby shower (I also have friends who choose books and tea as their baby shower theme–aren’t you jealous?).  They were indeed edible!  Triumph.

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Books: My review of 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke should be prefaced by the statement that I did see the movie, but I was a little kid at the time.  My recollection is hazy, but I do recall tremendous amounts of nothing happening (albeit very beautifully) for long periods of time.  I need to rewatch it now, I think.  The book is very similar to the movie in that nothing persists in happening for long stretches.  Before reading 2001, I felt rather ambivalently towards Clarke  in general.  The only other book I’ve read by him was Dolphin Island, which was rife with exclamation point overuse and abuse.  2001 didn’t suffer from that, fortunately, though it was incredibly slow-moving to the point of being dull.  At the same time, I can see why it stands as a scifi classic.  A lot of the premises seem worn now, but only because 2001 was among the first to use them and everyone else since has copied the ideas.  There was a lot of good stuff in 2001, and it’s encouraging me to rethink my opinions of Clarke.

You seem to have stumbled upon a storytelling of ravens. Watch for falling collective nouns; you may find a wing of dragons or a charm of hummingbirds caught in your hair. Hardhats are recommended.

my read shelf:
Stephanie Ricker's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

A Storytelling

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