matociquala: (criminal minds fate)
Holy shit, how did I forget to listen to TMBG for so damned long? That was a terrible idea.

It's amazing how having kittens gives me something to blog about again. The giant ridiculous dog is wonderful and adorable and my best friend and walking buddy now that he's too old to run*, but he is a creature of steady habits, especially at the age of 11, and doesn't give me much to comment on: "Today we went for a walk and played kickball for ten minutes and pooped twice and had breakfast AND dinner AND cookies AND a piece of cheese, were teased by the cats, had a series of profoundly satisfying naps and were interested in a squirrel, briefly."

It's a dog's life. One day is pretty much like the next and they're not always noteworthy. Except when the ice hurts his poor feet, or I expect him to go outside and pee in the wet like some kind of barbarian, or he has the best day of his life and gets within six inches of actually catching that damned fat squirrel.

Six inches, Zack! I would have had him!

Kittens are still having adventures.

This morning's adventures started at 6:30 (roughly) with me getting up and realizing that there were no kitten noises in the usual places and no kittens on the bed, or in the guest bedroom where they sometimes hang out, depending on the availability of local sunbeams and the phase of the moon and other Important Kitten Reasons.

I walk down the hall to the bathroom. The bathroom is also where we feed kittens, and as soon as I entered its sacred precincts, I had two boy kittens on my heels. 6:30 am is not, however, the time of the feeding. We're not naive about what the result would be.

The boy kittens stayed in the bathroom. I walked back toward the bedroom, and saw that a door that should not be open was open. A door that leads to the downstairs, and several non-kitten-proofed rooms full of potentially hazardous and/or breakable objects and furniture that one could hide under indefinitely. Not to mention house plants, great for chewing on and excavating around and peeing in.

I saw that beyond that door, there was a stairs. And on that stairs was a Molly, looking freaked out as only a feral kitten that is outside her comfort zone can look.

I went back, and shut the bathroom door with the boy kittens inside. And said to Scott, who was in the office typing, which is, after all, what we do for a living, "Houston, we have a problem."

We found her under a futon in the front room, which was fine, and which has a door that opens onto the front hallway, which the kittens DO have access to generally speaking and which has a second stair to the upstairs, which is designated kitten territory. We opened the door to the front hall and closed the door to the rest of the downstairs, and Scott went upstairs to make sure the door that had been left open accidentally was closed so there wouldn't be a second escape.

I lay down on my stomach and stuck my head under the futon.

"Hello, Molly," says I. "Surely you want to go upstairs?"

The freaked out look intensifies.

I offer her a Magic Finger. You know the one.

She looks at it like it's a snake.

"THAT'S A SNEK!" says her.

I make sure I am physically between her and the hiding places it would be harder to retrieve her from. Slowly, I reach out, with the Molly Approved (occasionally, maybe) back-of-hand petting gesture. (Sometimes you're allowed to use the grabby side of the hand, but not always. Because Apes are horrible, and also Grabby.)

Molly says, "YOU WANT TO GRAB ME!" and skitters away. (Her primary form of movement is still skittering, though there has been a certain amount of sauntering and scampering recently. She really is coming around.)

Fortunately, she skitters through the open door into the front hall.

And freezes. And looks around, stunned. SHE IS NOT LOST FOREVER. THIS IS HER HALL. SHE BOUNCES GLITTER BALLS DOWN THE STAIRS. She relaxes. Her ears perk up. She looks around some more.

"I KNOW WHERE I AM!" says her.

And then Scott said, from upstairs, "The light is green," and I had to close the hall door really quick to keep her from running away back into the room I was in in a panic because a Horrible Ape said something in a moderately loud conversational tone three rooms away.

But now she's on the bed ignoring me, though there were no Morning Cuddles today. Horrible Ape. This Was All Your Fault Somehow.

Such is life with a semiferal.

Gurney, meanwhile, is a toddler. A very sweet toddler, not a tyranty one (that's Duncan), but a toddler nonetheless.

Gurney has a best toy, which is Mousie. Now, there are many mousies in this house. There are three different KINDS of sisal mousies. There are five other sisal mousies that are identical in every way to Mousie, except for being less battered and chewed on, and still having feather tails. Also Mousie is bright pink and hardly rattles anymore, and the other ones are yellow, green, blue, grey, etc.

Mousie is the toy Gurney plays fetch with. It is the toy he carries around and talks to in low tones and crouches over and won't let the other kittens play with. Mousie is his Friend.

He likes to take Mousie up to the broad, flat surface of the credenza in the bedroom, and bat Mousie around.

Today, Mousie fell behind the dresser. This was at 7:20, when I had just gotten back into bed after the Molly Experience, and was planning a little more rest before work started.


Gurney is NOT a semiferal, and you can tell this because when something goes TERRIBLY WRONG, he looks around, finds the nearest monkey, and demands we fix it. Well, NOTHING would do except I go get a yardstick and a flashlight and retrieve Mousie. At 7:30 am.
And then, once retrieved, he had to take it and jump up on the credenza again and start playing with it right where he lost it before
Now, "But mousie wants to be here" is the excuse I'm getting for him and mousie being loud on the bookshelf that serves as my night stand.
Mousie is very inconsiderate.

Here, in the aftermath of the morning's great trauma, is a picture of Gurney and Mousie, and Molly and Duncan too:

Here, Duncan has liberated Mousie, and is teasing Gurney with it. The offending credenza is in the background:

Mousie is a very important member of our household, as you can probably imagine.

*(and I've had to quit, at least for a while, because of a really stubborn tendon problem in my right foot. So I'm giving it a year to fix itself and then I either decide I'm not a runner anymore, or I look into surgery. La.)
matociquala: (bad girls firefighters)
So let's talk a little bit about the long con, and about the career of Real Estate Mogul Donald Trump (tm). Let's talk about how he actually makes his money.

Hint: It's not by developing successful properties and making a long-term killing off rents, fees, and providing services.

It's not by creating wealth. It's not even by running successful casinos and getting suckers to forget that the house always wins.


It's by getting other people to invest money in a project, slapping his name on it, making a huge fuss about how great it is using his (to me inexplicable) charisma and salesmanship, siphoning off as much cash as he quickly can, allowing the project to fail, writing it off at a loss, and allowing his creditors to take the bath on it--including small businesses that could ill-aford such a loss.

(Fun fact: the Mob put that hit out on Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel because he didn't prevent contractors from siphoning money and materials out of the Flamingo Hotel project, did you know that?)

Long story short: his business partners take a bath, and he walks away with his pockets jingling (though they don't jingle as much as he claims. That roll of hundreds is fluffed out with newspaper cut to size, metaphorically speaking.) There's a reason he can't get a loan from a U.S. bank anymore; as a result, there's pretty good reason to think a bunch of his projects are funded by members of the Russian kleptocracy.*

So some people can learn how to avoid a con artist after he's hit them once. But apparently, 46% of U.S. voters can't spot a scam even when the evidence is right there.

...well, it is really hard to break up with a gaslighting abuser. You really start not knowing what is real, and you start to feel like it's all your fault. And this is how con artists work, too. You need them! They're going to give you the break you really deserve, that you somehow never got before!

He's a great businessman, right? He's going to build the U.S. economy. It's going to be HUGE, because this time will be different or something?

Did you know that Trump has already charged U.S. taxpayers $1.6 million for his Secret Service detail to fly on his plane with him? Or that his campaign paid his own businesses close to ten million dollars?

Guess who the business partner is who's getting their pocket picked this time?

Based on the rule that whatever Trump claims his enemies are doing, it's what he's up to himself, I'd say his businesses were failing again ("failing New York Times") and this time he had nowhere left to turn, because he'd bilked his way around the globe. I'd say that the election was rigged--rigged in the sense that it was influenced by a Russian-backed hacking and disinformation campaign. And I'd say that this man who ran, laughably, against "insider corruption" is about to depose the Grant administration as the most corrupt in U.S. history.

My only question at this point is whether sometime between Dec 19th (when the electoral college confirms the vote) and Jan 20th (Inauguration day), the Russian intelligence apparatus releases information to delegitimize the election and with the goal of making the U.S. completely ineffectual in containing their adventurism due to internal strife, or if Putin tries to run Trump like a hand puppet for the next four years.

They must have something really juicy on him, too, because he's stuck by his oligarchic allies so far, and this is a man who has never once hesitated to throw an ally under the bus the instant it suited him.

Yep. This is gonna get ugly, and not just because we're staring down the barrel of a bunch of freshly empowered homophobic, misogynistic white supremacists.

Hold onto your hats. 
matociquala: (criminal minds prentiss facepalm)
I come to bring you a frequent-traveler rant.

As a point of travel etiquette, I think it would behoove just about everybody to adopt the following checked-luggage protocol:

For the love of Mike, people, stand back from the luggage carousels. (Unless you are disabled in some way, in which case do what you gotta do.)

Stand back. Make a wide ring. If everyone did this, then you would have adequate space for everybody to stand, and adequate visibility to spot your luggage coming down the conveyor.

When you see your luggage, I promise you you will then be able to step forward at your leisure, check the tag, and retrieve your bag without having to fight through a scrum. And then leave.

Crowding the carousel down not actually make the guys in the back load your luggage onto the belt faster. And you cannot actually get your luggage until it is on the belt, did you know that? 

Crowding the belt also slows down your ability to get your damn bag, because you can't see it coming. You have literally nothing to lose by being polite and taking three steps back.

Also, do not step in front of other people waiting for their luggage unless you actually see your luggage on the belt. Seriously, it's rude. It's probably even ruder than reclining your chair on non-overnight flights.

If everybody were to work together on this, and adopt it as a standard of behavior applicable to all, it would lower checked luggage irritation by a median of 45%.
matociquala: (comics invisibles king mob)
Elizabeth Bear's How To Title Your Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel or Series: A Tutorial in Three Parts*

(*In which I make fun of my industry, myself, and all of my friends.)


There are a number of excellent titling strategies. For purposes of this column, we're going to ignore some of the strategies requiring a little more art and discretion, such as extracting a suitable bit of a quotation from something (A Fine and Private Place), its ever-popular subset, making up a quote, sticking it in the book, and then quoting yourself (as in my own All the Windwracked Stars), or just titling a story after the protagonist (Julian Comstock) with or without suitable subtitles.

We're going to build these titles from whole cloth! Or whole noun phrases, anyway.

The simplest titling strategy is, of course, the single unadorned NOUN. Usually one-syllable, for best impact and biggest title type, but not always: (Dawn. Dune. Dust. Skin. Sunshine. ) Can also be a PROPER NOUN--the "Title the story after the protagonist" tactic above is a subset of this-- ("Galapagos." Alanna. Cyteen, Hyperion)--in fairness, Sunshine, Dune, and Dust are also proper nouns, but they have evocative meanings of their own--or a date (1984, 2312) or even the ever-popular DEFINITE ARTICLE NOUN (The Peripheral. The Chaos.).

Also fun, pick a FOREIGN NOUN! (Idoru, Accelerando)

There's also the COINED NOUN appearing in all subforms, super popular in SFF if you can come up with a catchy word. (UBIK. Slan.) and there's the ever-popular SLIGHTLY TWEAKED NOUN (or existing construction) (Neuromancer. Streetlethal. "The Narcomancer." Doomsday Book)

If you come up with a good one of these, your friends will be jealous forever. Just so you know.

There's also the NOUN NOUN, but since those usually read as ADJECTIVE NOUN, they're dealt with below. Just find a noun that encompasses some thematic or descriptive aspect of your work, and go to town!

...But this is beginner stuff. We can do better than that.

NB: the one-word title often indicates science fiction, as opposed to fantasy. As does the next subset, the ADJECTIVE NOUN.

The ADJECTIVE NOUN title comes in two subforms, of course: ADJECTIVE NOUN proper and the slightly more common ARTICLE ADJECTIVE NOUN. This gets interesting, because I feel through entirely subjective anecdata that ADJECTIVE NOUN (occasionally ADJECTIVENOUN) usually indicates a genre book (Lady Knight, Conjure Wife, Blue Mars, Starship Troopers, Snow Crash, Lifelode, Updraft) whereas DEFINITE ARTICLE ADJECTIVE NOUN (The Broken Kingdoms. The Forever War, The Snow Queen, The Goblin Emperor, The Three-Body Problem, Ancillary Mercy, The Drowning City, The Invisible Man, The Fortunate Fall, The Illustrated Man, The Orphan Queen) could go either way, and INDEFINITE ARTICLE ADJECTIVE NOUN says literary novel to me. In fact, the only genre examples I can think of off the top of my head is A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and that one throws in an adverb for good measure. 

I'm sure there are more, but thinking about them is too far to go for a joke.

These work best if you can come up with some interesting tension in the name--two things that evoke an image, or seem in contradiction to one another, as in The Fortunate Fall and The Orphan Queen above.

We're just going to conveniently ignore The Scarlet Letter in this discussion.

This is one of the true classics of genre titling, by the way. In a statistic I just made up on the spot, I would estimate that 78.3% of genre books have some subvariant of the ADJECTIVE NOUN construction. (You can also jazz it up by going NOUN ADJECTIVE, too (Man Plus. Girl, Interrupted. I think Boneshaker probably goes under NOUN, but whatever. you get the idea.).

We also get some variants here--POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVE NOUN (My Real Children) and the ADJECTIVE NOUN'S NOUN construction with variants (Ender's Game, The Wise Man's Fear, Old Man's War, Delia's Shadow), but the basic structure is the same, though they can be a little snappier because they impart a little more action and context.

Then there's a weirdo: the unadorned ADJECTIVE VERB FORM. I think I might actually have started that one, with Hammered, but now it's everywhere--including at least a couple of other Hammereds, some Hunteds, the odd Withered and Divergent... and so it goes. Trendy now, may sound dated in a decade. Or it may be one that sticks around.

They don't pay me to be a titling futurist. Except indirectly.

Oh wait, I take it back. Kindred. That might be the ur-adjective. That one's not verb-derived, though, so it doesn't sound so weird when you think about it for too long. Possibly Octavia Butler was better at this than I am.

Which brings us to another NOUN VERB (God Stalk, Leviathan Wakes, A Dead God Dancing) and VERB NOUN (Kill Bill, Steal This Book***), along with its subset GERUND NOUN (Moving Mars, Towing Jehovah, Raising Steam)

***I can't think of any genre examples. Oh, wait, [ profile] fadethecat came up with Consider Phlebas, which is also a quote, and I can't believe I forgot.  

Next up, another real classic of the genre title: the ever popular NOUN & NOUN! A serious classic of fantasy in particular. Does what it says on the box. (Blood & Iron. Rosemary and Rue. Cloud and Ashes. The Moon and the Sun. We could be here all week.)

And now, the one you've all been waiting for--the real standard marker of heroic or epic fantasy. The dreaded and all too easy to mock THING PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE title. This is totally J.R.R. Tolkien's fault, and there's no use pretending otherwise.

The Name of the Wind
Ill-Met in Lankhmar
A Stranger in Olondria
A Companion to Wolves
Gun, with Occasional Music
Servant of the Underworld

Wizard of the Pigeons
The Grace of Kings
The Lies of Locke Lamora
(extra credit for protagonist name)
The Face in the Frost
Sometimes, for variety, just a prepositional phrase! By the Mountain Bound

And you can make a series sound unified--and endlessly confuse your readers when they try to remember which book is which--by taking two Common Fantasy Nouns, working them into a prepositional phrase, and changing only one of them per series installment. I think the first time I encountered this trick was the Janny Wurts/Ray Feist "Empire" books (Daughter of, Servant of, Mistress of, if I remember, but I can never remember which order they come in. And I Liked them and read them more than once.)

Ahem. Anyway. Now that you have the constructions, you need some words to plug in. Feel free to use as many as you like. And convert them into adjectives or adverbs as needed.... for example, Blood to Bloody.

These are all great well-recognized Fantasy Nouns, and using them on a book cover will make sure that readers know what they're getting!

Part the Twoth: HANDY WORD LISTS



The Noun's Female Relative
The Girl with the Prepositional Phrase

I'm bored with these. You can figure out how it works.

Part the Bonuseth: CHANGING THINGS UP

And now, for extra credit, some titles that mix things up! See if you can figure out how these were done.

Red Seas under Red Skies
Bell Book and Candle
Who Fears Death
Set this House in Order

Search the Seven Hills
Kitty and the Midnight Hour
Queen of Air and Darkness
Three Hearts and Three Lions

Stormqueen! (Exclamation points are rarely a good idea in titles, and this one is no exception)

THE NOUN WHO VERBED (The Epithet Title): (The Man who Melted. The Woman who Rides Like a Man. The Man Who Wasn't There.)


Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand.

You can all go home now. I got nothing to top that.
matociquala: (criminal minds bad shirt brigade)
Coming this fall to CBS…

He can solve crimes no one else can. He can see into the minds of criminals. He’s not like you or me. He’s infallible. He never loses. He’s haunted by the ghosts of a tragic past. 

When the police are baffled… they call…


He’s the only smart man in a world full of idiots.

Evil idiots.


matociquala: (bad girls firefighters)
Concerning the latest round of Hugo gatekeeping cloud-yelling...

You know what? Pretty much anything I would have said on this topic has already been said by Scalzi, Seanan, or Cheryl.

Except this: I hear a lot about the graying of fandom. I hear a lot about the death of science fiction. I hear a lot about how SF is getting old, and not enough young people are coming in.

Dudes. I just got back from Space City Con. It was crawling with twenty-somethings. I can go to any anime convention in the land and be the oldest person in the room. Steampunk conventions are full of youthful faces. DragonCon, which is four times the size of a Worldcon, also skews about twenty years younger.

Have you been on Tumblr?!

Fandom is not graying. Fandom is evolving. Maybe our friends are graying, but fandom is not just our friends.

And that's what this is about. Fandom is not just our friends anymore, and the ideas and people we grew up comfortable with. And rather than finding that threatening, maybe what we need to do is make room for lots and lots of new friends and new ideas. Listen to some new music. Get out and dance.

Make some room in the Hugo balloting process for new kinds of fans, and young people on a budget. And then live with the results, which, I am sorry to say, is going to be girls and queers and brown people all up in the awards along with the straight white cis dudes.

It's okay. It's a good thing.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Move on.
matociquala: (criminal minds reid 0.o)

Oh, 80s. Oh, Don Johnson suits with no shirt. Oh, postapocalyptic cardboard sets. Oh, primitive computer graphics.

80s, you were trying so hard to be the future.

And here we are in the actual future, and most days we don't get out of our pajamas.
matociquala: (0.o)

I have just discovered the official silliest piece of fatphobia I have ever encountered in my born days.

Apparently, we are all now supposed to be terrified of exposing our unsightly armpit fat.

Based on my admittedly cursory internet research, and exemplified by the image above, I would worry about the health consequences for any woman concerned with armpit fat, because it would suggest that she is not doing her breast self-exam properly. What we see above, in the damning orange circles, is in fact part of the boob. And the problem is that Madam is not wearing a properly-fitting bra, as the one illustrated above is at least two cup sizes too small and one band size too large. The little metal bits (we call them 'underwires') are meant to lie flat against the ribcage, not sit halfway up Mount Doom like the track of a sidehill hoofer.

Why yes, I am supposed to be writing a novel. Why do you ask?

But the patriarchy is in my armpits. Some things just can't wait.
matociquala: (david bowie realism _ truepenny)
It's that time again: via [ profile] stillsostrange, the Bad Sex Awards.

ETA: You know, I have to quibble the Ostermiller and the King. They're not particularly bad, and the King one is kind of cute.

ETAA: Oh, Jean Auel, no.
matociquala: (literature charlotte some spider)
What I found when I walked out into the yard this morning:

2011 09 27 spider with a sense of humor 002

2011 09 27 spider with a sense of humor 003

2011 09 27 spider with a sense of humor 004

Some arachnids think they're pretty funny.
matociquala: (criminal minds reid yes i'm a genius)

via [ profile] sovay:

not all genies grant wishes.
some grant clusterfucks.

Whatever use you thought you had for your morning, I just trumped it.

matociquala: (muppetology floyd pepper groovy)
Via the entire goddamn planet (probably including the Batman):

Managed a nice long walk this morning, but the meat is still letting me know I pushed it pretty far this week, exercise-wise.

Today I read a book. Maybe tonight, archery.
matociquala: (comics invisibles king mob)
Courtesy of [ profile] coffeeem, two more entries in the Signage series, from Tempe.

That'll teach me to go out without a camera.

IMG_0292  IMG_0294
matociquala: (twain & tesla)
Rudyard Kipling was a Tom Sawyer/Becky Thatcher 'shipper.

matociquala: (writing palencar horrid glory)
This is [ profile] hyperbard's fault. A vignette:


The intructor rubbed her hands together and said, "Let's see what we have here. Wow! That's a really nice toad! Good work! It's a creative interpretation of the assignment--"

"But I didn't want him turned into a frog. I wanted him turned into a prince!"

"What? Let me see. Oh, it's here in line seven of the incantation. You used Microsoft glammer checker, didn't you?"

"Apple Spell Wizard," she said, sheepishly.

Hey, on five and a half hours of sleep. You want good flash fiction?

Draft stands at 83 pages. Death to the draft!

And now, back on the draftkill. Just as soon as I stretch out a little and make some tea.
matociquala: (muppetology floyd pepper groovy)
One has the most curious insights while plugging away at short stories. Like, I just realized when House lost me as a viewer, after putting up with all the lawsuit-worthy medical antics of the worst! care team! evar! It was the episode two seasons ago where House gets off Vicodin and onto methadone, which works great for his pain and turns him into a tolerable human being. And the episode ends with him going off the methadone because he feels like being a sympathetic person is making him a lousy doctor.

Man, I tell you. As somebody with my share of post-traumatic and biochemical issues, I find this whole insanity/divaness/being a horrible person = genius trope so bloody offensive, it's not even funny. My crazy makes it harder to create, not possible. And yeah, there are times when I can use that crazy to provide an insight into the crazy of the zeitgeist, but is it what makes me an artist?

Fuck, no.

I'm an artist in spite of it.

Bite me, Hugh Laurie. (Yes, I know you're just an actor, and the sentiment should be "Bite me, romantic Hollywood bullshit fallacies." But I'm blaming the messenger.)

(This rant brought to you by methadone research, post traumatic stress disorder, and the fact that the Scrivener beta keeps killing my formatting, and just ate 500 words of my fucking story. That was kind of a relief, actually, because for several minutes I thought it was closer to 2000 words, and I have now rewritten the lost bit. And made another backup, yeah. Also, this has reached the Zeno's Story stage, and every time I write a scene I find I still have four scenes to write.)
matociquala: (writing carnival)
Well, at least Barack Obama knows how to order a cheese steak. I am reassured that the nuclear codes are in safe hands for another week.

...Ooo. Cheese steak.
matociquala: (comic tick ninjas hedge)
Or perhaps what I'm going to do today is watch old TV, eat oatmeal, try on all my pants and sort them into fit/nearly fit/don't fit/need fixing piles, do the mending, tidy up my sewing box, untangle all this embroidery floss, and think about embroidering white and purple vines with blue seed beads up the legs of these vintage '70s button-fly stovepipe K-mart jeans I must have bought in a thrift store in Nevada.

Because they're AWESOME, that's why.

I wish I still had any idea where my embroidery hoops went.

March 2017



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