Where Are My Wonderful Books?

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I’ve now read nearly 20 books this year, and have yet to rate any of them 4 or more stars. Granted, this is partially my fault for re-reading two mediocre fantasy series from the 80’s. That, at least, allowed the realization that the state of fantasy fiction, the talent level of the writers, is in a much better place now than 30 years ago.

Still, I have read a number of highly regarded books this year that didn’t live up to my expectations. I liked Ancillary Justice (winner of many awards) and Caliban’s War, but I didn’t quite really like them, and certainly didn’t love them. I disliked the peculiarly popular The Martian. I didn’t much like Divergent, though I don’t know if that is well-regarded except by teenagers.

Finally, and part of the justification of this post’s title, I only liked Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation. I wanted to love it. I think he’s a tremendous writer, but part of the problem for me is that in most of his stories, and granted I’ve read only a small fraction of his catalog, “weird” seems to be synonymous with unpleasant, grotesque, horrible, and a bunch of other similar adjectives.

I believe weird should just as often be wonderful and amusing and enlightening, and I think it is in real life. Weirdness makes life worth living. (Along with family and friends, and personal goals, of course.) I think it more than likely that Mr. VanderMeer feels the same, with perhaps a bit more focus on the dark side.

So, it is with some excitement, and a tiny amount of trepidation, that I have begun to delve into his recent book on writing called Wonderbook. It looks great. I mean literally, it visually looks, well, wonderful and weird, with bits of darkness and light and a lot of color. As for the writing, I can’t yet comment, but essays by Ursula K. LeGuin, and George R.R. Martin and other people with middle initials, lend to my excitement.

I have a feeling that this is the wonderful book I’ve been waiting for.





Grumpy Sleepy Tiny Baby

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Grumpy Sleepy Tiny Baby

Grumpy Sleepy Tiny Baby

On July 20th, 2014 6:43 a.m. I became father to a second child. A girl. Another girl. Swell. I do really like girls, but now I’m going to be surrounded by them for the rest of my life. Peace and quiet will forever elude me, as will my wallet and car keys after not too long.

Nevermind that, I am in fact very excited for the future. I can’t wait to take them places, to teach them, to mold them into vampire slayers. I have these ideas, things that I want for them, hope for them, but I have to be careful because they’re going to have their own dreams. I’m not going to push them into my dreams, or live vicariously through them. Maybe they won’t want to be astronauts or scientists or writers or artists or dinosaur wranglers. It’s okay. Even if Natalie becomes a WNBA star and buys us a new house I’ll still love her. It needs to have 2.5 bathrooms, however.

Fatherhood is weird and crazy, difficult and tiresome, fun and bananas. Also messy. I kind of love it, even if I do miss my alone time and quiet. And sleep.

Note to Self: Don’t Bother With Anything But Emacs / Org-mode

It’s a waste of time.

Sure, it takes a while to get Emacs almost perfect, but once it has reached that state you only then need to achieve perfection which is a never-ending goal, but one worth striving for.

This is dissimilar from other editors which cannot even approach almost perfect close enough to tell its color. You struggle through drab, featureless muck hopelessly seeking to improve upon that which cannot improved until you pull out your hair in bloody clumps . Your new baldness frightens the cat, which you didn’t know you had, and it hisses in fear, its back arched like the Arch Linux logo, and it springs away into the night.

It is night now. You’ve spent all day trying make your editor less sucky. And you have failed. You could have been writing. You could have been designing adventures, towns, gods, characters. But you didn’t. Nice one.


p.s. Yes, this post contradicts the previous one.




Am I Writing Again?

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If this morning’s 1000+ words is any indication, then yes. I like what I’ve written, which is better than the alternative. Will I still like it tomorrow? Ask me tomorrow.

My work was done on the Linux beta of Scrivener, which I quite enjoy, but did it make me any more productive than Emacs? No.

Well, perhaps that’s not true. A few days ago I sat down to write, but spent most of the time fiddling around with Emacs instead trying to get things perfect even though I am already satisfied with my choice of type face, color theme, and Org-Mode.



TableSmith in Linux Using Wine

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This is largely for personal reference so I don’t have to go searching for the solution again should I need to reinstall Linux.

If you are unaware TableSmith is an excellent role-playing utility to create and run random tables.  After I finally got it running well under Linux, I decided it was time to pay the $10 for it.

I’m doing this in Arch Linux, so I can’t be certain the steps are the same in other flavors.

  1. Install winetricks
  2. If running 64-bit Linux:
    1. Rename ~/.wine
    2. Create a new Wine environment by running: WINEARCH=win32 winecfg
    3. This creates a 32-bit Wine environment which is necessary for a lot of programs.
  3. I usually get prompted by Wine to install Mono. I cancel this, because I want to install the actual DotNet packages.
  4. Install Gecko if prompted, otherwise we’ll do it later.
  5. Run: winetricks dotnet35 (there will be some manual downloading required; follow instructions from winetricks.)
  6. You’ll have to run the above command multiple times to first install dotnet20 and then dotnet3x. Just do as it instructs.
  7. Also note that once it gets to the point of installing dotnet3x, things can get tricky. Sometimes it seems to get stuck and you have to CTRL-C. Other times you have to delete a file and try again.
  8. Run: winetricks gecko (if it is not already installed)
  9. Run: winetricks ie8 (required, otherwise roll results don’t refresh)
  10. Run: winetricks gdiplus
  11. Run: winetricks allfonts (may not strictly be necessary)
  12. Install Tablesmith by going to its directory and running: wine msiexec /i install.msi
In some cases TableSmith may now show up in your KDE (and possibly Gnome) menu, otherwise you’ll need to run it manually. Personally, I have the TableSmith program and all it’s tables in a DropBox folder so I can run and access it from multiple computers/OSes.


All Is Not Lost

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1155 words yesterday, and some work all this past week. I have finally emerged from the darkness. I’m being melodramatic. Still, it was hard to begin again, but now that I have my head is teeming with ideas and there is nothing else that I want to do except write.

Chocolate Guava

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939 words this morning. Is chocolate guava even a reasonable combination? I should try it before assuming it would taste good. I confess, I have no idea what guava tastes like. But chocolate? Surely that makes anything better.


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600+ words yesterday. A fair production in the time available. I fear I’ve added too much cruft.

Corbel Arch

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I’m still going. 1400+ words yesterday. The story grows in unexpected ways. Last week it tried to strangle me, and I was forced to cut one of its grasping, sucking tentacles. It hurt me more than it hurt it.

The Choicest Piece

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496 words. None even close to good. Pitiful, clumsy, foo.  That was supposed to be ‘fool’, but ‘foo’ adds a Mr. T vibe which is entirely inappropriate. Wa wa  Wa Ubaal. I should make a song of it. One in which the dancers have blood rained upon them.