Jennifer’s sleep ramblings, August 31

*suddenly sits upright in bed*

Her:  Do you have potato chips?!?!? Where are the potato chips???

Me: Nooooooo…..?

*She lays back down and immediately is unconscious again*

Me: yep, that’s going in the blog

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0230 and I can’t sleep

I can feel my mood worsening and I’m getting into one of those states where the pressure is increasing from all sides.  I finally got fed up with it, and made the decision to get dressed and come into the shop and try to do something, anything.

‘Jennifer’s’ cat was outside waiting for me, lounging on the stoop of the neighbor’s apartment.  I unlocked the front door of the shop, relocked it behind me, and made my way to the receiving area.  I pulled open the side door to get some airflow, and started in on the task in my mind: making a small box planter out of reclaimed wood.

About 3 years ago I’d deconstructed a bunch of pallets with the intention of using the reclaimed wood for various projects.  The first thing I did was make a small wooden crate that wound up collecting scrap pieces of other boards.

By the time I was finished, this box was packed full of dressed wood in various lengths.

Life happened, and the crate was moved to the new shop where it languished in a corner until tonight.  I came in, thinking that I’d have dozens of pieces of wood to choose from for the planter.  Unfortunately, as usual, circumstances got in the way.

A year passed, then we moved, then two years passed.  The new shop has had multiple problems with roof leaks, and the wooden crate, neglected in the corner, apparently was resting in one of the spots where water not only dripped down, but accumulated.

As a result, I didn’t have a plethora of beautiful wood – I found a mess of wood with 6″ covered in black mold.  The bottom of the crate is a mess as well; I shouldn’t have butted the edges together.

The cat decided this would be an opportune time to come in and supervise, so he watched as I unloaded a handful of wood at a time and separated the clean pieces from the moldy ones.  10 or so minutes later there are now several dozen pieces of wood laid out behind the shop where the morning & afternoon sun can bleach them.

As I type this, the cat is wandering the pitch black shop, making himself at home.  Periodically he brushes against my legs to let me know he’s on patrol.

Jennifer’s sleep ramblings

Her: *snorrrrreee* *gasp* You aren’t taking pictures, right?!?!?!?

Me: wat?

Her: You aren’t taking pictures are you?

Me: Taking pictures of what?

Her: (indignant) Of me!!!

Me: Honey it’s pitch black in here and I’m reading on the kindle

Her: *grumble mumble* *snoring resumes*

My terrible Zombie Apocalypse Novel concept

If there’s one thing popular media is short of these days, it’s Zombie Apocalypse Fiction.  I’ve been a long time fan of the zombie genre; I’m not some obsessed superfan that has an encyclopedic  knowledge of trivia from George Romero movies & obscure manga, but I started reading The Walking Dead comic back when it was in the early teens, treasure my copies of The Goon, and thoroughly enjoyed the 2004 version of Dawn of the Dead (it’s hard to believe that came out over a decade ago).

Now, everyone has a zombie book or flick.  The Walking Dead has been adapted into a hugely popular television show with a spin-off series getting ready to launch.  The iZombie comic book is on one of the young adult networks.  Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide wound up with a sequel & the sequel spawned a movie that didn’t live up to the book’s potential and on and on and on.

My concept for the Zombie apocalypse came about when considering the feasibility of how zombies could happen.  Medically, it’s impossible for the ‘dead come to life’ zombies to exist, it violates laws of biology (you need ATP for muscles to work), the laws of physics (you need energy for things to move) and basic common sense.  A lot of people much smarter than I have put a lot of thought into trying to rationalize how zombies could take place so the logical thing is not “the dead have come back to life” but “some unknown / viral / biological agent has turned normal people into creatures with zombie like attributes” – think 28 Days Later, John Ringo’s Under a Graveyard Sky series, and the Flood from HALO.

But, that wasn’t enough.  I am also a large fan of fate being cruel, but not out of deliberate effort.  The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The Holy Trinity of Murphy’s Law, Finagle’s Law, and Hanlon’s Razor, with humanity driven to near extinction as a result.

There are also some less than flattering plot devices needed to make this happen, but we shall see whether I can overcome my distaste for that sort of crutch.

I’d written the first act of my book when my house was robbed and my laptop containing the only working copy of the book was taken.  Discouraged, I gave up and then… life got in the way.  The urge is still there, however, nagging me.

Envy of those who create

I have remarked in the past that I have a deep seated envy towards those who are artists, no matter what the medium.

My problem lies primarily in focus (more procrastination than anything else) and fresh ideas.   I am not a fan of motivational sayings in general; they are largely just empty words; if all it takes to motivate you is a phrase then the problem isn’t a lack of words but a lack of inner drive & self control.

Despite this, a few spring to mind:

“Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.” (origin disputed)

I’m utter shit at coming up with ideas by myself.  My wife will be the first to tell you, though, that if I am given a grain of sand to latch onto, I can make it a pearl.  I’m fantastic at improving ideas and building off them.  I can come up with 100 suggestions, flesh out all manner of backstory & histories and make believable characters.  I just have serious issues creating that initial grain of sand.

I’m fully aware that the vast majority of talented artists, writers, and creative people of all stripes are not simply gifted, but had to work for it.  I am well aware of my many failings as a man, with procrastination and a lack of focus for many things being among them.  To use another hackneyed quote, “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried”

So… I am envious.  I envy the sculptor who can mold clay to become a being, or reshape rock into a human likeness.  I envy the musician who can captivate others with their melodies (through voice or instrument).  The photographer who has mastered light and exposure.  The writer (especially the writer) who can create worlds and people that evoke the entire range of emotions.

I know I could do something. I just have to put the effort forward and the time to both produce and improve

Hell, that 50 Shades series started off as fan fiction of Twilight so really I have no room to complain.

Nearly a decade ago, I sat down to write a book.  I’d finished the first act and showed it to a few author friends who (surprisingly) were impressed.  Unfortunately, that work was lost when my house was ransacked and my laptop stolen.

Maybe I should follow my own advice and just write a bit each day.

Another redditor nails it how GRRM flubbed his response to Sad Puppies

Reading George R.R. Martin’s responses to the Sad Puppies situation at the Hugo’s has been incredibly disappointing, for a number of reasons.  I’m glad to see I’m not the only one:

He’s just being dishonest with some of his posts, and I don’t think he quite **gets** the point. He is in fact engaging in “othering” and downplaying the right of certain people to be on the nominations list in the very comments at the very time he is trying to argue it isn’t happening at all. For instance he said that Vox Day “doesn’t deserve” to be on the ballot, not based on the quality of his work, but based on his political opinions and what he might have said at some point in the past.

The issues with the Hugos and Nebulas and preferred treatment of certain people or cliques and bias date back a lot longer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFR9TYxAVZQ but one needn’t look for “SJW influence” much past 2005-2007, because that is about the timeline they first metastasized in their current radicalized form.

We have writers openly petitioning and writing about excluding others based on their birth race and sex and being embraced by other known authors in what a great idea it is and many in the media at large:
http://www.xojane.com/entertainment/reading-challenge-stop-reading-white-straight-cis-male-authors-for-one-year

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/11470985/Are-you-reading-too-many-books-by-straight-white-men.html

We also had Requires Hate outed last year, a dispenser of “social justice” in the context that “SJW” is being used and stand-in for their ideology unlike any other, that was propped up by Tor and certain people for nominations despite all the past actions mainly due to the writers “diversity”:
http://laurajmixon.com/2014/11/a-report-on-damage-done-by-one-individual-under-several-names/

And we have a press, like Entertainment Weekly and The Telegraph that blatantly spreads lies without doing any sort of fact checking in favour of ideology with titles like “Hugo Award nominations fall victim to misogynistic, racist voting campaign”: https://archive.today/L5Jw3 and where have they gotten these “facts” and words to throw around at people without any basis in reality handed down from? They are being used very often nowadays to make someone a “non-person” not even worth talking to or considering their opinions.

We even have a writer of a certain article for Salon titled “Sci-fi’s right-wing backlash”: https://archive.today/2qMw8 openly attacking the family of a writer involved with the Sad Puppies campaign: https://twitter.com/arthur_affect/status/585635584070262784

But yet these actions and people apparently don’t exist according to GRRM? They are made up? His own bias seems to be somewhat clouding his judgment in this regard. If someone doesn’t want to see it, even if it is there in front of them as clear as day, I don’t think people will be able to make them see. And if people engage in their “No Awards” block voting openly, this just further proves the bias against the Sad Puppies and enshrines their arguments.

Here’s the “dinosaur story” that GRRM keeps mentioning by the way. It’s not very long and you can read it quickly and judge yourself: http://www.apex-magazine.com/if-you-were-a-dinosaur-my-love/

It won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story and was nominated for Best Short Story in the Hugos.

The one that also ultimately won the Hugo for Best Short Story was “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, both were related to Tor: http://www.tor.com/stories/2013/02/the-water-that-falls-on-you-from-nowhere

Said story doesn’t even have much to do with SciFi and the “hook” that supposedly makes it such isn’t really all that important, it looks more like it was put in to qualify. But it is a short story about a gay man coming out to his traditional Chinese family or “jury bait”.

I know GRRM doesn’t want to believe that these things are being voted on and win because of the ideology or the political opinions of their writers, but for many people it couldn’t be any clearer and shows great similarities to how “Gone Home” for instance won Game of the Year everywhere based on a similar issue it tried to thematize rather than any inherent quality or merit.

http://www.reddit.com/r/sciencefiction/comments/32284o/george_rr_martin_tackles_the_sad_puppies_hugo_mess/cq7p14r

More than anything, though, GRRM seemed to miss the point and instead created a series of straw men to argue against.  Sad Puppies hasn’t been about protecting white men & rightwing fiction – their slate is actually much more diverse (in gender, sexual orientation & politics) than the previous offerings.  Sarah Hoyt addresses that in her blog post “Of Science Fiction and Bed Making:”

This is not political. It would be really funny if it were. I have no clue what Larry’s politics are, except I don’t argue with him about much, and from the little I’ve heard, we pretty much agree. I suspect I’m nuttier “don’t tread on me” than he is, but he’s better armed, so…
Brad I’d qualify as soft social-democrat, which only falls under “right wing” in Portugal where “to the right of Lenin” is right wing. Oh, wait, it’s the same in SF/F, isn’t it? Never mind.
The people nominated range from anarchist to socialist and a good number of them honestly are “I have no clue.” This includes two of my personal friends, Kevin J. Anderson and Cedar Sanderson. Heck, even Amanda Green who is arguably one of my closest friends and I have never done a politics comparison. I suspect she’s more statist than I am (she’s more trusting that way) but for the rest, who knows?
That the other side thinks this is a political attack tells you that THEY have been applying a political filter to nominations and votes. Because only someone blinded by a beam in their eye can see the spec in ours.