Posts tagged with "silly" - Faerye Net 2012-08-19T20:51:20+00:00 Felicity Shoulders The Lay of the Wise Woman's Fire 2012-08-19T20:51:20+00:00 2012-08-20T11:06:29+00:00 <p><em>What ho, readers! I wrote something a little odd, so I thought I&#8217;d put it on, where the odd things go.</em></p> <p><strong>The Lay of the Wise Woman&#8217;s Fire</strong><br /> In a forest past a mountain<br /> Where a gleaming birch stood bright,<br /> Shrugged a tiny cottage doorway<br /> Barely shutting out the night.</p> <p>Low the coals burned in the pit there,<br /> &#8217;Twixt walls pierced by draughts and cold<br /> But the etched face of the bent crone<br /> Showed a cunning smile, and bold.</p> <p>&#8220;Come on in and sit, ye traveler!<br /> By my dying fire you&#8217;ll tide<br /> And hear a story or a puzzle,<br /> A lie in which great truths can hide.&#8221;</p> <p>In beside the soughing embers,<br /> &#8217;Cross the fire from the old dame,<br /> Lurched the third son of a warlord,<br /> Fortune-seeker, Brait by name.</p> <p>Long and far his path had ta&#8217;en him,<br /> Or so it seemed to untried Brait,<br /> Before the moonlit path had shown him<br /> The way to this old woman&#8217;s gate.</p> <p>&#8220;Fame do you seek, or glory?&#8221;<br /> Asked the smiling glint-eyed crone.<br /> &#8220;Bright-haired noblewomen&#8217;s daughters?<br /> Magic? Treasure? Or a throne?&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;Any of these would I leap at!&#8221;<br /> Said the boy, half-rising, awed.<br /> &#8220;Sure you must know much, great wise one,<br /> Sure the right path have I trod!&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;Tell me where my story takes me!<br /> Give me clues to find my fate!<br /> And your hands I&#8217;ll fill with silver,<br /> After fortune makes me great!&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;Fortune&#8217;s fickle,&#8221; laughed the wise one.<br /> &#8220;Many heroes have I seen&#8230;<br /> Promised gold and promised silver<br /> In the counting lose their sheen.</p> <p>&#8220;Have you aught of honest value,<br /> Son of mighty warlord&#8217;s halls?<br /> For a treasure of your past, then,<br /> I may share destiny&#8217;s call.&#8221;</p> <p>Forth Brait drew his gleaming longsword,<br /> Ruby-studded, rich in names.<br /> &#8220;This I give to buy my future!&#8221;<br /> Watchful Night heard him proclaim.</p> <p>Through the dark he took her counsel,<br /> Learned her riddles, drew her maps,<br /> &#8217;Til one hour past the daybreak,<br /> Brait strode forth to try his haps.</p> <p>And when, one year hence, Brait returned there &#8212;<br /> To the slope-roofed cottage old?<br /> All he found was broken thatching,<br /> Tumbled wall stones, fire cold.</p> <p>For however dark the forest,<br /> However wizened the dame may seem,<br /> Not every old crone is a wise one &#8212; <br /> Despite her knowing eyeballs&#8217; gleam.</p> <p>Rich the house and straight its timbers,<br /> Warm and bright and great its fires!<br /> Fat and happy on the sword&#8217;s price<br /> Lives not a witch, but yes, a liar!</p> Felis catus is your taxonomic nomenclature... 2011-11-08T22:22:31+00:00 2011-11-08T22:26:55+00:00 <p><img src="" width="500 px" /></p> <p>Yesterday I found myself rubbing my cat&#8217;s tummy and telling her out loud a list of diagnostic anatomical features that convince me she can be classified as a felid.</p> <p>I&#8217;m not sure what the implications may be for the famous <a href="" target="links">xkcd Cat Proximity graph</a>.</p> Creepy Kid Calibration 2011-05-30T15:58:13+00:00 2011-05-30T15:58:21+00:00 <p>Creepy kids in movies are a thing. I&#8217;d go look it up on TVtropes, except that I would lose hours of time reading TVtropes. So let&#8217;s just take it as read, as denizens of popular culture, that there are a lot of creepy kids in movies (and TV, and books.) They&#8217;re a horror clich&eacute; at this point, especially the female version &#8212; and why are they so often female? There&#8217;s another blog post there, don&#8217;t spoil it for me by being brilliant.</p> <p>Anyhow, the creepy Feral Child in <em>Road Warrior</em> made me think of other movie children I have known, and try to set his creepiness amongst them. I must confess, I initially made this scale run up to a maximum of St. Alia of the Knife, but Ryan disabused me of this notion, arguing persuasively that the scale was recalibrated in 2002 if not earlier. So, feast your eyes on this <span class="caps">SCIENCE</span>!</p> <p><img src="" title="scale of creepy kids" /></p> Anecdonutal 2011-05-25T21:48:27+00:00 2011-05-25T21:48:35+00:00 <p>In Chicago O&#8217;Hare International Airport, Ryan tried to attract my attention to a question of logistics. I could not answer, I was entranced by a pink box passing near me.</p> <p>&#8220;Look, it&#8217;s a box of <em>home</em>!&#8221; I said.</p> <p>&#8220;What?&#8221;</p> <p>&ldquo;That girl had a <a href="" target="links">Voodoo Doughnut</a> box!&rdquo;</p> <p>&#8220;<em>Why didn&#8217;t you knock her down so I could take them?</em>&#8221; Ryan said.</p> <p>&#8220;You&#8217;re way bigger than me, why shouldn&#8217;t <em>you</em> knock people down in this scenario?&#8221;</p> <p><em>&#8220;<strong>So I can have the donuts!</strong>&#8221;</em></p> Observation of the day 2011-05-11T21:35:50+00:00 2011-05-11T21:35:50+00:00 <p><a href="">I like to observe things.</a></p> <p>Today&#8217;s catch: A twenty-something white man in Buddy Holly glasses with a hot pink skateboard strapped to his backpack. He was practicing the moonwalk at a bus stop in the rain.</p> Photoshoots are funny 2011-04-16T10:55:52+00:00 2011-04-16T10:57:29+00:00 <p>Recently I&#8217;ve gotten my picture taken much more than usual. No great mystery why: the <a href="" target="links">Nebula nomination</a>. I think most of us are rendered uncomfortable and self-conscious by having photos taken, especially ones we know &#8220;matter&#8221; &#8212; no matter how many candids are taken of us as children by snap-happy parents, as adults most of us are anxious about the process.</p> <p>My recent adventures in digital gaze actually began a year before the Nebula nomination, when I roped my dad into trying to take an author headshot for me. The light wasn&#8217;t great and I didn&#8217;t choose my clothes all that well, but we got something I can use and <a href="" target="links">currently do</a>. The big revelation, however, was that I am <em>horrible</em> at posing, and even at judging my own shots. Ryan says just about every shot of me looking &#8220;serious&#8221; makes me look bored &#8212; and he has a lot more experience with my expressions than I do.</p> <p>I suppose posing is like anything else where your body has to produce an effect your mind doesn&#8217;t fully understand: you have to learn to trick yourself, and without a toolbag of tricks, you&#8217;re flailing around with little hope.</p> <p>A few weeks ago I went to my first ever professional photoshoot: <a href="" target="links"><em>Portland Monthly Magazine</em></a> wanted a photograph to go along with a column on local Nebula nominees <a href="" target="links">M.K. Hobson</a>, <a href="" target="links">Mary Robinette Kowal</a>, and me. This was incredibly fun: there were <a href="" target="links">floating antique typewriters</a> (converted from floatless models in Mary Robinette&#8217;s collection) and flying pieces of paper and cups of free coffee from one of my favorite Portland coffeehouses, <a href="" target="links">Case Study</a>. But at several points I was asked to look &#8220;angry&#8221;, intense, like I hated the camera. And I say at several points because the other two subjects only had to be asked once.</p> <p>This is actually quite funny to me, because I think I play angry reasonably well &#8212; in motion and speech. I scared a fellow student once when we did the &#8220;kill Claudio&#8221; speech from <em>Much Ado About Nothing</em> for class (I was Beatrice, natch.) A fellow roleplayer in my first <span class="caps">LARP</span> went out-of-character to make sure his buffoonish character&#8217;s chauvinistic comments weren&#8217;t actually bothering me &#8212; he said I seemed actually livid. But in stillness, apparently, my hating the camera has little effect.</p> <p>It was Mary Hobson who saved the day by saying &#8220;think about Marla from <em>Fight Club</em>!&#8221; How could she have known I had just rewatched <em>Fight Club</em> &#8212; and just lost my longstanding distaste for Helena Bonham Carter thanks to <em>The King&#8217;s Speech</em>? I tried Marla. She hates the camera with world-weary ennui, and has complete contempt for it. The reminders to look angry ceased and the fun continued.</p> <p>The other day I had a solo portrait shot by a professional photographer for my <a href="" target="links">high school alma mater</a>&#8216;s alumni magazine (I&#8217;m trying to keep this a secret from my mom, but if she&#8217;s reading my blog this regularly she deserves to find out!) After a few different sorts of smiles and some &#8220;serious&#8221; expressions (will I look bored in those?), the photographer told me to do angry. I summoned my Marla impression at once, and he shook his head. &#8220;Whoa! Too much.&#8221;</p> <p>I&#8217;m learning!</p> Fame-o-meter Malfunction 2011-02-25T13:33:34+00:00 2011-02-25T13:34:16+00:00 <p>So, I haven&#8217;t had much to blog since the <a href="" target="links">big news</a>. It was probably the strain of keeping that news a secret that has left me so curiously untalkative. I have a volcano metaphor here involving andesitic lava, pressure buildup and pyroclastic flows, but I&#8217;ll spare you.</p> <p>At any rate, the other day Ryan asked me how this nomination affects the reading on my <a href="" target="links">Fame-o-meter</a>. So I went and dug up the trusty old device (now actually the <a href="" target="links">Fame-o-meter Mark 2</a>) and discovered how this nomination affects it: it shows that once again it is completely miscalibrated and must be replaced. Because how the heck is it supposed to register something way up there without hitting any of the intervening marks? How am I to suspend the (figurative) colored sand up there? Waste of anti-grav.</p> <center><a href="" title="Fame-o-Meter Mark 2 has failed by Felicity Shoulders, on Flickr"><img src="" width="380" height="500" alt="Fame-o-Meter Mark 2 has failed" border="0" /></a></center> <p>Time to design the Mark 3, I suppose.</p> <p>I feel a little silly posting the thing here, but perhaps I shouldn&#8217;t. I&#8217;ve remarked before that it&#8217;s very easy to focus on the next thing &#8211; in any part of life, but particularly in writing. You get your first story accepted and after the euphoria fades, you start worrying that you&#8217;re going to be a one-hit wonder. You get another story accepted, and you find something new to worry about. What if I never get any fantasy published? Shouldn&#8217;t I have finished a novel by now?</p> <p>It&#8217;s good to keep moving, keep writing, keep sending out, but it&#8217;s also good not to jettison today&#8217;s accomplishment and today&#8217;s happiness. The life of a writer is hard enough without embracing a continuous cycle of discontent.</p> <p>The Fame-o-Meter exercise also helped me focus on the things that were important to me, from the sublime and unlikely (&#8220;Interviewed on Fresh Air&#8221;) to the picayune but personally significant (&ldquo;Have to change <a href="" target="links"><span class="caps">FNAQ</span></a> to FAQ&quot;). There are many things outside the scope of the Fame-o-Meter. Maybe they&#8217;ll make the cut when I formulate a new version, maybe not. But this keeps me focused on the things that <em>are</em> important to me, like getting stories in front of readers, and my lifelong obsession with <a href="" target="links">Powell&#8217;s Books</a>.</p> <p>What&#8217;s on your Fame-o-Meter?</p> Top ten ways I could be a better action heroine 2011-02-15T21:40:16+00:00 2011-02-15T21:43:57+00:00 <p>Some people achieve action heroism, others have it thrust upon them unexpectedly after they finish their waitressing shift at Big Jeff&#8217;s burger joint. I&#8217;m not a good prospect for the former: although P.E. activities with a hint of adventure or violence (obstacle course! archery!) got a better performance from me than team sports, I was never a prospect for rippling athleticism. But there&#8217;s always the latter. You can&#8217;t predict being the accidental survivor of a zombiepocalypse, or indeed the fated mother of mankind&#8217;s savior. I&#8217;d rather be prepared, especially if there&#8217;s any chance of 1980&#8217;s-era Michael Biehn shirtlessness involved.</p> <p><strong>How I could be a better action heroine</strong><br /> <em>Note: list draws from sources in a gender-neutral manner.</em></p> <p><strong>10. Learn Morse Code.</strong> I&#8217;m not sure how useful it is if no one else knows it &#8212; in the absence of Starfleet Academy, I may not put this one into effect.</p> <p><strong>9. Play flight simulators</strong> (See also #8) A little bit more theoretical knowledge of how to fly &#8211; and especially land &#8211; a plane can&#8217;t hurt, and occasionally it can really help. No reason not to do this.</p> <p><strong>8. Practice driving a stick.</strong> In theory, I&#8217;ve known how to drive a manual transmission car since I was commanded to learn for paleontological purposes. Realistically though, I haven&#8217;t driven one in over five years. The choice of cars for breakneck chases and last-minute escapes is not always wide, so it&#8217;s best to be prepared for anything. Should an opportunity present itself, I should practice.</p> <p><strong>7. Practice cheeking pills.</strong> I&#8217;m not saying I <em>expect</em> to have to avoid swallowing mind-numbing medicine in a mental hospital or hoard pills in order to poison my captors, but I don&#8217;t expect to be an action heroine, either. Taking my daily pile of pills just got more heroic!</p> <p><strong>6. Train up sense of direction.</strong> My sense of direction isn&#8217;t bad, precisely. It&#8217;s just limited. If I&#8217;m on foot, it works pretty damn well, and has even impressed people. If I&#8217;m in a car, not so much &#8212; this could get really awkward in case I&#8217;m ever in a car chase. But then, what do I need to know but &#8220;away&#8221;? I may forego doing this, and just hope I&#8217;m never called upon to, say, lead survivors through a maze of ventilation ducts pursued by an alien horde.</p> <p><strong>5. Get baseball bat.</strong> (Or cricket.) Good for zombie-crushing, fending off murderous failed novelists, and, given sandpaper enough and time, staking vampires. It&#8217;s actually very strange I <em>don&#8217;t</em> have a baseball bat, because I was raised in a house where the baseball bat was the what-was-that-noise weapon of choice. As a side note, I&#8217;ll mention I already have done one thing right: learn a sport with a swinging tool. Sure, a tennis racquet is a lousy weapon, but I bet I get a free point in shortsword for that.</p> <p><strong>4. Learn when to remove things from wounds, and when not to.</strong> I often think characters are pulling, say, shrapnel from exploded Terminators from their flesh when they should leave it in at least until there&#8217;s a tourniquet. If I learn this, I can be more helpful in an emergency <em>and</em> a more confident know-it-all when watching movies!</p> <p><strong>3. Get a shotgun.</strong> Watching <a href="">shocking numbers</a> of action movies, not to mention playing video games, has reminded me that the shotgun is your friend. It is suitable for big damn heroics, zombie slaying, and applying delaying force to nigh-unstoppable cyborgs. However, here in the real world, I&#8217;m not sure I&#8217;m ready to take this step. Even though I&#8217;d love to have a shotgun (or a replica pulse rifle, to be honest) hanging on the mantel with a brass plaque reading &#8220;Chekhov&#8217;s Gun&#8221;, it might cause an endless stream of gun-rights arguments in the unlikely event of us inviting people over. Not to mention, it&#8217;s a slippery slope from one gun on the wall to crossed guns and a mounted deadite head, and that just wouldn&#8217;t go with my aesthetic.</p> <p><strong>2. Start carrying a lighter.</strong> Due to my personal history of primness, practicality and asthma, I have never smoked. (Once I had to fend a cigarette off physically &#8211; ah, France!) However, it has not escaped my attention that the ability to summon fire is dead useful. Whether it means summoning help (<em>also</em> 1980&#8217;s Michael Biehn, although tragically fully clothed) via fire alarm or completing an elemental ritual in order to save the universe, the lighter pays its way. Much like a bit of rope in another context, you&#8217;ll want it if you don&#8217;t have it. I&#8217;m seriously considering this.</p> <p><strong>1. Cardio.</strong> (Run away, run away!) Already working on it.</p> Geek Valentine's: Serious discussions for geek couples 2011-02-14T16:21:53+00:00 2011-02-15T21:44:55+00:00 <p>Those of you who know me well may expect that if I acknowledge Valentine&#8217;s Day at all, I usually mark it as Oregon Statehood Day or extol its origins in the celebration of familial and platonic love before its absorption by <a href="" target="links">the romance cult</a>. So I&#8217;m going to shock you: this is an actual romance-related blog post to mark Valentine&#8217;s Day.</p> <p>Good communication is key to any lasting relationship, romantic or otherwise, and there are certain important conversations that the experts suggest people have before entering upon romantic commitments. But those experts are usually not geeks, so they overlook all sorts of situations that are specific to the geek lifestyle (or to the lifestyle geeks wish they had.) So, I have taken it upon myself to lay out some discussion topics. These are not small questions like who drives the starship: they touch on religion, ethics, life, death, and all that sort of thing. It&#8217;s important to settle such points if you want to be celebrating the tenth anniversary of your victory against the forces of evil together, instead of going on adventures all by yourself and wondering where your zippy banter has got to.</p> <p>What is my authority to designate discussion topics for you and your co-protagonist? My authority is that I have a blog and you are reading it.</p> <p><strong>10 Serious discussions for geek couples</strong></p> <p>10. <strong>Am I free to date if you die?</strong> It&#8217;s just good to get this out of the way: how long should you wait to make sure your old honey isn&#8217;t going to be revived, or resurrected by magic, or regrown by sinister corporations?</p> <p>9. <strong>Will you kill me if I am facehugged, bitten by a zombie, et c.?</strong> If it comes to that, your partner should do you both. If you&#8217;re not willing to even get someone <em>else</em> to stake my vampirized corpse, cut my head off and fill my mouth with garlic, what kind of commitment can you offer me?</p> <p>8. <strong>Do we convert if we witness a miracle?</strong> If the Holy Grail cures your dad&#8217;s gut wound, do you consider yourself illuminated, or just move on to the next thing?</p> <p>7. <strong>Do we welcome our alien overlords?</strong> For instance, I&#8217;m pro-cephalopod overlord, but I&#8217;m not too keen on reptilians.</p> <p>6. <strong>Are we going to get cyber implants? If so, how many?</strong> If flashing lights and servos are a dealbreaker for your co-protagonist, it&#8217;s best to know now.</p> <p>5. <strong>Are AIs and manufactured sentients deserving of human rights?</strong> Social justice, baby.</p> <p>4. <strong>Is being body-switched with your worst enemy grounds for a break-up?</strong> For the record, Callisto is very pretty. If you have to switch bodies with an evil murderer, you could do worse.</p> <p>3. <strong>Does the holodeck count as cheating?</strong> However you come down on the general rule, it&#8217;s best to specify that holodeck-snogging people you actually know is creepy as hell, as well as potentially more relationship-endangering.</p> <p>2. <strong>Are we raising the kids Orthodox Jedi or Reform?</strong> Oh, sure, some of us geeks are atheists and so forth, but you know if you raise Force-sensitive kids without any religious training, they&#8217;re much more susceptible to Sith interference.</p> <p>1. <strong>Are we in this for loot, or XP?</strong> Sure, you think this is an abstract question, but when you&#8217;re bickering over whether your co-protagonist should take the dream job or the six figures, or whether to return the culturally significant artifact to the village or fence it, you&#8217;ll realize I was right.</p> Robot Christmas 2010-12-25T14:04:43+00:00 2010-12-25T14:05:04+00:00 <p>Our household has taken a bold leap into the future: <a href="" target="links">Ryan</a> got me a <a href="" target="links">Roomba</a> for Christmas. While I insist I&#8217;m not sure I&#8217;m ready for the ethical conundrums of robot ownership, I also admit that those questions don&#8217;t really apply to a vacuum whose intellectual capacity is less than that of a <a href="" target="links">mouse droid</a>.</p> <p>A much greater quandary attends the gift Ryan received from <a href="" target="links">his mom</a>, an <a href="" target="links">aerial drone</a> you control with your iPhone. I maintain that this is patently <em>not</em> a robot, because it&#8217;s not autonomous. However, I was soon contradicted by the drone starting and taking off by itself when Ryan switched away from the control app. I am now convinced we&#8217;ve invited a primitive <a href="" target="links">agent of Skynet</a> into our home.</p> <p>I hope the Roomba is on our side.</p>