Monthly Archives: January 2009

16/25 Completely Non-Random Things About Me.

Jason at All the Billion Other Moments just tagged me to post 16 things about myself.  Having just done the same thing on Facebook but with 25 things, I figured I’d just copy the post, and let you, the reader, choose which 16 of the 25 you consider worthy of your attention.  Since you have to read all 25 in order to select the best 16 things, however, the savings of time may be limited.  I may have posted about some of these things before, in which case, disregard them in determining your 16 favorite things about me.

1. I like barbecue-flavored potato chips to an unreasonable degree, and therefore almost never eat them.
2. I’m not terribly introspective (thus opening this list with an item about chips), but I do enjoy talking about myself. Just in a very superficial way.
3. I hope that if/when the singularity comes, it at least comes at a time when it gets me out of having to do something unpleasant.
4. I’d really like some chocolate chip cookies right about now.
5. Please walk faster and talk faster, because you’re making me crazy.
6. I’ve been blogging for over a year.
7. I started blogging to ease myself back into writing for pleasure. I started a novel two weeks later, and finished the 500-page first draft in October. So much for easing into it.
8. I started the rewrite in December, and so far, it’s much harder.
9. I was never much of a cook, and have not improved with age.
10. When I was a kid, I was convinced New York City was going to get nuked by the Russians, and researched a plan to use the basement as a shelter.
11. Part of me has continued to be that pessimistic all along.
12. The last time I can remember crying was in April, 2001, when Unfocused Girl was about six weeks old. I was in the Tampa airport, called home from the road, and the Siren told me that UG’s blood test had come back and her liver was starting to work. There would be no bypass surgery, no transplant, just six more months of regular checkups until the liver specialist at Children’s finally told her not to come back until she graduated from medical school.
13. The time before that was during the movie Armageddon. The Siren and I were flying home from Paris, and I’d had a lot of champagne.
14. In the four months after Junior was born, I was hardly ever home, either working late or out of town. Unfocused Girl was so mad at me that she didn’t call me “Daddy” for months. Instead, she called me “Rusty.”
15. I haven’t had a rum and Coke in more than 20 years, and that isn’t going to change.
16. As the clients were dropping the Senior Partner and me off at the airport earlier this week, I accidentally quoted The Rocky Horror Picture Show (“Say good-bye to all this, and say hello to oblivion.”), which I believe I saw 14 times at the 8th Street Playhouse during high school, plus a couple of times in Chicago during college. Nobody caught the reference.
17. I have no vocal talent whatsoever. Despite that (or perhaps because of it), I *really* enjoy karaoke, and I had solos in two musicals while in college, plus a duet as a mad scientist with a six foot tall redheaded fembot.
18. For another (non-singing) role my senior year of college, I lost 25 pounds in two months to play a homeless guy.
19. I always wanted to be a math geek, but it was too much work. Instead, I was just a regular geek.
20. My FB friends include one person I went to school with from nursery school through eighth grade, two people I went to school with from kindergarten through eighth grade, including the best man at my wedding, one person I went to school with from kindergarten through high school, as well as more than one person I know only over teh intertubes.
21. The Siren and I named Junior after our favorite author.
22. I have started the Chicago Marathon five times, and finished it four times. I finished it in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2003. In 2006, I had knee problems that stopped me running at my 19 and stopped me walking at mile 21. I had never had knee pain before that day, and I have had it off and on ever since. I have run five half marathons and numerous shorter races since, but haven’t tried another marathon.
23. I have read more books about Theodore Roosevelt than any other non-fiction subject, all as the result of being assigned an excerpt from his autobiography in American Civilization in college.
24. I read Thomas Pynchon’s V. in 1992, and five minutes after I finished it could hardly have told you anything about it. Seventeen years later, I don’t remember anything about it at all.
25. I read 1984, Animal Farm, Brave New World, and We in middle school. *Those* made an impression.

I’m not going to tag 16 people — if you’re interested in talking about yourself, consider yourself tagged.  Please leave a link in the comments if you tag yourself.

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Back Home in the Land of Ice and Snow.

I’m back from San Diego.  I had a couple of nice pre-dawn runs along the harbor (wearing shorts!), but otherwise was too busy to do any writing or work on the revisions to Meet the Larssons.  The only time I had available was on the flight home, but I was just too tired.  I worked for the first couple of hours, then fell asleep.

I’m delighted to be home — because of the time difference and the intensive work we were doing, I barely got to talk to the Siren, and was not able to break out to call before the kids went to sleep, which always makes me sad.  They were in bed but still awake when I got home, though, so I was able to talk to them for a couple of minutes.

It was close to 80 in San Diego when I left, and 13 in Chicago when I landed.  I’ve had Led Zepplin’s “Immigrant Song” running through my head all evening, which fits neatly with Unfocused Girl’s interest in Norse mythology.

We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.

She’s also developing an interest in Greek myths.  When I got home, I saw the new comic book she’s been drawing:  “Athena and Her Pals.”

Winter Sunday Stats #6: Breaking Through 200 Two Times.

As you all know, it has been a pretty eventful week.  I’m not going to spend a lot of time dwelling on it since I’ve already posted about it, but — just in case you’ve been living under a rock or something — I’ll give it a quick mention:  I posted my two-hundredth entry on this blog on Thursday.  Not too shabby, I should think.

There was that big thing in Washington, too, but that’s over and wasn’t about me.

On to the stats:

On Writing:  The writing stat for the week is 62, which is the number of pages of Meet the Larssons I have revised since last week’s post.  I have revised 204 pages so far, which is the second milestone “200” I broke through this week.  I just hope I can get through page 300 before blog post #300.

The price of burning through 62 pages of revisions is that I didn’t do anything on the outline for Project Hometown or to finish the draft of “Jamie’s Story.”  I’m going to be traveling most of this week for work (someplace warm!), but I may have a little time to write in the evenings.  If I do, I’ll probably work on “Jamie’s Story,” although I may just bring pages of MTL to mark up.

On Running: Today wasn’t bad.  It was 4 degrees (F) when I started my run at 11am (it’s up to 7 as I write this), so once again I was on the treadmill.  I ran 7.37 miles in an hour even (8:08 m/m), which is pretty good.  I got a couple of short runs in during the week, including my first hill workout in over a month.  I didn’t make 20 miles for the week, but I’m definitely getting back into running shape.

The only hitch is that my knee did something odd and painful last night.  I’m not even sure what I was doing — possibly standing up from putting in the DVD for family movie night (Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban, if you’re wondering) — but nothing memorable.  The pain lasted a little while, fading over about 15 minutes, and felt like it was possibly a pulled tendon or ligament on the inside of the leg, just below the joint.  It didn’t bother me during my run this morning, but it felt very stiff when I was done.  Stretching helped, and I’ll ice it tonight.  But the long plane ride tomorrow makes me a little nervous.

On the iPod: I liked Scott Sigler’s Earthcore so much I downloaded his next book, Ancestor, this week and started listening to it, and I’m already sucked in.  Scott’s entertained me enough already for free, so when I get back from my trip I’m going to pick up copies of Infected and Contagious at the bookstore.  I also listened to I Should Be Writing #109 (interview with Scott Sigler — these new media types are everywhere when they’ve got a new book out), Writing Excuses, Season 2, Episode 15 (Knowing When to Begin), and Phedippidations #170 (Thoughts from the Road).  I also downloaded a boatload of 80s music the other night, because I was in a discussion with the Siren about a Facebook quiz about the 1980s and realized I didn’t have “I’ll Melt With You” in iTunes.  As it turns out, the 80s music is excellent to write to, because it’s so familiar it doesn’t require any processing power.

Things are getting a little chaotic here.  We’re all in the basement right now.  Unfocused Girl is playing some kind of game on the Warriors website — it looks like a variation on original Adventure — and cackling like a madwoman.  Junior suddenly decided that his old train table — which we stood on end and moved against the wall months ago because he wasn’t playing with his Thomas trains anymore — was the most precious thing in the world, and got hysterical at the thought that we might give it away (in reality, the Siren just planned to break it down and put it in the crawl space until he was really done with it); he’s only just calmed down.  Time to wrap this up.

Revising Meet the Larssons: Three Pages.

The revision of the chapter formerly known as Chapter 14 — 21 pages (through page 172) — took me about an hour, all in, a sure sign that I’m doing it wrong.  Still, I expected it to be easier than the previous chapter, because the events in it still fit the revised plotline; all I really needed to do was line edit and make some relatively minor revisions for character development and add a little foreshadowing.  Still, I never expected this:

Pages 167, 168, and 169 of Meet the Larssons

Pages 167, 168, and 169 of Meet the Larssons

Your eyes do not deceive you.  That’s three consecutive pages with no edits.

I really needed an easy chapter, because the Manuscript Slog has been brutal so far.  Being able to make measurable progress quickly is very encouraging, even though I know that in another chapter or two, I’ll get bogged down again.

Post No. 200: I Am a Great Big Chicken. Bawk Bawk Bawk.

For this, my 200th post, I have a very important announcement to make:  I chickened out.  I finished the one-pass rewrite of the Chapter formerly known as 13 of Meet the Larssons today (on the train).  Attentive readers may recall that I said that finishing the rewrite of Chapter 13 (as it used to be called, before I cut the first several chapters) would be difficult because my main character was going to have a date, he was going to take a lady in whom he is romantically interested and go out for a fancy dinner.  This would be a difficult scene for me to write because the Green Eyed Siren and I have children, and while we occasionally go out for parties and other social obligations, I cannot remember the last time we simply went out to dinner.

I know that you’re thinking that I must have tremendous creative powers to write this kind of scene with so little recent experience on which to base it.  Unfortunately, my creative powers provied just slightly less tremendous than needed.  However, it occurred to me as I wrote the scene immediately before the date scene that it would be better for the plot — and for my MC, who was feeling a little too good about himself — if the lady in question were to cancel dinner.  Not permanently, and not out of any ill will toward my MC, but dinner is definitely off.

I had discovered a way out.  I may have the female lead cancel dinner three or four more times during this rewrite, because it’s more useful to the plot and it saves me from having to figure out what the hell they’d talk about over the bread sticks.

So I’m a big chicken.  There you go.  But Chapter not-13 is so totally done done donnity done, so I don’t care.  Up next:  Chapter soon-to-be-something-other-than 14!

Maybe We’re Not Doomed After All.

I’m finding it hard to hang onto my protective cynicism through the inauguration, so maybe I’ll just put it down for a few minutes.

It already feels like everything is better, even if just a little.

The Audacity of Hope at War With the Depression of … the New Depression.

The inauguration tomorrow has me, like so many others, all verklempt.  The excitement here in Chicago is palpabale, and now I’m regretting not taking the kids to one of Obama’s rallies during the campaign (public crowds make me uncomfortable even when I don’t have my kids with me; the idea of bringing my young children to a rally made me so uncomfortable that it was literally unthinkable).

I did, however, take advantage of Paste Magazine’s tool for making Obama campaign poster-style photos.  Here’s my YES WE CAN! pic:

yes-we-can

I am tremendously proud of my country for electing (1) our first African-American president, and (2) a really smart guy with good judgment.  I do have a lot of hope for the Obama administration, that he and his advisors will be able to make real progress in fixing some of the foreign policy and national security problems caused by the Dumb and Dumber administration, such as our lousy reputation internationally, the debacle in Iraq, and the all but ignored war in Afghanistan.  Unfortunately, I have very little faith in the government’s ability to deal with economic problems.  I believe that a sizable stimulus package may help short term, but I’m afraid that, if the proposed trillion-dollar package goes through, five years from now we’ll have triple-digit inflation and we’ll be burning wheelbarrows of hundred-dollar bills to keep warm.  And that’s my best case scenario.

So I used the Obamicon maker to make a more pessimistic image, not intended as a knock on Obama, but just to demonstrate my concerns about the mess he is walking into:

were-still-doomed

Update: For the perspective of someone who is embracing the hope without any “Yes, but,” check out Eric Zorn’s inauguration day column at the Trib.  He’s right, of course, and nails the right emotional tone for the day.  I’m a paranoid cynic (or a cynical paranoid), and it’s hard to let go of that, even for a day.