Monthly Archives: July 2015

Deal Me In, Week 28 ~ “The Bees”

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Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“The Bees” by Dan Chaon

Card picked: Four of Clubs

From: Thrilling Tales, edited by Michael Chabon

Thoughts: Gene has a good life. His wife, Karen, is in nursing school and his little boy Frankie is about to enter kindergarten. But Gene has a dark past too. Over a decade ago, during the worst of his alcoholism, he abandoned a girlfriend and young son, just about Frankie’s age. Now sober, he’s tried to find them to make amends, but they’ve disappeared. Or maybe become part of the nightmares that he and Frankie have been having…

There an interesting premise here and some moments of genuine creepiness, but the ending came out of nowhere for me and didn’t feel very connected to the rest of the story. After stumbling on a review of it from a subsequent publication, I find I may have missed a subtlety.

About the Author: While a notable Nebraska-born author, I have no familiarity with Dan Chaon. He seems a “literary” sort, though Wikipedia tells me that he once wrote a fan letter to Ray Bradbury which became a regular correspondence for some time.

#24in48 July 2015

readathon1From the 24 in 48 FAQ:

Q: How does 24 in 48 work? Do I have to read 24 books in 48 hours? 

A: 24 is for the number of hours, not the number of books! Over the course of 48 hours, you challenge yourself to read for 24 of those hours. This can mean reading 12 hours each day, 20 hours one day and 4 hours the next, or 24 hours straight. However the scheduling works best for you!

What will I be reading?

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I’ll be finishing The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I have about 50% left. I should read some of Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 7 edited by Ellen Datlow, but lately my brain has been resistant to skipping to short stories. I *will* be reading “The Bees” by Dan Chaon because it is this week’s Deal Me In story. Then maybe I’ll get to The Manitou by Graham Masterton or The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I’m a slow reader; I’m not going to get great quantities read in 24 hours.

I’m going to start at the “official start times of midnight Eastern Time, which is 9pm here in Tempe.

Summer Reading Update ~ Movie Edition

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I’m appropriating Mondays for short reviews of my summer reads (I’m behind in reviewing all the books I’d like to review) and my weekly preview.

What I Read Last Week

Er… I *might* be in a little reading slump. Or maybe it’s “I just got back from vacation and I need a vacation” syndrome. But I haven’t finished anything lately. Or even made much progress.

What I have been doing is catching up on some movies I’ve missed.

Cake (2014) – Wow, I was sure that Jennifer Aniston had won more awards for her role in Cake. She plays a chronic pain sufferer who becomes obsessed with the suicide of a fellow support group member. As a person with pain problems, it’s a rough watch. Once again, I’m a little thankful that my pain has been a gradual process that I’ve been able to (mostly) adapt to and not sudden as the result of an accident, like the character’s.

Big Hero 6 (2014) – I enjoyed this more than most of the superhero movies I’ve seen lately. It has a lot of heart and humor and looks great.

The Babadook (2014) – I don’t know how much notice this movie has gotten outside of the horror community. It’s an Australian production, low-budget (as most horror movies are, relatively), but not low on quality film-making. The story is more than the usual monster and/or evil child tropes, opting for a much different angle. Great sound sound design.

Interstellar (2014) – This movie annoyed me. I was hoping that I could get around the dystopian beginning and enjoy some space travel, but no. Why are there no TVs and MRIs left on Earth, but we can manage a space colony orbiting Saturn? Why, while blight is destroying all crops, are we not turning to other food sources? (Cyanobacteria souffle, anyone?) Why do we assume that it would be easier to make another planet habitable rather than work with the one we have? This was not the movie for me.

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What I’m Reading This Week

#24in48 is this weekend! I’m excited. Even if I am in a slump. I’m going to work on The Thirteenth Tale this week and on more horror short stories.

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#ROW80 ~ Round 3 Goals

I’m going to do a few things differently this round after looking back at round two. First, eighty days is actually way too long for me to plan anything out. I don’t do well with that chunk of time. I’m going to try weekly goals with an eye toward where I want to be at the end of the round. Second, I’m skipping Wednesday check-ins. My “work week” starts on Monday; by Wednesday, the ball’s barely rolling and the check-in feels like an unnecessary detour in the flow of things. I’ll still pop around to other ROW80 blogs, but I won’t have a post myself.

Goals

Writing I plan on continuing with One Ahead (the Abbott Project) during this round. I reached the 10K on it in June before our trip to San Diego. It’s going pretty well, but I decided I needed to start the story differently. I’ve spent the last couple of days writing a new first chapter and I’ll need to meld the third chapter with what was the first chapter. I’d like to get that sorted out and add another at another 15K before our trip to Colorado later in the month. It should be a novella length work. My pie-in-the-sky goal is to have it ready for publication by October.

  • Goal for today: I set a goal earlier in the week for +3K by end-of-day today. I’m 600 away.
  • Goal for this week: +5K minimum. (I want my total to be 18,000 by eod Friday. But I’ll settle for that by Sunday.)

Publishing

  • Model Species promotion is set for next weekend.
  • Despite the latest Amazon kerfuffle, we’ve added The Martian Engineer’s Notebook series to KDP Select. We need to plan for a promo when it’s possible.

Complicating Factors in July A.k.a., what else do I have going on:

  • #24in48 Readathon is this coming weekend! I haven’t done a good super intense readathon in a while and I’m really looking forward to it. Obviously, I want to get my 5K in before then.
  • The second half of Intro to Interactive Python programming. Also starts next weekend.
  • EverQuest2’s new progression servers. Let’s be honest. This is going to take some of my time.
  • Trip to Aurora, CO late in the month.

ROW80LogocopyROW80, Round 3 begins on Monday, July 6th!

ROW80 is a blog hop. Visit other ROWers!

Deal Me In, Week 27 ~ “The Tale of Gray Dick”

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Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“The Tale of Gray Dick”  by Stephen King

Card picked: Ten of Clubs

From: Thrilling Tales, edited by Michael Chabon

Thoughts: So, I spent last Saturday playing ultimate frisbee. If you’re not familiar with the sport, it’s played with a 175gm plastic disc which is thrown in several different ways in hopes of your receiver catching it. Surprisingly, this week’s Thrilling Tale has a disc throwing connection, kinda-sorta.

The Tale of Gray Dick is an illustrative legend within this short story. Gray Dick is an outlaw. After he murders the father of Lady Oriza, she invites him to dinner. To assure him that no foul play is intended, she offers to have dinner with him alone, naked, and to stay at her end of the table. Since she’s a rather good looking woman, Gray Dick agrees. He’s arrogant enough to not consider sharpened tableware as a possible weapon. Lady Oriza beheads him by throwing a bladed plate.

And so begins the Sisters of Oriza, a group of women who band together to quilt, cook, gossip, and throw the plate. They are a part of Stephen King’s Dark Tower world, which I know absolutely nothing about. This story touches on Margaret Eisenhart, an outcast from her native people, who can throw the plate, but also rightly fears the need.

About the Author: I’ve read Stephen King here and there, but I haven’t delved into his Dark Tower series. Probably because I like King best when he’s working on a smaller canvas. With “The Tale of Gray Dick,” I didn’t worry about references I didn’t understand. I just went with it.

Other: Not surprisingly, the University of New Hampshire’s women’s ultimate team is known as Sister of Oriza. Considering the fairly geeky nature of ultimate, I would have been disappointed if a team hadn’t claimed that name.

If you’ve gotten this far, you may have googled ultimate frisbee videos and thought, “Jeeze, Katherine does *that*?” No, not really. The video below is from our local recreational league, from six years ago. My team in white is near the end, but these are the people I play with and against all the time. It’s a little slower and a little messier than most ultimate you might find online.

(In fact, at 29:05 you can see me in strippy socks and a hat. I dump the disc to Dave Abdoo who throws a perfect forehand to me in the end zone. Glory! Of course, I get scored on the very next point…)

Deal Me In Lunar Extra ~ “When it Ends, He Catches Her”

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Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

This is a Lunar Extra edition! I’ve picked a card on each full moon and read the corresponding dark fiction story written by a female author.

“When it Ends, He Catches Her” by Eugie Foster

Card picked: A deuce, and deuces are WILD!

From: Available online on Daily Science Fiction

Thoughts: Eugie Foster is one of my favorite spec-fic short story authors. Her writing is beautiful and she often approached stories from a fable/fairy tale angle, which I’m a sucker for. “When it Ends, He Catches Her” is a story outside of that purview, but blends the arts, in this case ballet, with a dystopian zombie-filled future. Not my thing, but it’s a small dose and well done. Aisa, once a prima ballerina, dances when she can with no audience and only to the music in her head until her partner Balege returns and changes her world.

About the Author: Eugie Foster was one of the first people I knew on the internet. That sounds odd, but it was a long time ago, on LiveJournal, and the internet was a smaller place. I loved seeing her stories get published because she was so good. Eugie died in 2014 at age 42 after a year of being treated for cancer. Each story of hers that I haven’t yet read will only be new once. I’m at a loss on how to properly savor each one.