Archive for the ‘Nifty Random’ Category

I got as far as Neil Armstrong on the left, and Mr Spock versus Sir Francis Drake on the right, and then I got stuck (though I suspect if I really buckled down and made myself decide, Spock would be the ultimate victor). How about you guys?


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A (tiny) river runs through it

A (tiny) river runs through it

We’ve had so much rain hereabouts that Broken Glass Park (so nicknamed because the folks who drive through it like to chuck their empties out the window as they pass, so the little tree-lined gulch next to the road is strewn with shattered beer bottles) is green and actually flowing with water. Our house is green and flowing with water likewise; evidently when it was built back in the 70’s nobody bothered their heads about what would happen if it rained continuously for weeks at a time.

So I’ve been a bit distracted.


Howsomever, as they say, I’ve got some tabs open that I need to close, and I thought I’d share their contents with you, my faithful reader(s).


First, this excellent Supernatural parody video, which I cannot stop watching.


Then, Brad Bird talking about Tomorrowland and why he turned down the Star Wars gig.  (I’m glad he did, me, because it leaves him free for making that Incredibles sequel.  Because seriously, animation needs Brad Bird.)


Finally, if you went to an Art Institutes school (like I did), you might be eligible for student loan forgiveness.  Me, I am stuck with Sallie Mae–excuse me, Navient–for the long haul, as all my loans are private.  But it’s worth a look-see.


Now for me it’s back to contractor-calling and ditch-digging … oh, and trying to, you know, maintain a life in the interstices of “homg my house is full of water.”  Stay dry, guys!

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If you are like me, then you enjoy books.  Recently I acquired a large stack of pretty good (!!!) YA books recently, which I have been burning through as though, when I got to the end of the stack, there was still a huge stack yet to be read and I wouldn’t be wandering desolately around the house murmuring, “But what shall I read next?”  Because that is what always happens.  (Usually right before bedtime.)

If you are also like me, you probably do not have a vast quantity of disposable income for the acquisition of said books.  Libraries and used bookstores are your friends!  But if you are still like me, you probably also do not have a vast quantity of disposable time for the winnowing of the wheat from the chaff in said libraries and used bookstores (although, hey, wandering a library or a used bookstore looking at books is probably one of the best uses of one’s disposable time, isn’t it?), and wouldn’t life be simpler if someone would just come up and say to you, “Hey, here are some cheap or free books that you might enjoy, have a list”?

Enter Book Bub!* I just signed up, and though I realize I sound like I’m writing ad copy for them, really I am just passing along a tip.  One enters one’s reading preferences, and one receives a list of deals for ebooks that are either hilariously cheap (Robin McKinley’s Deerskin for $1.99!  If I didn’t already own a copy you know I would be all over that) or downright free.  Save time, save money, get lots of new books to try!  I think there is no bad here.**

And I'm pretty sure Lil Bub approves.

And I’m pretty sure Lil Bub approves.

*Site actually has nothing to do with Lil Bub, as far as I can tell.

**There may be bad here, but I just signed up, so if the website sends demon ninja robots to your house in the middle of the night, and you have to fend them off with your mother’s katana that you keep in the closet, and then team up with a mad scientist and an ancient Viking wolf-warrior to find the key to defeating the demon ninja robots’ master, well … a.) that wasn’t in the fine print, and b.) actually that sounds pretty awesome and can I come along?

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ImageI found the above image on tumblr just now, and it really spoke to me.  (It also spoke to about fifty thousand other people, according to the number of reblogs it has received.)  First, it makes me want to smash some of my pottery and plates just so I can fix them with gold laquer.  Because look how lovely!

But second, I would like my heart, my self, to be repaired with gold.  I would like some skilled craftsman to pick up all my broken pieces, and gaze lovingly at each one, and fit them back together with deft hands, and apply the precious gold to all the cracks and seal me back up, undeniably broken, but more lovely than before.

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It’s Wednesday!  And I am swamped with many cool and exciting but time-consuming projects–about which more when they are not covered by NDAs– so no snippet this week.  No snippet for the forseeable, really, but I don’t want to be negative and rule out the possibility.

In lieu of content, how about some nifty stuff I found round abouts the interwebs this past week?  Some of it might even be relevant to your lives, dear readers!

  • Trying to bang out that novel, feeling overwhelmed by the task?  How about this video about using Science(!) to help you be more productive?  Tips include breaking down large tasks into small, manageable chunks, and putting an end to multi-tasking.
  • Speaking of breaking down large tasks into smaller chunks, have you ever wanted to read the Star Wars expanded universe novels, but not known where to start?  This handy-dandy list from Tor gives you some ideas.

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luxuraSort of…

Back in late 2010/early 2011, when I was working on the Vampress Luxura trading card set for The Sketch Card Studio, all the artists were asked to fill out a little questionnaire that would be used to help promote the set.  Well, the set came out a long time ago, but most of the interviews never materialized.  However, Kirk Lindo, creator of Luxura and a really lovely guy, just posted my interview on his site.  If you’re interested, you can sail on over there and get a snapshot of two-years-ago me.

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SPOILER WARNING: Very mild spoilers for Twelve by Jasper Kent, much more major spoilers for Out of the Dark by David Weber.

Hello, ladies...

Look out, ladies!

My dad loved Dracula.  When I was a wee tot, he read me Bram Stoker’s classic novel; I don’t remember this happening, but I’m told my mom disapproved.  (Mom and Dad didn’t see eye to eye on stuff like this; family legend has it that, for their anniversary, he took her to see Alien in the theatre.  I’m not sure that she was thrilled.)  Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula was one of his all-time favorite movies, and he enjoyed quoting some of the more over-the-top lines in a deep, appreciative rumble, like a wine aficionado savoring a favorite vintage.

It’s not a surprise that he communicated some of his enthusiasm to me.  I became an ardent Castlevania fan, enjoyed Van Helsing, geeked out when Dracula appeared in an episode of Buffy.  Of course, meeting Dracula in non-Stoker yet still vampire-related contexts is not terribly surprising.  But sometimes you run into the Count in (pardon the pun) the damnedest places.  Sometimes it makes sense, other times, not so much.

I am here to kill Frenchmen!

I am here to kill Frenchmen!

Jasper Kent’s novel Twelve centers around a group of Russian soldiers in 1812 who hire a band of mercenaries to help slow or even stave off Napoleon’s invasion.  The mercenaries turn out to be vampires, which is not terribly surprising for the genre-savvy reader; the nice surprise was their leader.  He appears only once, to drop off the twelve-vampire guerilla squadron, but the details of his appearance were perfect, from his manner to the dragon ring he wore.  The thing I appreciated most was, his presence in Imperial Russia could still fit in with Bram Stoker’s timeline for the undead nobleman.  After all, nobody said he wasn’t wandering around that area 80 years or so before he decided to move to London!

More surprising was his appearance in David Weber’s military sci-fi novel Out of the Dark.  Yes, that’s right.  Military. Science. Fiction.  With Dracula.

Of course!

I’ve never read any of Weber’s other books, so I can’t say how typical Out of the Dark is of his work.  The first two-third were fairly dull, alternating between the wolflike aliens invading Earth and the stalwart humans, mostly soldiers, operating in small bands to pick off the invaders.  Then, one of the soldiers winds up in Eastern Europe (specifically Walachia), where he encounters a local nobleman who is also battling the aliens.

The nobleman introduces himself as Mircea Basarab, a name which pinged something in my memory, but I couldn’t recall what.  Everything about his first appearance in the novel screamed “YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS GUY,” but of course he hadn’t been mentioned previously in the book, so I thought perhaps he might have been featured in another of Weber’s novels…?  Except not so much.

I am here to kill aliens.  And to look fabulous!

I am here to kill aliens.
And to look fabulous!

With Mircea’s help–his speed, his cleverness, and his amazing ability to get himself and his men into highly fortified alien installations and slaughter everyone stationed there without being caught by surveillance–the alien invaders are not only slowed, but entirely repulsed.  The book ends with “Mircea” and assorted of the main human characters (now not quite so human as they were) taking over an alien spaceship, while Mircea vows to take the fight back to the aliens’ homeworld.

Like you do.

Because when your planet is in the middle of an invasion from alien hostiles, what you need is … DRACULA!

(The little ping I got on my memory?  It’s because Mircea was the name of Vlad Tepes’s older brother.  Basarab is the name of their royal House, of which House Dracul was an offshoot.  Later in the book–you know, before he turns everyone into vampires and kills all the invaders–he apologizes for giving a false name.  He didn’t want to freak out the poor American.)

Now don’t get me wrong.  I am big huge fan of the kitchen-sink method of fiction-writing.  The more cool stuff you can pack into one book, the better!  It’s just that, “… and then DRACULA shows up!” is a bit startling in the middle of a fairly boiler-plate SF novel full of cardboard characters and lovingly detailed descriptions of guns.  I wish Weber had been able to work the Dark Prince into his book more smoothly, without that “WHAM! And now we’re going THIS way!” wrench of the steering wheel.

It does make me wonder, though.  What other novels would benefit from the inclusion of Dracula?  How about a Tom Clancy-style political thriller?  Dracula would make a heck of a spy!  Or one of those chick-lit books about shoes?  “I don’t know what to wear to Brian’s party,” Melissa sighed.  And then DRACULA showed up!

I am here to help you select appropriate shoes, Melissa!

I am here to help you select appropriate shoes, Melissa!

What do you guys think?  What other genres would be improved if Dracula showed up?

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