April Update!

April 1, 2022

  • Reminder to check out my page on Patreon.
  • This month’s lesson will be on length. Writing long, writing short: do your short stories keep turning into novels, or do you have trouble expanding your ideas into longer work? How do I move back and forth between lengths? Let’s talk about it.
  • Sale! Dark Divide, the first Cormac and Amelia adventure, is on sale in ebook this month only. Amazon, Nook, Apple. Check out it, spread the word!
  • I saw an art exhibit last weekend, Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper, which is at the Longmont Museum here in Colorado until May. All paper and multimedia artworks. Really inspirational. Particularly the paper and fabric work of Yuko Kimura. Makes me want to play around with some things. I have lots of arts and craft supplies and I’m always looking for new ways of using them.
  • Slowly heading back to the movies. Last month I saw Death on the Nile and Cyrano, a couple of old stories told with current stars. They both looked spectacular. In Death on the Nile, Branagh returns as Poirot, along with an amazing cast, and it’s all fine, but I miss David Suchet’s Poirot. His was iconic. It’s a little like how I’m happy enough watching other actors play Sherlock Holmes, but Jeremy Brett will always be my Holmes. In Cyrano, everyone is talking about Peter Dinklage, and rightly so. But I wish the film had been able to maintain its energy through the second half. It got long, and a little tiring. I think part of this might be inherent in the story – there’s a point when all the characters just start acting really stupid and it’s frustrating.
  • And then my fridge died this week. It turns out it was almost thirty years old, so it was time. But boy it’s annoying.
  • Back to work. I’m going to try to finish this novel draft by the end of April.

Halloween 2021

December 6, 2021

This post is waaaay late (it’s December now, right? Yeah…), but what can I say, it’s been a year.

Nevertheless, behold: my niece’s Halloween costume! If the Ewok doesn’t totally give it away, Emery decided to be Endor Leia this year. And can I just say, I was a bit relieved to get a project that was relatively simple. It’s a dress. A simple dress! I bet it was comfortable, too.

I’m pleased with how it turned out — getting the details right is the challenge on something like this.

Once again, I’ve thought of a whole list of really great DIY gifts I can make for the holidays, and I’ve done this in (checks calendar) November.

I don’t know why I never think of this in August. It’s a cosmic mystery.

But, well, after a big sort through my craft stash and an epic trip to Michaels, I think I have what I need. Let’s see how far I can get.

*rolls up sleeves*

Nomi Sunrider

October 5, 2021

I’ve survived MileHi Con! It was okay! Masks are not that bad! I had good conversations with people and that’s always the best part.

And now on to cosplay. To recap: I was a big fan of the Tales of the Jedi comics in the 90’s, mostly because of Nomi Sunrider, one of the first depictions of a woman Jedi, and she’s just amazing. Back then, I absolutely loved this image of her and thought it would make a great costume. But I didn’t have a clue how I would make it.

Flash forward to now, when I was looking through old comics and thought, well, I know exactly how to make that. 20+ years of costuming experience bubbled up, and that’s interesting, isn’t it? Experience and practice matter? Well.

I want to get some better pics at some point. Like, not in a hotel ballroom. Maybe out at Red Rocks because that would look COOL. Do a better job with my hair, too.

But for now, I am pleased.

MileHi Con this week!

September 28, 2021

MileHi Con is this week! This is going to be my first local/Colorado in-person event since…well, the last MileHi Con in 2019.

It’s gonna be weird. It’s going to be just fine, but, you know. I’m taking some extra care trying to get everything in order, and reminding myself it’s at a different hotel. Doing some mindful prep to make sure this goes well.

Also, remember my sudden realization that after 25 years I know exactly how to make this Nomi Sunrider cosplay?

I did it. She’s done, all ready to go, and I’ll be wearing her when I judge the masquerade on Saturday. I cannot wait to get some good pictures to show you.

Another thing about knowing how to do a costume like this is that it isn’t just my skills that have developed: I also have a whole bunch of friends and contacts who’ve also developed their skills. I reached out for help with a couple of pieces. My brother, the professional scenic designer and builder I might add, made a custom original lightsaber hilt for me, and it’s amazing. My friend Wendy, the professional jeweler and metalsmith, made a custom cloak clasp for me. Also amazing. (Check out her “Cake or Death” rune ring!)

Argh you guys I’m so lucky! And excited!

my dice!

June 25, 2021

In an effort to establish my gaming cred…BEHOLD, my dice collection.

It turns out I like little tiny dice. Mini dice. SO CUTE.

But my faves are probably the tiny D6’s, which are made of wood. Very old school, and perfect for D6 systems. Showing my age here but my favorite system is still probably the old West End Games Star Wars system. So simple and intuitive. Good stuff.

Global Big Day 2021

May 12, 2021

Once again, I participated in the Global Big Day birding marathon. I like it because it gets me out and encourages me to challenge myself. (i.e. Get out in the field before 8 am. If I were a better birder I’d be out by 6 am, but I just enjoy that extra half hour of lying in a warm bed too much, it turns out. 8 am it is.)

This year’s results? Pretty good. I got a great lifer: a marsh wren.

42 species total. I can’t seem to break 50. I probably could have if I had made one more stop at a different set of ponds, but the weather was turning horrendous, with a big thunderstorm rolling in, and I just didn’t want to stay out in it to try to land six extra ducks.

Because that was the weird thing: there’s a whole list of duck species I reliably see at the locations where I went, and I saw NONE of them this year. This seems to happen a lot: I get close to 50, but then there’s a handful of common species I just sort of miss. And it’s a different handful every year. Like, one year I missed pigeons. Pigeons, dammit.

If you listed all the species I’ve seen on all my Big Days together, I’d be up to 70 or 80 I think. But no, the little beasties just don’t cooperate.

But that marsh wren was great. So was the colony of bank swallows I discovered when I went just a bit farther down this one trail, and the last bird of the day I logged: a warbling vireo.

And, best of all, it’s spring, and the migrating birds are returning, and this is a really good chance to get out and welcome them back.

April update

April 20, 2021

We got six inches of snow last night. We’re getting slammed with spring snow this year and I kind of love it. Springtime proper is going to feel that much better when it finally lands.

I’m watching “For All Mankind” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” as they come out. “For All Mankind” is completely brilliant and has left me in tears nearly every episode. “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is…frustrating me, for various reasons. One more episode left in each series, I think.

Apart from that, new TV is exhausting me, so I did something a little crazy and started “Stargate SG-1” from the beginning. Now, I’ve seen lots of episodes of this over the years, it’s one of those shows in eternal syndication. But I’ve always seen them completely out of order and out of context. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any of the first season episodes until now. It’s kind of a trip. Like, there actually is a cohesive story here? Who knew.

Mostly my observation about it at this point is it’s very, very earnest. Also, SF fans really like shows with uniforms, don’t they?

Two weeks post vax I went on an outing to celebrate, to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Sue the T-rex is visiting and I wanted to say hi.

Now I want to go re-read all my Dinotopia books.

thoughts for the day

March 31, 2021

I’m sure I’ve posted this quote before, but it’s still good, and still helpful, after this past year. It’s from Babylon 5, from Marcus, who got a lot of good lines.

“You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn’t it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.”

In other old SF series news, I’ve been watching original Trek for the first time in a while, and I find I love it. I’ve gone back and forth on it over the years, but right now I’m really appreciating its earnestness and the solidity of its stories, which don’t devolve into technobabble the way Next Gen often does.

I also realize that I’m hyper-emotional about everything these days and so this time at the end of “The Menagerie” when Kirk asks Pike if he wants to go back to the planet and he beeps yes I just started bawling. This is is an episode I’ve seen a dozen times. And this time… I dunno, y’all. Loved it.

Also, reading about naval warfare in the War of 1812 and realizing that all the starship battles in Star Trek use that model is kind of nuts.

Lots of thoughts over here today. Just gonna sit with my tea awhile and ponder.

I promised a friend a list of episodes to watch if he wanted some kind of Clone Wars Experience. Here it is. With A LOT of excessive commentary because I think I might have mentioned that Star Wars is the rabbit hole that has been keeping me sane (???) as the pandemic wall has been threatening to crush me this last month or so. I have so many thoughts.

Note: This is a list of episodes I liked and thought were interesting. It’s not “essential” episodes, episodes that tie in to the live-action stories, or anything like that. It’s episodes that I thought were just good stories.

I also swear a lot because I guess I have Opinions and Things.

There are some glaring omissions on this list. Pretty much everything involving Mandalore bugged me, I think because Satine is such an obviously doomed character and that was frustrating. I skipped most of the baby Boba Fett episodes, because once again they had an inevitability to them that wasn’t interesting to me. This list doesn’t include very many big battle episodes. I found them grim. After this last year, I think I’m feeling fragile and I want stories of love and community and there’s precious little of that in this show.

So yeah, it might be that I just picked a really bad year to watch The Clone Wars for the first time and I might have felt differently five years ago or five years from now. Isn’t that funny?

Another note: As I was putting this together I got out the chronological list, as recommended, to see how screwed up the timeline of the first three seasons is, and holy shit it’s a mess. Wow. So here we are.

And I watched the movie which has a lot of what I don’t like about the series: endless noisy battles. But it’s also when Ahsoka and Anakin meet which is kind of important. And Jabba the Hutt has a son? Like, a little baby slug? WTF? Why? WHAT HAPPENED TO STINKY THE HUTT WHERE IS HE IN CANON WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM WTF AND DOES HE WANT REVENGE ON LEIA FOR KILLING HIS FATHER YOU SEE THIS IS THE SORT OF CAN OF WORMS YOU OPEN UP WHEN YOU DO THIS KIND OF SHIT.

Apropos of nothing, has there ever been a Hutt Jedi? Hmm…

Looking at my notes, there are lots and lots of relevant episodes. We meet Hera Syndulla’s father, Saw Gerrera, see the Darksabre for the first time, etc etc. Just lots of stuff that comes back later. I don’t know if it makes those episodes good stories, but it does show that everything ties together. I left a bunch of those, that are mostly interesting for the callbacks, off my list. My list will give you a story about Rex, the Clones, and Ahsoka, and how badly the Old Republic screwed them over.

1.5: Rookies. We meet some individual Clones who are going to be important later. Rex, Cody, and Fives. Argh, this makes that malfunctioning chip storyline EVEN WORSE. I think the heart of the show is the ambivalence of the clones. They are sentient beings deserving of rights. They are slaves. The Republic never actually tries to reconcile this.

2.10: The Deserter. Rex meets a Clone trooper who deserted years ago and took up life as a farmer and started a family. It shows Rex that he has a choice, that other lives are possible. This is the episode that made me keep watching the show, because it gave Rex a character arc and made the clones compelling.

2.11: Lightsaber Lost. Baby Ahsoka has an adventure. A keen stand-alone story.

2.13: Voyage of Temptation. But only the last ten minutes. Like, start it at minute 18:00. This is a Kenobi/Satine story, which as I mentioned in a previous post drive me batty because Kenobi is kind of terrible. But this last bit may be the most iconic Anakin Skywalker moment in all of Star Wars canon.

3.1: Clone Cadets. I loved it, I love them. But then, it’s part of the Clone trooper story which I think is one of the strongest threads of the series.

3.2: ARC Troopers. Ditto.

3.15-17: The Mortis storyline. This ties in a bunch of stuff and is super spooky. Does the animation style change? Or am I just getting used to it? This really blows up Jedi lore in a way I found fascinating. This is also the storyline that convinced me that Anakin never had a chance, everyone is just screwing around with him. Also hugely important for Rebels, weirdly enough.

3.09: The Hunt for Ziro. This is a Hutt-centric episode that is so full of WTF-ery that I hardly knew how to deal with it. Hutt mummies, y’all.

4.7-10: The Umbara storyline. AKA Clone Platoon. Clone centric, really rough going. But it’s critical not just for the Clones, but for the fall of Jedi. The Jedi of the Old Republic are corrupt. It explains everything.

4.21: Brothers. The return of Maul. This is on the list just because it’s so completely horrifying. “Ah, so it began without me” is the creepiest line ever.

5.8-9: Bound for Rescue/A Necessary Bond. Hondo is totally creepy here.

5.12: Missing in Action. A Clone with amnesia. It’s one of the supreme disconnects of the Old Republic, that it relied on what is essentially slave labor. The show keeps emphasizing the humanity of the Clones, which means the whole system is based on an irreconcilable paradox. The “heroes” of the story, Anakin and Obi Wan, never confront this.

5.17-20: The Jedi Council fucks over Ahsoka Tano. Yeah, after this whole storyline, just fuck ‘em. Ahsoka’s the best and the Jedi Order can just burn to the ground. (I have strong feelings about this.)

6.1-4: This is the storyline that foreshadows Order 66. A Clone’s chip malfunctions. This is horrifying and terrible and a good story.

7.1: The Bad Batch. Basically Clone Wars meets GI Joe and I’m not even joking. (One of my favorite aspects of this show is watching the Clones explore individuality, with names, tattoos, unique identities, etc. They’re so hyper aware of it, which makes it that much more tragic.)

7.09: Old Friends Not Forgotten. As a result of binging I don’t actually remember what happens in this specific episode but my note with it says, “They’re just fucking with us now.”

7.10-12: Aaaaand this is what it’s all been leading to. This is where it all hits, and I have to admire them because they just went there. These episodes happen simultaneously with Episode III, and we see Order 66 from the point of view of the Clones, whom we’ve been invited to sympathize deeply with the entire show. It’s as gut-wrenching as you’d think. It’s Ahsoka and Rex just dealing with it and they’re magnificent and heartbreaking, and Anakin and Obi Wan are clueless. The great Jedi Knights went through this whole war with their heads so far up their asses they never figured it out. And that last goddamn scene. Geezus.

I’ve seen a couple of commentators claim you just need to watch the last four episodes, but I think you need a bunch of the Clone episodes, and you need to see Ahsoka’s journey of disillusionment, for those last four episodes to have an impact. That’s the arc that forms the spine of this show.