Aug 1

          Have you heard the theory of Global Dimming? Basically, all the particulate matter that we pollute the air with has caused a decrease in the amount of sunshine that reaches the earth. Here's the kicker, they figure this dimming is actually helping to offset the effects of global warming.
          That's right, if it wasn't for global dimming, global warming would be worse. Ironically, now that we've passed more and more laws to limit the amount of particulate matter we spew into the air, thereby decreasing the effects of global dimming, we're more likely to feel the full effects of global warming.
          It's almost as if the universe were designed by Abbot and Costello, which in itself is a convincing argument for Intelligent Design if you ask me.

2 Aug

          So this is the way the Canadian Forces works:

Warning Order! This is a warning order. Prepare to jump.
But I'm getting married!
Cancel that, this takes top priority.
My wife is in labour.
Sorry, this is imperative. Prepare to jump.
Okay. Ready......Um...should I jump now.
Not yet.
Now?
Nope.
Now?
Wait for it....
*three weeks later*
How about now?
Hmmm....we've decided that jumping might not be the best solution. We're considering skipping. More to follow.
Should I skip now?
Nope.
Now?
Uh-uh.
How about.....now!
Actually, we might go back to jumping. How's the new kid, btw.
Great. He starts kindergarten tomorrow....How about now?
Hmmm...apparently Operation Jump and/or Skip has been called off. As you were.

          Oh, and astrology has answered the question as to why my career sucks, and I quote:
The ruler of your House of Career, Uranus....

3 Aug

          So I just found out that the Radar Systems Theory module I've been tasked to create, and that I've been working on since January, probably isn't required. Apparently the Radar Trainer that we purchased and is due to be delivered soon, comes with a complete training package including theory and practical exercises--in English and French. And they've known about this since before Christmas.
          I can just see my evaluation this year: "Master Corporal Perry was redundant this past reporting period. He worked very hard, utilizing his vast technical expertise, an exceptional talent for communicating complex ideas, superb organizational skills, and impressive leadership abilities to accomplish absolutely nothing."
          I'd better be careful, because if I keep this up they'll have no choice but to make me an officer.

          Oh, yeah. I have the bestess friends in the world. Just saying.

4 Aug

A Public Service Announcement  
          A lot of my friends here on lj are brilliant writers (meaning published) and are kind enough to give back to the writing community by posting their thoughts and hard earned knowledge on the writing craft. The problem is, most of theses folks have B.A.s or M.A.s in English, or worse yet, Physics and stuff. Half the time I can't make heads or tales of what wisdom they're trying to impart. That's why I've decided to post my own little primer. Think of it as Writing for The Mentally Challenged High School Drop Out Common Man (or Woman--or...um...Other. *Tries hard not to become the next Mel Gibson). So, everyday (except holidays, weekends, and days where I have something better to do) I'll post a little bit here about the writing craft. Today, we'll start with Plot.
 

Plot: What's It All About, Anyway?
          Plot is what happens when (not to be confused with setting), and why (not to be confused with motivation). Generally, the plot starts with a beginning, and moves through the middle to the end. Except for when it starts with the end, and then jumps back to the beginning and then to the middle (which is now really the end) or, worse yet, starts in the middle, and then jumps back to the beginning (which is now really the middle) and then to the end. Confusing, eh? No wonder you don't understand it when it's written in Eggheadese. (Eggheadian?)
          The important thing is to make sure that all of the plot points (itty bitty bits of the plot) all make sense. Now, they don't have to make sense individually, but when they're all thrown into the plot mix, they'd better make sense as a whole, or we end up with what the brainiacs call "suspension of belief." Normally, as long as your plot points follow in a logical order, and don't contradict previous or latter plot points, overall your plot should be okay--assuming that your plot is at all interesting to begin with. (See: Originality--coming in a later post.)
          And that's basically it. Stuff happens, it should happen for a reason, in a logical order, and it should make sense. (And be original, or a new take on original, or at least different just like all the other ones.)

8 Aug

          As (loosely) promised, here's part two of my little writing primer:

Characters--Who are these people, anyway?

          Characters are the folks that inhabit your stories, but it's their characteristics that make them real. In the vein of write what you know, most beginning authors base their characters on themselves. The main character is usually a more attractive, witty, successful version of the author. They definitely get laid more.
          You can probably get away with this for a book or two, but eventually the readers will notice that all your characters seem the same. (Unless you're Sybil, then carry on.) As a friend recently told me, not every character can be a leggy blue-eyed blond with D cups. (No, really, they can't. I checked.)
          This is where it comes in handy to have friends. (See follow up article on "How to Make Friends", and I don't mean from scratch, either.) The quirkier your friends are, the better. Nothing makes a character come to life more than some oddball trait--you know, maybe a "this end up" tattoo on their forehead, or the fact that they have a used post-it note collection.
          The trick is to make your characters real enough that the reader will care what happens to them--whether you love them or hate them is irrelevant. Wanting the heroine to end up with the hero, or in a wood-chipper still means you care.

9 Aug: Setting: No matter where you go, there you are.

          Setting is a description of where your story takes place, and maybe when...and sometimes why. And how. Sometimes.
          A common mistake most new writers make is the "white room syndrome" which is basically lots of dialogue, or action, but no description of the surroundings. This is generally frowned upon (unless you're writing "literature"--then anything goes) as it leaves the reader with an impression of the characters in limbo. (Of course, if you're characters really are in limbo, or a white room, then have at it.) But setting just isn't the stuff you can see. It can also be the stuff you smell, or hear. (When I think of a white room, I automatically smell latex paint--but maybe that's just me.)
          Someone once said that on any given page you should give a description using all five senses. Six if you're writing fantasy or sci-fi, and maybe horror. (Again, literature can get away with anything.) Even a time period can be construed (my fancy writer word for the day) as setting. If you mention that it's the year 1621, I'm not as likely to picture a Boeing 747 in the skyline while your characters are duelling. (Well, okay--I might, but most wouldn't.) Another reason why, I suppose, it's important to research your setting, because, hey, not all readers are as dumb gullible ready to suspend belief as I am.

10 Aug: The Truth as I See It

          There is nothing wrong with thinking that you're special. Hell, everyone should think they're special--as long as they keep it to themselves. If you run around telling everyone how special you are you just come off sounding arrogant and conceited. Making yourself seem special by pointing out why everyone else isn't doesn't say much for your character either.
          It's infinitely more gratifying when other people tell you how special you are, and even more so if those people run around telling everyone else.
          Let's face it; telling people you're special is like telling them you're good in bed. It's really a matter of opinion, and your own doesn't count.
 

11 Aug

          All right people, my wife is going away for the weekend (spa and casino--the evil troll) so it's up you people to entertain me. Let the games begin!
         Now.
         Now?
         How about now?
         *Taps foot impatiently. Checks watch.*

12 Aug

          So I was at the water park today, sitting in a lounge chair by the wave pool and eating an order of french fries and gravy, when this seagull dive-bombs me. I actually had to duck to avoid impact. Anyway, I recover, and realize that seagull was nothing but a distraction.
          I look up and there's three seagulls lined up between the wave pool and me. There's four more to my left, cutting off that avenue of escape, and another three on my right flank.
          That's right, a perfect ambush.
          They've meticulously set out their trap: the left flank has taken advantage of the supporting terrain (a pile of inner tubes and another row of lounge chairs), I can't go back and risk the innocent civilian lives behind me, and of course attacking up the middle would allow both flanks to surround me, so that's out. My only hope is to hit the weaker right flank.
          Obviously they know what I'm thinking, because their leader (or the most expendable)--this really pudgy little seagull--waddles forward, cocks his head, and peers at me out of his left eye. I figure he recognizes another warrior when he sees one, because he caws, obviously offering terms of surrender, hoping to avoid unnecessary bloodshed.
          Instead, I reason with him. I say, "Look, Pal, if you ask me you're already pushing maximum density. A couple more fries and you'll be too fat too fly, and then that scrawny looking fellow over there will oust you and rule the roost."
          He considers my proposal, bobs his head a couple of times, caws, and then flies off, taking his squadron with him, and leaving my fries and me in peace.
          I'd like to see Tarzan do that.

*And no, I'm not suffering from sun stroke.*

14 Aug: This is the Really Real World

          Just how real is too real when it comes to writing. There's a great line in David Gemmel's novel Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow, where Odysseus is entertaining his men down on the beach and says, "Would you like to hear a true story," and someone from the crowd calls out, "No, we'd rather hear one of yours."
          It reminded me of when I was sitting in the theatre the other day watching Miami Vice, and there's this huge gun battle, and I heard one guy say to his buddy, "How cheesy. I mean, the guns all sound like popguns. You'd think they could afford to make 'em sound like real guns."
          Huh? Have you ever heard real live fire? They do sound like popguns--even the badass machine guns. The movies usually hire some Foley artist to replace the actual crack of a 9mm pistol with the sound of a howitzer or something.
          And of course the same thing happens in books. We learn information in one book, and successive writers carry that information on, regardless of how inaccurate it might be, until eventually it becomes accepted knowledge. God forbid some writer should actually try to correct this assumption, or they'll be dog piled with feedback berating them for not doing their research.
         So, the question is: Do you write what you know to be true, or do you write what people accept as true? Does it matter?
 
Nuts!!

          The agent who had the complete manuscript for Darkside just rejected it. I really thought this one got it, but alas, no.
Another agent still has the partial, but I'm not all that hopeful.
          And I've pretty much run out of agents to send it to.
          The end.

15 Aug: The Smartest Sheppard in the Whole Goat Herd

          While we're on the topic of reality, or accuracy, I'd like to bitch complain talk about characters.
          Don't you find it odd that every foot soldier, barbarian, farmer's son, and blacksmith's apprentice can sit around the camp fire with his buddies and discuss politics, theology, and sociology as if they all had multiple degrees from Harvard? Or have an almost mystical understanding of warfare and tactics, having studied Sun Tzu, Alexander, Musashi, Julius Caesar, and...um...Pinky and the Brain?
          Let's face it, most of these yokels in the really real world wouldn't even know how to read. They'd be more apt to sit around the fire talking about the best whore they ever had, or which one of them had the smelliest farts. Or at the very least, if they were inclined to discuss war or politics it would be more along the lines of:

"My religion's better than yours because we get 52 virgins when we die."
"Oh, yeah? What's so great about 52 dead virgins, you sick bastard."

Or

"I hear Queen Lysandra had half her palace guard executed."
"Yeah, she's one tough bitch....I'd do her."

          So, okay, it doesn't make for compelling reading, and maybe I've gone a tad overboard, but there has to be a happy middle ground somewhere.

16 Aug

          I don't know if Mel Gibson is an anti-semite or not. I've never met the man. But the idea that he is because of what he said while drunk is ridiculous. Alcohol is not a truth serum. If it is we've been wasting our time with sodium pentothal, and physical and mental torture. All we had to do was liquor 'em up. I mean, if alcohol really puts you in touch with your true feelings, then apparently there's a whole whack of guys I barely know who "really love me, man, because I'm their best friend in the whole world. *hick*"

17 Aug

          So the Chief came storming in this morning to give some guy shit because when he got off his bicycle he took off his helmet and didn't bother to put on his beret to walk the three steps (honestly) to the door. To make matters worse, we work on a flight line. You are not required to wear headdress on a flight line. Keeping in mind the ridiculous social structure that would even make it possible for someone to yell at and demean a 48 year old man in front of his peers for not wearing his hat, what should his response have been when the Chief stormed in and said, "Do you know why I'm here?"
1.  I have absolutely no idea.

2.  Hell, Chief, I don't even know why I'm here.

3.  Why, don't you?

4.  I ask myself that question every day.

5.  I haven't even read my job description yet, what makes you think I've read yours?

6.  I don't know. You certainly weren't invited.

7.  To sexually harass me. Again.

8.  To grovel at my feet and beg my forgiveness?

Oh, yeah: Happy Birthday [info]raecarson!!!

and:

Sartorias asked the question: So when you were small, what special thing was it you wanted?

          I really wanted to be a super hero. I heard that the stuff that made the numbers on your watch glow was radioactive, so I caught a spider and put it in a jar with my dad's watch hoping it would become radioactive and bite me. But then I thought, "What if the radiation just turned it into a giant spider, and it ate me?" So I killed the spider, and traded my dad's watch for a Daredevil comic book. (I think I was about eight at the time.)

18 Aug: World Building, or Location Location Location

          Creating a plausible world for your characters to do implausible things in is important when writing speculative fiction. If your world is plausible, people will buy implausible characters; conversely if your world is implausible, you characters generally have to be plausible. If your world and characters are implausible readers have a problem with suspension of belief and your readers will stop reading. If your world and characters are plausible, you have...um...The Bridges of Madison County--and your readers will stop reading.
          One way to create a plausible world is to base it on an culture that already exists, but that most people aren't all that familiar with, like....say....Canada. You can use all their whacky customs (like being polite) and strange cuisine (Poutine?) to bring substance and a sense of the exotic to your make-believe world. Not only that, but when readers gripe about how implausible your world is, you can defend it by revealing the culture that you based it on. (What do you mean no world would have winter 24-7 where all the people live in igloos, ride around on moose, and speak two totally different languages? Have you been to Canada lately?)
 

28 Aug

          So I'm back from vacation.
          Apparently you folks in Michigan have a problem with running over your road construction workers, because there's a sign about every five feet warning you of the penalties for doing just that. And there seems to be a "Correctional Institution" roughly about every hundred miles, about the same distance apart as your rest stops. Just a thought, but maybe you could save a buck or two if you combined them. Fun for the whole family, no doubt.
          The Grande Hotel on Mackinac Island is just that; Grande. It's like stepping back into the early nineteen hundreds. The only way to get to the island is by taking one of these really speedy ferryboats. (Apparently there's also an airfield if you're filthy stinking rich.) There's no cars allowed on the island, and everyone travels by horse and buggy, or horse drawn trolleys, or horse drawn coaches, or horse....well, you get the picture. So while there's very little air pollution, the city still has a distinctly horsey aroma. You can also rent bicycles, which are generally faster, and smell better, but a 21 speed mountain bike just doesn't fit with the time period, if you ask me.
          Most of the waiters at the Grande Hotel are Jamaican, the shop girls are Ukrainian, and the horse handlers Texan. The accents make for one freaky sounding discussion if you're inclined to sit around and listen to the staff chat (which I am, usually while lounging around by the pool). Still the Russian accents tended to freak me out; every time the girl that checked us in conversed with one of her coworkers for clarification, I couldn't help but wonder if they were "plotting big trouble for moose and squirrel."
          You have to dress for dinner at the Grande--as a matter of fact you have to dress anytime after 6 PM--coat and tie for men, and something respectable for the women. There's a quartet playing during dinner, and you can get up and dance any time during the meal (preferably while the musicians are still playing). After dinner there's a harpist playing in the lounge, and at night there's a big band playing swing, jive and jazz and stuff in the ballroom.
          And you have to love a town where every other shop is a homemade fudge shop.
          The second part of our vacation was spent at the Michigan Renaissance Festival. It's only about four times larger than the one we used to have just outside of Toronto. There's a lot more people in costume, too. (I'm assuming it's costume: this is Michigan, after all.) We spent a couple of hours just wandering around the shops, then a few more listening to the bards and minstrels and musicians and such. And of course we ate the typical Faire fair--big honking turkey legs, and fudge. (It's medieval fudge, so it counts, honest.)
          Later we went to some huge shopping city mall, and shopped. And since I didn't win the stupid poopy head lottery, I'm back at work today.

30 Aug

          There are no characters living in my head. Sure, I have character sketches for protagonists and antagonists for three or four books I'd like to write, a couple of which I've already started, but there's not one character insisting on telling me his story. Unfortunately, that's paramount to the way I write. My stories don't come alive for me until my characters do, and right now they're just Disney Animitrons.
          Stupid characters.
          Or maybe I'm just feeling apathetic again. It takes work to hook the wires up to the bolts in my characters neck, and then there's all the bother of pulling the cables to raise his platform up to where the lightning will strike. And we haven't had a good thunderstorm in ages. Why go to all the bother, if he'll never get published only stomp around and scare the villagers anyway?
          Maybe I'm the one that needs to be hit by lightning. (Again.)
 
*All right, who's using the internet same time as me, cause my connection just slowed down something fierce?*

31 Aug

           Instructions:
          I would like everyone who reads this to ask me 3 questions: no more, no less. Ask me anything you want.
ANYTHING!Doesn't mean I'll answer them in the way you expect.
Then go to your journal, copy and paste this, allowing your friends (including me) to ask you anything.
          Let slip the dogs of...um...curiousity!
What's for breakfast?
Where has the time gone?
Are you coming to Wiscon next year or are we going to have to send someone up there to collect you?
1. I don't eat breakfast, but I'd be happy to make whatever you like if you ever come visit.
2. Bye Bye?
3. I guess you'll have to send someone to collect me. Tell them to bring money.
What are you reading?
Do you have a song in your head, and if so, what?
What are you going to do to celebrate Caligula's birthday?
1. I'm currently reading:
A Clash of Kings--George R.R. Martin
Secrets of the Samurai: The Martial Arts of Fuedal Japan--Oscar Ratti/Adele Westbrook
Hidden Warrior: Lynn Flewelling
Frankenstein--Mary Shelly
2. Rock Lobster--The B52s
3. The Limbo (Every limbo boy and girl, All around the limbo world...)
What would you do if you weren't in the military?
How many novels have you written? (Including the ones you have trunked.)
What is your favorite novel?

1. Starve? Honestly, if I knew that, I wouldn't be in the military.
2. Three completed, four more started.
3. I don't really do favourites. There's several dozen books I really enjoy--a few by friends who haven't been published yet.

Iagor

Who runs Barter Town?
Boxers or Bulldogs?
When someone faints during a parade, does he get medical leave for that day?

1. Master Blaster!
2. Bulldogs in boxers.
3. Depends on if they hurt themselves or not. If not, they're usually hydrated and sent back to work.

1) How many planes did you fix when you were an "aircraft mechanic"?
2) You and Pen: love at first site or unusual series of coincidences?
3) Which do you prefer -- sons or daughters?

1. Do you mean types of planes? I've worked on T-Birds, Voodoos, Hercs, Falcons, and Challengers. (Most of which are retired now.)
2. Both actually.
3. See above. They both have there advantages and disadvantages. (On the one hand, I don't have to worry about my son getting pregnant, and on the other I don't have to worry about my daughter getting someone pregnant.)

 

do you still have that unflattering (of me, not you) picture of us at the coffee shop on your fridge?
why did you join the military?
why have you and Will Ferguson (the dude that writes all those humour books about canadan) not collaborated?
1. No, I have the picture of me and the lovely and talented Amber on my fridge, though.
2. I needed to learn a new job, and get paid for it at the same time.
3. He's never asked me, the prima donna! (Besides, I believe he writes with his brother.)
1. What's the next con you'd *like* to attend?
2. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
3. What has been the coolest thing to ever happen to you?

1. World con in Japan. Just because,hey, Japan! (Come on, lottery.)
2. There's a gazillion places I'd love to go. Maybe Angkor Wat, mostly because I used to dream there was a portal to another world there--one of those Conan like worlds.
3. That's almost impossible to answer. A *lot* of cool things have happened to me, from playing onstage in front of thousands of screaming fans, to flying over New York City at night during a lightning storm in a fighter plane, to standing under an overpass as a tornado went by not a hundred yards in front of me, to climbing the steps of the temple at Chitzen Itza and swiming in a cenote, to....well, you get the idea.

Wow, quite the invitation you issue here. I've enjoyed reading the other questions and your cheeky as ever answers.
My quetions could be answered in a number of very different ways and I've got a list of possible and likely Steve answers running through my mind as I write this. You've already entertained the living daylights right out of me (winks). I'll be interested to see how you do answer. I think, that as per usual you will be non-apathetic and you will be full of play and spirit and joy, which I feel you try very hide to throw a camouflage cover over at every turn.
Pssst, mister, your zest for life is showing...
Who are you?
What do you want?
Are you sure?

1. I am most definitely me, and I have a good grasp on who I am. (Anyone else who wants to grasp me will have to stand in line.) But mostly I think I'm a throwback to a time the probably never exisited in real life. I think I'd be a knight, if I could.
2. Peace. A nice home on the water where I can write and exercise and create/play music and swim and practice martial arts and read and watch old movies and have friends over for parties. A cause I can belive in. A leader I can respect. Meaningful employment.
3. Absolutely. (I think.)

 

1. How many fistfights have you gotten into in your life? How many of those did you win? :)
2. What does your dream for your personal ideal future look like?
3. Which would you choose? a) Pickles and vanilla ice cream. b) A peanut butter and banana sandwich. c) Chocolate covered crickets.
1. I have never *started* a fight, but I have been in hundreds (no exageration) of fistfights (not counting actual wartime battle) and have won every one. Sure, sometime I didn't look so good afterwards...
2. Succesful author/musician with a nice waterfront home and the opportunity to travel.
3. I'll have to go with peanut butter and banana sandwich.
I got this from Heidi first, but hey, I don't mind spreading things around...
1. Paper or Plastic?
2. Given a choice to be a watcher or a doer, which do you prefer, and why?
3. You've just won the lottery. What's the first thing you do?
Now that you mention it, I think I got it from Heidi, too.
1. Paper--recycled.
2. Doer. As someone already noted, apparantly I'm an adrenaline junkie. And I like to accomplish things, not watch other people accomplish them. (I'm probably one of the few men who doesn't watch sports. Don't tell the other fellas or they'll kick me out of the union.)
3. QUIT MY JOB!
1. What's the most startling thing that's happened to you?
2. If the ghost of christmas past made a visit, what would you say?
3. What advice would you give to your parallel universe self?
1. A girlfriend who I was absolutely crazy about, and was absolutely crazy about me, broke up with out of the blue. I never saw it coming, and neither did anyone else.
2. I know my past. He couldn't show me anything new. Now if the ghost of Christmas Future were to shop up...
3. I'm sure my parallel universe self is doing much better than I am. I'd be asking him for advice.
1) What will you be doing at 1307, Thursday the 18th of August, 2016?
2) Assuming you could own any mode of transport actually in existence today, which would you pick and why?
3) How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

1. Having a bar-b-que for all my friends at my beach house.
2. An Apache helicopter would be nice. It could fly me and my friends anywhere I want to go, I could land it in my back yard, and no one would mess with me.
3. Lots.