Strange Little Dream

First, I wanted to remind both of my regular readers that several of my stories are available online here, including links to stories that have been published online. Read, then share and enjoy (according to the terms of the Creative Commons license under which they’re licensed).  Also, please visit Underpopetown. Unemployment is on the rise!

So last night I had a strange little dream that involved dead baby birds in our back yard coming back to life, and me trying to figure out the best way to move my car inside our 3 car garage without taking it out.

The weirdest part though was when I went off to my first day of medical school in the dream. I had a fun time in Gross Anatomy, dissecting the cadavers and generally grossing out my teammates (it was fun in the dream, but I don’t doubt that I’d have a hard time in a real life Gross Anatomy class). What was weird, though, was when I came home and Jennifer asked me where I’d been all day.

"It was my first day in medical school," I replied.

"Medical school?" she said.

Apparently, in my dream, I’d forgotten to tell my wife that I was going to medical school. This does not seem entirely realistic to me.

But the Gross Anatomy part of the dream was still kind of fun.

Finally! Whoo hoo!

Cover of Don't Turn the Lights On

This is the cover of Don’t Turn the Lights On, an upcoming anthology of horror stories based on classic urban legends, and which just happens to contain a reprint of my short story, "Who Remembers Molly?".  The anthology will be available on March 30, but you can pre-order it now for only $10.95 from the Stone Garden Press website. Proceeds from the sale of this anthology will benefit an animal rescue organization in Utah whose name escapes me at the moment but which I am assured by several people is a legitimate organization.

"Who Remembers Molly?" is one of my personal favorite stories.  I also use it as an example of why you should usually trust your instincts on your own writing.  After receiving various harsh crits in various online and offline venues for what people perceived as pacing and continuity problems, I went ahead and decided it was fine as it was and submitted it anyway.  The editor over at The Harrow flipped over it, as did the editor of this anthology.  So even though my crit circles are right about 99% of the time, there are still times when you should trust your own instincts over those of your crit buddies.

In other upcoming publication news, "A Most Heinous Man" is a go for Issue #33 of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.  I’ve signed the contract, returned the proofs, and all that’s left is to bask in the glow and spend all the money I’ll be getting from my first international publication. There was a minor hiccup with this story and I fear I may have burned a bridge with at least one of their editors despite my fervent apologies but at least this one’s a go. Look for it… well, someday.

Minor Events of No Consequence

  • I lost 1.6 pounds this week. I can only attribute this to Barack Obama’s increasing popularity in this round of primaries.
  • I successfully moved my NaNoWriMo blogs over to WordPress µ .  This will make updating them much easier.  Thanks to my friend Dale for pointing out that WordPress µ would be a perfect tool for this task in spite of my earlier disdain for it.  For those of you keeping score, those blogs are:
  • It recently occurred to me that although I sometimes wish I had followed up on my Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, there really isn’t any point to it.  The history of philosophy, I think, can be summed up as an arc from when Plato went nuts trying to define the word "piety", and concluding with Heidegger, who spent 592 pages in Being and Time trying (and failing, even by his own admission) to explain the term "to be", and essentially imploded in on himself in doing so.  Philosophy, in far too many cases, is mere flailing at vocabulary, trying to pin down exact definitions on terms that simply cannot be exactly defined, but which we do pretty well with anyway. It’s like trying to define "Science Fiction", but with loftier-sounding degrees.
  • Go ahead and visit Underpopetown.  There’s unemployment there!
  • The lungs, they are acting up again. Stupid lungs. By "lungs", of course, I mean the porous sacs of spongy material in my chest that suck up air. And by "air", of course, I mean a gaseous mixture of nitrogen, oxygen, and other elements. And by "element", I mean…  And see what I mean when I talk about philosophy as vocabularial flailing?
  • And that’s pretty much it.  Except maybe I’m being a little harsh on academic philosophers, playing a little sour grapes.  You think? Nah.

For Writers: Useful Blog Alert!

[Cover of Police Procedure & Investigation: A Guide for Writers by Lee Lofland]Lee Lofland, author of Police Procedure & Investigation: A Guide for Writers (an absolutely invaluable tool for writers like me who wish to add some realism in amongst the zombies, alien deities, and mad scientists), has started up a new blog: The Graveyard Shift: Lee Lofland’s Guide to All Things Cops and Robbers.  It’s a regular Q&A column about the things that police officers do, and the ways they handle crime.  Check it out!

(I would say that Mr. Lofland wrote to me personally to let me know, since he and I have had some correspondence in the past, but that would be name-dropping and I like to think I’m above that sort of thing.)

A Wee Political Moment

Most of the time, I despise politics with the same sort of loathing that cats have for water, but with less subtlety.  However, I’ve actually come around this year to feeling something really unexpected and odd… a sense, shall I say, of an actual shred of respect and a feeling that.. dare I say it… I might actually vote for a candidate that I like, as opposed to disliking less?  The distinction is important, you know; in 2004 I voted for Kerry with the sort of enthusiasm that I would go to get a root canal: kind of painful, but still important.  I mean, the root canal was better than the alternative, which was a continuing infection in the tooth, leading to an abscess and possible amputation of the jaw.  But a root canal still hurts, dammit.

This year, though, I feel like I can actually vote for Barack Obama not because I dislike him less than the other candidates, but because I actually have a positive like for him.  I feel inspired by his speeches.  I feel like he actually has a grasp on the issues that I care about: things like poverty, education, technology, science, and so on.  The man knows what he’s talking about, too, and doesn’t sound like a buffoon who slid through college on C’s and Daddy’s money.

So this Tuesday I will happily cast my vote for Barack Obama, and I will actually do it without cringing.  That sense of approving of a candidate may change, but for now I think I’ll enjoy it.

Up until now, I’d been wavering between Obama and Clinton.  I like Hillary Clinton, and I think she’d be a respectable leader.  And I love the idea of a woman as President, and I’m thrilled that we finally have a serious woman candidate for the Presidency.  But even ignoring the issues of the baggage she’d bring and the inevitable Republican smears that will come along, I still think Obama would be a better leader.

I must confess that it was Jonathan Coulton who tipped the balance for me.  I mean, if a geek pop singer who sings songs like "Skullcrusher Mountain" and "Re: Your Brains" will actively endorse a candidate, then I gotta listen.

Well, okay.  It was that, plus Obama’s "Call to Renewal" speech from 2006.

Friday Report

First of all, it’s Friday, which means that the second excerpt of The King of Oblivion is up, for which I offer my sincerest apologies.

Health-wise, I’m happy to report I’ve lost 1.5 pounds this week.  Yay.

This evening I watched two horror movies.  The first was The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a more or less forgetful film with decent special effects and acting on Jennifer Carpenter’s part, but not much else to recommend it.  It was predictable and too full of gotcha-type scares for my taste.

I also watched Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane, which I won in a contest on a few months back.  This film is pretty much what you’d expect: an outbreak of zombies on a commercial flight.  This film barely tries to give any sort of realistic explanation for the outbreak of the zombies; it’s a sort of "mosquito virus", or some mutant strain of malaria, or something done by some evil corporation run by some mad scientists.  But other than that, this film was surprisingly fun.  I won’t say it was good, but it was certainly a fun horror/comedy that got a few laughs out of me, though certainly no chills.  The acting was halfway decent, and the script wasn’t all that bad either, once the zombies showed up.  It reminded me of one of those old Airport movies, but with zombies, with a touch of Abraham/Zucker insanity.  It was not the best horror/comedy film I’ve ever seen — that honor definitely goes to Shaun of the Dead — but Flight of the Living Dead certainly is worth a viewing or two.

Work-wise, we had a division-wide meeting on Wednesday in Davis, wherein we determined that our organization is going to be a "strengths-based’ organization.  Everyone in the organization took a "Strengths Quest" quiz developed by the Gallup Organization to determine what our "signature themes" were.  We each ended up with five; mine were "Input", "Intellection", "Harmony", "Relator", and "Includer".  I found it interesting that two of these are intellectual themes, and the rest are social.  Under the fold, I’m including the brief summary of these themes so you can decide whether they really apply to me or not.  This isn’t the silliest management theme I’ve encountered (I still crack up over "Areas of Opportunity").

Our organization has had a good year, and my department in particular is doing quite well. There’s enough work coming down the pipe to keep me busy for months.  I have no worries at all of being laid off or anything like that.  Each unit gave a visual presentation to discuss their progress and upcoming projects.  I had no idea that our unit was going to be giving a "Wizard of Oz" themed presentation; and after seeing my boss dressed up as Glinda, I may never be able to take him seriously again.

And that’s it for now.  Be sure to visit Underpopetown and say hi to the neighbors.

Beneath the fold, my "signature themes", and their brief explanations.

Continue reading Friday Report