Tag Archives: good taste

Method


Though I conduct my fictional affairs with a good bit of handwavium and a helping of deus ex machina, because that’s the nature of the beast, still, I’ve railed against such use in the past. And I was probably right, then.

Context.

Heh. Yeah, right, you say, and rightly so.

But boundaries, fuck ’em. I was wrong, plus it’s addictive…to be unleashed, to not worry about what hard-sf fans are gonna say, or what plot twist came straight out of tvtropes. To just tell the story as it occurs to you. Er, me. Because pov.

That’s a fun plaything, too. Perspective.

Just tell the damn story. I was good at that when I was young. I would just write until I was done. Wrote a 67,000 word novel in one day, on notebook paper, in pencil(s), longhand. It was awful. Only three people have even read part of it. They’re all on Facebook. *ducks* Continue reading

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Sometimes…


Sometimes I don’t want to wear the big boy pants. Especially when I’m not feeling so adult, or even competent.
I need to listen more, and to learn not to spread myself so thin. I get caught up in things, enthusiastic, and sometimes will go off without completely understanding what I’m trying to accomplish, or why.

There are times when I miss key details. Because I want to badly to DO GOOD. To be PART OF THINGS.
“Yeah,” you say, “don’t we all?”

Well, yeah. But I’ve been a certified “weird person” all of my life. Couldn’t help it. I’m still a misfit most places. Hell, everywhere. Continue reading

apres le Deluge


Dropped a load of capsule reviews on Amazon and Goodreads yesterday, uploaded two new tracks. Working on one more tune and the cover for Fear and Loathing in Innsmouth, which I’m trying to get out by Xmas. The tune is a long prog/classical piece ostensibly about the King and Cassilda, whose story I’ve been reading recently.
The new tunes are milf, a fusion-y piece with beautiful clean guitars, and Tansy, named after the heroine of Fritz Leiber’s Conjure Wife. Continue reading

Happy Hallowe’en


Samhain is upon us. Ghouls and ghosties and long-leggity beasties, and things that go bump in the night. The origin of the celebration of the Harvest is buried in the wanna-be-scared commercial-bonanza interpretation of the holiday.

Like everything else. It’s no surprise that corporations have taken over everything. It’s a running joke, and one muttered uncomfortably, lest THEY hear.

You know, the ones in charge, whoever they are. The ones behind it all.

Whoever they are. Everyone has a different interpretation. Some are more credible than others. But even the incredible beliefs are held with a deathgrip. Because people are like that.

I was reminded of that a little earlier, when someone accused me of being closed-minded because I like to throw darts at Christian beliefs. Generally I do this for a reason–because I am being preached at. I know preachers who don’t preach to me, but to their flock. I don’t have a problem with that–it’s consenting adults and their progeny. The progeny will have the chance to expose themselves to other belief systems in time.

There was comparison made to the condition of fibromyalgia (neuralgia previously), and community disbelief in what few experienced themselves, and to the “existence” of Jesus of Nazareth and the apostle Paul. I pooh-poohed this idea, based on the premise that what people were directly experiencing was not hearsay, was provable (as it seemingly has been). No independent sources exist that discuss Paul or Jesus. Quod erat demonstratum.

Some folks believe that other folks should behave as they do, and will go to great lengths to maintain this superiority.

Others still will believe nonsense, and will go to great lengths to maintain their fantasy. My grand-daughter stubbornly holds onto the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and others, despite being well past the age where I had even given up on in invisible guiding hand in the sky.

The point of that is that such beliefs are childish. (imo)
I don’t believe we are going to advance as a species until we get over the idea of divinity.

The ideal is another thing. Bestowing benevolence is to be lauded in any case. People in need should be able to find some succor.

I’m disabled, on SSI. Five months after having another mouth come to live with me, my food stamps were cut down to 17.00/month. Thanks, Republicans. I would have died back in February 2010 if you had your way.

So I have some vested interest.

But that doesn’t negate the point. One doesn’t need faith to believe in charity, in hope. One just needs to have a sense of right and wrong.

 

the Association Principle


No, this isn’t about the sixties pop group. It’s about the ability of a human being to create new ideas by combining two old ones. It’s about understanding the interconnection of things, and about relationships.

As strange as it may seem to some, the ability to associate needs to be taught (at least in most cases that I’ve seen). Seldom does a child come up with an example on his or her own. They have to be taught that “this” associates with “that”.

Here’s an example, from this evening’s conversation with our young one, after she had left the room and my wife and I were unable to prevent the smallest cat from eating the peanuts out of her teeny bowl of trail mix.

My wife-“Bright Eyes ate the peanuts out of your bowl. And she licked the almonds.”

The child reaches into the bowl and prepares to put some in her mouth.

Me-“You really are DeeDeeDee, aren’t you? The cat had her tongue in that bowl. You know where that tongue’s been. Why would you eat that?”

The Look…that blankly hostile look, with the jaw thrust forward, the bottom lip pouting, and the eyes ready to roll.

Me-“You don’t understand, do you?”

Child (in really small voice). “no.”

Me-“You really need to speak up (The hesitant childishness is a behavior that must have earned her cute points or something in her previous life, but doesn’t operate under her new laws). If I can’t hear you, I’ll ignore you. (I know this seems cruel, but so many of her “things” are attention-getting mechanisms that are leftover from when she was two or three years old. Stated in these terms, this gets HER attention).”

The Look softens a little. I am ON Her Side, after all. I Mean Well.

The Mrs.-“Cats lick their ass with their tongue. That’s where that tongue has been.” Aside to me-“She doesn’t “get” germs.”

“I know. Brook, do you understand about germs?”

A slightly louder No.

“Okay. Germs are invisibly small critters. The thing that made me and your grandma sick is a germ.”

That she has successfully made this association is obvious. She “gets it”. Her eyes fill with wonder as a few of the chains of association that come with this small epiphany cross her mind.

“So when the cats lick their asses, those germs are on their tongue.”

Wife-“It’s why I don’t like dogs to lick my face.”

“You see,” I say, turning to the child. “You don’t really want to eat that, do you?” An emphatic nod-NO! “Good. Go throw that out.”

“Ew,” says the child, hastening on this errand.

Precious stuff. I want to give her the universe.

It’s true. We’re trying to get her to learn to want to read. She hasn’t yet gotten it into her head that this skill gives her the universe. She thinks tv and dvds do.

It gives me a sad. She really isn’t far advanced from where she was at four, when we last saw her, in terms of her skills and her interior life. She’s been surfeited with Dora the Explorer, who is several years too young for her, and similar pablum, and bought off with a constant supply of snack crackers and candy, with the occasional ice cream and soda pop.

Ghastly. We just tell her we’re not getting things anymore. I’ll tell her we’re just going to buy water, since she’ll slip off to Circle K any chance she can get and download a 44 oz. Code Red.

When she first arrived, she had a taste for coffee. Her version has three tablespoons of sugar, about 1/4 cup of high fructose-corn-syrup-laden nondairy creamer, and 1/2 a cup of milk. A liquid truffle, more or less.

The first thing I did was cut out the sugar, after seeing how she crashes off the stuff. Want a bitchy kid? Make her vibrate in place for 20 minutes after imbibing something like that, and then watch for the crash. As soon as she yawns, try to get her to do something.

Good luck with that. She learned all of this lunacy from her mother, who is her role model, gods forfend.

While we were at the bookstore, the child stopped me in my tracks by explaining that her mother used to read to her.

Selections from “Twilight Saga”.

My knees buckled. Here we are trying to work with Black Beauty, and My Friend Flicka, and this former victim of pedophilia has been subjected to that travesty, in both book and video form.

Woof to that warp. We got her those, and a handsomely illustrated sorta Cliff’s Notes version of the Secret Garden. And a couple of jigsaw puzzles.

My wife has even gone further. She is buying the child a Kindle. One, because she’s tired of giving up her laptop so the kid can watch idiocy on Netflix, and two, to help further her education. I know how to work the controls so that she gets so much reading time, so much video time, etc.

My part was in picking up a recorder, a set of small drumsticks, and a pitch-pipe. She wants a Hannah Montana guitar for her birthday. I’m going to try to change that to something that will last a bit longer and cost less, just in case she tires of it. I’m about 90% certain that it will, and then it’ll pass to me. I’d just as soon not have to refinish the thing.

I’ve begun playing things like Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Young video content for her, just adding them to her daily audiovisual diet, in the hopes that she’ll retain that association when we begin to try to find her musical horizon.

I know that she has excellent pitch from her happy-girl warbling, and I can work with that. She wants to learn guitar and piano…but she really doesn’t understand how hard it is to be good at playing a musical instrument.. She’s never had to work for or toward anything. So it’ll be a matter of not letting her frustration cancel out her talent.

She loves my song “Blutopia”. That one’s easy enough to teach her. I have lots of sheet music and tab books.

That’s the plan.

This weekend, I’m finally feeling well enough to maneuver the various boxes and instruments and equipment from one room to another, and she’ll have her own room by Monday night. Her and the bunnies.

Then I can get myself resettled and get back to work. It’s been a long time comin’-I can’t wait. My workday is cut down by an hour on each side, because of the child’s schedule. I’ll only be able to swing 3 hours writing/3 musical…but at least I have that, and can be productive under that arc.

A short story a week and a song every two is the aim. I’ll put them up here, at least temporarily, when they’re done. The first ones will be next weekend. I have three instrumental tracks and two short stories/articles justaboutthere.

Then, with any luck at all, I’ll have some things featuring the kid. I’m out looking for tambo, maracas, wood flutes, anything that’s cheap and will make noise, and I’ll drag out my acoustic instruments and usb drumkit. Perfect timing as the arthritis has been letting up and the pain in my shoulder isn’t as bad as it has been. I need practice at any rate.

And nothing teaches discipline and confidence like making music. I look forward to it. I hope we can get the Mrs. to play too.

 

Speak To Me (Breathe)


An old Pink Floyd title sums it up best.

Lately we’ve had a rash of not-really-well-thought-out remarks, on all sides. It makes things rancorous and the drama expands exponentially. Each tiny verbal molehill carries the potential to evoke a spate of vitriolic invective.

It could be a coincidence that two out of the three of us are sick with a cold or flu. Just maybe.

But my wife feels that I’ve been guilty of it, too, especially regarding the child. She wants me to lighten up some, to not have such an impossible standard.

She may be right. I honestly don’t know. But I’m willing to try things her way.

Couldn’t hurt.

This flu, on the other hand, is a bastard. I’ve been sick since Thursday, and sick SICK like lying down most of the time since Friday. The kid got just a brush of it, or so it seems, but the wife is down for the count-has been sleeping for the last four hours.

It’s one of those that comes complete with fever and chills and is mostly body ache and congestion. Really debilitating sort of symptoms. Just nasty, no fun. I’m hoping to see the end of it soon–I’ve been moving around a little, and my doctor is coming for her monthly visit this afternoon, so I’ll have some professional opinion to bring to bear.

It’d be nice to get shed of it.

Anyway, while I’m able to move around, I’ve been piddling with the book and with the new tracks, just polishing and brainstorming really. Just to keep my hand in, keep my brain going.

Though it would surprise some people, I am taciturn by nature. I don’t require much communication, and my wife and I both have that type of personality whose happiness is expressed as quiet satisfaction.

The rabbits would seem to concur, and the cats also. We are all quiet beings, going through our days with a minimum of noise or movement. Just as much activity as necessary, conserving energy for when it’s needed.

The birds, not so much. They twitter back at the tv when it’s on, making fun of newscasters and other talking heads, and rooting for the teams that wear green or blue uniforms. They get loud sometimes, but I don’t think it would be as prominent in a larger space. Our apartment is tiny.

I’m really hoping I get well soon so that I can transfer my computer and these boxes and my guitars into the master bedroom, even if I have to stack everything like cordwood. This so we can get the child, now variously named Brook, Nicky, and Pita, into her own space, where she can babble happily to the bunnies and her zillions of stuffed animals.

My stars, does that kid blabber. She does it all the time, as soon as she gets happy. She starts just talking, about anything and everything, and singing tunelessly or humming loudly. She calls all the animals “baby” and wants to fee them every ten minutes.

Don’t dare get up! For you will have a tail anxiously inquiring about a s-n-a-c-k or can-we-go-to-the-pool? This last hasn’t been done for a week as it is the prime penalty of disobedience or misbehavior, and I’ve been sick to boot.

I’d like to have a swim myself. My incision has healed, though the navel still swells with fluid from time to time and will likely need some attention. I’d at least get in the water for a few minutes. I dunno how long I could go without oxygen at present:it’s hard to take a shower without the cannula right now because of the coldfluey thing.

But the kid just can’t curb herself, which goes back to the premise of communication, or the lack of it, my main hobbyhose in life. She has no impulse control whatsoever. Not the slightest shred of self-discipline, at least not for more than a few seconds at a time.

She’s never had any rules to speak of, and it’s damnably hard to get to to stick to any. The consequence of ANYTHING is that she gets attention for a bit.

You understand. There’s literally mustard on this kid. She spilled it on herself. She’s more of a hotdog than notorious bad sport Willie Montanez.

Diva.

Her teacher told her to wait ten seconds before she says anything, in order to get her to consider her words.

She doesn’t. She just stops talking. It looks like she just vegetates, counting to ten, and then turns the spout back on again.

When she’s by herself, the stream is nonverbal. It’s kind of disturbing, like we’re raising a feral child.

It’s really like that.

I’m thinking that sign language is an option.

“Brook” knows the sign for “I love you”, though in her hands it often becomes the Dio devil horns. She flashes it and she says it often, which, as said previously, is the greatest thing ever.

But she broke her new scooter trying to adjust the handlebar so she could do wheelies, which would probably break the cheap aluminum piece of junk anyway. That doesn’t matter to her. She has no concept of the value of anything and as so is completely generous. She had four dollars Friday morning.

She came home broke with a Code Red slurpee and told my wife about her three new friends. It wasn’t hard to put together what happened. It probably went something like this:

Brook opens folder, with envelope containing $4.11. The girl sitting next to her sees it.

“Wow, Brook, what’s that?”

“My money. I’m going to Circle K after school and get a slurpee.”

“Lucky you. I don’t have any money.” Chin hangs down dejected.

Gulli-bull “I’ll get you one.”

I’m sure you can fill in the rest.

It’s amazing that she didn’t try to spend more than she had. Maybe there are some math skills, laying in wait, just waiting for a trigger to evoke them.

I hope so.

I can’t wait to get back to work. Since I don’t have much company, and can’t get out as much as I want because of the oxygen and there being nowhere nearby worth going to, my writing has become the bulk of my conversation.

As much as she loves to to babble, I’m hoping to get Brook to learn and love her words. That would be a fine gift, I think. The Mrs. can give her the numbers.

We started Wind in the Willows recently. Today I hope to alternate a chapter or two, depending on how well my throat holds up.

Wakin’ up is hard to do


We’ve been spending much time this last week trying to figure out how to best insinuate the idea for “good taste” and “taking on a little more responsibility” into the life of our eight-year-old girlchild. She’s pretty independent, definitely a bit of a dramamama, definitely intelligent though just as definitely not as book-learned as she should be.

She loves the pets…so feeding/taking care of the rabbits has become her main job task. Playing with Buster is one of her favorite things. I suspect he likes it too, but he’s still suspicious of this small interloper. He has also taken on a great degree of independence, and is very good at making his wishes known (for example, the litterbox was let go a couple of days too long. He took the paper garbage bag, tore a hole in the side of it, pissed about a quart of ammoniac boycatpiss into and onto it, and then sidled over to give me a quick headbonk.)

Took half a roll of two-ply to fix that. Hard to be mad at him though. I’d feel the same way.

Which brings us to the subject of empathy, which the child does not seem to have much of. She’s been shuttled about so much that a lot of her feelings are locked up. Eventually they’ll surface-I imagine it’ll happen when hormonal challenges start setting in, a couple of years down the road.

We’ve banned the viewing of Spongebob, which I just can’t stand, and have severley limited the viewing of “baby shows”, i.e., programs that are way below her age level. Mind you, they’re not below her reading or ‘rithmetic level-but that’s the point. The child can barely add, and hasn’t yet learned the technique of sounding out words to produce the result. Nobody has ever taken the time to work with her on these things.

At least until recently. I’ve begun working with her on reading and on math skills, trying to show the relationships between numbers and methods so that she’ll have a good overview, and alternating pages of books. It’ll be a while til there are results-she seems to enjoy the process for the most part, but gets all stubborn and pouty when pressed. She puts on the “Can’t-Make-Me” face, which some kid is one day gonna slap right off 0f her.

Bad attitude, directly inherited.

I work on a reward system. Yesterday she walked halfway to school  by herself, as the daily round trip is too hard for me. Today she went all by herself. I don’t anticipate any problems. Once she’s past our block of condos, there’s the main intersection, with a crossing guard who already knows her, and another a block away by the driveway into the school property.

For making the half-trip, she was rewarded with a giant Mountain Dew slurpee, which lasted until almost 8 pm with a trip to the fridge for a couple of hours to stay cold.

Homework and chores come first after arrival. This is agreed to by all. I try to take a little extra time to explain things, and to exercise more patience than I ordinarily would.

She’s doing okay…and the daily trip will get easier in a week or so when her scooter arrives. Provided that she continues to act like a young lady and not a spoiled brat, she’ll get the thing right away.

Brattiness isn’t treasured, nor is drama. But that’s her wake-up routine. I’m not an easy waker either-if I don’t feel that what I was awakened for is worth being awake for. Otherwise I wake immediately and head for the medicine cabinet.

The child squalls or won’t get up. We’ll work on that.

Could be way worse. She says “I love you, grandpa”, at least 20 times a day. Hard to get tired of that.