A Milestone – late

32 years late to be precise.

Most people in America get their driver’s license when they are sixteen. For all sorts of reasons far too numerous to go into here I did not.

I have never had a driver’s license . Many learner’s permits, but something always interceded and prevented me for completing the plans at time for getting my license.

Today I had my frist road driving test ever, at the age of 48.

My examiner was an older gentleman  who appeared utterly bored by the process. He quizzed me on the car and its equipment. (I failed to find the defroster right away but in San Diego they are harder commonly used pieces of equipment.)

Then we buckled up and hit the road in the Clairemont area of San Diego, This is an area where I used to live and know many of the streets.

The test was shorter than I expected. Frankly I spent more time waiting in a roasting car for my turn to be tested than in getting tested. I did not perform perfectly, but long story short, I passed.

Be terrified I am now a licensed driver.

My sweetie-wife reported that the DMV building seemed to be shaking while I was on the road. I guess me being licensed is truly unnatural.

Tomorrow night I do sleep study tests 2: The Sequel.

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Cawdor is going shockingly fast

I’m rounding on 200 pages or about 50,000 words done on the first draft of Cawdor and that when massive hits to my productivity due to bad sleep and headaches. I am on track to complete a first draft version by mid June and that will be simply astounding to me.

The plot has decided to deviate from scripted outline, but that is no cause for concern or panic. An outline is just a guide, showing me where I want to end up, if it turns out that Route 66 is more exciting than Route 8, but both get me where I need to be than there’s nothing wrong with Route 66.

What had started off as a re-intrepretation of Macbeth has now become an exploration in paternalism and the cynicism of the viewpoint. The book actually now has villains beside the Macbeth analogs. It’s quite a turn but one I am very interested in and very excited to explore.

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Sunday Night Movie:I Sell The Dead

So this week’s movie was a bit of a gamble for me as it was something I had never seen and further more was something I had heard little about.

I started the Sunday Night Movie habit as a way of utilizing my movie collection. I had realized one day that I rarely watched so many movies in my collection and when I did I tended to watch the same ones over and over. I started Sunday Night Movie as a regular event to enjoy those movies that I love but so rarely watched.

This is not one of those movies.

I Sell The Dead is a story about two men in the resurrection business in what I presume is the 17th or 18th century. Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) is partner and former apprentice to Willie Grimes in the resurrection business. That is they steal corpses and sell them to doctors. Their lives take a dramatic turn down a path of bump in the night events when they discover that digging up some corpses leads to a much more active product than the pair is accustomed to finding.  They have a number of serious threats in their wretched lives, There Dr. Quint (Angus Scrimm, Best know as the Tall Man in Phantasm.) who is extorting their services without compensation by threats of the law. Then there’s the House Of Murphy a rival gang of resurrectionists with a tendency for murder and mayhem, and of course there’s the very active undead who are always ungrateful for being dug up or unboxed.

This movie is supposed to be a comedy and as such one is expected to give it more leeway that a traditional horror film or dramatic feature for suspension of disbelief, however this film had too many flaws for me to do that. There are endless anachronisms, historical errors, and a general failure to understand just what it was that resurrection men did. (They did not sell bodies to doctors for their general practice, they sold them to schools and teaching doctors for study, instruction, and research.) In the end this movie was simply too much of a mess with too little plot and too much gag to work as a film.

I recommend pass if someone offers a viewing to you.

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Morning Headaches

This morning I awoke with a mild headache. Unfortunately this is a frequent side-effect of sleep apnea. I was lucky in that the headache was not of Migraine levels, so I was able to go to work. However, the constant irritations of bad phones lines and other negative stimului has conspired to ensure I will continue to have this headache.

It’s slowed my writing, but I have no stopped. More scenes have been completed and I am still looking at finishing th loved.unloved novel by mid-june.

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A questions of ethics

So I was looking for a soundtrack that I thought was out of print and it cause me to ponder the ethics of downloading it.

I fully support buying material to support the artists. I buy my books, I buy my DVDs and Blu-rays, and I buy my music, but there are times when what I want is not in print. I cannot buy a copy that will support the artist. (Buying a used copy generates no royalties for the copyright holder.)

So in that situation is it ethical to download a copy? Certainly on the legal front it is illegal, but I’m asking a question of ethics.

I think so. I will support the legal methods of reimbursing the artists and such whenever I can, but if the copyright holders do not make it possible for me to pay them for the product I then I really do not feel bad about finding a copy on my own.

My story had a happy ending for the copyright owners. Not only was the soundtrack to The Wicker Man (1973) in print it was available from iTunes!

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A Brief Walk Down Memory lane, writing version

This week my speedy progress on Cawdor has been hampered by my lack of good sleep. I am even more tired all the time than I have been recently and that has dropped my per day productivity by half. I am still making progress and I am in many ways very happy with the product. (While still certain that no one else in the wide world will like it the way I do.)

The speed of this novel has mee thinking about the other novels I have written and how long it took, editing included.

My first novel was Freeholder an SF novel about liberal, pacifist survivalists. It was written while I was in high school from Sep 1978 through May 1979. The poor suffering readers of that novel endured a really horrid writer with no edits. Yesh, I pity them now.

Freeholder – 47,000 words over ten months

The next novel I wrote was much much later and it was The Mark of Cain. The first draft was written between January 2004 and July 2004, about seven months. It went to beta read, got properly savaged and I produced a new version by December of 2004

The Mark Of Cain – 121,000 words about seven months, plus five months re-write and edits.

The third novel I have written is Love and Loyalty.  I started writing it October 2005 and finished the first draft February 2006. I spent two months editing that manuscript for the beta readers and it was ready by April 2004.

Love and Loyalty – 92,000 words five months to write and two months to edit.

(A special note on Love and Loyalty, In May of 2008 I started a line edit to tighten the prose and that turned into a major rewrite as I had an inspiration in how to improve the novel. So the final version experienced  and additional round of edit lasting about five months.)

Cawdor has been different, it has been about two months and I am half-way through the first draft, and this is really surprising because I have been doing a rolling edit for the first time. I write a chapter, edit it, correct it, then move on to the next chapter. If I stay on this track Cawdor will take about 4 months to write AND edit.

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Ignorance was bliss

It seems that the worst sleep I have been getting has followed the diagnosis that I have sleep apnea. I’d swear that knowing I have sleep apnea has made it worse. The last few weeks have been the worst for unrestful sleep. Everyday I have been waking up tired and had to struggle through the waking hours.

Last night I went to bed at 8:30, got nearly ten hours of ‘sleep’ and yet I am tired. I can’t wait for my treatments to start this is really taking a toll on my quality of life and quality of writing.

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Sunday Night Movie: Dog Soldiers

So a while back I was working on a werewolf short story, A Taste Of Tears and Blood, (If fact my writing page horribly out of date indicates that is my current project) and as part of my research I was watching all sorts of werewolf films.

One film I put on the Netflix queue but never got around to seeing as part of the research was Dog Soldiers from 2002. This weekend I had is shipped from Netflix and my sweetie-wife and I watched it early Sunday evening. (I was unable to watch a film later by myself as it my habit because I was so terribly exhausted.) I was a little surprised when my sweetie-wife expressed an interest in the film, gory violent horror film are not her usual cup of tea. She is much more attracted to projects based upon the actors and the nationality of the production. This film had an actor she very much like to follow, Sean Pertwee, son of Dr Who actor Jon Pertwee.

This film was written, produced, directed and edited by Neil Marshall, who has gone to direct such movies as The Decent and Doomsday. If you like or hate Dog Soldiers it’s really just one man’s fault.

Personally I really liked Dog Soldiers, much more than I had expected. The direct was quite aware of his limited budget and knew the limitations of his production. He stayed very much inside those limitation rather than attempting cheap and cheesy digital effects like we see when we’re inflicted with SyFy.

The story is about a fix man army squad that had been dropped into the highlands of Scotland on a routine training mission. The squad is led able veteran Sgt harry Wells (Sean Pertwee) with the capable assistance of Private Cooper (Kevin McKidd of ROME) a young man recently bounced from Special Forces training for ethical reasons. The squad quickly find themselves in serious trouble when they are confronted with a werewolf pack and all the squad is armed with is blanks.

There is one wonderfully British moment when the squad has found temporary safety, and Cooper temporarily in command is ordering men to do this and do that to secure the building and orders the last man to ‘put a kettle on, we can all do with a cup.’

My biggest quibbles with the film is occasionally the characters posses superhuman capabilities and survive the sort of events no human being has any business surviving. That said the film transcends these fault by having neat and interesting characters, a nicely thought out premise, and a relentlessness about the doomed  situation the characters find themselves in. I was disappointed that the Blu-ray disc did not have any bonus feature on it.  I searched on line fro a collectors edition or some such, but none was to be found.

Surprisingly the gore in this film was restrained. There was lots of blood thrown about, but only a few shots of graphic violence. Again I think this was a function of the director understanding his limitations and using them to his advantage rather then foolishly ignoring them

I look forward to seeing more movie from Mr Neil Marshall.

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My thoughts on Confederate History Month

First off, for those not in the know, I was born in the South and I was raised in the South. Take that for whatever’s its worth in context for the following opinions.

So Earlier this month, April 7th, Governor Robert McDonnell  of Virginia issued a proclamation that April is ‘Confederate History Month.” Beside the usual pot of hot water this create for a politician, McDonnell turned the temperature of his water by not even mentioning slavery in his proclamation.

This has cause all sorts of tirades and rants in the media and on the internet. One of the silliest I personally saw was CNN Analyst Roland Martin insisting that Confederate Soldiers were terrorists. I supposed it would have been too much of a stretch for the man to call them Fascists 60 years before fascism or Nazis 70 prior to that band of murderous thugs so he went for the current no-good and no question about term ‘terrorist.’  Just like the people who throw around, Fascists, Socialist, and anti-semtic as political insults Mr. Martin does himself no favor and achieves nothing for to degrade communication.

The soldiers of the Confederacy  were fighting to defend a vile and evil institution and they were wrong to do so, but they were not terrorists. The Confederacy fought in uniform, followed the Laws Of War as they were understood at the time and were easily distinguished from the civilian population around them. (Yes, you can violation of these general conditions just as you can for any conflict any time.) To accept Mr. Roland definition is render the word terrorist meaningless except as a combatant you don’t approve of.

But what about Confederate History Month itself? How do I feel about that?

Damn stupid idea.

The Confederacy took up arms against my country The United States Of America. I will not celebrate anyone taking up arms against my country while I still defend her. Why not a Lt. Colonel Francis Smith day? Or how about Isoroku Yamamoto on a stamp?

There is a lot to celebrate about Southern Culture. We in the south have a culture that is rich and has much to offer, but I would not put the Confederacy as part of that we should celebrate. The USA is my country and I consider myself a patriot and I will not honor those who attack my country.

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Socially Sanctioned Schizophrenia

We writers are allowed, nay we are encourage to have voices in our heads. Unlike other poor souls we can take those voice that no one else is able hear and transform them into external characters. However, they all start off as voice in our heads.

I present to you a stylized conversation thrust upon me by one of my characters.

Character Incognito: You know, I’d be mighty useful in Exodus From Cawdor.

Me: You’re not going to be in Exodus from Cawdor, you die in Cawdor.

Character Incognito: I don’t have to die, son. There’s plenty of means we can hustle up to avoid that sad fate.

Me: Nope, I checked the outline you die on page 22 of it.

Character Incognito: Well now, that darn thing’s just a suggestion. You know like guidelines, you can ignore it if you want.

Me: It’s in the plan. You have to die in this story.

Character Incognito:  I don’t see that way at all. But, you’d love having me around for the next book. Sweet Baby Jesus you need me for balance if nothing else.

Me: I could find that in another character.

Character Incognito: Who tell?

Me:…

Character Incognito: That’s what I reckoned. You’re stuck and you want me in that next book, you need me in that book.

Me: Now you’re just ripping off Jack Nicholson.

Character Incognito: That must have been you. I never heard of the fella.

Me: You die in the story. Remember I got source material. (Confidently wiping my hands of the matter.)

Character Incognito: Now partner, that just slavish devotion to the text. You don’t have to copy some old englishman do you?

Me: It’s not slavish devotion it’s…respecting the source material.

Character Incognito: (suspiciously quiet)

Me: Sure you’d be fun and it’d open up a lot of opportunities, but there’s page 22. See look at it!

Character Incognito: Yup. That would have been a mite powerful scene I think. Shame you’ll have to lose it.

Me: Grumble

Character Incognito: You’ll thank me son, You’ll see.

I hate it when my characters are right.

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