Friday, December 26, 2014

Bulger's business

I'm listening to audiobook version of Great Classic Westerns - Unabridged Short Stories.

This one takes place in a mining camp called Rattlesnake. A stranger comes into town, saying he needs to stay for a fortnight, for business. When asked about his business, he has a good reply, which you might want to use, yourself, someday.
"You say you've business over at Bigwood. What business?" said Briggs. 
"It's a peculiar business, young fellow," returned the stranger, gravely. "Thar's different men ez has different opinions about it. Some allows it's an easy business, some allows it's a rough business; some says it's a sad business, others says it's gay and festive. Some wonders ez how I've got into it, and others wonder how I'll ever get out of it. It's a payin' business--it's a peaceful sort o' business when left to itself. It's a peculiar business--a business that sort o' b'longs to me, though I ain't got no patent from Washington for it. It's MY OWN business."
From "Bulger's Reputation", by Bret Harte

Bronson Pinchot did a great job on the narration.

Saturday, September 06, 2014


-- I have the list of the ducks that are going to leave.
-- What?
-- I have the list of the books that we're going to read.


Life's more interesting when you're hard of hearing.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Mixing Pluffy and Premo

Bought a set of Pluffy yesterday using my 40% off Michaels coupon. It felt nice but was very hard to work with--too soft. I made a kind of cool Phoenix-like creature, but it sagged and fell apart. Wire inside didn't help much either. It's now a greenish grayish blob.

So next question was could it be mixed with Premo? Found answer on Internet today, so I'm pleased.

According to and, Pluffy mixed with Premo is the same as the discontinued product called Studio Sculpey.

I also saw that baked Pluffy should float, so one could try to create something like a very simple and flat-bottomed boat out of pure Pluffy.

From the website, answer to Baking and Mixing questions:

275 °F (130 °C)
15 minutes per 1/4 inch (6 mm) thickness

premo! Sculpey®
275 °F (130 °C)
30 minutes per 1/4 inch (6 mm) thickness

premo! Sculpey® Accents
275 °F (130 °C)
30 minutes per 1/4 inch (6 mm) thickness
Yes, all polymer clay brands can be mixed together. To ensure proper baking, the clays must be mixed VERY thoroughly in order to avoid separation or layering when curing. Use the baking instructions for the highest baking temperature and longest time for your clay mixture.

Yes, all of the clays can be mixed together. Read and follow the baking instructions. When you mix clays with different baking temperatures, use the baking instructions for the highest baking temperature and longest time for your clay mixture.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Theater and the Interrupted Ritual: Readercon Thursday 10 July 2014

Starting from premise that theatre/drama stems from an "interrupted ritual", specifically:
9:00 PM    F    Theater and the Interrupted Ritual . C.S.E. Cooney, Greer Gilman, Andrea Hairston (moderator), Kenneth Schneyer. Theater theorists have put forth the idea that most theater begins with an interrupted ritual. This goes back to ancient Greek theater, which generally literally began this way, but in modern theater we see this in more subtle ways, with characters making a cup of tea or sorting the mail when someone else comes in. At Arisia 2012, Andrea Hairston talked about theater and performance being tied to spiritual practice, which resonates with the idea of the interrupted ritual. How does this idea relate to storytelling in general, and what can writers do with it?
Panelists agreed most drama portrays interrupted routine, but routine not the same as ritual.

A story is usually not about an ordinary day in someone's life, but about the worst day in their life or the most extraordinary day in their life.

(I thought of A day in the life of Ivan Denisovitch as counterexample, but the point of the book was to show how extraordinary/bad the ordinary day of a Gulag prisoner was.

In Thornton Wilder's Our Town, the recently-deceased Emily wants to "visit" her old life. She is warned to return to the most ordinary day possible--but even that turns out to be too precious for her to be able to bear its loss. Still, visiting the living is not routine for a dead person.)

They said going to a theatre was a type of ritual in itself.

Andrea Hairston talked about the magic of theatre:
  • How rehearsals without an audience was difficult
  • How audience contributed to the transcendent experience of a performance
  • How non-actors are transformed by theatre exercises, e.g. putting on a mask will free them to do things they didn't do without the mask.
  • How children on Halloween have similar experiences
  • That children play in order to learn how to be human. Adults feel too old for child's play, but they do theatre, or they go to sf Cons where they can play like children again.
Then she said when she wrote a novel she thought about how to translate the theatre experience into the novel writing.

C.S.E. Cooney said that it was still theatre, with an audience of one reader at a time.

They quoted some theatre theorist a lot, whose name I did not catch.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Hatching a plot to take over the world?

Why take over the world? It would be an administrative nightmare.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dream diary entry

A a highly-evolved future cat and I were about to slingshot into an even more distant future when we became suspicious of the claw beckoning us. It was revealed to belong to a bear who admitted: All the cats are in zoos. And the humans? There is no evidence of their existence.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Not a diet

I've never managed to sustain a diet, but until I can fit into the jeans that fit me last summer, I hereby will do my best not to rebel against the behavior that would characterize a diet.

Friday, May 09, 2014


It may have been second grade teacher Mrs Dukakis who taught us to write cinquains.
Baby valium
Are best fresh
Goes great with milk
My sister Melinda coined the 'baby valium' term. She was so right.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The first paragraph of a story requires

The first paragraph of a story requires a reason to read the second paragraph of the story.

Such as:
  1. A charming character. By "charming", I mean anything that would cause the reader to want to spend more time with the character. e.g.
    1. Likeable
    2. One with which reader can identify
    3. One who is intriguing by being very different from reader or anyone reader is likely to know well
  2. An interesting world. e.g.
    1. Life of Crime or others on Edge of Society
    2. Life of Privilege from which most of us excluded
    3. New sort of fantasy or science fiction setting
    4. Old sort of setting made appealing by writer's descriptive powers
  3. A charming, amusing, or unusual Point of View:
    • Jane Austen "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
  4. Impressive prose. That killer first sentence, e.g.
    • William Gibson — 'The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.'
That killer first sentence is great if you've got one in you, but not necessary. To quote a Tweet that I can't find at the moment: The way to begin a story is to start telling the story.

And while I'm at it:
  • Don't subject your character to a long series of perils without giving the reader a reason to care enough to want to follow the character through the adventure. Adventure or peril by themselves are insufficient.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mid-snowstorm need to shovel

Husband: It's snowing so heavily. You really want me go out in that?

Me: It won't hurt you. It's not hail. It's better to go out before it gets dark.

Him: What if it's the dust of radioactive fallout?

Me: I think I'd have heard of it on Twitter by now.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Margie slams fiction

Rob came to a few of our NHWorD writers group meetings, so I followed him on Twitter. Last week he tweeted about a 3-minute Fiction Slam going on in Manchester Monday night. I didn't think I had any 3-minute fiction--I've been writing a saga-length story for most of my adult life--but I thought it might be of interest to the other members of my writing group. I forwarded the tweet to the NHWord email list.
Rob Greene (@rwwgreene) tweeted at 11:06 AM on Tue, Feb 04, 2014:
It's a fiction slam in the #MHT #writing
For the rest of the week there were some replies and discussions. I didn't open the emails, but Gmail gave me a preview of the first lines of each email. Sunday, while waiting for my writing group meeting to begin, I read the emails. So and so didn't think they could handle being 'slammed', Rob assured them that it was a 'gentle slam', but even so, it was just a bad week for that, with Boskone starting this Friday. No takers.

Our meeting ended around 8. I remembered that I was out of deodorant and didn't think I should start a work week without it. Wal-Mart closes horribly late on Sunday night, so I headed over there. I bought deodorant, motor oil, bubble bath, tried to remember what kind of toothpaste my daughter wanted... So I was driving home at 9:37 when it occurred to me that I did have a short story that could probably be read in three minutes. I got home, found the story on Google Docs. Its word-count was 630. I tried reading my story with the kitchen timer and found it was too long. I did more editing. I sent an email to Rob, saying I might be able to slam, but didn't know if I could get there on time. He replied:
I can put you at the top of the waiting list, which is pretty much a guaranteed slot. I hope you can make it. -rob
The next day I googled "Word Count Three Minute Fiction" and found that the limit was 600 words. I snatched time to work on the story. By nightfall it was down to 548 words. I finished the work I promised to have ready by the next morning and left after 7. The Fiction Slam had already begun. I was 50 miles south.

I arrived at 8 pm, snuck in, sat down. There was a  piece of paper with a list of names on the table in front of me. There were ten names under "Guaranteed to Read" and three names under "The Wait List". Mine was at the top of the "Wait List". All of the names had checkmarks next to them except mine.

I listened to 8, 9, and 10. In between, I reread my story. I cut out 8 more words. I didn't know if my reading would really be within the three minutes. I figured that my turn would come at the bottom of the wait list, since I got there late, so while Number 10 was receiving judge's feedback I looked at my cellphone's clock feature. I chose the mode that counted down from three minutes and started to time my mouthing the words to the story. Two minutes in, only a few paragraphs left, they called my name.

I wasn't at the end of the wait list--they were using the original order. I shoved the phone into my pocket and walked up to the microphone.

Halfway through, I started to hear beeping. First I thought it was a cafe noise--a coffee maker or something. Then I thought maybe it means I've gone past my time. Was it really a 2-minute fiction slam? They didn't tell me to stop, so I figured I should read to the end. It was distracting with the beeper going off. When I finished, I turned to Rob and asked, "Was this a 2-minute or a 3-minute story?"

"Three minutes," he said.

"Oh. I thought the beeper was because I'd gone past my time."

"I don't know what that beeper is."

Then I realized what, and pulled my cellphone out of my pocket. Even though I had set the sound to zero, that only turned off the ringer. The three minute timer had been going off.

"I sabotaged my own performance," I said to the judges.

One of them said, "I thought it was a special effect."

Thursday, January 30, 2014


When I was in 7th grade we had to bring in grasshoppers to dissect. Until that time, I'd never seen one, except in books. The kids who weren't as good in school brought in the grasshoppers.

Now I live in a house where there are lots of grasshoppers in the backyard. They hop out of the way when I mow the lawn.