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BlackChampagne -- no longer new; improvement also in question.: 2005-12-25

Saturday, December 31, 2005  

Year End Site Stats

I hardly ever post about site stats anymore, largely since I hardly ever look at them anymore. I never plug this site from the D2 site, or mail out links to try and get hits, or anything like that. I'm content trying to entertain the guys and girls who read BC regularly, and the random googlers who happen across it. Even with the much-improved Urchin stats that came in a couple of months ago, I've seldom posted about it or looked at the stats.

I'm looking tonight though, while Malaya's gaming with some D2 and we're drinking sweet wine and listening to music and anticipating the New Year in a little over an hour. I'm fooling around, in other words, and with the year ending, why not? Yes, I may be a little bit drunk. But not too drunk to HTML!

If anyone were reading this now, rather than off doing New Year's stuff, I'd ask for requests on site stats. Since no one is, I'll just indulge my own curiosity, which is pretty much what this site is all about.

Here are the ten most viewed articles since October.
1. Castration, 5,527 views, 17.70%.
2. Penis Size, 3,668 views, 11.74%
3. Circumcision, 1,972 views, 6.31%
4. Men vs. Women views, 1,885, 6.04%
5. Ann Coulter, 1,332 views, 4.26%
6. Online Dating, 1,061 views, 3.40%
7. The Halloween Tree, 915 views, 2.93%
8. Serial Killers, 603 views, 1.93%
9. Articles Index, 590 views, 1.89%
10. Conspiracy Theories, 531 views, 1.70%
11. Anna Kournikova Topless518 views, 1.66%
Apparently, it's all about the penis?

I should also admit that I haven't made any updates to the article section in months and months, and that the latest stuff archived there (taken from daily updates and preserved in thematically-related articles) is from early 2003. I need an intern. Or a finished book, a publishing contract, and about two weeks to kill just doing BC archiving stuff.

Top ten most-viewed individual blog posts. This one was sort of a pain. The Urchin stat engine is a vast improvement over the old Webalyzer one, but it can't sort the results with add and subtract words at the same time. So, when I searched by putting "2005" in the page title, most of the top returns were the week-long archive pages (For example, #2 overall, 366 loads.), most of which have 10 or 20 or more entries on them, thus skewing the results. Since I couldn't "-blogger" in the same search, I just had to list the top 50 such pages, then skip the weekly archives. Thus these results aren't #1-10, and the percentages are correspondingly low. If there were some way to apportion the loads per weekly archive page into individual articles, the numbers would be considerably higher, and also a bit more accurate.
1. Feb 28, 2005, 693 views, 4.71%
3. Things of the Day, June 27, 2005, 361 views, 2.45%
9. Volkswagon Auto Towers, October 23, 2005, 129 views, 0.88%
17. Lazy Spamming Scammers, October 20, 2005, 112 views, 0.76%
23. Pre-blogger, March 2, 2005, 100 views, 0.68%
29. Eragon's author, prodigy or hack? September 13, 2005, 65 views, 0.44%
30. Pre-blogger January 3, 2005, 63 views, 0.43%
31. August 24, 2005, A Streetcar Named Disaster, 61 views, 0.41%
32. Pre-blogger, February 7, 2005, 60 views, 0.41%
33. September 27, 2005, Eragon Mini-Review, 59 views, 0.40%

And finally, here are the top fifteen most viewed reviews. How many of these were actually read, or just clicked to since the words in the review happened to match the unknown person's search string is another question. Also, since all of these were posted in daily blogs before getting their own review page, it's likely that several hundred people read them that way, instead of via the review page. In other words, this list has little overlap with some imaginary, "most read reviews by Flux" list. Not that anyone really cares.

Like the other stats, these are from early October through today, since that's all the time the Urchin stats cover.
1. Ong Bak, 811 views, 4.59%
2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 733 views, 4.15%
3. Blade Trinity, 677 views, 3.83%
4. The Historian, 655 views, 3.71%
5. Savage Pastimes, 632 views, 3.58%
6. A Wizard of Earthsea, 603 views, 3.41%
7. Depraved: The shocking true story of America's first serial killer, 596 views, 3.37%
8. Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, 589 views, 3.33%
9. Reviews Index, 570 views, 3.23%
10. Stories Rabbits Tell, 403 views, 2.28%
11. Elektra, 332 views, 1.88%
12. The Transporter, 265 views, 1.50%
13. Chili's Restaurant, 260 views, 1.47%
14. Angels and Demons, 242 views, 1.37%
15. Claim Jumper Restaurant, 231 views, 1.31%
Comparing these to the other most popular pages, you can see a lot of overlap. The daily update with the initial review of Stories Rabbits Tell, the #10 review, is in the top ten. The article on serial killers and the book review with "serial killer" in the title both made their top ten. I also noticed that two blog updates about Eragon were in the top ten, and wondered where the review was... until I realized that's one of the things I'm behind on, and that I've never taken it from the blog entry and HTML'ed it into an actual review page.

Football Weekend

Since SD crapped out last week and no playoff spots of any consequence are still in doubt, I'm not paying much attention to the NFL this weekend. There are some fun college bowl games going on, though with those I very seldom care who wins; I just enjoy watching the action. I taped Fresno State vs. Tulsa this morning just in the hopes that it would be high scoring and entertaining. And it was, apparently.

I didn't actually see it, since we're having huge storms here this weekend, and the power and cable have been knocked out several times. The lights flickered and flickered and then went dead this morning around 8. That was my signal to finally get the hell into bed, and when they came back on around 9 and I was still trying to get to sleep, I remembered to get up and set the VCR to start taping at 10 for the Fresno/Tulsa game. It taped until early in the 2nd half, when the cable went out. Well, it kept taping after that, but I didn't choose to watch the static.

Tulsa ended up winning in not very special fashion, but that's okay, since they've got a funny name. Malaya and I enjoy saying "Tulsa," but it's sort of a long story why. There's a legendary story about ex-QB Troy Aikman; supposedly he was knocked silly during a Cowboys' game in his pro career, and when they got him to the sidelines and gave him the "how many fingers am I holding up" routine, he answered, "T.. Tul... Tulsa." when they asked him where he was. It's funny since the game was in Dallas, which isn't anywhere near Tulsa, and in fact Troy hadn't been there since high school. When he was probably knocked the hell out a few times.

We (Malaya and me) conflate this story with the amusing jock stereotype character in the hilarious Coen Brothers remake of The Ladykillers, whose only dialogue was to say, "Coach? C.. c.... c... coach?" Hence when someone gets knocked out, we often start saying, "T... T... Tulsa?"

Anyway, there was a bowl game on earlier that morning, and one on later in the afternoon, but I didn't watch or attempt to tape either of them. San Diego hosted Denver in an afternoon football game too, but I didn't care about that with the result meaning nothing, and it was over before I woke up anyway. Denver rubbed the floor with SD, apparently. And now the NYG@Raiders game is on... but not here. The local listings say it should be on Channel 5 and on ESPN as well, but 5's got news and filler, and ESPN is just showing the ESPN news channel for 3 solid hours. Got to love those diehard Raiders fans making sure the game is a sell out so it's on free local TV, eh?

So Saturday's games, 3 college, 2 pro: 1 bad college game, 2 good ones the cable was out during, 1 bad NFL game I slept through, 1 NFL game blacked out here and nowhere else in the country.

As for Sunday's offerings, they're pretty blah. Early game we get Carolina@Atlanta, which is actually one of the better games on all day. Later we get Houston@SF, in the Reggie Bush bowl. And that's it. Only 2 games, and while I can accept that the local 49ers game isn't on against another game, I have no idea why there's only 1 early game on. I also have no idea how the 49ers keep selling out their games while Oakland can't, since I've seen like 2 49ers bumper stickers in my entire 2.5 years living here, compared to about 50000 Raider Nation stickers, signs, etc. Every mall has a Raiders Store, no malls have 49ers stores, I see Raiders jackets and hats on people every day while never seeing any 49ers stuff, etc. True, I'm closer to Oakland than SF, but I've never seen any 49ers bumper stickers or merch when in The City either.

Fortunately for my football needs, Monday has six good bowl games, and then there are good ones Tuesday and Wednesday night as well, as the bowl season closes out. And then next weekend the NFL playoffs begin, marking T-minus one month until the end of any good sports on TV until next fall.

Blizzcon Photo Page.

At long last, I found the time to sort through my Blizzcon photos from Halloween weekend, and they're now posted on a photos page with captions and discussion and all that. Blizzcon Photos! These are far less visually-interesting than the recent batch from Death Valley (or pretty much any of the other vacation photo sets, for that matter), so don't go looking for eye candy, unless you count the Starcraft Ghost model, and you'll see better photos of her on other sites, many of them linked from my Blizzcon Photos page.

What you will find here are captions and talk about the event, the missing Diablo presence, the incredible waiting line to get in, and so on. Now I just have to figure a way to turn this outpouring into an article for the D2 site, 2 months later. I'm thinking top 5 and bottom 5 things about Blizzcon, in the style of my old Decahedrons, and that might even work. Since there's not much NFL football worth watching this weekend, I hope to find the time to get it done by Monday.

Here are a few sample shots, and again, click to the appropriate page to see lots more.

You've probably heard of "the line" from Blizzcon, but you really had to see it. This is the third shot I took of it (all 3 are on the photo page). I took one near the entrance, looking maybe 80 meters down the side of the long building. Then I walked down there and turned the corner and took another shot of the next 50 meters of line, and walked to that corner, and took this one. And it just kept on going.

This guy was actually pretty funny. He was standing outside the convention center early on, shouting nonstop through his megaphone about how Blizzard was oppressing and enslaving Murlocs, and how his people should be freed, etc. His URL is
and he's got more photos and movies and everything. Possibly including a mental disease.

The merch menu. Many of the sales items were in our goodie bags already, happily enough. The key chain, playing cards, a WoW and Blizzcon t-shirt, one of the silicone bracelets, etc. Unfortunately, they didn't have anything else I wanted. No action figures or games or convention-only t-shirts, etc.  The cinematic posters were pretty cool, though, and I might have gotten the D2 one, if it had been anything other than Baal's smirking face.

Yes, I had to get a self-portrait. I'm wearing a D2X shirt, of course, and apparently readying myself to defend against a free kick.  One minute after Rush took this photo with my camera I thought, "Why the hell didn't I have her point the gun at me?" but by then it was too late.

  • See the whole set, and captions, here.

  • Friday, December 30, 2005  

    The evil meme of four.

    After giving in and blogging that "Meme of Four" thing a few days ago, and mentioning that I'd like to see an evil version of it, I found my brain returning to that concept tonight in the shower. And here we are:
    Four celebrities you'd cheat on your wife/husband/gf/bf with. (Time travel is permitted.)
    Angelina Jolie, Asia Carrera (ex-porn curious), Nicole Kidman (10 years ago), Elle MacPherson (15 years ago).

    Four celebrities you'd like to see dead, painfully or otherwise.
    Tom Cruise, Courtney Love, George Lucas, Kevin Federline.

    Four movies you'd like to erase from your brain.
    Matrix 3, Starship Troopers, Ice Age, Star Wars: Episode 1-3.

    Four places you never, ever want to visit.
    Iraq, Detroit, Atlanta, Bombay.

    Four TV shows you wish you had never seen/never want to see.
    Friends, All in the Family, professional wrestling, Fear Factor.

    Four websites you wish would cease to exist.
    I can't list four directly, but ones that spread lies and hatred like those for Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, white supremacists, terrorists, etc would be fine by me.

    Of the "Seven Deadly Sins," which four do you most frequently indulge in? (Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Wrath, Greed, Sloth.)
    Pride, Lust, Greed, Sloth.

    Of these four, which would you give your life to save? Your mother, father, wife/husband/SO, or children. (If you do not have all four, then that just makes your choice that much easier, now doesn't it?)
    No children, and none of the other three. I want to live.
    Admittedly, these aren't really all that evil. Intentionally. I considered harder questions and more ethical dilemmas, but I didn't want to make it so serious and dark that no one would play along. Most mainstream bloggers aren't going to list the four cities they'd most like to see destroyed by a natural disaster, or four politicians they want assassinated, or if they'd kill their mother or their father, if they had to pick one. Plus I didn't want to make the list all political and deep thought either. Feel free to offer critiques or additions in comments.

    Also, I seriously would like to see this become popular on the blogosphere, so if you like it recommend it to others. I don't even care if I get any credit, (Someone else has surely thought of something similar already anyway.) steal the questions and remove my answers if you want. I'd just like to see some bloggers dish on questions I find a lot more interesting than the favorite movies/tv shows faff on the other four meme list.

    Thursday, December 29, 2005  

    Depressing survey results.

    There's a new Harris poll out, and it's informative, in a way. They surveyed almost 2000 American adults during the second week of December, and asked them various questions about Iraq, Saddam Hussein, 9/11, and so on, and well... the results are pretty damned depressing. Click the link to see the tables and methodology and such; I'm just quoting the intro here.
    Sizeable minorities of Americans still believe Saddam Hussein had "strong links to al Qaeda," a Harris Interactive poll shows, though the number has fallen substantially this year.

    About 22% of U.S. adults believe Mr. Hussein helped plan 9/11, the poll shows, and 26% believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded. Another 24% believe several of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis, according to the online poll of 1,961 adults.

    However, all of these beliefs have declined since February of this year, when 64% of those polled believed Mr. Hussein had strong links to al Qaeda and 46% said Mr. Hussein helped plan 9/11. At that time, more than a third said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and 44% said several of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis.

    Currently, 56% of adults believe Iraqis are better off now than they were under Mr. Hussein, down from 76% in February. Nearly half of those polled say they believe Iraq, under Mr. Hussein, was a threat to U.S. security, down from 61% in February.
    The whole news page is kind of maddening, since it never actually states objective reality. They say, "still believe" several times, while never actually pointing out that all of those beliefs are Santa Clausesque! I mean okay, it's probably painfully obvious to the reporter, and if I were presenting poll results in which 27% of the people responding were unaware that the sky was blue and grass was green, I might not actually take the time to point out that they were on fucking crack... but when you've got substantial minorities who believe in nonsense, shouldn't you at least make some effort to educate them when you present the summation of their ignorance?

    The last couple of questions are opinion-based and open to debate, but how about the first few?

    This sort of thing probably goes some distance towards explaining why Bush still has even a 36% (or whatever the current figure is) job approval rating. I do wonder about these people, though. Are they like non-celebrity versions of Paris Hilton; all caught up in their own little worlds of clothing and parties and such, with no knowledge of current events beyond what they picked up through the crudest sort of "TV news on at a friend's house" osmosis? Or are they hardcore right wing FOX News/Rush Limbaugh types who love Bush and who choose to disbelief all the media reports that don't conform to their chosen view of the world?

    Bush quotes of the year.

    Yahoo News article that's funny, and also short enough that I'm just going to quote the whole thing.
    Call it the wrong phrase at the wrong time but "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job" was named on Thursday as U.S. President George W. Bush's most memorable phrase of 2005.

    The ill-timed praise of a now disgraced agency head became a national punch line for countless jokes and pointed comments about the administration's handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster and added to the president's reputation for verbal gaffes and clumsy turns of phrase.

    Paul JJ Payack, president of Global Language Monitor, a nonprofit group that monitors language use, says Bush's statement in support of the then-director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency may be remembered for years to come.

    "The 'Brownie' quote leads our 2005 list of Bushisms -- memorable phrases or new words coined by the president," Payack said, adding that Bush may be the foremost White House creator of new words, citing such past efforts as "misunderestimate" (to seriously underestimate) and "embetter" (to make emotionally better).

    Ten days after Bush verbally patted Michael Brown on the back before the TV cameras, Brown resigned amid a public uproar over his qualifications and the administration's failure to get aid to New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

    Although the president did not originate any new words this year, he had several notable statements, Payack said, citing the following:

    -- "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda," Bush said in explaining his communications strategy last May.

    -- "I think I may need a bathroom break. Is this possible?" Bush asked in a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a U.N. Security Council meeting in September.

    -- "This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table," Bush said in Brussels last February.

    -- "In terms of timetables, as quickly as possible - whatever that means," the president said of his timeframe for passing Social Security legislation in March.

    -- "Those who enter the country illegally violate the law," Bush said in describing illegal immigrants in Tucson, Arizona, last month.
    I like that all of these are relatively coherent comments. I mean no, they don't all strictly make sense, but the amusing nature of the quote comes from what he was saying, not the mangled and garbled words he used to try and say it. As it often the case. For example:
    "Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the — like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red." —George W. Bush, explaining his plan to save Social Security, Tampa, Fla., Feb. 4, 2005
    And yes, if your every public word was recorded and transcribed, you'd say a lot of dumb and babbling things too. Then again, don't we have a right to hold the damned POTUS up to a bit of a higher standard? It's not as if he holds the most powerful position on earth or anything.

    Four meme.

    I don't know who started this four questions thing, and I don't care enough to research it (I followed the source back seven links from this one before I gave up. It's like opening Russian dolls.) but over the past couple of weeks I've seen it on maybe 3/4 of the blogs I read. I still think it's sort of stupid, but as everyone else does it my resistance to following the herd has eroded like a corpse in sulfuric acid rock in the surf. And here we are:

    Four jobs you've had in your life:
    Stadium food vendor, co-webmaster, SAT Test Prep assistant, yard maintenance engineer.

    Four movies you could watch over and over:
    Pulp Fiction, LotR:FotR, Aliens, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut.

    Four places you've lived:
    Syracuse, NY; Raleigh, NC; Arlington, TX; San Diego, CA.

    Four TV shows you love to watch:
    NFL/NCAA Football, UFC, Jerry Springer, CSI. (I don't honestly love watching any of those, but I do watch them all fairly regularly, the last three only on the couch with Malaya, who got me into them in the first place.

    Four places you've been on vacation:
    Anchorage, Alaska; Honolulu, Hawaii; Lafayette, CA; Saint Louis, Missouri.

    Four websites you visit daily:
    Get Fuzzy, Political Animal, Rotten Tomatoes, D-Listed.

    Four of your favorite foods:
    Pizza, garden burgers, nachos supreme, fresh strawberries.

    Four places you'd rather be:
    Nowhere, but I'd like to upgrade to a large home of our own in this area.

    Seems to me this is most effective as a framing device, or an honesty check, though you'd need to really know the tastes of the blogger to tell how honest they were being. What is a person willing to admit to, on their blog? Every blog I've seen post this has listed nothing but political blogs in their "what blogs do you visit" answer, and generally only ones from their own ideology. No one admits to any really awful movies or TV shows either. Well, I'm no exception, but I did try to answer honestly. I wish there were a few more personally-illuminating questions though, especially ones from a the other side of the coin. 4 celebrities you want dead, 4 books you hate, 4 things you've done in your 4 jobs that you should have been fired for it anyone had caught you doing them, 4 places you would never want to live, etc.

    Some of those would break the short answer magic of the quiz though, so perhaps I'll streamline them and try and start that trend myself, thus helping to make the Internet a darker, less pleasant place.

    Wednesday, December 28, 2005  

    Internet movies for fame and fortune?

    The big new Internet movie is apparently this one, a parody rap videos by two white guys who work on Saturday Night Live. It's new to me, but it's been all the rage for the past week or two, and it even merited a write up in the NY Times, as part of a larger article about the phenomena of instant short film Internet fame.
    For most aspiring rappers, the fastest route to having material circulated around the World Wide Web is to produce a work that is radical, cutting-edge and, in a word, cool. But now a pair of "Saturday Night Live" performers turned unexpected hip-hop icons are discovering that Internet stardom may be more easily achieved by being as nerdy as possible.

    In "Lazy Sunday," a music video that had its debut on the Dec. 17 broadcast of "SNL," two cast members, Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg, adopt the brash personas of head-bopping, hand-waving rappers. But as they make their way around Manhattan's West Village, they rhyme with conviction about subjects that are anything but hard-core: they boast about eating cupcakes from the Magnolia Bakery, searching for travel directions on MapQuest and achieving their ultimate goal of attending a matinee of the fantasy movie "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

    It is their obliviousness to their total lack of menace - or maybe the ostentatious way they pay for convenience-store candy with $10 bills - that makes the video so funny, but it is the Internet that has made it a hit. Since it was originally broadcast on NBC, "Lazy Sunday" has been downloaded more than 1.2 million times from the video-sharing Web site; it has cracked the upper echelons of the video charts at and the iTunes Music Store; and it has even inspired a line of T-shirts, available at
    The article is interesting and the video is okay, though I hadn't heard of it until today and I wouldn't have paid it much mind if not for all of the media attention it's getting. I found it most amusing for how it lampoons all the tired conventions of "we're so bad" posing in rap videos.

    I thought this article and video was ironic though, since I read this one on Yahoo yesterday, and it reaches pretty much the opposite conclusion about fame via Internet-released independent films:
    It's not that attention-grabbing short films -- whether they begin life as fan films or Internet novelties -- aren't the calling cards they once were in the movie industry. The truth is that, despite a few illusory examples, they never did guarantee the entree for which their creators hoped. Despite all the initial acclaim that greeted such short films as the "Stars Wars" spoof "George Lucas in Love" or "405," in which an airplane lands on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, their creators were not instantly given the directing assignments for which they were angling. And the flood of ersatz films that have followed in their wake pretty much has rendered the Internet fallow ground for recruitment.


    The success of "405," "Lucas in Love" and "Troops" changed the landscape for calling cards. Suddenly, spoofs flooded the Hollywood landscape and then the Internet. "It became too much," Dowling said. "It became a lot harder to get something seen. There were like a hundred 'Blair Witch' spoofs. There were so many of them that not one of them was making an impact."

    The evolution of the Internet and digital technology only made it easier to make and disseminate such shorts. But as they multiplied, they tended to cancel one another out.

    "It doesn't make a splash anymore," said John Halecky of iFilm, where many shorts appear. "People are even spoofing the MasterCard 'Priceless' commercials. Well, you're spoofing a 30-second ad with a 30-second ad."

    The evolution of the Internet also made it harder to build buzz. The old days of making copies of copies on VHS, messengering them around town and congregating around TVs to catch the latest parody were gone. While the Internet made such shorts instantly available, it also ended their mystique.
    The article is actually pretty schizophrenic, since along with these doom and gloom examples, they discuss half a dozen success stories, starring guys who made an Internet short, and turned that into a real job in the movie industry. So overall, their point is what, exactly?

    Precipitation Adventures

    It's been raining for like the past week, and with the extended forecast calling for more and more of the same, that doesn't look likely to change. I don't mind the rain, though it does get a bit monotonous. I do miss the cold weather though; it was in the low 30s at night a few weeks ago, and since it's started raining it's been mid 40s at the coldest, and upper 50s in the day. In other words, not cold enough to require a coat to go outside, unless you're going to be standing around out there for a while. I'd love to wear a coat more often, I've got a nice leather one and everything, and it feels toasty during the walk to the car and from the car to our indoor destination, but once I'm there, wherever there is, I'm hot in a coat, and I soon tire of carrying the damn thing around.

    Yes, life is hard in modern civilization.

    As for the rain, it's been fun to listen to and watch and such. It rains quite a bit in most parts of Northern California, but the rainy months cluster, and we hardly see a cloud from April - October. On the other hand, it rains at least weekly during November, December, January, February, and March, and since we're still just two months into that, water from the sky is still sort of a novelty. I'll be sick of it by February, I suspect, what with my desire for any sort of outdoor activity constantly constrained by puddles and mud.

    It rained far less in my former home, though the months that could kindly be called "the rainy season" were basically the same. It's just that in San Diego the temperatures were 10-15 degrees hotter at all times, and in between days of rain you'd get one of the hated Santa Ana days with an offshore flow and highs in the 90s. In January. My basically-vampirific nature shudderes at the memory.

    In San Diego, I never expected anyone to be able to drive in the rain. It hardly ever rained, and usually when it did the roads had been dry for months, and were therefore quite slippery and dangerous with all the oil and car residue floating on the surface. There I could understand why some people got so overly-cautious and tentative in even a light mist.

    Now that I'm living in the Bay Area though, where it rains damn near every day 5 months of the year, I'm confused though. As I remarked to Malaya the other day, as we were ambling our way along the damp I-24 in a very light mist, stuck in a light flow of traffic that was putting along at maybe 50, when it would usually have been proceeding at 70+ on that same road at that same time of day, "Perhaps someday man will invent some sort of black, rubber-like substance that can be formed into automobile tires and enable vehicles to safely traverse slightly-moist roads."

    Ahh, to dream.

    In other wet-related news, the cats are unhappy. Well, let me amend that. Jinx is unhappy. Dusty could give a shit, since he's never outside for more than a few minutes at a time anyway, what with the soft and beckoning couch, chair, bed, carpeted floor, and various human laps available to him. Jinxie though, likes to go outside and look at nature and chak-chak-chak at the squirrels and smell the air. She doesn't much enjoy it when the outdoor carpets on the back patio are all squishy and there's moisture in the air though, and it's all she can do to find a merely-damp spot and hunker there for a while with her tail wrapped around her feet and her body quite compacted.

    A couple of days ago she was standing by the sliding glass door and making entreating noises, and I opened the door while saying to her, "You won't like it."

    I say "saying to her" but let's be honest, it's not like the cats know or care what the hell words are coming out of our mouths. We talk to them to hear ourselves talk, or to entertain the other humans in earshot. Malaya, in this case.

    Jinxie disregarded my words and shot right out the door, stopped, paused, then whirled and came straight back in, prrrfafing and brruping her displeasure as she headed across the room for some more Friskies. And there was much merriment at her expense. Don't worry kitty, it'll be dry again in 3 or 4 months. Of course that's like 3 years in cat years, which gots to suck, if you're her.

    Tuesday, December 27, 2005  

    Twas the day after Xmas...

    I got lazy over Xmas and didn't blog, but you didn't miss much, since it wasn't a very remarkable holiday on my end.

    We had a nice dinner party (white people style) at one of her coworker's homes on the 23rd, where there were about a dozen people, most of them neighbors and friends of the coworker. Good food, and interesting, since the coworker's husband is a hunter, and there's always wild game. We had a whole smoked pheasant, served cold with cheese and crackers as part of the appetizers, caribou ragu (like thick chili) over polenta, and a huge ham (store-bought, not wild boar shot) sliced up, along with salad, and more. Dinner was buffet style, with everyone serving themselves multiple times and sitting in the kitchen and dining room, casually. Dessert was a big Boston Creme Pie Malaya and I brought, and it wasn't bad either, despite basically being a twinkie with chocolate icing.

    Malaya was off to a family party on the evening of the 24th, and then over to her parents' Xmas morning/afternoon, which left me plenty of free time to watch football and work on the novel. There was more of the latter than the former, fortunately, and as a result chapter 6 is finally complete, in all of its 79000 word glory. More on that in a bit.

    Speaking of the 26th of December though, or Boxing Day as it's called in Canada and the UK, but not here in the US... there are supposed to be sales. Aren't there sales? I always hear on the radio and the teevee that there are "After Christmas" sales, and yet when we visited the very busy mall, and then Barnes and Noble, and then Mervyn's, then Marshall's, then Tuesday Morning, then TJ Maxx, etc, we didn't really see much evidence of that. Sure, the Xmas-themed wrapping paper and cards and such were all 50% off, and so were 2006 calendars, but that's a given.

    Other stuff though, was not on sale, or at least not enough of a sale to matter. I was looking for some more sneakers (yes, late term himbo-itus continues) and in Foot Locker, Champs, Finish Line, and Copeland's, it was the same story. (Well, not so much in Copeland's, where nothing ever seems to be on sale, and their prices are always 15% higher in the first place.) No sweeping sales on anything, just slightly reduced prices on individual items, all of them pretty clearly the stuff no one wanted in the first place. Shoes that have been not selling at $89 or $79 were down to $79 or $69. And still not selling.

    We looked in a dozen stores at the mall and found nothing worth buying, other than a few calendars for delayed Xmas gifts, and if not for the gift certificates we'd received for Xmas (Malaya Barnes & Noble, me TJ Maxx), I don't know that either of us would have bought anything. I did pay real money for a shiny workout shirt and workout pants at Marshall's, but only because they were at their usual low price, and because I liked the styling of them both. I got some blue cargo pants and other stuff at TJ Maxx later, but that was just because I had a gift card for them. Same as the books Malaya got at B&N.

    I know some of the sales go on early in the morning and were long over by the time we arrived in the late afternoon, but overall I was far from impressed. On the other hand, the mall was packed and the lines to buy stuff were far longer than usual in all of the stores we did enter, so maybe the merchants know what they're doing. Make a few superficial price reductions, take out some newspaper ads, and then hire extra cashiers and count your profits when the sheep flock to your store, and decide to buy stuff once they're there, even though the prices aren't very good.

    As for the novel, as I said, I worked on it a lot over the last few days, and finally finished chapter 6. I should have had that one done back in early November, but I got delayed and distracted with week-long vacations over Halloween and Thanksgiving, and completely rewrote the 25k word battle scene several times during early/mid December. I'm finally satisfied with it though, for rough draft quality at least, and have passed the chapter over to Malaya to print out at work and read and comment on, when she has the time.

    As for 7, I'm trying to be very diligent about the outline and the details, for once, so I (hopefully) won't get all bogged down in rewrites halfway through. And it's going well. I haven't actually begun writing the chapter yet, but I've got a sequential event outline that's very detailed and precise, and I've got a timeline worked out as well, but it's complicated. Lots of things happen in the same area in the same two week time frame.

    It's not really complicated in terms of plot twists or the like (well, a little bit of that too) but mostly in terms of how I'm going to relate it. I'm not writing the novel in omniscent: it's all from the POV of several main characters, and they can't relate things for the reader's benefit unless they see them/know them personally. So I know what's going to happen and when and where and to whom, but I'm juggling how I'm going to relate it. Of the three narrators seen in the book (so far), all three are present in one place for the first time, and I'm probably going to have the one least involved in the events in that place narrate it, to give it an outside analysis, and also to keep it shorter and not be redundant to events that took place in chapter 6.

    And no, I don't suppose any of that makes much sense to you guys at this point.

    Overall, I'm again unsure how many chapters it will be; I'd been thinking that 7 would take the characters nearly to their objective, and then 8 would be them dealing with a challenge at that objective and moving on nearly to the finale, which would be in 9, before a short epilogue wrapped everything up. Now I'm thinking that if I divide it up that way, 7 will be like 70k words, 8 would be about 15k and all in one place, 9 would be another 15k, almost all of it the final battle/confrontation, and then the epilogue would be about 1500 words. I don't really like that chapter length breakdown though, so perhaps I'll end 7 earlier in the chronology and put the last half of third of it into 8, before 9 ends things up in relatively succinct fashion.

    I'm not realy worried about the numbers, though. The whole chapter number system will almost certainly not survive into the final book form, and every chapter is broken up into 20 or 25 mini-chapters, and I could really do 7-9 as a single concluding chapter, since events in it are pretty contiguous.

    Furthermore, I don't even need to say this if you've read many of my other updates on the book and my writing in general, but it's a pretty safe bet that this last stretch of material will turn out to be twice as long/detailed as I'm currently expecting, which will make all of this advance length planning superfluous. I just hope it won't take 3 or 4x as long to write, as a number of other chapters already have.

    The whole "novel," right now, is somewhere around 3.7meg worth of .doc files, and that breaks down to something like 420,000 words. And I've got at least 80-100k more words to go; probably more like 150k. I'll be cutting out at least 150k of those just from chapter 2 on the rewrite, and maybe 30k from chapter 3 after that, but we're still looking at like 500k+ words, which would be well over 1000 pages even with very small print. Just going by size, (and pretending some publisher wouldn't force me to make grotesque edits and cuts) that's looking like 2 novels, and no, I can't see a convenient place to divide it in two. Not without major rewriting and reordering, at least. (Which might actually improve things, since the chapters 2-4 are largely build up for the much cooler stuff that comes later.)

    In better news, I keep adding ideas (or saving old ideas that aren't going to fit into this one) for the planned sequel, which I think may well be a better and more interesting book, and should theoretically be a more managable size; I.E. one volume. And with any luck, an understanding publisher would think it a nice cap to a lovely trilogy.


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