it never occurs to me to take pictures.

My vacation this year was very similar to last year’s (which was deliberate), so I’ll refer you back to that blog post and then list some differences.

1) Boats. I did get out on a boat this year — a boat that takes people on a tour of the area, featuring various lighthouses and their histories. Plus, of course, the Kennedy Compound — because everybody who goes to Cape Cod wants to see that.

And these days there’s a new excitement about the Kennedy Compound, because Taylor Swift was dating a Kennedy for a few months recently, during which time she bought a house next to the compound (for $5 million), which she then sold (for $6 million) after the romance ended.

(Our tour guide was a realtor, so property values were referred to here and there in the tour. But real estate is always better when Taylor Swift is involved. 🙂 )

I didn’t take any photos on the tour though, because, as usual, it didn’t even occur to me. A group of people on the boat asked me to take their picture — leading to me backing up on the (small, very small) prow of the boat, trying to get all four of them into the shot, while trying to figure out which button to press to make the camera work, while reflecting that someone falling off a boat while backing up to take a photograph might be amusing if it was in a movie — but it would probably be less so in real life.

I did get the shot, though, without falling into the water. And, of all things, I took some photographs of my own, though not of anything picturesque or historic — they were reference photos for a story I’m working on.

2) Food. This year I had the broiled scallops twice and skipped the fried scallops. Which was a good decision.

The unexpected treat, though, was when I had crab cakes, and, in true New England style, they came with baked beans and brown bread.

Brown bread!

I had forgotten that brown bread even existed, and I hadn’t had it since I was young. And it was really good — as good as I remembered.

That isn’t always true of things you remember from childhood.

3) Movies. I didn’t watch Moonrise Kingdom this year, but I did see Suicide Squad. It’s not a great movie, as you may have heard, but it is fun and kind of interesting to analyze. Plus, I felt virtuous about seeing it, since I had to walk over three and a half miles to the theater from the place where I was staying.

I took a cab back, though.

4) My mantra was still: “Less doing, more being.” Plus walking.

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this is when i miss my mother 

In Captain America: Civil War, there’s a moment when Cap, Falcon, and Bucky are escaping from prison. They’re in a Volkswagen bug (I guess to blend in, since they’re in Germany), and at one point Cap — who is driving — gets out to receive their weapons and equipment from Agent Carter, who is helping them escape. As Falcon and Bucky watch, Bucky, who’s sitting in the back, says to Falcon, “Can you move your seat up?”

Falcon says simply, “No.”

This expresses a lot about how he feels about the situation they’re in, but it also reminded me of something.

In an episode of a classic radio comedy show Vic ‘n Sade, from the 1930s and 1940s, Vic has come home from his job at the kitchenware plant (to the “small house halfway up in the next block”) for lunch.

Instead of finding lunch on the table, he finds Sade (his wife) and Rush (their son) sitting on the back steps. Lunch isn’t ready, because Sade is making beef punkles, and, as she reminds him, beef punkles take four full hours to get tender.

The three of them chat about other things, with Vic periodically coming back to the fact that lunch still isn’t ready, and Sade reminding him again about how long it takes for beef punkles to get tender.

Finally, he asks if Sade could have started the beef punkles earlier.

“No,” Sade serenely replies.

Falcon’s “No” reminds me of Sade’s, but who is possibly going to understand that now?

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anniversaries, and small screens

I started this blog on August 21, 2005, so that’s eleven freakin’ years ago. 741 posts.

Well, one more now.

Hey, pretty cool.

I know I missed the actual anniversary, but I missed it by less than usual. I think last year I missed it completely, and that was the tenth anniversary.

Oh, well.

cellphones and novels

On another subject, I’ve realized that the problem with doing a lot of writing on a phone, at least for me, is not the keyboard. Practice helps with that.

What practice won’t help with is the size of the screen.

In general, other than jotting down a few notes, my phone doesn’t show me enough for me to write more. A tablet does, even a small one, but not a phone.

It was helpful to figure that out. It may be different for other people, but everybody has to figure out what works for them.

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the baby doesn’t stay in the picture

So, I’ve been working on a new story (not the nursing home one) for a while, and it just wasn’t coming together.

I think the problem is the baby. I’ve never written a story with a baby before, and maybe there was a good reason for that.

I had a bunch of scenes with the baby, all the way through from its first appearance (crying, annoying some other characters in a somewhat amusing way), to the end, where it was revealed…

Well, anyway.

The problem has turned out to be that, particularly in an Agatha Christie type mystery where the characters are all stuck in one place together, you have to account for the baby at all times. You can’t have it go outside for a smoke during a scene where it would be in the way. It could doze off for a while, but I understand that’s very temporary, especially during a storm with thunder and lightning.

Plus, in a mystery story, a baby has very limited usefulness. It can’t commit a murder, and it can’t solve one. You certainly wouldn’t want it to be the victim, and babies make very unreliable witnesses (unless you do a “what the dog did in the night-time” thing, but that’s way overused at this point).

So, the baby is out. Sometimes you have to kill your little darlings, or at least boot them out of your story.

As W. C. Fields said, “Never work with animals or children.”

(Daphne growled at me when she read that, so I had to reassure her that of course I wasn’t referring to her.)

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i’m reading some things

First, here’s a quote about research for writers (or anybody):

“I don’t use the internet much, because having looked up things about myself I know how much of it is rubbish.”

— Louis de Bernières

(That’s in memory of my mother, a one-time librarian.   🙂 )

Anyway, apparently it’s “weird 1970s time,” because this is what I’m reading right now:

1) The Eye in the Pyramid by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson (the first book in the Illuminatus Trilogy). I read these books once before, when I was in college, over several days when I was sick with a high fever and unable to sleep. My memory of it is, to say the least, fuzzy. If I start to get sick again, I’m going to stop reading immediately.

2) The Final Programme by Michael Moorcock (the first book of the Cornelius Quartet). I began it once. I’m fairly sure, but I’ve never finished it, as far as I can remember. I’ve always found Moorcock better to read about than to actually read.

But what the hell. It seems to go with the other two.

3) Sacred Locomotive Flies by Richard A. Lupoff. Difficult to describe. The most lighthearted of the three. Also the shortest, by a wide margin. The only one I really remember and the one I’m most likely to finish this time around. Also, the one that doesn’t have its own Wikipedia page.

4) Oh, and Mockingbird. This is the one that’s a modern comic book as opposed to freaky 1970s novel. The one with a dry and somewhat absurd wit. The ones where the individual issues fit together like a puzzle box — where, if you pay attention, you can keep track of where the Corgi dogs all came from and why Bobbi (Mockingbird) can explode Ping-Pong balls with her mind, though even so it’s hard to track how much Chardonnay Bobbi drinks — mostly because she keeps changing how much she’ll admit to.

I particularly appreciated the AV Club article I link to above, since in reading the actual book, I had missed the final page, with the yoga poses.

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hey, some videos! 

I was struck by two recent Comma Queen videos at the New Yorker site.

The first one is interesting because Ms. Norris emphasizes a different aspect of danglers (dangling participles) than the New York Times style guide does.

The New Yorker rule is that the participal phrase has to modify the subject of the sentence (Ms. Norris gives examples). The rule at the Times is that a modifying phrase at the beginning of a sentence had to be followed immediately by the thing being modified. This is shown in this example from the (late, lamented) After Deadline blog:

A former House member who served as trade representative and budget director under President George W. Bush, his efforts at bipartisanship help him at home.

–This appositive phrase is a dangler. It should be in apposition with “he,” not with “his efforts.”

This video talks about whether we should use “who” or “that” when referring to an animal. The “who vs that” rule for people is one of my favorites, so I wanted to check this out.

The end of the video is the best part, though.

On another subject, whenever a new superhero movie comes out, people complain (with complete justification) about how the superhero movie world is so boy-centric. But there are five superhero movies centered around a woman, and now there’s going to be a sixth.

I can hardly wait. 🙂

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