achievements, advice, and awards

1) Klaus over at Ming Movie Reviews just hit a big milestone, He’s been reviewing all the movies in “1001 Movies you must see before you die,” and he’s reviewed them all. And a bunch of other movies as well.

Of course, this is definitely a situation where quantity doesn’t mean anything without quality, and the reviews are very good. (There are some I disagree with, of course, but that’s a different question. 🙂 )

2) Tiyana Marie White at The Chandra Tribune has posted a video (first of a series) with advice for aspiring writers. Check it out, and subscribe to her channel (I did 🙂 ).

3) As you may possibly have heard, Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Some people have got a bit worked up about this, but since they are mostly the people who think in terms of whether one thing “rises to the level” of another thing, I’m quite tickled about how annoyed they are.

In one sense, who cares? As Leonard Cohen said, it’s “like pinning a medal on Mount Everest for being the highest mountain.”

Or, as Kate Tempest said, “… please run as much of It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) as you can. Rather than me saying why I like them, I’d rather just leave space to let the lyrics speak for themselves.”

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the bus station mystery — part one

The bus pulled away from the station, swung around slowly, and headed off toward the highway. Viewed through the driving rain, it was quickly reduced to a pair of small taillights, and then darkness.

“So, that’s it, right?” Billy said, leaning out over the counter so he could see Kelly across the empty waiting room. She was standing behind the ticket counter and looking out the window. She didn’t bother to answer him.

Mr. Randall poked his head out of his office. “Nobody leaves,” he said sharply. “Just got the call — forty-two is on the way after all.”

Billy shrugged and laid out what he needed to make a fresh pot of coffee. If the last bus had been any indication, number forty-two would arrive late and carrying very few passengers — but those passengers would probably want something hot to drink.

It felt very different than running away from home.

She looked out the window of the bus, though she couldn’t see very much. The storm seemed to be getting even worse, if that was possible. It reminded her of a couple of times when she’d gone out on emergency calls with her father during dangerous weather.

Of course, she could have changed her mind. She could have allowed the storm to provide an excuse for giving up.

There were very few people on the bus. She wondered how many others might have postponed their trips, exchanged their tickets, or even canceled their plans entirely.

But when you’re really scared to do something, you need to be suspicious of any escape hatch that suddenly presents itself.

Her father had told her that. And, as with some of the things he had told her, she had decided that it was true.

Looking out at the weather, feeling the bus shake as it came up a hill and a sudden blast of wind battered it, seeing how few cars were on the road, she wondered if they were going to make it all the way to their destination in any case.

Bus number forty-two was already twenty minutes late when Mr. Randall came out of his office. He was wearing a trench coat.

“I need to head home,” he announced to nobody in particular. “Forty-two is the last for today — you can shut down and close up after that. Kelly is in charge. Good luck.”

As he said the last two words, he was already most of the way out the back door.

Billy slouched behind his counter, leaning back against the little board that divided the two donut display cases. He heard a snort of laughter, and he leaned forward to see Kelly standing behind the ticket counter, her hands on her hips, looking wide awake and ready for anything — apparently in contrast to his own unheroic posture.

Then, as they saw a pair of headlights turn off the road and into the bus station parking lot, Kelly relaxed and stuck out her tongue, aware that her square-shouldered stance had made her breasts stick out, and of course Billy had been caught looking in that direction. Again.

They couldn’t see much through the rain-streaked windows, but they saw the headlights swing around the building, much more slowly than usual, pull into place, and then turn off. A few moments later, the big glass doors swung open and the first passengers came in.

to be continued…

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this is what i worry about when i’m writing

I’m going to start posting a new story, for which I don’t have a title yet, but I got hung up on this sentence.

It felt very different than running away from home.

Different from? Different than?

The rule from the Chicago Manual of Style:

different. The phrasing different from is generally preferable to different than {“this company is different from that one”}

But “It felt very different from running away from home” sounded awkward. Too many “froms,” for one thing.

Some authorities argue that people get too hung up on the difference, that “different from” is not that different to (as the British sometimes put it) “different than.” But I’m not above getting hung up on these sorts of differences, even though, as is often pointed out, great and respected writers have used both “than” and “from.”

But then, in several places, I found that an exception is often granted for situations where what follows is a clause rather than a noun or noun phrase. Which is clearly the case with my sentence (though I guess technically what follows is a gerund, which is sort of noun-ish…)


Problem solved!

So, the story is about to start. Then I’ll just have to figure out the title, characters, and plot.

Genre isn’t a problem. It’s a mystery. 🙂

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there’s really nothing like paper

I’ve been working, on screen, on the story I’m calling “Providence” (which is definitely not going to be the title), and finally, after some technical difficulties (described below) I printed out what I had so far.

And immediately saw all sorts of things to fix and change. Things I never saw in all the time I looked at it on screen.

The technical difficulties

I considered the question of computers before I went on my recent trip. My laptop is really too heavy to carry comfortably (no car = a lot of walking). I considered, as I have several time before, buying a lightweight Chromebook, but I didn’t. Instead I bought a very portable (it rolls up) keyboard for my tablet.

And then, when I got settled in at the bed & breakfast, I found I had the tablet and the keyboard, but not the extremely necessary and fairly obscure connector that, well, connects them.

I couldn’t easily locate a replacement where I was, so I broke down and bought a (cheap, light) Chromebook. On which I’m writing this, as a matter of fact. Quite a successful purchase.

So far, I have only one complaint, which is that it doesn’t — in any way that I’m used to — print. It has a USB port, and I can plug in a printer, and it even seems to recognize what the new peripheral is, but it won’t print to it.

Some research revealed that this is, in fact, how Chromebooks “work.” To print with one, you have to have a wireless-enabled printer (maybe that’s not the correct term — in any case it’s something I don’t have) and then you “print” to some sort of cloud thing and then the print job makes it to the appropriately-connected printer.

Which seems like a silly way to print to a printer that’s about a foot away from the computer.


Which is why it took a while to get around to printing the story, but the clarity it led to was worth the effort and the wait.

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Posted in Tech Topics, writing | 5 Comments

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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