Inhuman Swill : October 2008

My 1993 story "Colin and Ishmael in the Dark" is up now at PodCastle as the latest of their Halloween features. I was charmed by [info]mkhobson's introduction, and utterly delighted by the narration by MarBelle of the Directors Notes podcast.

Listen to the story, or download it to play at your convenience, here. I suggest listening with the lights off.

Happy Halloween!

An atheist's communion

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I just got home from early voting and dropping Laura off at her el station. We had touchscreen voting machines with paper ballot receipts that scrolled under glass. I have to say, it was a pretty slick and reassuring way to vote, though it lacked the visceral satisfaction of those New York machines where you set all the small levers and then ram one giant lever home to lock in your votes.

Still, the experience was not without its reward. I'm a sentimentalist, I know, but I felt a frisson of pride—dare I say rightness chills?—as I touched my stylus to the OBAMA/BIDEN box and took part in what I hope will be history. I told Laura this in the car afterward. "Interesting, I didn't feel anything," she said.

As with spiritual matters, we all have our own responses to the experience of participating in the civic dialogue of voting. But it's not the response or even the motive that matters, just the vote. Some might say our two votes don't mean anything because Illinois is all locked up for Obama anyway, but every brick has its place in holding the house together. Your vote is important, for whatever candidates, whether in Massachusetts, Utah, Indiana, or any other state. It's your affirmation that you're engaged with the future of the country, whatever you envision it to be.

I really only intended to say here that I had voted, and suddenly I feel like I'm giving a talk in church. I guess voting is one of the ways this atheist feels like part of something larger than himself.

The re-up

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Let Them Eat Chocolate!
I guess I've watched way too many episodes of The Wire lately, and read too much Richard Price. Now, every time I go to the kitchen to refill my coffee mug I think of it as the "re-up."

On an almost separate note, I'm delighted to report that besides my cubby at Writers WorkSpace, there are a couple of coffee shops right by our apartment that are laptop-friendly. It's less than a block to this one, where (taking a page from the [info]gregvaneekhout playbook) I spent a little time on Thursday afternoon:

This is why you live in a city, kids.

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Writing advice

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Writing is thinking.

Writing is not a process simply of transcribing ideas that are already worked out in full. Writing is the process of working through those ideas.

It is not necessary, nor is it likely even desirable, to sit down and write only after your ideas are worked out, because the very act of writing is the most important part of the process of working them out in full.

Writing is thinking.

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Not fit to print

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I've mentioned here before, I think, that I'm in the process of applying for a pardon from Canada for my mischief conviction of almost 22 years ago. Really, "in the process" is perhaps putting it too strongly. I'm hung up on one particular step in the process, which is heading down to my local police station to be fingerprinted. I keep finding excuses to put this off—or not even bothering to find excuses. Maybe this isn't surprising, given the way my back prickles—even today, when I haven't done anything—every time I'm out walking and a police car cruises slowly past me.

I have to get over, though, if there's any prayer of making it to Montreal next year for Worldcon.

In London

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Having a great time. Have seen [info]fjm and [info]secritcrush and [info]grahamsleight. Now at crypt of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. More later, and photos.

Cigarette magic

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There's a magic shop about a 15-minute walk from here. I had occasion to wander over there yesterday for the first time, and it was a marvel. Dark. Tiny. Crammed with masks, gags, novelties, books, and gadgets. There was barely room to walk up to the counter. The place smelled of dust and cigarette smoke. I haven't smelled those smells together in a shop for a long time.

My business there does not concern this vignette, but I was invited to approach the rear counter by a gruff but friendly voice. This belonged to an aging, rotund fellow with a terrific unplaceable accent. An equally rotund and aging woman was doing something behind a side counter.

"I'll be with you in just a moment," he said, peering through his glasses at some bagged booklets he was sorting through. "I have an eleven-year-old girl who called me who wants to learn cigarette magic. I'm seeing what I can find."

From behind me, the woman screeched, "What are you doing teaching an eleven-year-old girl cigarette magic?! You can't do that!"

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Varying the 'stache

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Wild Bill
The morning I found out about the AC/DC ticket snafu, I was very upset. Finding replacement tickets on StubHub helped, but didn't lift my (back in) black mood. It took a special delivery to accomplish that.

What arrived in the mail was a Sinclair Edwardian club collar shirt and a red Baker City vest. I tried them on immediatetly, and they fit perfectly. I looked like Deadwood had ordered me up from Central Casting.

Together with the black tuxedo jacket Laura found me on eBay, and this facial hair I've been cultivated, my getup for the "old timey" wedding in London this weekend is complete. And what's more, I have my Halloween costume too. No, you're never too old or too male to play dress-up.

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"Given the dog a bone"

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I had another misadventure on moving day, though I didn't know it for more than a week. AC/DC tickets were going on sale that same day, so I kept the cable modem and laptop set up while the movers were carting our stuff away. I had purchased a membership to the AC/DC fan club earlier so I could have access to the good reserved floor seats at Allstate Arena. My brother-in-law Tom and I had planned this all out.

Everything went fine at the time. I logged into Ticketmaster at ten in the morning, bought great seats, and went on my merry way. It wasn't until more than a week later that I looked at my bank statement online and saw that the $208.70 I'd been charged had been refunded to my card.

To make a long story short, I called Ticketmaster and discovered that I had forgotten to update my street address in their system. I had already updated the street address for my debit card, and when they ran a check later that day the two addresses didn't match. They sent me email (so they said) giving me 48 hours to call and resolve the problem.

I didn't receive the email. I didn't call. I lost the tickets.

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Maid of awesome

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My wife is made of awesome. Check her out, auditioning for the role of Commander Pike in a personal transport vehicle. (Photo by me.)

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