Douglas in Wonderland

Wrote about nothing on Tuesday.  Wrote about a camera on Wednesday.  I predict third day slump.

Last night a friend encouraged me to read or possibly reread some of the classics.  She suggested I sit with my oldest daughter and we read Alice in Wonderland together.  I’ve never read this story.  I’ve seen the Disney movie adaptation in full as a child–I think–and then again in parts and pieces while my kids watch it in pieces and parts on the DVD player in our living room.  What I recall and what I’ve seen scare me two ways.

First, it raises an discomforting shiver up from my defenseless underarms like the threat of a tickle that quickly attacks my core.  I shake it off of course–it’s just a movie–but the light ting of fear lingers.

Second, the story presented by Disney makes no sense.  Disappearing cats, a deck of cards, and commands to drink or eat me?  How could such nonsense flow sensibly if only I read the book?

Next up was some light brain candy for me: Atlas Shrugged.  I gagged down most of The Fountainhead before I gave up on Rourke as some Bartlbyesqe prick come architect well before a plot of any kind emerged but not before I read more than half of the book.  It’s been a while so I don’t recall the details, but ambling through life don’t a plot make.  I’ll pick up Atlas–eventually–but I’m not expecting it to do much for me.  Right now I don’t need books with a point.

Maybe I could fire up Hemingway, I hear he’s good.  Please leave your classic recommendations in the comments below.

Day 233

The No-brainer Side of the Knob

Crap!  I wrote yesterday, so I must write today if I’m going to write tomorrow.  Remember, I promised mechanical prose for a couple of days while I work out the cobwebs.

Early in mid-December we bought a new digital SLR.  A Canon XSI.  This model sits at the top of the first tier of digital SLRs for Canon.  Of course I wanted to go higher–that’s why the marketing folk make tiers–but I resisted such inclinations.  I’m starting to realize that features I can’t understand or determine when I’d use are features I don’t want to buy.

We’re pleased with the camera overall, but haven’t given it much of a workout.  We pushed the envelope on volume around Christmas.  We both ran into a flash-bound “Busy” warning indicating we’d better slow the heck down, but never hit a “Card Full” indicator on the new 4gig SD.  Most of those shots relied on the pre-programmed settings, not the creative ones.

For right now creative means slower.

After some practice I’m sure I’ll shoot as swiftly as I did with my first SLR.  I’m still frustrated the f-stop and speed information appear along the bottom of the screen and not the right-hand side.  This is the second camera that frustrates me in this regard.  I’ve still not overcome that vertical layout habit I nurtured with my Minolta from the early 80s.  It doesn’t help that the finer steps between each setting look so unfamiliar to me I can’t always figure out which is an aperture size and which is a shutter speed–I bet the book could help me.  Since creative means slower and a passel of kids means I need agility I’m sticking with the no-brainer side of the knob for now.

As a low-grade photo hobbyist paying for each frame twice drove me to be cautious with film.  Sadly, this caution did not inspire me to take better pictures by learning to think through a shot before making it, it taught me to just take less photos–to develop fewer.  With this digital I disregard frame counts and lighting.  I shoot from the hip as often as not and delete the bad ones as I go.

The freedom to capture images poorly and without thought, to rely on volume more than skill, I will employ as a luxury and not a crutch as much as I can.  Maybe I should tuck that thought away as I write?

Day 232

See Hellboy Before Reading This

Not exactly spoilers ahead.  But kinda.

Just thinking about how much I was disappointed by Hellboy II makes me feel like a traitor.  The most brutal part of my unorganized negative commentary review would be this analysis: any randomly chosen four minute segment made sense and was good; any randomly chosen eight minute one was not.

Of particular offense was the Troll Market.  The tight streets and narrow winding alleys convinced me there was a ceiling on this sound stage.  It immediately brought to mind Diagon Alley and then dismissed it as quickly.

At one point I literally thought Perlman’s head was twice as big as his body.  Seriously I had problems with the make-up!

I have no idea why they were shooting at the tooth faeries with bullets in guns when in the just the previous scene we saw Liz expertly in control of her flames.  She was on fire near a kitten without toasting it.

The hand-drawn props and scenery that Mike puts in the books just did not translate to the movie format.

Oh well.

Sorry.

The King’s Draggin’

I conciously skipped writing last night.  Let’s call it laziness.  I did replace it with reading a new book and going to bed early.  I did not, as previously threatened, watch copious amounts of bad TV.

The book I picked up in Houston last week reads well enough, but isn’t in my sweet spot.  I like my fantasy a bit more fantastical.  A couple chapters in I discovered the author is part of a group blog I read.  With a little more rooting about I found some my-thoughts-on-writing-and-genre type posts she’d done.  One of her things is historical accuracy.

Her emphasis on this accuracy shows in the text.  I’d not call it invasive, but I would call it evident.  People that shouldn’t have experience with horses don’t and only the clergy and some of the rich can read.  The effort definitely recommends the practice, but it does seem she’s gone out of her way not to be inaccruate–except for the magic of course.  Which strikes me as disengenious–or some other big word that means dumb.

When I’m done I suspect I’d recommend the book in general but I’m not sure I’ll be picking up the other six in the series unless she drops a plot bomb on me.  Fortunately, her more recent work is available via a free ebook from Tor.

Day 255

Getting My Celtx On

A friend bought a Mac the other night. The all-in-one jobby that looks like a fat wide-screen monitor. I took over and downloaded Scrivener so I could see it in action. Once we figured out how to install applications on a Mac and figured out that the program actually was open after five minutes of trying to open it I was immediately reminded of Celtx.

Scrivener offered the same template projects. Much of the minimal tour I did reinforced the similarities more then eroded them. So today I thought I’d try writing some here, in Celtx.

You may recall 1000 Days began as a private doc in Google Docs. Following that it became a test of Movable Type until that install mysteriously collapsed and I reverted to my solid standby WordPress. Sometime in there I wrote in MS Live Writer, DarkRoom, and most recently and regularly in Q10. I suppose this illuminates my mercurial behavior more than anything, but when you work on the Internet, there really is something better around the corner.

What I do here doesn’t require all that much. I rarely post pictures and never any other sort of media. Why not just write in the editor provided by WordPress? that question makes me snicker because I really should be. The WP editor does everything I need it to do: align text, highlight colors, create links, insert photos when I need. The whole CMS aspect organizes and stores my daily posts. I don’t know. I just like trying things out.

Other than its similarities to Scrivener, Celtx interests me more now because with this week long theme thing I started–and promptly abandoned–I’m wondering if I have enough mass to start keeping track of similar posts in the same place. I’m wondering if I need to start populating character datasheets and prop information. Celtx lets me do that.

Now to find out if I can format this text or do a word count.

Word count: 339
Day 251

We Also Saw Kung Fu Panda

8:37 – 23 mins to write.

8:38 – Crap, that went fast.

Friday evening the world sped up a bit.

Around 4:30 Grandma arrived to pick up Hope for a sleep-over. I showered during the event, but I’m told she grabbed her stuff, trundled over to the car, and climbed into her seat. We thought she’d balk or cry. Excellent.

Near 5—before or after I don’t know—the rest of us bunched into the mini-van en route to the other babysitter’s house. Two miles up from here one stop sign per mile. Dump Joy off like a newborn at the doorstep of a church then headed west. Again, one stop sign per mile. His time six miles. That happens to be one mile more than necessary—fast is slow; slow is fast.

We get very well parked for both the frontside and the backside of the movie. Scoot through the mall to the food court near the theater.

“No we can’t rent one of those little cars. What do you want to eat, pizza or hot dogs?”.

“I need to go potty.”

“Do you too?”

“No.”

“Good. Do you want a hot dog or pizza?”

We dine at the ‘little tables’ near the powder blue ’57 Chevy table. It’s like parent-teacher night at grade school with our knees bumble the table top. Faith savors a pizza slice like she’s got all the time in the world. Grace devours a hot dog sans bun like she’s got none at all. Mom and I share the bun and crust and some chicken nuggets that she got when my attention drifted.

Kung Fu Panda was ok. I didn’t laugh at any of the parts the rest of the audience laughed but I could usually see why they did. Some scenes moved fast like a frenetic car chase and I wondered if the girls followed the action. Dreamworks rolls a little different then Pixar.

I couldn’t get over the unanswered question of why the panda’s father was a duck. Nor exactly what animal Sifu was.

Word count: 342
Day 239

About Last Night

Initially I intended for that little 1 minute exercise to be more about character development. Since the inspiration for it focused on the physical form. Instead I got more of what I would call lead-off sentences. Not sticking with my intention isn’t a big deal. I’m just making note.

I probably won’t write against the clock again late in the evening at the last minute any more. Much like trainer walking a horse before a race, timed writing like that warmed up my brain and then left it clamoring in the starting gate only to be led back to the barn. Even when I woke up this morning I continued to probe the first couple of words of a sentence for good breeding.

Strange and unexpected.

I’ll do what I can to return later today, but I’ve got mowing, solo parenting (can’t call it babysitting when they’re yours), and some undefined notion of a third major thing to do today.

Word count: 146
Day 224