Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Clever animals, those orcs

A while ago I got into a short argument about the ethics of Tolkien. Short, because we were coming at the question from different directions, and our ideas were simply incompatible. Anyway. I wish I'd had this to point to, at the time:


One paragraph stands out for me. To whit:

Napoleon spoke of ‘two o’clock in the morning courage’, the cold courage that is trained into a man’s bones and will allow him to act bravely in no matter what adversity. Hardly anybody is born with such courage, and most people never acquire it. To truly follow a purely secular ethical code we need two o’clock in the morning enlightenment: the ability to see, through the clamour of our desires and fears, what is the wise thing to do in each situation we encounter. And we need the courage as well, or we will not be able to go through with some of the actions we know are necessary. But we need to have a good-sized portion of enlightenment before we can even understand the need to be enlightened. Not many of us get that far without the sanctions of some religion or other. In this sense it is quite true that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. It is not the only possible beginning, but even today it remains the usual one.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Enjoy that holiday

Sort of an end of year vibe going on. On Saturday I had the strange experience of going to my local bar and having a conversation with a complete stranger about Mesoamerica. It's one of those "areas of my expertise" that I don't get to break out very often, so it's always nice to actually have that conversation. Oh, and we talked about the Civil War, too. Fun stuff.

It was a pretty good holiday. I'm a quiet holiday sort of person, so my days of note tend to be about sitting around with my wife, decorating cookies, reading...that sort of thing. Hot cocoa and fireplaces and warm blankets. Picture to the left was taken on xmas day.

Anyway. Merry christmas, folks. I like you people.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Finally, hair et al

Here's a picture. I wanted to post this because it is quite possibly the worst picture of me ever taken, with the exception of every other picture we took that morning. I've been dragged, mole-like, out of my burrow and trapped in the brightest room of the house. It's brilliant.

Anyway. I've been taking time off work to write, as I have mentioned. Yesterday was such a day. And yesterday, instead of writing, I did a few household chores in the morning and played Final Fantasy all afternoon and deep, deep into the night. I swear I'll do better, later, but I had some license points to earn.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ah, but how many hit points did the Construct Council have? Hm?

I was...surprised, I suppose...to learn today that the upcoming issue of Dragon Magazine will have the stats for the world of Bas-Lag, centering on New Crozubon. With much input and the express blessing of Mate China. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I mean, I'll be buying the magazine, but..I mean. Huh?

There are levels at which I understand this. China has stated his own affection for quantifying and codexing strange things, and he played the game when he was younger. I suppose it was inevitable. But the central trick of adventure gaming is the adventure party, and if you've read PSS you know how the world views such people. I don't know. I hope it's a faithful translation.

Monday, December 18, 2006

You shouldn't bother reading this

Sorry I've been relatively absent. Kind of a kooky week. I think the holidays are primarily designed to disrupt my sense of peace and well-being. I want all the cheer and festivity to be over, so I can go back to being happy. Please note that I am not a Grinch, but neither am I the Holly King.

Just posting to note that I don't have anything interesting to say right now. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Up down up up down

Yesterday a good review. Today a bad review. I think I'm starting to get the hang of this.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Aribitrary Celebration

So. Today was my birthday. I've never made a big deal about my birthday. I think that comes from my junior high days. In junior high, there was obviously a great deal of importance put on birthdays. They were the social event of the scene, the age-appropriate analog of prom or the spring formal. The more popular you were, the cooler you were, the bigger the party. There were easy to identify gradations in the social structure. Not-cool kids had their party at home. Mildly cool kids had them "out," like at McDonalds or Shoneys or something. The better the restaurant, the better the party, going all the way up to Showbiz Pizza Place, which was fairly cool.

But the atom bomb of junior high birthday parties? Tarwheels. Yeah, that's right...the skating rink. I only got to go to these parties because *everyone* went to them. The whole class got invited. My friends and I (I had friends, yes. Two of them. We talked Transformers.) would collect our skates and go stand in the arcade. I remember that there was music, but I didn't know what to do with it. I played Rampage instead.

The point is, I didn't have cool parties, because I didn't have cool friends. Even if I had bigger parties, I wouldn't have felt comfortable inviting the cool kids because they would probably have declined. DEE-clined. And that sort of set in motion a habit whereby I didn't bother celebrating my birthday. I convinced my parents to not bother sometime in Junior High, and held steady on that all through high school. By the time I got to college it just wasn't something I thought about.

But this morning my wife gave me a balloon, and I thought "You know. I kind of miss birthdays."

Saturday, December 09, 2006


It's been a pretty good couple of days. I took Friday off from work to write. In fact, I have every Friday off this month, for the writing. All these vacation days I have to burn, or I lose them. Yeah. It's a real tragedy. So I've gotten a lot done, yesterday and today. Pretty much totally replotted the book, and started writing the bits that will string together the bits of the old text that I'm keeping. But it's nice to have single 8.5x11 piece of paper that has the entire story, page one to page end.

I don't know why the events surrounding the recent death of James Kim has been bothering me so much. I don't follow media much, don't pay attention when your White Women disappear, unlike most of America. But this one caught in my head. I think it has something to do with my relationship to the wild, to the unbroken pieces of the planet that still stalk the edges of our cities, our highway systems and fast food delivery areas. I don't want to get in to whether or not he made mistakes, because of course he did. Everyone does. What I want to focus on is this: This is how stories end sometimes. Sometimes a helicopter sees you, sees your umbrella or your smoke signal, sometimes you stumble on a hunting party or a gas station, or vacationing kayakers who happen to have a satphone. Sometimes.

And sometimes you lean over to kiss your wife goodbye, you pat your children on the head. You go out and do something superhuman, superheroic. You're resourceful and brave and unbelievably determined to overcome. And then you die, and your children are too young to remember you, and your wife has to go on in the constant absence of you, the void that you used to fill. Sometimes that how stories end.

Monday, December 04, 2006

December is for working

Sort of a busy weekend. Shoveling the driveway on Saturday sucked. My driveway doesn't drain and we had rain the day before, so we had about two inches of ice under the six of snow. Ice is hard to shovel. My whole core is sore. And then we had an office party, which ended in a poker game that didn't go well, mostly because half the people knew how to play and half the people were just drunk and betting randomly. Who keeps doubling their bets on five eight off suite? The guy who won the game, that's who. Anyway.

Then Sunday was our DnD game, which is a lot of sitting in uncomfortable chairs and eating bad food and thinking really, really hard. It's fun, but I'm usually wiped out by the end of it.

My vacation time has accumulated, and I have to spend it by the end of the year or I lose it. So I'm going to take every friday off for the rest of the year. I've gotten extensive notes on the book, so that's what I'll be doing. Re-plotting, re-writing, re-thinking. Re. But I want it to be a busy and productive month, so I can start the new year with a solid footing.

I can summarize the above for you pretty easily: Nothing is happening in my life. I don't do anything interesting or new, so all I can do is talk about my writing and why my back hurts. Someday I'll look back on these years as the easy ones, but this isn't what I had in mind when I said I wanted to be a writer.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Not bad for a southern boy

I've gotten comfortable with snow. This was a development, for me. Back home we just didn't go out in the snow. It snowed, the city shut down. There were very few plows, and fewer people who knew how to drive in snow, so we all stayed inside. Plus, and this is an important point for people to understand, if you slide off the road in Chicago, you bump into a curb, or maybe wrinkle your fender on a building. If you slide off the road back home, you fall off the mountain, crash through a dozen or so yards of treetops, and punch your '83 volvo station wagon through the roof of someone's vacation house. Dig?

So when I moved up here, I didn't go out in the snow. It didn't help that I was driving an Integra, or that the municipality where my office is located doesn't seem to own any plows. First time it snowed, I called in sick. Almost lost my job that day. So for the last ten years (do you hear me, I've been doing this job I HATE for almost ten years now) I've slowly learned to drive in the snow, primarily by driving in the snow. My car has gotten better, but mostly it's learning how it's done.

Last night we had maybe half an inch of sleet and freezing rain, followed by maybe three inches of snow. Maybe more. I didn't check. And the drive here was fine. A little skidding whenever I had to start up at intersections, but that it. Made it all the way to work. On time! Pulled into the parking lot, and what happened? I got stuck. Trying to pull into a space. Stuck. Had to get people from inside to dig me out, and it looks like I'm trailing coolant. Awesome!

Is it too much to ask for the parking lot to be plowed when we get to work? Is that too high of an expectation? Every other business on the block was plowed. Our contract guy just hadn't gotten here yet. Still hasn't gotten here. Meh.