Tag Archives: Waffle

The Siren Song

Living a few hundred yards, as the crow flies, from a fire station isn’t something you think about, most of the time. During the day, the hum of traffic both near and distant, combined with the general background hubbub of the daytime that you never truly hear, but notice strongly by its absence as night falls, make it something that barely registers on your conscious mind.

In the deepest pit of the night, this changes. Your slumber is never truly deep, as the bell that fire stations once favoured has been replaced with a klaxon. Sleep is broken by that muffled, yet insistent wail… woooOOOOP-woooOOOOP-woooOOOOP. I wake, curse the klaxon and sulk for a few seconds, before remembering that the klaxon’s wail means that someone, somewhere, is in trouble; to hear the klaxon is to hear the sound of help departing for those unfortunates.

I roll over, damning myself as an inconsiderate, stone-hearted, bastard. I close my eyes again and fall back into the arms of Morpheus, embracing his transcendent kiss, lulled back to sleep by the gentling song of the passing fire engine.

weeeOOOOP
.
.
.
Weeep-Weeep-Weeep
.
.
.
HOOOOOOOOOOOOOONK!

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One of Those Days

I’m a bit swamped today, between Real Life, the Work in Progress and one or two other things I’m working on, so with that in mind let me do some quick sharing. We all love to share and blather about ourselves, right?

Things I Do Not Care About

To all media outlets, everywhere: Charlie Sheen’s apparent mental breakdown.
To people who comment on youtube videos: Justin Bieber/Lady Gaga/Katy Perry.
To amazon.co.uk: Bargains to be found on clothes airers. I clicked one link damn you!
To football broadcasters: The opinion of the vast majority of pundits you hire.
To our fridge: That funny whiff coming from behind you. I’ve learned to live with it, nothing can convince me to lug your heavy arse out of your cubby hole to find out what it is.
To our cat: I never liked the wallpaper in the passage that much, anyway.

Things I Do Care About

To my fiction writing brain: Completing my current work in progress, stop distracting me with the urge to write something else.
To the internet: Pictures of Bridget Moynahan. I don’t care if I’m shallow, vapid and guilty of objectifying an intelligent and talented actress, I just never get tired of looking at her.
To my reading brain: Reading the good stuff. Stop trying to convince me to reread bad stuff and post reviews of it.
To the world in general: Being too broke to afford Dragon Age II, so trying to figure out whether it’s worth trading in Heavy Rain, Fallout: New Vegas and a few less prestigious games to help finance the purchase.

That’s all for now. Drop a comment telling me what you do and don’t care about and I’ll catch you again soon.

Long overdue update

I can’t pretend I’m the most dedicated blogger. That being said, I’ve neglected this place for long enough now. Between the World Cup and some real world stuff, I’ve been entirely preoccupied of late. So, on to matters updatey without delay.

1. The World Cup blog. I’ve ditched it, quite unceremoniously and unannounced. I’ve learned something important from this. While I love football passionately, I don’t like writing about it. Writing fiction, or waffling inanely in posts on here and comments on blogs and fora (forums? fori?) feels like fun. Writing about football feels like work. Unpaid work at that. From now on, I’m just going to post my football or sports opinions that I simply must get off my chest on here. Those of you who don’t like sports shouldn’t worry. I think my love for footie and cricket in particular are how I switch my writing brain off, so those posts will be infrequent.

2. For no reason I can decipher, every piece of fiction I write of late is trying to expand beyond my initial intentions. This might be a signal from my hind-brain that it’s time to try writing something in novel length*. So much so, that my attempt to write a piece of fanfic (Don’t judge me! It was fanfic for one of the most awesome things EVAR!) of 500-2000 words in length failed dismally because the story I wanted to tell refused to tell itself in less than roughly 5000 words. My, quite frankly EPIC, entry is consigned to the dusty and neglected folder on my hard drive entitled “misc unusable projects”. It’s the same folder where I keep my Christopher Fowler/Joe Abercrombie explicit slash fic.

3. Mr Jake Kale continues to be more prolific and more talented than myself. He will pay dearly for this insolence. Oh yes, he will pay**. He has been warned…

4. The England performance at the World Cup has left me furious. More on this in a future post.

5. Dreamworlds continues to be an amazing forum populated with lovely and talented people, which I don’t spend anywhere near enough time posting on. Please to go there and sign up, if you enjoy fantasy fiction or role-playing even a little bit.

* More on this soon. I’m still planning.

** More on this also at a future date. I’m still planning this too, although this one will be far more nefarious. MWU-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!

Fun with Google: Further adventures in WTF?!

Earlier today, I had some problems getting AVI video files to run on my PS3. Being the rabid hater of customer service helplines that I am, I immediately turned to Google to help with my problem. The search term I was inputting was “why won’t my PS3 play AVI files”, find below what Google in its infinite wisdom thought I might be looking for answers about…

(Click to magnify)

And if I did, that would be the least of my worries!

I don't even HAVE a parakeet...

I can’t even make any sarcastic remarks about it, my mind is still boggling too hard.

So… Today is Monday, right?

I know, I know. I said I’d be back inside the Series Of Tubes™ on Monday, but I got delayed unavoidably. I’d like to tell you it was because of some kind of personal crisis or something. That would make for great drama and I’d get lovely wishes of things working out soon from regular readers… However, this is not what happened. What happened is Fallout 3. If it was legal (or indeed possible) to marry a video game, I would do so and polygamy laws be damned! I make no excuses, beyond the fact that until you’ve turned a Super Mutant from a rampaging green-skinned horror into a smoking pile of ash with the Firelance, you’ve never known true happiness.

Handwavium

So, in order to distract myself from the fact that my wife is in the hospital right now, I’ve been thinking really hard about whether or not I’ve got it in me to write a science fiction story. An old fashioned space opera kind of a thing. The thing is, once you get beyond basic Newton, Browning and Kelvin, as taught in high school, my brain struggles to comprehend anything not presented in a very basic and easy to swallow “Lie to Children”, such as those people like Michio Kaku or anyone who gives a lecture at TED put out there. Not the actual truth, but a close enough lie that laypeople can pretend they understand it. With that in mind, I’ve been asking myself the question “How much is it possible to hand wave in a sci-fi, space opera style of story?” I even invented a molecule of strange matter against future plot convenient technologies , named in the title of this post.

Taking into account the Fermi Paradox it is more than reasonable to ignore the possibility of alien races, and even alien biological systems in general by taking the idea of terra-forming to its full conclusion; the problem comes when trying to hand wave the technology. While it is a plausible solution to ignore the problem altogether it won’t make for a very satisfactory story to even a mildly experienced
reader of science fiction. The problem isn’t that the character doesn’t know how things work, it’s that I don’t know how they work.

Sometimes I think to myself that in a story set in the contemporary world, I don’t have to explain how a microwave oven works to allow the protagonist to have an instant pizza. Then I realize that this is because I know what a microwave oven is and how it works- sort of. (electro-wave thingies jiggle the food molecules and they get angry about it, hence the heat. Sometimes groups of Zen Buddhist molecules group together and reject their brethren’s anger, leaving cold spots. See, easy.) I can also assume that any potential readers of my potential work have a rough grasp of what a microwave oven is and does, hence the brilliant and incisive technical data above isn’t necessary to the story.

I can probably trick a relatively lazy reader, such as myself, with a phrase along the lines of “The I.S.S. Cauto Star was powered by a mark VII sub-light Orion drive*, fitted with series nine inertial dampeners and equipped with fully functional Grav simulators throughout the inner hull.” The problems come from more technically minded readers, who would take in the above passage and immediately wonder how all that fancy-schmantzy gear actually works (theoretically) and promptly fire off e-mails asking me how it works, the only possible answer to which would be “Buggered if I know, have you tried reading Asimov instead? That bloke knows his techno shit!” and a reader is lost to me forever, just because they guessed, correctly, that I am an idiot.

Does this mean that techno dummies of a faintly scientific bent like I am should keep off the sci-fi grass, so to speak? I certainly hope not, since the fringes of a space faring society are a truly exciting place to set a work a work of fiction after all. Does the average science fiction reader worry overly much about the technical aspects of any given story that they might read, so long as the fictional technology is employed consistently throughout the story and follows the implied rules of the fictional universe? I know that I don’t, but then I don’t know that I constitute a reasonable model of an average sci-fi reader. Unless your survey is very small, with very hazy questions. (Survey all of the people in my front room called Daniel, then ask them if they think too hard about the tech stuff mentioned in any sci-fi they might read.)

* By the way Wikipedia carries a pretty good article about the theory behind the Orion Drive, or Nuclear Pulse Propulsion.  Look it up. As for inertial dampeners and Gravity simulators? Buggered if I know, have you tried reading Asimov instead? That bloke knows his techno shit!

An important message for the people who make Evian commercials.

Dear whoever it is who makes this* commercial for Evian mineral water,

I speak to you on behalf of hordes of people across the U.K. and any other territories your current commercial airs in. With one voice, we all say to you… STOP IT!

It’s creepy, unnatural and has no place in a civilised society. Babies should be sitting in high chairs, giggling adorably and looking vaguely reminiscent of British Bulldogs (I mean that in a good way). What they certainly should not be doing, is rollerblading, dancing, doing Ethel Merman numbers in fountains or any of the other unnatural and freakish abominations you’ve churned out in order to make us associate your product with horrifying demon babies intent on stealing our souls and handing them over as tribute to their demon overlords. It only makes us want to drink Volvic mineral water, and I’m sure that’s not your preferred outcome.

When I see a baby on the street, my natural reaction should be one of “Isn’t he/she/it adorable?”, combined with an utter certitude that I absolutely do not want one of my own. NOT a Pavlovian response of terror and a feeling of complete certainty that said baby is just waiting for me to let my guard down so it can get on with reenacting Children of the Corn.

That is all.

* Ordinarily, I would embed a youtube video in order that all of my readers (both of them) know what I’m talking about. On this occasion I wish to avoid looking on that hideous advert each time I load my homepage.

Blog traffic confuses me.

In a fit of boredom (and yes, I’ll admit it, ego) I decided to check out my blog’s stats. I was wondering how many people were viewing my site and which posts were the most popular. I have to admit to being a little surprised by the results. The top five posts are as follows…

1:  https://waffleandwrite.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/greetings-fellow-writerly-types/

2: https://waffleandwrite.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/the-horror-will-be-unending/

3: https://waffleandwrite.wordpress.com/2009/11/07/sometimes-google-scares-me/

4: https://waffleandwrite.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/the-twelve-days-of-halloween-part-eleven/

5: https://waffleandwrite.wordpress.com/2009/09/21/a-procrastinators-internet-toolkit/

The only one of the few pieces of original fiction I’ve posted here so far came in at number six.  Why should these particular posts be so favoured compared to the others I’ve made? I haven’t the foggiest idea. I think number three on the list was quite fun to write, but I have no clue as to why the others are amongst the most popular. My favourite posts are all of my fiction posts (except Redcap, which sucks like a black hole), the post about stuff I’m too old to still be doing and the post about Father Dowling.

As far as I can tell, the internet likes cheery hellos, people singing really badly, pictures of werewolves, snark and websites that act as time sinks. Considering my sarcastic nature, love of procrastination and dreadful singing voice I’m well placed to become the next internet superstar. I can only post an introductory message once and I can’t draw worth a damn, so I’m not in the best position to capitalise on those things. Maybe I should hire a “ghost artist” and create a bunch of sock puppet “guest bloggers” to give a cheery greeting? Then I shall rule the internet! MWU-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!1!!!!one!!*

*At least until the tenth dan masters of blog fu that are Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi smite me for my impudence. Until that point, my evil laugh remains valid and I shall stroke my goatee beard in a menacing manner to prove it.

Old dudes sing messed up lyrics. Fact!

Last night I listened to some Aerosmith for the first time in quite a while. Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing was one of the tracks. That line at the beginning? The one about laying awake to watch her dreaming? All you budding lotharios out there, take heed of your uncle Daniel. Don’t do that; seriously, just don’t. That’s some creepy shit, right there. As for kissing her eyes… Really? What were they thinking? “Hey baby, I love you so much that I’m gonna give you pink-eye.”? Anyway, the woman’s asleep, you shouldn’t be kissing any part of her, let alone her ocular cavities. Being woken suddenly to find a fish lipped O.A.P. looming over you is enough to give anyone a start. I’m just saying, that’s all.

Sometimes, Google scares me…

I’ll admit to being a world class procrastinator. When it comes to procrastination, I thought about writing the book, but got distracted and did something else instead. One of my favourite methods of passing away the idle time while I stare hopelessly at my short story due to be posted here Any Time Now™, is to ask Google metaphysical questions. As a fan of the late, great Douglas Adams I was deeply gratified to find out what happened when I Googled “the answer to life the universe and everything”.

A few minutes ago, I decided to mess around on Google, asking it stupid questions. I started typing, but paused when I realised I didn’t really know what I wanted to ask. Being the helpful page that it is, Google thought I might need some suggestions. One of those suggestions managed to pull me up short. Look at the picture below and you’ll see highlighted in blue, the cause of my momentary fit of “WTF?!?”.

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Google, messing with my head.

Google, messing with my head.

Seriously, Google. You have access to my search history. You know that usually I’m looking for Steven Wright jokes or pictures of Jessica Biel in her underwear*. I thought we understood each other. I use you as my default search engine, you give me sweet, sweet Jessica Biel  bikini photos.

Also, why are 52, 600 people baffled as to the appearance of a deceased Asian on their living room furniture? Maybe it’s just one person who got really confused by it happening and posted the question on thousands of message boards in the hope of finding an answer somewhere. Maybe there’s been a recent spate of people from Pakistan expiring on stranger’s sofas and I just never heard about it until tonight? What if Google has used complex algorithms to determine my future and I’m soon to be typing that exact query in a sense of mounting panic and desperation… QUIT MESSING WITH MY HEAD, GOOGLE!

* Reversing those two search queries gives far less hilarious results than you might imagine.