Daily Archives: January 26, 2004

Costume Geek

Oh, gods, I am such a geek. Have I mentioned recently how much of a geek I am?

No reason, really; this is just a random geek-out moment. Actually, yes, there is a reason; I’ve just spent way too much time poring through costume photos from The Return of the King, specifically the gorgeous selection of Arwen gowns. I am a sad, sad, costume geek.

A geek, I tell you.

My vices could be worse.

Pushing The B12 Envelope

I love Baker’s 12. I really, really do.

Case in point:

meanwhile…
“I told you so.”
“Shut up.”

meanwhile…

It takes a talented and gutsy author to attempt a section of narrative like that. It takes an even rarer author to make it work. (Did I say gutsy? Maybe I mean arrogant. Gutsy just doesn’t describe t! very well. Neither does daring. If I use the word arrogant, I mean it with all respect, of course. And he has every right to be arrogant. He’s good.)

t! is one of those authors who pushes boundaries, limits, and envelopes. I’m using this particular example of his work because Ceri and I were in the room when he created it, and I loved it. (I’d link him here, but I know his site address is about to change, so why increase my update work? Look for the Teddybear Sawdust Show in the links bar to the right.)

How to describe Baker’s 12?

Well, the first thing I’d tell a potential reader is that it’s an exciting, challenging, experimental narrative. It involves the concepts of time travel, and situational ethics, two of my favourites. It’s character-driven as well as plot-driven, and it assumes that you have intelligence. That means it doesn’t cater to the lowest common denominator; I used the word challenging on purpose. It employs elements such as humour, gritty action, historical settings, assumptions, group politics, and red herrings, handling them all with aplomb.

What keeps me reading it? The fact that I can see a pattern emerging. Why did I keep plugging away at it, even though it wasn’t a linear story? The storytelling style, and the characters. I love that I can tell what character is in a particular situation just by the style of dialogue. The older I get, the more impatient I become with description-laden narrative. B12 takes the opposite tack, allowing you, the reader, to co-create the world with the author.

As I hate reading large amounts of text on-line, I recently printed all of B12 out and put it in a binder. I sat up until two in the morning in bed reading by candlelight while my husband slept, because I couldn’t put the damned thing down. What I discovered is that as much fun as reading the weekly installment is, the true patterns don’t emerge until you can read the whole thing in one shot. That’s another part of the author’s genius: accomplishing small entertaining bite-size bits, while simultaneously creating something larger.

So yes. Baker’s 12. Read it. Challenge your preconceived expectations of linear narrative, and discover that you’re actually smarter than you thought you were. And enjoy some darned fine fiction while you’re at it.

Update January 27 2004: t! has now officially moved his site. Click through to read the Teddybear Sawdust Show! and Baker’s 12. What are you waiting for?

Cello Woes

This has never happened to me – usually I break a new A string by tuning it too quickly – but I have so much sympathy for him.

I have two concerts coming up within two weeks, and I’ve just realised that I need to replace my strings – all of them. I put a full set of Eudoxa gut strings on my cello in September of 2002 as an experiment, because I love the deep mellow sound gut produces. The D string broke first, followed shortly by the A. My emergency replacement A string is now unravelling (no surprise there; it’s a Thomastik Dominant, and the wrapping on Dominant A strings is coarse and dreadful); my replacement D string was salvaged from my original overstretched Aricore set that was put on six years ago; and the G and D strings are still the gut strings that have now stretched beyond proper sonority. I hadn’t realised all of this until lately, now that I’ve been really digging into the lower strings (love that Beethoven!).

I guess I know where the student payments that are beginning to trickle in for the new semester are going.

In the dead of winter…

At this time of year, my husband and I get restless because we’re housebound so much due to the extreme cold. So naturally, we begin to think of ways to make the house more pleasant.

I went out for three hours on Saturday to do administrative teacher-type stuff, and came back to a cheery yellow kitchen. The transformation was literally that simple; I was present for practically none of the emptying of the room, the preparation for painting, the actual application of colour, and the replacement of the removed items. I left one boring kitchen, and came home to a different, bright one.

Yesterday, the bathroom was painted sage green and white. It looks fabulous. HRH even went so far as to paint the outside of the claw-foot bathtub sage green, which looks very cool. I was here for half of this particular endeavour, but I was away at the Beethoven rehearsal for the latter half.

It was, in fact, a very busy day. I had a three-hour rehearsal for the Beethoven, then came home to study group already in progress (in which time flew, making us late for…), then a Changeling game (which also went late thanks to our belated arrival, plus various things like dinner and bookkeeping and the first combat session of the story!).

The Beethoven: It never ceases to amaze me that I can sight-read brilliantly, but fall apart at simple passages that are played really fast. The symphony already sounds phenomenal; I can’t wait to hear the choir with it. I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to play with this ensemble.

The study group: Ah, the joys of discussing deity concepts, and the balance of male and female energies. Always fun. The nice thing about this group is that it’s made up of experienced people, so the discussion is very different from the discussions I usually have with students, for example.

The game: It’s been so long since I’ve made a character for a new game that I’d almost forgotten how much I hate it. Unless I have a very clear concept that pops into my head, I have to slowly try out bits and pieces that either work or don’t. This is the third session of world-building and intro games, and I’m still not settled on who this character actually is. It’s been frustrating because I’ve really missed gaming, and to struggle with a new character when I so desperately want to dive right in has been so maddening. Last night was as close as I’ve been able to come to feeling comfortable with her; dropping her age from eighteen to eleven has really helped nail it down and free me up to enjoy the game and explore her personality. I know that part of my problem is derived from my habit of firming up a character’s personality through gaming; it’s hard to know what a character is like until you’ve put him/her through some paces in context. I’m lucky to have an understanding group who chose to play a couple of experimental sessions to introduce the system and the world, which gave me a chance to stretch my muscles a bit and discover the character’s actual personality.

On today’s agenda: fleshing out the anthology series proposal for my publisher; working out a couple of brick-wall type passages in the Beethoven; and refilling my black ink cartridge with the ink that just arrived in the mail. Of course it leaked, so I have to email the company and ask for a new instruction sheet. Not much ink was lost, but as anyone who has ever had a leaky fountain pen knows, even a small amount of ink creates a disaster of epic proportions! And tonight, my CD-ROM drive gets replaced by the burner drive! Hurrah!