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Edward Greaves
23 June 2014 @ 05:10 pm
As of this morning's drive in, I've "read" 30 books this year.  That meets my goal I set back in January for the whole year.  If I keep up this pace, I might well hit 60 books.  But I'm deciding right now, I need to start backing off.   Too much reading, not enough writing.  It's important to figure out the balance point.   Last year, I definitely did far more the former and not enough of the latter, and it feels like I'm falling into the same trap now.  So...reading will be dropping to a far lower priority for the rest of the year, away from a need to do, to a nice to do.

Time to dig in and get some words on the page.
 
 
Edward Greaves
20 June 2014 @ 10:48 pm
While I'm tempted to find an Alice Cooper video, to go with the title of the post, I'm not sure that ole AC is appropriate for the Pre-K and 1st grader.

The boys are both excited to be done, and I think at the same time a bit sad.  I remember how that feels.  You crave the comfort and familiarity of a teacher you know, and a class filled with kids you have made friends with.  But you also look forward to moving forward, the feeling of accomplishment that means you've advanced to the next grade.  Kind of like finishing off a level in a video game, and advancing to find yourself on the next board.  (OK, maybe that analogy is a stretch.)

I'll leave you with this snippet of conversation between Little Man and Younger Son and myself.

Me (to Little Man): After tomorrow, you won't be a first grader any more.  You'll be...
LM: A second grader.
Me (to Younger Son): And you won't be in Pre-K, you'll be...
After a pause..
YS: I don't know.
LM: A kindergartener.
YS (pumps his fists into the air): Yes!
LM: Have you been waiting your whole life to be a kindergartener?
YS (pulls his fists down his chest in a sort of victory gesture): Yes!

Hope you all have a fabulous start to your summer.
 
 
Edward Greaves
16 June 2014 @ 11:45 pm

So, Amazon recently launched their Amazon Music Prime promotion thing.  If you happen to already be a Prime member, there's a whole bunch of songs you can add free to your purchased/stored music.  (I've been using Amazon MP3/Cloud music for a few years now, instead of iTunes, because I already have an investment there, and it seemed ridiculous to have tons of disparate segregated pockets of tech solutions.  I'm sure at some point that's going to bite me in the ass, but seemed like a good thought at the time.)  So, you know, I have to try it out, and it works essentially the same as buying so no big deal.  Might as well browse to see if there are any albums or artists I'd been meaning to purchase but hadn't had the spare cash for.  (Most of my music is my own CDs I owned and burned up so I can access on the cloud.)

Well, I ran across this selection:  Bluegrass Tribute to Classic Rock

Yeah, that's right, classic rock songs turned into Bluegrass tunes.  Color me intrigued.   First song:  Come Sail Away by Styx.   Sold.   (Which, in this case just means I clicked on add to library, so not really costing me anything.)  Styx.  Journey.  Kansas.  Steppenwolf.  Queen & Bowie.  It's totally a blast.  I am not, by any stretch a Bluegrass expert, though I do like Banjo, and keep meaning to get around to learning to play, but that's a whole nother thing.  So I can't tell you if this is quality bluegrass for the true fans, or just a gimmicky way to enjoy some familiar songs.  But, in my opinion, they are doing a good job here, so I snagged a few others from the series.   Might turn it into my new writing jam.

In particular, I'm a big fan of people who take an existing song and make it into their own style, and for me, I think that's why this works.  (Though I will admit to a little cognitave dissonance for the chorus of Joan Jett's I Love Rock and Roll with a bluegrass sound.)  Check it out if you're a fan of Bluegrass, or just like listening to different takes on songs you're totally familiar with.

 
 
Edward Greaves
13 June 2014 @ 11:36 pm

There's one more week of the school year for Little Man and Younger Son.  And it strikes me, as that time nears, how odd it is, that for so many years of our lives (well, mine, in particular after 20 years of school) how odd it is to have a year ending at the cusp of Spring into Summer.  For reasons I can't really explain, other than long attenuated habit, this time of year feels more like the "end of the year" for me than does the transition of calendar years.  I'm sure those in education probably share that trait.  And of course, it follows too, for many, if not all of us, to think of the summer as a different season.  The time of going away.  Vacation.  The beach.  Swimming.  I'm sure the list is varied for everyone, but somehow, the transition into that time is like going off into faerie land.  More so, I think for children who in fact get a very long break from the day to day life of school, and homework.   Perhaps I'm waxing nostalgic about summers because I've got plans in two weeks to meet up with a bunch of old neighborhood friends from my carefree bike wherever I want all day long and do whatever I feel like with the gang days.  They were quite good days filled with crazy adventures.  Insane risks.  Fights.  Friendship and bonding.

It brings to mind how different the world is today, in many ways, from those days, oh, only a few decades ago.  Sure, there's plenty that's just the same.  But I can't imagine the unmitigated trust my parents had in me that I had 8-10 weeks of the year where I would essentially disappear into the ethereal landscape with my friends and just who knows what sort of mischief we got ourselves into during those hours, until, when it was dusk enough to realize it, I'd meander on home (if I hadn't stayed out too late already and my folks or brother would come get me.)  And of course, things were different because it only mostly seemed as if we were unsupervised kids.  But our families had roots in the neighborhood.  Aunts and uncles that saw us pass by.  Kept tabs on the kids.  Knew enough to tell when we were pushing the boundaries that bit too far.  (Well, mostly.  I know we got away with some things we never should have.)   But today, families spread out more.  We don't have the same roots.  My children don't have aunts and uncles and great aunts and uncles, and great cousins, etc. peppered all through our block.

Of course as an adult, you don't get to visit faerie land the same way.  As a child, you saw it as wonder.  That freedom.  That blank slate.  That moment when you, and your companions could take on any adventure you could dream.  As a adult, as a parent, you see the dangers lurking in that wood.  And the terror that hides around the corner.  And it makes you anxious.  Anxious to let the little ones go off in carefree fashion.  A conundrum, how to keep them safe, without cutting off their own ability to explore, to wonder, to do?  I'm sure it's a conundrum that has faced countless generations before, but, well, this is the time I stare into it.  Of course, my boys are young yet, so I have time to ponder it before I have to decide how we will live it.  But faerie land is there.  Every year, waiting--waiting to share its promise of fireflies and moonlight, and thunderstorms and sun showers, open fields, and dark woods.

 
 
Edward Greaves
11 June 2014 @ 10:31 pm
So the other day, Audible had a daily deal on The Color Purple by Alice Walker.  Super cheap.  And it was narrated by the author.  This is one of those books that I've been meaning to get around to reading.  And I had a feeling that, getting to hear it narrated by the author would either be totally awesome, or a flop.  If it's a flop, I could just switch to reading the actual book, which is somewhere here in the house, though it would take me a bit to find it.  I had an instinct though, that the narration would be good, and it is.

You might think that reading by the author is always top notch.  After all, if anyone understands the nuance of the words on the page, it should be the author, yes?  While there's certainly some truth to that, not every author is meant to be a narrator.  Oh, sure, it's well expected that authors will go to events and give readings of their works, especially either their famous ones or their newest.  That comes with the territory.  But not everyone has the gift of oration.  Not every author can get up and give a great reading.  Many of us, well we make do as best we can.  Some, however, are exceptional.  Professional narrators can definitely make a book even more enjoyable.   When an author approaches or reaches that level, well, that's a wonderful bonus.  I think Alice Walker is right there.   So, it is a pleasant and happy surprise instead of a disappointment.  Now, I'm not done with the book just yet.  So, not going to discuss the contents or anything, other than to say it is exceptionally good to remind myself that I do need to continue to branch out from my usual fictional stomping grounds.  There's nothing wrong with enjoying fantasy and sf, but it's important both as a reader, and as an author to make efforts to keep the mind open to many different types of stories.  If you let yourself settle on just one kind of tale ever, you'll miss out on large territories of great stories.   Maybe it takes you out of your comfort zone, maybe it pushes you a little.  But I think that's just fine.

What book have you read lately that took you out of your usual stomping grounds? 
 
 
Edward Greaves
09 June 2014 @ 09:56 am
Woke up this morning, rainy, bleary day.  No one really wants to get moving, and yet somehow we did.  Wasn't exactly in racing form, but the kids got out the door and to school on time.  Unfortunately, I got into my car, and....nothing.  Not even a meager attempt of the car to turn over.  The battery is dead. (Again.)  Time to sit on AAA and hope they come soon to get me started.  This is not an auspicious way to start off the work week.
 
 
Edward Greaves
In 2012, I was fortunate enough to be accepted to the Viable Paradise workshop.  I had excellent instructors, fantastic staff, and a spectacular cohort of writers that joined me in a journey to learn what we could and improve our craft.  I made a great many friends, and I find myself cheering on these great writers as they each build their career.  Every publication by one of my fellow VP 16 graduates gives me goosebumps.  These are good authors, and I'm thrilled to have been witness to some part of that journey with them.

If you are looking for a week long writing workshop/retreat that specializes in SF & Fantasy, this might just be it.  You can find more information here:   http://viableparadise.net/

I will be forever grateful for the time I spent there among that group of talented individuals, and should you apply, I hope you have as informative, inspiring, and empowering time as I did.
 
 
Edward Greaves
04 June 2014 @ 10:31 pm
Family did an impromptu lego space ship build.  Everyone grabbed some legos and made something up.  We have a strange assortment of blocks, so, here's the results.

Pictures behind the break.Collapse )
 
 
Edward Greaves
30 May 2014 @ 10:32 pm
My boss's cubicle at work is situated such that when I talk to him, I'm also looking out the window overlooking the parking lot.  We're right on the ground level, so I can see all what's going on out there.  And, being that I'm imminently distractable in many ways, when I'm talking to him, or listening, I will catch a bit of movement out of my eye.  Mostly, it's pretty common stuff, a chipmunk scampering from under one car, over to the next.   A small bird flying across the lot.   Geese (during that time of year) waddling through the parking lot looking for somewhere to make a nest.  It's the kind of thing that I notice, but don't focus on enough to be really distracting.   Until recently.

Lately, we've been visited by at least one cardinal.  I've seen it on three seperate days, and it could even be three different birds, or it could be the same one.  In any case, a cardinal isn't a completely noteworthy bird this time of year.  I spot them here and there.  The males in their bright red plumage are pretty much designed to be easily noticed.  However, in this instance, what drew my attention wasn't the fact that it was a cardinal, but how it was behaving.

Someone at the office has a big SUV/Truck, and that truck has a big, shiny, chrome bumper on the front.  I noticed the cardinal standing on the strip of mulch between the parking spots, and it would leap into the air and fling itself at the bumper, then drop back to the ground.  It would do this over, and over, and over again.  The behavior odd enough that I had to point it out to my boss, who also watched for a moment in a bit of amazement.   I don't know for sure what is going on, being that I'm no animal behaviorist, but I'm suspecting that the cardinal thinks it's seeing another male cardinal in the reflection from the chrome bumper, and is trying to scare it off.  But, well, that's really not going to work out for the poor little guy.  No matter how many times that bird flings himself forward to scare off the other bird, that "other bird" isn't going anywhere.

I can't tell if I feel like that poor bird these days, flinging myself again and again at the same kind of things almost to no avail.  Or, if I think, maybe I need to develop more determination like the bird.  To learn to launch myself again and again into the fray to try to make the "impossible" happen.  After all, every time that little bird takes to the air, it is absolutely convinced it's going to win. 
 
 
Edward Greaves
26 May 2014 @ 10:48 pm
I just finished a re-listen of Cold Days, by Jim Butcher in anticipation to the new book, Skin Game.  So, I'm in a holding pattern waiting as it will be out shortly.  I don't always go back and reread books when the new ones come out.  Some times I do.  I used to do that a lot more when I was a kid or in college.  Then again, I had more time for such things as re-reads back in the day.  These days, in the precious hours I have at all to dedicate to reading, I prefer to mostly take on new things.

But in this case, because the books really do have a compounding effect, one building a bit more, and a bit more, upon prior books, and it being much more than a year later, I decided to freshen up the brain with the events of the last book.  The nice thing about audiobooks, is you can make use of them while doing other things.  Laundry.  Dishwasher. Commuting.  Yard work.  And so, it's helpful to me to get to do a re-listen which, while it means I couldn't use that time to listen to a new book, also means I'm mostly finding ways to get it in during double duty.

What about you?  Do you like to re-read when a new book in a favorite series comes out?  Do you just jump in?  Do you even re-read at all, or do you hate the very notion?  Let me know what you think.