Thursday, November 29, 2007

NaNoWriMo Update

Well, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) turned into NaShoStoMo (National Short Story Month) for me. I didn't make that much progress on a novel, but I did finish a short story featuring Jack B. Goode, my detective character who has appeared in three stories in "Fantasy and Science Fiction." Today I mailed the new one off to editor Gordon Van Gelder at that magazine. I'll keep you updated as to what happens with it.
And it's not as though I didn't make any progress in novel writing. For one thing I decided I'd rather write a Jack B. Goode novel than the YA thing I was working on. I'm thinking about turning that into a novella.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Google alert

Call me an egomaniac, but I have a Google blog alert for my name "Robert Loy". I get hits several times a week, but usually it's somebody else with my name. ("Loy" is not a common last name, but I know from traveling and looking up that name in other city's phone books, that "Robert" is a very popular first name to go with "Loy".)
And sometimes it's actually something about me, as when this very astute Texas blogger quotes me on the subject of classic country or rock songs being used to shill product. He even links to one of my favorite Country Standard Time columns:

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What Love is

I saw this poem on Jonathan Carroll's website, which I check every day for news about when his new book "The Ghost in Love" will be published, and I liked it so much I had to borrow it:

The Nearness That Is All
by Samuel Hazo

Love's what Shakespeare never
said by saying, "You have
bereft me of all words, lady."
Love is the man who siphoned
phlegm from his ill wife's throat
three times a day for seven
Love's what the Arabs
mean when they bless those
with children: "May God keep them
for you."
Or why a mother
whispers to her suckling, "May you
bury me."
Love's how the ten-year
widow speaks of her buried
husband in the present tense.
Love lets the man with one leg
and seven children envy no man
living and none dead.
leaves no one alone but, oh,
lonely, lonelier, loneliest
at midnight in another country.
Love is jealousy's mother
and father.
Love's how death
creates a different nearness
but kills nothing.
makes lovers rise from each
loving wanting more.
says impossibility's possible
Love saddens glad
days for no bad reason.
Love gladdens sad days
for no good reason.
mocks equivalence.
Love is.

It's nighttime in the big city; Bob and Jaime get together.

One of my favorite things about XM Radio is Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio, wherein Mr. Dylan picks a theme and plays a variety of songs -- often obscure but always entertaining -- relevant to that theme. He is also hands-down my favorite disc jockey. Until you've heard Bob do his version of snappy patter you have not realized radio's full potential as an artistic medium. I also like the intros, done by a throaty voiced woman, who always starts off "It's nighttime in the big city" and then proceeds to give us a couple of snapshots from that urban nightscape -- "A cat knocks over a lamp" "A woman walks barefoot, her high heels in her handbag" "A drunken security guard drops his flashlight" et cetera.

One of my favorite comic book artists is Jaime Hernandez, he of the brilliant "Love and Rockets" All I can tell you about the genius of Jaime is that every time I go to meet a creator or get an autograph at a comic book convention, I inevitably end up behind some dork who's prattling on and on about how much he loves the artist's work and is getting a stack of comics a yard or two high signed. I hate this guy, but when I met Jaime at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland I turned into that guy for the first and only time -- gushing on and on about the brilliance of Love and Rockets and forcing Jaime to sign everything he'd ever doodled and pissing off the people in line behind me.

So you know I love this: Jaime Hernandez has done a poster for Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour and it is a thing of beauty. He's even incorporated all of the opening "It's nighttime in the big city" bits. Check it out here.

And if you like that, you should definitely check out this -- somebody turned that poster into a movie.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More Books I've read in 2007


Maybe you can help me figure out something.

First, you probably need to know a couple of things about my taste in music.

1.) I love country and western music -- real C&W, not the drummed-up, dumbed-down crap they play on Clear-Channel. I love old-style, crying-in-your-beer, honky-tonk, drinking and cheating and sinning and repenting country music. I guess you could call me a traditionalist.

2.) I love rock and roll, but I think rap ruined it. I believe that Guns and Roses were the last real rock and roll band.

3.) All I wanted to be when I was a kid was a hippie, but when I grew up everybody had abandoned tie-dye for polyester disco suits. My belief in the hippie philosophy runs deep, probably because I never got a chance to become disillusioned with it.

Got all that? Old hippie, loves traditional country music, hates rap for ruining rock (among other reasons) -- but I love Big and Rich, who brought rap and rap-tinged rock into country.
How Is This Possible?
Part of it is because I've been waiting for someone to come along and give the "Love Everybody" message like Big Kenny does. (See #3 above.) But that doesn't explain it all.

(BTW, this book came with a DVD which I haven't watched yet. I'm saving that a night when my son Zan is over at the house.)

RUN by Ann Patchett

I picked this book up as soon as it came out because I loved her previous novel "Bel Canto" so much. I liked "Run" but I didn't love it. It was smaller and more personal. In "Bel Canto" several people are taken hostage and the situation lasts for several months, long enough for hostages and terrorists to become friends, lovers and family. "Run" basically takes place over 24 hours -- not counting flashbacks and epilogue, and not that much happens.

I wouldn't call "Run" a failure. It was engrossing and thought-provoking. "Bel Canto" changed the way I see the world. There aren't many books that can do that.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Who'da thunk it?

cash advance

the 1971 Sabre

For 6th and 7th grade I attended a private school in Rocky Point, North Carolina called Pender Academy, the only school I've ever heard of that was home to grades 1-10. It was a small school, as evidenced by the fact that to fill up pages in the Sabre, they included pictures of the maid and the couple that filled the snack machines:
I'm not so sure how academically excellent this school was. I mean they can't even spell the word "ninth".

But you could learn there, I guess. June Skipper, besides being the girl that every guy in that school lusted after, knew the difference between "who" and "whom."

Friday, November 16, 2007

Now you know why no one talks to me about toilet paper or politics

I was thinking -- not sure why -- about brands that I am loyal to. There aren't that many, but here are a few items where I am fiercely loyal to a particular brand:

Toilet Paper. I won't wipe my bum with anything other than Charmin Ultra. I take a roll or two with me everywhere I go -- even to expensive hotels. Charmin Ultra is not my favorite toilet paper of all-time (That would be the original White Cloud) but it is the best being manufactured today.

Petroleum. I buy Citgo. Not because I think it's better, but because I'd rather my money go to poor people in Venezuala than to obscenely-rich-but-still-greedy-for-more soulless bastards like Dick Cheney. And even if it doesn't go to the poor in that country, if it goes to prop up Hugo Chavez's socialist government, that's fine too. I think capitalism like every other form of government has a limited shelf-life and has reached its expiration date in the USA. Let's try something else.

Lip balm. Chapstick of course. What else are you going to use? Chap-et?

Shaving Cream. Edge Gel. I've tried everything else. Just recently I tried the new Gillette Fusion Hydra-Gel. Nothing's as good as Edge.

Tennis shoes. New Balance. Mainly because I have mega-wide feet and New Balance is the only shoe that always has extra-wide sizes available.

Baked beans. Bush's. This is the only thing named Bush that I am in favor of.

I'm sure there are more, but I can't think of any right now. There are other things that I'm brand-loyal about but I buy so little of the product it's hardly worth elaborating on. I mean I wouldn't buy any kind of prune juice other than Sunsweet, but I only buy like three bottles a year. I used to be an oatmeal snob and only bought Quaker, but now the store brand suits me fine. I used to buy only Rosarita refried beans but the only store in my neck of the woods that carried it stopped carrying it, so now I buy anything other than Old El Paso, which I'm boycotting.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Famous Last Words

One of my favorite magazines -- Mental Floss -- has a video up on YouTube about famous last words. Check it out, it's a jaunty little musical.

A few of my favorites however didn't make the cut. Hindu holy man Meher Baba's last words were, "Don't worry. Be happy." What's interesting about this is that he said these words in 1924 right before he took a vow of silence that lasted 45 years, until his death in 1969.

Speaking of Eastern religions, do you know the Buddhist story about the monk who is being chased by a vicious tiger. The tiger chases the monk off a cliff and the monk survives only by grabbing onto a protruding branch. He hangs there for a few seconds and then he hears the branch crack. Just as that moment he sees a flower growing out of the cliffside and he says, "Oh, my, what a beautiful flower." (And if you don't get that story, you might want to consider some religion other Buddhism) . Anyway that idea of living and loving the moment seems to permeate Lou Costello's (of Abbott and Costello fame) last words: “That was the best ice cream soda I ever tasted.”

And my favorite famous last words are from Henry David Thoreau, and they weren't really last words, more like next-to-last. (His last words was the enigmatic couplet: "Moose. Indian.") But as he lay on his deathbed, a priest advised him that the time had come for him to make his peace with God, and Thoreau said, "I did not know that we had ever quarreled."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What I learned today

In an attempt to deal with my ridiculously high cholesterol, I take Vytorin as prescribed by my doctor and fish oil tablets as well. This morning I popped a couple of fish oil tablets in my mouth -- and these suckers are not tiny by the way, they're about the size of a fancy guppy -- and took a big sip of the liquid I had at hand. Unfortuntely the L I had at H was hot tea -- very hot; too hot to swallow a couple of fancy guppies without blistering my esophagus. What it did though was immediately melt the fish oil tablets so I had to run silently screaming down the hall to the water fountain with boiling fish grease in my mouth. Not a pleasant experience and I'm just praying I don't burp today.

Note to self: cold or room temperature liquids for pill-popping.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

NaNoWriMo Days 3 & 4

Still at it. I actually do a little more every day. I keep thinking I'm stuck but since I don't allow myself to check e-mail or fart around online or read or anything else, I end up writing my way through it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

I am the Champion, My Friends

Yes, my team -- The Astro City Irregulars -- are the champions of my fantasy league. This despite making one of the worst trades I've ever heard of. Early in the season I gave up Prince Fielder for Tom Glavine and Richie Sexson, two players I later ended up dropping entirely. So I basically gave away the guy who will probably be the NL MVP. Luckily I made some other good moves -- picking up rookies Ryan Braun and Hunter Pence, trading Jason Bay for Roy Halladay, and just letting Matt Holliday, David Ortiz and Jimmy Rollins do their stuff every week.
I've been playing fantasy baseball for 5 years now and this is my first championship. I know it's geeky as hell, but I'm seriously considering buying and displaying this.

NaNoWriMo Day 2

If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. ~Toni Morrison

Still at it. Did just about the same number of words today as yesterday, and I now have 2,065 words in the books, so to speak. I'm in good shape for tomorrow too, as I know what's going to happen next and am looking forward to learning what happens after that.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

NaNoWriMo Day 1

“Any writer who knows what he's doing isn't doing very much.”

Nelson Algren

My first day of participation in National Novel Writing Month went better than I could have dreamed -- way better, since I actually dreamed that I decided to write this first portion at my son's house, which was a bad decision, and on the backs of dishtowels, which was a worse decision because his girlfriend ended up throwing my prose into the washing machine. It was a nightmare, but it made it a little easier to get up at 5:30.
I wrote 1,028 words, a little shy of the NaNoWriMo goal of 1,666, but my goal is an hour of writing and I did that. And the day's not over. Who knows, I might have another 638 words in me. I also learned a few things about some of the characters -- like the guy I thought was some kind of genius is actually more of an idiot savant. And I know what I'm going to write about tomorrow, or at least I know what I'm going to start writing about. And we got a great pep talk from one of my favorite writers, Tom Robbins. So all in all I'd say Day One was a success.