Because, Yes… Quite Frankly… Too Lazy to Eat

I’m always on the lookout for the most convenient, least time consuming breakfast on the planet. Well… at least, I have lofty dreams of finding something I 1.) Want to eat and 2.) Have plenty of time to work on real projects during/after eating. I’m pretty sure the ideal would probably be a gastric tube of some kind. I could type, and nutri-ate at the same time.

I’ve converted my lunch hour into useable time by shoving a bar or two into my purse instead of getting actual food, and now, I’m moving on.

I ordered a case of Soylent off the internet.

Coffiest flavor, for those who are curious.

This is a meal-replacement of a non-weightloss variety. It’s 400 calories a bottle, with nifty vitamins, and well… in this particular version… coffee.

Of a cold and bitter variety.

It’s basically… well… edible.

And caffeinated.

The world around me appreciates me drinking caffeine in all its glorious forms. It’s amazing how much less bitchy my coffee makes them.

We’ll see how my bottled breakfast makes me feel in a couple of weeks. I expect the low sugar (did I mention bitter) and the absence of other sweeteners (bitter!) might make it a good choice.

Marching Down the List

I finished American Gods, and that brings my total count of Hugo and Nebula winning books to four(17% of the list!). I also managed to do it before any spoilers from the TV show found me. This one gets added bonus points for mentioning places that I have actually been. I’m not going to go all out and say I worship roadside attractions, but you can stretch your legs, and many of them have clean restrooms.

Yup. Been There.

So, this is one of those incredibly rare, wildly-popular, made into a television series books that is actually as good as 40 million screaming fans think it is.

And I’m kinda fascinated by the structure, which is sorta… well, novel that starts and stops for a few short stories along the way. Similar to Sandman. No pictures.

No, I have no idea why I didn’t read it when it first came out.

And if you haven’t already, you should read it, now.

If you have read it, and if you have seen the television show… what do you think of both or either?


A (Very) Brief Biography

Somehow, the idea of writing an author bio is getting to me, right now.

Could be the fact that I’m a little up in the air on it myself. I mean… I’m not where I want to be with life, and I’m not really getting the short-story credits to stack up. And just thinking about it bores the shit out of me.

Karen lives in a completely forgettable place, works a meaningless job, and plays beautician to a depraved cat. She doesn’t have the faintest idea who she is, either.


In addition to having a well-developed cover, including both a day job and house plants, Karen is an astronaut in the CIA’s ambitious program to place covert operatives on Jupiter.

Well, no. Actually, the CIA will not confirm that. But they probably won’t deny it, either. And that makes it true.

There’s the lifetime activity bio: Karen used to do interesting things, and has recently won her penguin march badge on fitbit.

And the immediate bio: Karen is making a turkey sandwich and trying not to drip mayo on this very important query letter.

I’m a little afraid I’ll have agents asking me to send the sandwich.

I’m not sharing my sandwich.

Okay. All things book-related. I could do that. Unfortunately, Karen was crushed to death in a tragic TBR collapse. Now, she haunts libraries, reading over peoples’ shoulders, and laying cold, icy fingers on the necks of studying freshmen.

Oh. You Thought You Were Wearing That?

One of the trends that’s really caught my eye lately is children (usually little girls) who are wildly out of sync with their families. You know the ones. Mom’s wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Dad is wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Three brothers… jeans… t-shirts. Five year old girl? Tea length chiffon cocktail dress with tulle overlay, a clutch of pearls, generally in pink, and patent leather shoes.

Now, I suppose it’s possible that some of these families are just getting a little grocery shopping in, before dropping their five year old off at an evening soiree, and heading for a family picnic in the park… uhm… well… some of them could be.

In my own hazy and fading memory of childhood… dresses like that are actually, literally what hell looks like. If you are bad… if you sass your teacher and throw rocks at the neighbor’s car… you will wear dresses like that while you burn in hell for eternity. They’re uncomfortable. And the tights? Uch. I still itch just looking at them.

Let’s see… An outfit that actually matches. Zipper up the back. Tights. Hideous little buckle shoes… do I believe this child dressed herself? Of course! Every bit as much as I believe unicorns fart rainbows and leprechauns.

Does it make sense that I believe in creative expression (the kid’s, not the mom using the kid as a prop) but I also believe in objectively appropriate clothing?

If it’s 94 degrees and sunny, appropriate clothing means that you are not wearing an arctic snow suit. (or a velvet dress with full, knit tights, btw.) And that Nixon mask? Probably not appropriate for a quick stop at the bank.

There’s safety appropriate–you will wear a helmet while riding a horse or a motorcycle. And social appropriate. You will not wear a party hat to your Great Aunt Thelma’s funeral. (And no, it doesn’t matter if that happens to be the creative expression that occurs to you in the moment.) And–**ahem**–financial circumstance appropriate. If you’re the Queen of the Nile and a bevy of attendants waiting on you, well, fine. Let those clothes get as complicated and time consuming as you want. Otherwise, you’d better be able to dress yourself. (Exceptions being your wedding, stage performances, and living in a care home.)

And–in a horrifying turn of events–I have to mention respect for other peoples’ property appropriate. It is never appropriate to leave a six-inch gash in someone else’s upholstery because you felt the need to wear rhinestones on your ass. You do not get to wear five foot spreading fairy wings into the china shop, either.

Right now–and this terrifies me–the prevailing attitude toward girls seems to be: Have all the creative expression you want, as long as you want to be a princess.

No, Really. It’s Butter.

I actually can cook, when I feel like it, and when I’m paying attention, and this week, I’ve had the time to do it. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and usually… well, a protein bar and a vitamin pill counts, right?

No. Apparently not. I’ve spent the last week scrambling eggs in buerre noisette, and feeling all the better for it. I’m not sure if it’s the ritual of cooking, itself, or the food, or some combination of the two, but I haven’t burned the house down, and I feel pretty good.

Mmmm. Butter.

I spent most of my childhood being admonished about how easily butter burns. I’m not sure anyone ever mentioned how tasty it could be. But they did mention that you can fix that by using margarine. Or lard.

Greetings from the land of solid, nutritious, and mostly-safe food.

You just don’t ever-under any circumstance-allow other people in your kitchen. Yes, fine. I know they’d tell me the butter is burning, and probably turn the heat down for me so fast I wouldn’t even have a chance to stop them. Yes, fine. Margarine. Uh-huh.

They’ll eat it, anyway, and tell people you’re a good cook.


Space Age Shopping

I bought a jar of peanut butter on the internet.

There’s nothing special about it. It’s just a big old jar of Skippy, but it will be delivered to my door, and it will be delivered to my door for exactly the same price that I could have gotten at the grocery store in town.

So, that amounts to the same price, minus the time to go out and get it, minus the time parking, minus the time sidetracked by the latest sales display of fine Hostess products.

Minus the expense and calories associated with the display of fine Hostess products.

Thanks to the miracle of the internet, I can now subscribe to peanut butter, and have a jar delivered every month, with no further action on my part. I can automate the entire grocery shopping experience.

I’m big on saving time.

The other thing–peanut butter aside–that I like about the internet, is that I don’t have to buy the very same things all my neighbors are buying. All those weird tastes you pick up over the years? The born into an immigrant family treats? The spices picked up from a roommate? That recipe you begged a restaurant owner for? Yup. That stuff is on the internet, ready to be delivered to your door. And it’s not at the local supermarket.

We’re still a ways from bread, milk, and produce, but I do think we’re aiming that direction.

And the benefits would be even bigger, if I were living on a farm outside town.

I don’t know what the town will look like, after we all shift toward that kind of convenience and selection. Another empty store front, but that’s nothing new. And more people leaving, because even the crappy jobs are going somewhere else.

If I were going to start a business here and now, what would it be? What would stay?

A Quick Assessment and Other Themes

So, taking a step back, and looking at where I am in my novel… at last count, my main character was about to confess that she may not have… exactly… uhm… killed the person everyone assumes she killed. Actually, he might be alive and well, and fidgeting around in her basement, reading sports magazines, and eating Cracker Jack. (Or whatever the interplanetary, non-sports oriented version of that is.)

The character she is talking to keeps bouncing back and forth between being about eight (shut up, it’s fiction) and sixteen (with stops at every station in between). I’m fairly sure there’s probably a minimum acceptable age at which to have the you know that guy I was supposed to kill? Didn’t. Conversation. So, I’m thinking he’ll probably wind up closer to sixteen, although maybe a little younger.

Definitely a re-write it couple of chapters.

I’m also stumbling into questions of theme, and what the hell is this story really about?

Aliens from outer space.

Some of them are blue.

Some of them look like you.

I always hated theme in high school. It was the part where you took a perfectly good story about aliens from outer space, and then announced, but it’s actually about world peace and puberty. Rorschach for English majors.

Hey, but you’re the one showing me all the dirty pictures.

I spent a lot of time looking for themes, and the ones I found were never the “right” ones.

Then again, if I’m writing the book, how could I possibly be wrong about the themes? Well, don’t worry. Someone’s bound to find a way sooner or later.

In the Dark of the Eclipse

In a couple of weeks, we are having an eclipse. A full, stars come out in the daytime, drama queen of an eclipse, and we’ve been advised to prepare for it the way we’d prepare for a blizzard. Well, in a stock-up on groceries and other necessaries kind of way, not necessarily a haul out the galoshes and space heaters kind of a way.

You see, we’re expecting company.

To the tune of 90,000 outsiders.

Yup. In my little town.

And no, I think it’s fairly safe to say that we do not have 90,000 hotel rooms. I’m not even sure we have 1,000 hotel rooms. It sounds like Woodstock, except nobody’s getting paid for the crops they trample, or the litter they drop. And by the way, shop now, so that when “they” invade, you’ll still be able to eat.

And get your prescriptions.

And by the way… uhm… toilets… toilets… there was discussion of water pressure, and toilets, and traffic.

90,000 people.

I’m envisioning the streets lined with porta-potties, gawking tourists, and tonnes and tonnes of loose garbage. And most of all, I’m envisioning crowds.

Let’s be honest. If I liked crowds, I’d probably live someplace urban. Like, ya know… Times Square on New Years’ or the Tokyo subway. So, I’ll probably have to hole up in my doomsday shelter, and watch the eclipse from my back yard. You know… behind the no-trespassing signs and the electrified fence? And maybe dodging whatever science-world geek celebrities the eclipse drags in. (Rumors vary, of course.)

I’d better wind up with a funnel cake.

Next Time, I’m Choosing the Movie

Recently, I was dragged out, kicking and screaming to see Christopher Nolan’s movie Dunkirk.

I may have mentioned before that World War II movies are not my thing. Every last gram of interest in the subject was wrung out of me in high school (During a time when Every day was a World War II Anniversary of some sort. Did you know that today is the anniversary of the day that FDR got body lice off Stalin? We have a six-hour documentary.) We won’t discuss how much of my “education” involved staring at television, but suffice it to say that I have hit my limit.

Short version? Dunkirk is basically Das Boot played in reverse with a few extra airplanes thrown in for color. Somehow, it still manages to maintain that depressing “all is futile” ending. (Okay, by overshooting a couple of good ending points, and following the characters back to where the school kid who’s accidentally killed when he hits his head on the way to Dunkirk is highlighted in the papers as the “hero” of Dunkirk. We’re all just fighting for propaganda, boys and girls.)

So, I watched the movie, and then I spent the rest of the afternoon tracking down YouTube videos of various Rolls Royce engine sounds. (‘Cause there’s a point in the film where one of the characters cheerfully ignores–doesn’t even look up– an airplane at an unknown distance and an unknown altitude because he’s just that sure… from the sound… that it’s a Merlin and not a Kestrel. I have a lousy ear, but I wouldn’t bet my life I could tell the difference.)

Have I mentioned that I love the internet?

All said and done, I didn’t hate the movie, but I wouldn’t watch it again, either.

Everyone knows the best war movies are the ones with half-naked Spartans in them.

Penthos Does Piraeus, anyone?

IWSG: Pet Peeves in Reading, Writing, and Editing


Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the August 2 posting of the IWSG are Christine Rains, Dolarah @ Book Lover, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Yvonne Ventresca, and LG Keltner!

A couple days ago, I was talking about formal language. No, not written language. The spoken variety. The kind where there’s a correct and an incorrect pronunciation for everything, and mostly… you have to learn it in a butt-in-chair, take notes while the blow-hard speaks kind of way. Not the reading after a long day at work way. There’s a street not far from here, with one of those thoroughly anglicized names that a 19th century planner picked because it fits his system.
And wouldn’t you know… a friend of mine dared to pronounce it the way it’s been pronounced ever since the railroad scratched a line on the map–the way 100 out of 100 dentists in my neck of the woods would pronounce it–and some pretentious ex-local chose to correct her. It’s saw-teee-o, dah-ling.
Now, I happen to know the ex-local in question pretty well. And her Spanish sucks. Like in the sense of mine is abysmal (never took a class in my life), and I’m still horrified by hers.
It’s saw-teee-o, dah-ling.
Oh, yes, you know I’m thinking about voice, now. I’m pretty sure every writer I know is hung up on voice. Maybe every person I know, although a lot of them wouldn’t phrase it that way.  Do I sound too… (what? everybody has one. You know. rural. urban. ethnic. bland.) Do I sound smart enough? Educated enough? Pretty enough? Do I sound like a human being, or like an aging recording of a dusty academic?
Should I go back to day one and re-learn the pronunciation of every word I’ve ever read, but not heard?
There’s a lot of philosophy in language. A lot of philosophy in voice.
Do you translate the dirty parts with glee? Or do you assume the people who are smart enough to understand already know? Do you feel the need to protect the common man from the gutter-world of “sucked off?”
And once you know your own world view–mine happens to be that “smart” is for everybody, regardless of whether they happened to be born in Cambridge and educated at great expense–how do you express that in your writing?
August 2 Question: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?
The pronoun I’m a big stickler for is “who.” Not who vs. whom. I’m pretty much good with whom being archaic, but the thing where people use “that” instead of “who”  to refer to human beings, animals, and sentient garden rakes? The (living, thinking character) that whatever…. Ugh. I mean, the accusative case is tricky (Okay, yeah. I’m just saying that to annoy the Latinists among us.) but just about anyone should be able to tell whether they’re talking about a human being or a cinder block.