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Month: January 2008

It’s alright!

I was looking through fantasy magazine submission guidelines this morning, and I came across mention of an editor who apparently just hated the use of the word “alright” instead of “all right” … technically “alright” is not alright. I’ve been using “alright” for quite a long time… why would an editor be picky about such a thing? It’s like being picky about how “okay” is spelled. Do you yourself ever come across the word “alright” in a published book and laugh about how unprofessional it must be?

In other news, someone out there put the Tad Williams book I was reading, Otherland, Volume I, on hold at the library, so I had to return it. That did not make me very happy, but this afternoon I ordered a cheap used copy from Amazon for about six dollars. In the meantime, while I’m waiting for that to come in the mail, I checked out another book from the library called The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman, who I’ve never read before. The title makes the story sound cliche, but the inside flap sounded interesting, so I guess I’ll just have to find out by reading it. Like Rollback, which I finished a couple weeks ago, it looks like a pretty short read with only 278 pages.

College classes have started up again, and I’m happy that it will be my last semester. I have my first class of an operating system course tomorrow I believe.

That’s all for today. Nothing interesting, you say? Well, what do you think this is, a tech blog or something? (I was going to say that tech blogs are boring or something, but I know too many fine people with tech blogs so I better not say it… they get a lot more hits than this lame journal blog anyway.)

Ageism

I finished reading Robert J. Sawyer’s Rollback a few days ago. I’d probably give it a 6 out of 10. (Anything above a 4 in my rating system is considered “positive”, 4 itself being “neutral”.) The premise involved an old couple who undergo a medical procedure to make them young again, but it only works on one of them.

I think I’ll blather about ageism for a while, when some age group judges another by their age. In one sense, it’s so natural that everyone will do it automatically, whether or not they think they’re prejudiced. For the most part, being around someone closer to your own age will instantly make you more comfortable.

When you’re really young, being around someone older than you instantly makes them more of an authority figure. When you get to a certain age, you realize older people can be just as stupid as young people, but you’ll still probably act differently when conversing with someone decades older than you, whether you’re talking louder because you think they’re deaf, or you’re more conscious of your manners in an effort to be respectful. The key is, you’re much less likely to be able to “relate to them” because they grew up in a different time.

Conversing through the Internet can help break this barrier, obviously, since you’re not subject to responding to a physical face (not to mention age can be completely lied about anyway). Just look at how many people converse freely through email and online forums, but still aren’t quite comfortable with posting videos of themselves on YouTube.

One aspect of ageism that I find quite angering is when an older people assume that age has automatically increased their intelligence or when older people think they can easily relate to younger people simply because they themselves were that age once. There’s a particular part in Rollback in which Don, the main character who is in his 80’s, tells a young woman that she’s never really experience loss, she’s never really suffered, because he assumes she’s too young to have had such life experiences. It immediately bites him back, but when such things are said in the real world, it probably hardly ever bites back… what is a young person going to do? How would blathering about past misfortunes in an effort to make someone else think that you really have suffered be much different than whining?

And of course younger people can make the same judgments, assuming old people have forgotten or never had to experience turmoil in youth, or that age automatically reduces worries and hardships.

Along with ageism I could probably add moneyism, assuming people who have more money don’t suffer as much, or happyism, assuming people who are happy have not experienced as much pain in their lives, which is what allows them to be so happy.

Don’t be judgmental; don’t assume you have any clue what its like to be anybody else. A character in Rollback quotes Plato: “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.” Even if it’s not necessarily true, don’t assume any sort of life experiences can help you tell the difference.

Anyway, I’m now reading Tad Williams’ The City of Golden Shadows. It’s quite a big book, will probably take me a while to get through, but so far I love it.

New videos…

Today I uploaded two new music videos to YouTube, which I shall post below.

Music composition wise, I’m kind of dry for now. I have three pieces which are mostly complete but need a bit of editing, but I haven’t really had any strong desire to write anything new for a while. I have been writing a lot of melodies though, probably around 15 since the year began (actually 13, I just checked), so when I do want to start a piece I’ll have plenty of ideas. I just haven’t really been in the mood lately. I’ve been in the mood for literature writing lately… though there seems to be even less productivity in that department.

I’ve got one week left before school starts… not really looking forward to that at all… and then who knows what I’ll do after school ends. I’ve always wanted to take a year off, but I guess that’s not an option…

Ok, here are those videos:

Creativity is cheap.

Books of my youth

Eventually I want to do a post about my favorite books of ’07, now that the year is gone. But for some reason I started thinking about books I enjoyed when I was younger, so I’m just going to write a post about that.

I wasn’t a big reader when I was young (actually, I’m still not that big of a reader… and I’m still young) but every now and then I came upon a book that really engaged me. Here are some books that I remember very fondly that really aren’t famous… of course I read Avi and Nancy Farmer and Brian Jacques, but their books are still around and still very well known in the children’s sections at bookstores and libraries. The books I mention here are more of the “underdog” books… books that didn’t really become famous.

One of my favorites was called The Daydreamer by Ian McEwan. (Looks like it was recently just rereleased in paperback in 2007.) From what I remember, it was basically a collection of short stories, each a different daydream from one quiet kid. I remember losing track of time reading this book, which is probably the best thing that can happen to you while reading. The daydreams were sometimes a bit creepy, but they had a flow to them so that I always wanted to know would happen next. It hasn’t gotten the greatest of Amazon reviews, but I remember checking it out of the library more than once because I enjoyed it so much.

Unfortunately these next two books are out of print as far as I can tell, but I remember loving Anne Lindbergh’s Travel Far, Pay No Fare and Bailey’s Window. The former book involved a young girl with a magical bookmark which allowed her to travel into the world of a book, and so with her cousin or brother (I can’t remember) she would dive into some classic novels like Alice in Wonderland and mess things up. She couldn’t go into contemporary novels, of course, since that would involve copyright infringement. (By the way, do the Potter Puppet Pals pay any license fees, or is that just more infringement?) Bailey’s Window portrayed a young lad with the power to paint pictures (windows) of other worlds and then walk right into them.

Finally, I remember reading all of Bill Brittain’s “Coven Tree” books, such as The Wish Giver, Dr. Dredd’s Wagon of Wonders (I remember reading that book in one night being so captivated), and Devil’s Donkey.

I’m not sure what I’d think of these books were I to read them today; surely I’d be much more critical. But I have fond memories of these books… always nice to have books that you look forward to reading… it’s when you start those long stupid books that reading seems a chore.

Podcasting…

I’ve been thinking about doing a podcast about composing music for about half a year, I suppose, and I finally have it up and running at The Compose Pile. Rather than focusing on just a bunch of music theory, I hope to blather about my thought processes while composing certain pieces, thoroughly going through pieces measure by measure and talking way too much about them.

The first episode is up, in which I go on and on about Dragon of the Mist (and still don’t get through the whole piece). It’s the first episode, so I obviously need to practice speaking into a mic and not pausing and saying “um” so much, but I think it and the next few episodes will still very much be “test episodes”…

My hope is that the podcast will be interesting to… well… anyone who likes my music, I suppose.

Another short story finished

Last night (or early this morning I guess) I finally finished another short story! It came to about 6,100 words in length, though it’s still in rough draft form. I’m going to wait a week or two with it off my mind so I can come back to it with fresh eyes and try to do some editing… hopefully I won’t end up hating the story; I already think certain parts might seem far to too sappy.

The story is called Oberon’s Paradise. Here’s the opening, which pretty much shows what the story’s about:

“Oberon,” the large bearded man read from a scroll without looking up, “in order to pay for the destruction of the Marcelin Glass, which you caused with your carelessness and lack of consideration for other people’s feelings and a bunch of other bad attributes you have, you have chosen to accept, for the following three nights, a decade’s worth of the collected nightmares of all the residents of Brokenhill Fort, freeing us all for a decade of the burden of bad dreams. After your sentence has been carried out, you will be rewarded with permanent residence at Glanendale Palace. So let it be.”

“So let it be,” the gatherers echoed monotonously.

Hmmmm… is that engaging? Or… not?

What I’m thinking about doing is joining the Critters Workshop to get my story some serious critiques. I’d have to wait a while for the story to get through the queue, and I’d have to write some critiques myself for other people’s short stories, but that could be very helpful.

And then I’ll sell the story to a magazine, sell the rights to a film, and make a whole lot of money and never have to work again.