December 2005

To the person who wound up on my blog after a Google search for “recurring zombie dreams,” at 3:40am this morning, I hope everything’s OK. As an afficionado of all things zombie, and as one human being to another, I’d be happy for you to email me and tell me what the heck had you up at that hour.

ShortStat really is just about the best thing ever.

Last week a few of us went on a run through the Maraudon instance in World of Warcarft. I grabbed some screenshots of the area called “Poison Falls” and from that comes this Warcraft Postcard.

For some reason I am driven to produce cheesy retro postcards from fictional places no one would want to visit.

The original screenshot is here (click for a larger version):

The postcard is here (ditto):

OK, so I’m starting to think about The Zombie Book. The problem here is that I have three stories I’d like to write, and none of them mesh very well.

First: the dream I posted about, the one where The Boyf and I were in some tiny college town in the mountains and all authority was gone and it was just us and some of the peeps we knew there preparing to defend ourselves from the inevitable arrival of the as-yet-unseen zombies. In this one, the zombies get very little screen time. In fact, they might get none at all. I like the idea of just dealing with what people do the second the world seems to have collapsed, whether it really has or not. I would have no idea how to end this, but also don’t necessarily think it needs a climax and denouement to get the meat in. In fact, the ending I would prefer would either be the total annihilation of the people left trying to defend the town, folks left to feel at least they’d tried even if they’d failed, or have it “end” by finding out the zombie thing is totally in control in the wider world and that help is, in fact, on the way, and oopsie, now all those frat-boys with tire irons and the folks whose marriages dissolved in two seconds do in fact have to live with one another after what they’ve done because, darn it, the world didn’t end.

Second: A completely different idea, a story about a group of people who have actively prepared for a zombie invasion and how that plan works or doesn’t work when the zombiepocalypse actually happens. Mainly I want to write this because Kath is our elected Zombiepocalypse Leader, and she has A Plan, and if the dead ever walk then I would totally follow her lead on things and so I think it would be fun to examine the absolute flip-side of your usual “OMG teh zombies!!1!” story of shock and frenzied survival by telling a story about what happens when The Plan just totally works, the zombies are no match for prepared and willing survivors and then they have to figure out what to do with all this surviving they’ve done. I have no idea what that would be, though.

Third: Yet another completely different idea, and one that will smack too heavily of teen horror obsessions, I know. This one is about a vampire who lives through a zombie uprising. Why a vampire? Because I like the idea of an intelligent predator trying to walk the line between predator and prey, having to examine his own motivations for defending the territory of his own prey – the people around him – and whether he’s doing it because he doesn’t want to give up what he has, honestly cares for the people around him or simply can’t handle the psychological self-examination prompted by the arrival of shambling hordes of other undead. Mainly I want to write it for the scenes of him walking unmolested through the zombies because they sense he’s not food – and possibly that the zombies run from him because they sense he’s even more dangerous – and it would let me play with the idea of the outsider as not just valued in a pluralistic society but in fact needed and necessary. It might be a fun way to play with something that’s always nagged at my own politics: the pleasure of being a “gender criminal,” as The Boyf describes society’s take on members of the queer community, and the urge to assimilate. There’s an argument going on in current queer politics, I think, between those who advocate the value society arguably gains from having those who will always be different but tolerated, and those who feel the drive to be integrated. I think there’s a very quiet fight that’s brewed for years between those who want to feel “special” and those who want to feel “normal,” and I myself am not really sure which of those I prefer. Would my vampire want to wipe out the zombies in silence and then return to his quiet life of anonymous predation or would he want the credit when it was all said and done, knowing he’s just passed up any future cocktail party invites he might ever receive from his mortal friends? What if he takes the credit and no one believes him? What if he takes the credit and they all believe him but nobody cares, and he doesn’t know how to handle that? It’s too coming-out, I know. These are all rough thoughts.

And, of course, I have the problem that I’m not really sure any of them are really new territory, and none of them would make even a decent novella in terms of length. So, I’m contemplating writing them as short novellas (or long short stories, if you like, but I don’t like that phrasing as much), and slapping the three of them together into one big PDF of unrelated stories as a “collection” rather than related stories. They don’t even need to happen in the same world (though it would save me having to come up with three different explanations for zombism). They’re just stories about zombies, and that’s basically all they have in common.

Of course, I shouldn’t even be thinking about this right now – I should be writing a summary of our last D&D game for Pigs Are Good People instead – but gods almighty it’s a slow week at work and I need to nail down some of the details before I just go off a’writin’.

Among the many reasons, this: Saturday afternoon, as I did some last-minute shopping for my relatives’ Christmas & Hannukah gifts, I got a call on my cell. KJ popped up on the screen as the caller.

RM: Word!
KJ: It’s an atheist calling a pagan to say “Merry Christmas!”

I love my friends.

OK, so Pam of Pam’s House Blend had me on her list of seven folks she wanted to see do the 7×7 meme, so here I am, and thank goodness because otherwise I have nothing to say today and I really, really do love to hear myself talk.

Seven Things To Do Before I Die:

  • See a novel worth reading that’s been printed and on the shelf in a bookstore and has my name on the spine
  • Visit Russia again.
  • Visit Scotland again.
  • Learn Japanese.
  • See my name next to The Boyf’s on a legal marriage license.
  • Learn to create some visual art (even my stick figures are horrible mutants).
  • Live next to a large body of water (either The Lake or at the Outer Banks, preferably).

Seven Things I Cannot Do:

  • Draw or paint.
  • Speak Spanish comfortably at a conversational level.
  • Live too near my relatives. 🙂
  • Count cards with any complexity.
  • Vote Republican.
  • Fly without completely losing my cool.
  • Handle stressful situations without inappropriate humor.

Seven Things That Attract Me To Blogging:

  • I love to hear myself talk. No, really. I am a shy exhibitionist. A blog is a great way to expose my thoughts without the terrifying risk of having to say them outloud and listen to others’ reactions. That’s dumb and neurotic, yes, I know.
  • The sense that if I’m going to sit back and enjoy what other people have to say it isn’t fair for me not to contribute. (I don’t think poorly of blog-readers who don’t blog, though – this is one of those Puritan work-ethic things that I apply only to myself because I’m neurotic.)
  • The internet as the swap-meet of ideas. I am a true old-school internet idealist in a lot of ways.
  • The opportunity to give the finger to authority in a public forum.
  • Blogs are a great place to tuck away a nagging idea and then revisit it later. I have used blog posts as places to stash links and thoughts that I knew I would later use again when writing.
  • Maintaining a stage-presence requires coming up with something to put on stage. Having a blog forces me to write, even though it’s not fiction and even when I don’t have anything to say. This is a good way to keep myself at the keyboard.
  • I like blogdom’s way of providing a means to keep up with friends even when I don’t get to talk to them as often as I wish.

Seven Things I Say Most Often:

  • Bah!
  • It was the funniest. Thing. Ever.
  • Awesome!
  • Eeeeeexcellent.
  • I’m just going to go check my mule for a second…
  • (Followed by) OK, so I ended up spending three hours playing World of Warcraft
  • OK, so…

Seven Books That I Love:

  • The Bridge of Birds, by Barry Hughart – a detective story set in a China that never was.
  • Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – how the Apocalypse nearly happens, and how funny it is.
  • Dracula, by Bram Stoker – this is my favorite novel of all time, bar none. I first read it in 7th grade, and have read it dozens of times since then. It is easily the best vampire novel ever written, though I do honestly think Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire is a close second – second only because it hasn’t had a hundred years to prove it’ll still be kicking around, though I do honestly think that a hundred years from now it will be studied as a coded parable for closeted gay life (and yes, I am mentioning it so I can sneak in an eighth book).
  • Body of Secrets, by James Bamford – it discusses the history, mission and methods of the NSA, and is fascinating.
  • Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte – arguably the best work of any of the Bronte sisters, and a powerful and emotionally engaging tale of high passion on the desolate moors of Scotland. I love this novel. This is easily the best novel I read in all of high school. OK, maybe it was William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. (And ha! I snuck in a ninth book!)
  • Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson – fabulously energetic and creative and mud-splashed science fiction.
  • Foundation, by Isaac Asimov – the whole series of series (the Robot, Empire and Foundation books) is pretty damn good reading (even if some books in the series are a little uneven compared to the rest), but this one kicks off my favorite part, the Foundation stories. Creative and intelligently told and all about being smarter, not tougher, than the other guy. I also recommend The Caves of Steel, the practical kicker for the Robot series, and yes, that means I snuck in a tenth book. You have no idea how hard it was to limit myself to ten.

Seven Movies That I Watch Over And Over Again:

Seven People To Whom I Pass The Meme:

  • I’d love to see apostropher and/or Froz Gobo do it, but I doubt they would because they are (in all seriousness) too busy posting their own awesome stuff.
  • Katastrophes, because I know there will be some overlap and I want to snatch up and read/watch what does not overlap.
  • Bascha, for the same reason.
  • Mr. Saturday, again for the same reason.
  • Owlmother, ditto.
  • Kath, same reason.
  • Bill Clinton, because he is awesome.

I read a really interesting reader response (if you follow the link, scroll up, not down from where it takes you) to the Cosmic Log blog on from a scientist who is a Christian and is bothered by the whole “Intelligent Design” fiasco. It came from a reader in Austin, TX, and it started thusly:

I’m both Christian by decision and a physicist and computer scientist by training. Science is nothing more than the attempt to discover how things work. Period. Religion is the attempt to understand why things work.

There you have it. There will never be a better, more succinct way of putting it, for my money. And that, ultimately, is the big problem I have with religionists trying to force their way into the science classroom to make science teachers preach on their behalf. Mr. Capps goes on to say this:

As a scientist, using the methods I have been trained in, I cannot tell whether there is a God or not. Nor does the question come up in that setting, as I am pursuing how, not why. As a Christian, I believe because I believe, I have faith because I have faith. I feel that I am correct. As Christian scientist, I am not arrogant enough to tell God how he did things. I will look and try to build honest models that tell me how. Right now evolution is the best model going, so I accept it. Since the majority of the evidence says this model works, to do otherwise would be to raise myself above God and tell God that He could not have used evolution to do His work.

I deeply admire the attitude he’s taken – a self-aware acknowledgement of the absolute and distinct difference between religion and science. Whenever I think about the ID yahoos – and that’s what they are, so for all my presupposed rational thought and diplomatic ways, that’s what I’m calling them – I am reminded of people’s frequent confusion over morals and ethics. Morals are why we do things, ethics are how we do things. They may be related for some people, but they don’t have to be. I am honest when I do my taxes in part because that’s the proper way to prepare them (ethics) and in part because I think it’s wrong to do so (morals). Some people don’t commit murder for profit because they think it’s wrong (morals), but some don’t commit murder for profit only because they’re afraid of being caught – and that, I would argue is ethics, and that this divide is fundamental to our society.

If we stop and think about it, our entire legal system – the skeleton from which hang the tissues of our secular society – is based on ethics, not morals. Sure, there are laws against things that are largely considered wrong (murder remains a fine example), but the laws do not enforce morality per se. The law does not require that we be trained from birth to regard life as valuable. Rather, the law enforces how and when it is not acceptable – or, in instances of self-defense or war, acceptable – to commit murder. The why of murder is not addressed. The how is addressed. I realize it’s possible to point back into this paragraph and say, Oh, but you just said the law addresses when it’s acceptable, such as self-defense, and isn’t that a why? Not really. Were someone to break into my house and threaten my life, and in the hair’s breadth of time I had to consider it I decided that the only way to preserve my life was to take theirs, the questions the police would ask would all have to do with circumstances: Did they threaten you? Were you in immediate danger? Were they in your house, or near it? Were they armed? Where was the gun pointed? Never once would a badged officer ask me how I felt about it, whether I had enjoyed it or felt guilty afterwards – at least, not as a legal matter. Even in our language we don’t speak of why the law is applied, we speak of how.

Morals are, after all, purely internal. They are the little voice in our head that tells us why a thing is or is not acceptable and they can never be fully explained. They are tied up with experience, philosophy and emotion so tightly that nothing purely objective can be drawn out of them. Ethics, on the other hand, are observable and testable and demonstrable, can be proven to have been followed or not followed (sometimes). They are external and definable and subject to the senses we use to measure the material world.

And you know what? I am A-OK with that. Our laws are not meant to enforce our morals. They are meant to enforce our ethics. The vast majority of the infrastructure of our society works on the same principle. Regulating agencies tell us how things are done. That there are very good why’s are secondary, and that there are often moral reasons for the how‘s our society enforces are largely, I think, happy accidents.

In the same way, science and its study and teaching are not meant to tell us why. They are meant to tell us how. The question of why will be irrelevant until someone finds a signature in one corner of the universe.

The problem, I think, is that many people in our society look to religion and spirituality as a way to find answers to big questions, questions of why and questions of how, and that is entirely their right. However, when they confuse the two, lose track of the line between why and how in their spiritual path, they start to blue that line everywhere else in their world. Over time, the questions of why does God do this and how can God do this become the same. I don’t think it’s intentional, I think it’s just the way we are, the way we talk, the things that happen in a living language.

That said, I think there are many people who use this confusion of why and how to their advantage, people who know that their followers – the folks who vote for a school board that wants to inject creationism into the science classroom and don’t understand that why the universe was made is in fact an entirely different question from how it has come to be and how its laws work and how we can observe and test its limitations – can be tricked into incorrect thinking about the questions by playing with the meanings of words and redirecting their thoughts to questions Science wasn’t meant to answer. I think these people know that they are confusing the issues, choose to confuse the issues because it advances their personal agendas.

The sad thing is that it is all too easy for their followers to be thusly confused. Leaving aside how they phrase their questions, those who pursue religion in our society often do so as a way to find explicit answers to questions rather than as a way to find the right questions in the first place. Rather than look to spiritual tools as a way to test and understand spiritual ideas and ideals, they look to the spirit to explain away all the nagging questions of both spirit and flesh. This is simply lazy of them, in my opinion. It’s easier than thinking, though, so many choose it as their preferred method.

Do I believe that the universe was designed by an intelligent force? Sort of. It’s hard for me to decide whether I believe that the gods created all of this or were created with all of this – or maybe even created because of all of this. I believe absolutely in a higher intelligence that is as aware of our plight as it is alien to our existence. I believe absolutely that some things – but not all, and not even very many – happen “for a reason,” that there are purposes greater than one individual’s or group’s subjective goals which are served by the course of events from time to time. I also believe that many things – perhaps most – just happen, and that there’s no more Divinity at work in these things than in where a leaf lands on the back deck in the fall. I have had opportunity in my life to wish I could grab the gods themselves and shake them back and forth and ask why the fuck something happened the way it did, as well, and sometimes I have felt that I found an answer and sometimes I have simply been left to question. I have sometimes – but not always – come to decide that the questioning itself was more valuable than any answer I might have received.

That’s OK with me, though, because those are my questions to answer and no one else’s. Questions of why are purely internal, purely meant for me, no one else. Questions of how are ones we can all ask and find one answer that satisfies all – that car ran the red light because its brakes went out, that avalanche happened because it snowed too much, that stock trade is illegal because someone gave the buyer or the seller information to which they should not have had access. Questions of why are almost always impossible to fully comprehend, much less agree on as a society – God hated that driver? God hated that skier? That buyer or seller is inherently evil because they chose to profit rather than risk their family’s future? No one is ever going to agree on those why’s. To ask them as though they are testable, as though they have objective answers that will fully satisfy, is simply a fallacy. In fact, I would argue that in many cases where we get full disclosures of why, such as in the case of a serial killer who confesses his crimes in full, we are often left less satisfied than before, whereas in your average murder mystery the revelation of how it was done – Colonel Mustard, in the library, with the candlestick – is a moment of satisfaction rather than frustration. This is exactly the problem with trying to apply a religious explanation to a question of science. How was the universe created is not answered in a testable, satisfying way for all (or most or even many) of us by Because God felt like it anymore than How did Colonel Mustard kill Mr. Body is answered by Because he was being blackmailed. That’s simply not a legitimate way to respond.

And thus, I am not going to invite Mrs. Atkins, my 9th grade science teacher, to come to ritual anytime soon and expect her to do a lesson on how the God and Goddess relate to one another as reaper and sower of life, or why Katrina happened, or why I’ve lost people whom I loved because that is not her job. If I want answers to those questions – and I consider it entirely valid not to ask those questions, or to think those questions are silly or unnecessary, as well – I have to find the answers myself. I have to struggle with them, try to expand my own cosmology to encompass these events, try to reframe the gods as beings who can allow this to happen, or are powerless to stop it, or have a Big Reason to allow such things, and I have to do it entirely on my own time. The answers I get are going to be mine alone, after all, and looking elsewhere for those answers is just confusing the issue, perhaps even running from the questions themselves, more than anything else.

My 11th grade biology teacher was the wife of a conservative, charismatic Baptist minister. When she started the unit on evolution, she said a few words about evolution beforehand. Unlike Dover, PA, though, this is what she said. I do not remember it word for word except for a few specific phrases, so I will paraphrase. Suffice to say, she was eloquent and intelligent and commanding, and I will fail to capture that moment when she said (roughly) the following: “I am going to teach evolution in this class, and I am not going to argue with anyone about it. If you have a problem with evolution because of your religious beliefs, I suggest you take it up with your preacher. However, I am a preacher’s wife, with my own beliefs, and no one is going to tell me not to teach this. As my husband has always said of the curriculum I teach, I do not want to tell your school what to do, because when that happens I open the door to the school telling me how to run my church and there is no way in Hell I am going to let that happen. So if you don’t like this, I suggest you study it, take your test, get your grade and then talk about it in Sunday School because we are not going to talk about it here.”

Now, why is that so hard for people?

A fraternity sister of mine is a poet and educator in New Orleans. She teaches there, has two books – mine and All Fires The Fire, both of which are available from Faulkner House Books – and she’s been sharing some of her post-Katrina writing with apostropher and allowing him to post them there for the world to see. A new one went up today, and though I seriously doubt anyone who reads this doesn’t read apostropher, I’d like to direct you to them anyway:

After reading “One Tuba Rescued,” I emailed Andy to thank her for letting the rest of us peek over her shoulder into the world where she lives. We talked a little about one of her latest projects, a magazine called Meena. Its mission is to bridge the gap between the Arabic- and English-speaking worlds (and, specifically, the gap between New Orleans and Alexandria). This comes from their “About Us” page, and should be just about all you need to be interested in their work:

We agree with Dr. Salma Khadra Jayyusi, founder and director of PROTA (Project of Translation from the Arabic), who says if we read one another, we will be less likely to kill one another.

They’re currently looking for translators, copy editors, basically anyone who can help. Go give ’em a look, because it’s well worth it. Just be ready, because the words they feature will turn around and go from whimsical and satirical to biting and poignant and shine their light right in your eyes when you’re not expecting it. King Midas Blues is a prime example of this, of why our societies still desperately need their poets.

One of the many advantages of WordPress is the ShortStat plugin. It produces a very slick and simple display of site statistics in easy-to-read displays that are far superior to my hosting provider’s built-in stats package or anything Pivot ever did. One of the many things it has helped clarify for me are the search terms people are using that bring them here. My favorites so far:

  • “robust pants”
  • “miss me camo pants” (isn’t that the point with all of them?)
  • “lavender vendor machine” (I like that one!)
  • “steve in escrow love punishment” (my personal favorite)
  • “virginia slim 120s, tranny,” however, is easily the winner either of weirdest search term to lead to my blog or harshest way of describing what one needs from the convenience store, ever.

I love ShortStat.

So, one of my absolute favorite blogs, Republic of Dogs, is currently hosting a bake-off. Their entries have been mailed out to their judges, and I am deeply envious of those who will get to taste these creations. I have spent a goodly portion of the afternoon just staring at their entries. I have to share this one in particular, from the blog’s host, Res Publica. He describes the following:

5.) Chocolate Macaroon Sandwich Cookies – I heart these in a way that some might consider unwholesome. I could easily stand in the kitchen and eat the entire batch. If you love chocolate, these will be a near-religious experience. The cookie itself is a chocolate-almond macaroon that comes out crispy on the edges and chewy in the center. They get sandwiched around a dark chocolate ganache with just a touch of coffee flavor. After sitting for a day or so, the cookie and the filling just sort of meld together into one extremely, severely delicious mouthful.

It is terrible and wrong of him to inflict such thoughts on the world and not share the recipe. So, I’ve emailed him to ask for it. In the South, asking someone for a recipe is basically the highest compliment that can be paid, and it is a sort of sacred rite. To ask for a recipe is to compliment the chef and pay high honors to their work. To receive the recipe, on the other hand, is in some ways an even higher honor. When my mother sent me the recipe for her cornbread after hearing about my own disastrous* attempt at a “Mexican” cornbread, it was both a gentle ribbing for my results and an endorsement of my skills by sharing a recipe she’s been asked for many, many times.

Not to put any cultural pressure on him or anything.

UPDATE: Res is a scholar and a gentleman, and sent me links. Whee! I’m going to make cookies tomorrow! Thank you, Res!

* “Disastrous” only in a purely orthodox cornbreadishness sense. As stuff-in-a-bowl, it was delicious even if I do say so myself.

A movie destined to make me slightly embarrassed to tell people what I do for a living: FIREWALL.

C’mon, Harrison, suck it up and make Indiana Jones 4 or something so we can love you again, OK?

So, not to start my posting for the day with terrifying tales of environmental destruction, but check this from

Up to 90 percent of the permafrost at the surface of the Northern Hemisphere could melt by the end of this century, leaving gaping holes in the ground and collapsed structures, roads and railways in northern regions.

In what scientists predict to be a vicious cycle, the thaw will release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, further exacerbating global warming.

Yeah, you heard it. “Perma” frost is going to need a new marketing consultant because it’s not so “perma” anymore. By the end of this century, according to the scientists involved in the various studies this article covers, a huge quantity of soil that hasn’t thawed in, oh, a few tens of thousands of years – according to various sources, the last ice age started 70,000 years ago and ended 10,000 years ago – is suddenly releasing its stored ice. When the story quoted above says “leaving gaping holes in the ground,” they’re not kidding. Follow the link and you’ll see a couple kids in Alaska standing next to one of the smaller examples of this.

The fun thing is, all that ice is filled with carbon. As it melts, the carbon goes into the environment and ends up adding to global warming. We’re not talking about a little bit here, we’re talking 30% of the world’s carbon. In the end, the contribution melting permafrost makes to the ongoing cycle of global warming will exceed that made by our current levels of fossil fuel consumption. In the end, the environment will be the environment’s own worst enemy, and it’s all because we didn’t stop and take seriously shit like this twenty or thirty or five years ago. At this point, the conservative skeptics who are too busy lighting their cigars with glowing chunks of coal fresh from their strip mines will finally decide to do something, and that “something” will be to waddle inland and throw another baby seal on the fire.

Toss in the extra water entering the oceans from arctic melt and Chapel Hill stops looking like beachfront property waiting to happen and starts looking more like Atlantis. Fun!

And, though I am no immunologist, I am forced to wonder… we know microbes can be kept suspended, even live, in worse conditions than a ball of ice buried in the ground. And if there are microbes in there, and they haven’t been released in 70,000 years, we’re not exactly going to have a lot of immunity to them. And if people get worried about things like, say, smallpox on the basis that a generation or two without immunity to a disease makes the disease more dangerous than ever to those currently alive, then what kind of danger are we in when some 70,000 year old bug comes oozing out of the ground in Siberia ten years from now (or, you know, yesterday) and someone picks it up?

I need to stop reading the news.

On the other hand, this does give me an idea to explain zombies in the stories I’m working on…

I’m a sick, sick man.

I’ve been with WordPress for a few days now, and I’m never going back to Pivot. I confess to being tempted to try Lyceum, because it’s from my peeps at ibiblio, but I only went to WP because of the conversion script and I don’t think I can handle trying anything else for a while.

I’d originally been concerned that I’d never figure out how to edit the template in WordPress, but Katastrophes spent a few incredibly helpful minutes with me on Saturday at Bascha & Kath‘s casual and very fun holiday shindig and, all of a sudden, I got how to deal with a stylesheet (and, in fact, what a stylesheet is). I’m not as big a fan of the administrative interface, in some ways, but it’s not like it’s hard to use, it’s just difference and I am the sort that fears change. Otherwise, it is better in every way.

Mr. Saturday, you want WordPress. You want it real bad.

Abruptly segueing, I’d like to point you right at KJ‘s pictures of Santapocalypse (aka Santanarchy, aka SantaRampage) in Nashville. Lots of Santas at a lot of bars having a lot of drinks. That is just golden.

That’s what I dubbed myself last night when I managed to land a copy of a videogame my youngest nephew requested. The game itself is in the neighborhood of being seven or eight years old, for a console no longer made. My sister had gone into the Gamestop in Asheville and asked for a copy of Golden Eye 007 for the N64 only to have the guy behind the counter wrinkle up his brow and say to her (no, really), “Lady, you do know that’s a dinosaur, don’t you?”

Well, fuck the guy at Gamestop, my sister decided, and she called me. Ten minutes later – ten minutes – I had a copy of Golden Eye 007 for N64 in my hot little hands.

“I know a place,” I told her. The place is, in fact, yet another Gamestop – the one in Oak Creek Village on 15-501, which was once upon a time a FuncoLand and always seems to have the used game I’m looking for on the occasions when I’m searching for a particular used game. I did ask why my nephew happened to ask for (or even know the existence of) that particular title, however. It turns out my brother-in-law has a copy and my nephew loves it.

“It’s the forerunner of all modern FPSes in a lot of ways,” Pants Wilder said of it. My sister just cares that I have it.

I tried to finish my shopping yesterday, but I still have a couple of items left to get. I hate that feeling, and long for when I can say I am done. On the other hand, I enjoy being out in the crowds right before the holidays, with everyone frantic and hurried. I hate people, but I love to shop, love the helter-skelter crowds going crazy. I intentionally went to a major shopping mall the day after Thanksgiving because I take a sort of perverse pleasure in being nice to people when they’re all so frazzled and so eager for a reason to lash out.

I am having difficulty hammering out what to do about the zombie story I want to write. On the one hand, I have this idea that’s really complicated. On the other, I have the extraordinarily basic idea sketched out in my dream, almost desolate in its simplicity. The two really don’t go together very well, but I like both of them. So, I guess I’ll do them separately. We’ll see. I just want to do some writing in January rather than do what I’ve always done after NaNo which is throw it all aside and breathe a huge sigh of relief and try like mad to do anything but write afterwards.

Well, I’ve updated Pigs Are Good People. The theme I’m using there will change, yes, but that’s what’s up for right now. I’m tired. I’ve spent like four hours tonight playing with web things and I still haven’t figured out how to split the links on the right side of the page into distinct groups – they’re supposed to be organized by relationship to me (The Boyf, St. A’s, Friends and Stuff I Read), but they’re all just one big ol’ list of links. Ah well.

Speaking of web things, I have also installed Gallery2 and imported my current gallery into it. Take a look at each and tell me what you think – which is faster? Which looks better? Gallery2 displays a bunch of photography information by default – is it obnoxious? I’m not trying to seem pretentious, it’s just there and I don’t know how to make it go away and, hey, maybe it’s interesting to someone.

Obviously, I’ve upgraded.

The straw that broke the camel’s back for me, re: Pivot, was when the latest version’s new WYSIWYG editor “scrunched” all the text in posts. Gone were my deliciously clean paragraph breaks. Gone! And what was the response in their support forum?

“It’s a feature, not a bug,” essentially. What they said in response to those who raised the issue was that it never should have worked like that in the first place – “worked like that” meaning “looked decent,” apparently – and so they weren’t terribly interested in fixing it. At least, that’s how it came off to me.

Couple that with the fact that the Pivot-to-Wordpress script reached version 2.0 and in a test run it processed everything cleanly without the funky line-breaks from the time before? Yeah. I was sold.

So now I’m on WordPress. And I’m going to convert Pigs Are Good People shortly. There are a few little weird things (it adds a “below the fold” type “read the rest of…” link to everything, but that may be an artifact of the converter script), but overall I am very pleased.

Clearly, I am still sorting out the theme. I’m going to end up just making one of my own, probably, all black and dull like before, but hey. It’s simple, and I’m a creature of habit.

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