My New Favorite Movie

Madhouse Manor

A while back I had some computer problems.  As in Black Screen of Death computer problems.  As in Called-MicroSoft and the Level-One-tech-couldn’t-help-me problems.  So that is how I wound up on the phone with a Level Two tech, a nice young man who lives in Mumbai.  The process took quite a while, what with downloading and installing stuff.  And during all this we talked on the phone.

The conversations went hither and yon, with us showing each other pictures of our home towns (he’s from up north, in the mountains where there’s snow, but there are no jobs up there, which is why he’s in the city).  And we talked about films.  His first James Bond film was with Pierce Brosnan in the role, but we agreed that Sean Connery is the iconic Bond.  And … he mentioned his favorite movie.  Since I love movies, I had to go find…

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It Really Shouldn’t Be Necessary to Say This.

In a just and perfect world, it shouldn’t be necessary to point out that purposefully kneeling on someone’s neck until they’re dead is a bad thing, and that the person doing it is most emphatically not one of the world’s good people.

But this isn’t a just and perfect world, however much we would like it to be. So: Purposefully kneeling on someone’s neck until they’re dead is a bad thing, and the person doing it is not one of the world’s good people.

I don’t know if we’ll ever make this into a just and perfect world — but surely, if we try, we can make it at least a bit more just and a little closer to perfection.

(I swear, it’s like housekeeping. Some days you manage to accomplish a massive feat of organization and improvement, and on other days it takes all the work you’ve got in you just to keep the whole place from backsliding again into chaos.)

Seasonal Yumminess, and Support for a Local Restaurant

I didn’t cook an Easter dinner this year – the traditional meat is either ham or lamb, and I do ham at other times, whenever the local grocery has a sale on spiral-sliced ham. And the only lamb we get up here in the wilderness of far northern New England is either boneless leg of lamb, which is . . . okay, if you like lamb, and the occasional lamb chop, about which I can only say, if I’m going to spend that much money on a piece of meat, I want something a bit larger than your average lollipop.

Also, all of my festive impressive-piece-of-meat dinners (the roast turkey, the crown roast of pork, that sort of thing) were developed back in the days when we had five or six people in residence, several of them bottomless pits teenagers, instead of two or at most three regular adults. It’s one thing to orchestrate a meal like that when you’ve got one kid who can do gravy and a fancy dessert, and another kid who can help you with all the pies, and another couple of kids who can slice and stir and keep an eye on things, and all you need to do by your own self is make the white sauce for the creamed onions and maybe wrangle the meat (unless my husband and co-author has decided to deep-fry it for a change.) It’s another thing altogether to manage it mostly on your own.

So this year we let somebody else cook it. Under normal conditions, we’d have made reservations somewhere nice; this year, we ordered the Take and Bake Easter Dinner for four from the Common Man restaurant in Ashland NH, and brought the various components back to the house in a large paper tote. It all looked good; some of it was meant to cook in the oven and some of it on the stovetop and some of it in the microwave, and there was a lot of it — sliced ham, glazed roasted brussels sprouts, seasonal vegetables with thyme and garlic, scalloped potatoes, mascarpone mashed potatoes (an extra side, just because we could), maple mashed sweet potatoes, cheesecake with raspberry compote, and dinner rolls with seasoned butter — for what was in fact a quite reasonable price.

And indeed, it was all good — at least two meals’ worth, and maybe more. Jim Macdonald had a good time synchronizing all of the cooking directions so that the oven stuff, the stovetop stuff, and the microwave stuff all came out and onto the table together. For my part, I had a good time leaving him to it.

Kudos to the Common Man Restaurant in Ashland, the purveyors of the feast!

A Good Thing in a Bad Time

GS CookiesBecause of the pandemic, the Girl Scouts are suspending in-person and cookie-booth sales.  But fear not!  You can now buy your Thin Mints and Trefoils on-line at Girl Scout Cookie Care.

The site also includes an option for buying cookies to donate to first responders, volunteers, and local causes in need.

I just now bought two boxes of Thin Mints, a box of Trefoils (my original and all-time favorite!) and a box of Samoas (because they go so well dunked in coffee or tea.)

So here’s a chance to both get your cookie fix and help out at the same time.  Also, Girl Scout cookies freeze well, so you can buy extra and stock up. Or buy extra and eat them all right now — who am I to judge?

(Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout.  I have a fond memory of sitting in the bar at a Lunacon, years ago when there were still Lunacons, singing “Make New Friends, But Keep the Old” with two other writers and an editor, all of us not-so-former-as-we’d-thought Girl Scouts.)

COVID Near You

Over at his web log, Jim Macdonald posts a useful link to something you can do at home:

Madhouse Manor

Modeled on Flu Near You, this is a crowd-sourcing site for COVID-19 infections.  Sponsored by Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, it seems like a good idea.  The more people who participate the more useful it will be.

vidnearyou.org/#!/”>https://covidnearyou.org/#!/

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In Light of Current Events…

…Jim Macdonald and I have, in a spirit of reluctant responsibility, abandoned our tentative plans to attend this year’s Heliosphere convention, since we had so much fun at the last one. We hadn’t yet bought memberships or gotten a hotel room (we’d been planning to stay at a cheap offsite hotel for economy’s sake), which means at least we aren’t out any money. But the Tarrytown Doubletree is uncomfortably close to the hot spot in New Rochelle, and we don’t want to be the folks who bring the virus home with us to Colebrook, so there it is.

FYI

512btcbvgful

Or, shameless self-promotion time.

Right this moment, and I don’t know for how much longer for one day only, the first volume of our Mageworlds space opera series is on sale at Amazon for $2.99.

(This is the e-text reprint, of course.)

Also, a hat tip to our younger daughter, the fearless reference librarian, for spotting this and calling it to our attention.  Everyone should have a reference librarian in the family.

Cliff, Shag, or Marry: The Romantics Edition

Or, I was feeling silly this afternoon, and had some thoughts on the subject.

First off, Wordsworth and Coleridge are out of the running completely, because I can’t imagine having sexual thoughts about either of them. Which leaves, out of the major figures, Byron and Shelley and Keats.

Looked at that way, it’s obvious.

Cliff Shelley. Shag Byron (“mad, bad, and dangerous to know” is pretty much the textbook description of your classic Jazzy Weekend.) Marry Keats, and get him some good 21st century medicine to take care of that consumption thing.

Others’ mileage may vary.

A Celebratory Dinner

Because today is Jim Macdonald’s birthday, we drove down to Littleton, NH, to the Little Grill, a Brazilian restaurant whose food Jim – who’s been to Brazil, because during his youth his dad worked there for several years – vouches for. (One of the co-owners has Brazilian roots; how he or she ended up in Coös County, NH, I don’t know, but the oddest people sometimes do.)

Anyhow, on Fridays and Saturdays they have Brazilian Barbecue Night. This is “barbecue” in the Australian, or “things cooked on a grill,” sense of the word, not the American “things smoked or slow-cooked in a pit” sense. The way it works is like this: For a flat price you get your choice of sides from a buffet, and then the waiters keep coming around to your table with grilled meats of all kinds on skewers until you tell them to stop.

The grilled meats tonight were slices of lamb, slices of beef, slices of pork, chunks of steak wrapped in bacon, chunks of chicken wrapped in bacon, chunks of chicken covered in herbs and garlic, chunks of pork covered in herbs and garlic, grilled pork sausages, and also slices of grilled pineapple. Also grilled beef short ribs, but only Himself had those, because by then I had cried “Hold, enough!”

If you’re ever in Littleton, NH,on a Friday or a Saturday night, give it a try. But not if there are any vegetarians or vegans in your crowd, because this is not a place for them.

The Unified Doyle and Macdonald Boskone Sked

DOYLE

Worldbuilding Within Epic Fantasy at the Dawn of a Modern Age
Format: Panel

14 Feb 2020, Friday 17:00 – 17:50, Marina 1 (Westin)

Fantasy is real, but so is scientific discovery. When an epic fantasy is set during the transition from a rural society to an emerging, world-transforming industrial age, how does the setting help define the parameters of the story? How does it affect the creation of characters? Is a Victorian-Era feeling inevitable? What other examples can be used as models? When magic is at play, how might it alter the evolution of an industrial revolution?

Reading: Debra Doyle and James Macdonald
Format: Reading

14 Feb 2020, Friday 20:00 – 20:25, Griffin (Westin)

The Future of Libraries
Format: Panel

15 Feb 2020, Saturday 10:00 – 10:50, Marina 4 (Westin)

The card catalog is already kaput. How long can stacks, carrels, and tome-laden tables last? How soon till the world’s One Big Library is seamlessly interconnected with everybody’s local, a collaborative sharing space with digital pipes to every seat and a helpful robotic assistant “manning” the “desk”? Any room left for the most systematically refined information storage technology of all: the book?

MACDONALD

Reading: Debra Doyle and James Macdonald
Format: Reading

14 Feb 2020, Friday 20:00 – 20:25, Griffin (Westin)
Editing from Agent, to Editor, to Publisher
Format: Panel

15 Feb 2020, Saturday 14:00 – 14:50, Marina 2 (Westin)

Writing is only half the work when crafting a story, novel, or article. Once the words are on the page, what happens next? Our panel discusses the review, revision, rewriting, and more needed at each stage of the process before the finished piece lands in the hands of a reader.

Seeing Through the Tech Hype
Format: Panel

15 Feb 2020, Saturday 16:00 – 16:50, Marina 3 (Westin)

With so many new innovations and discoveries, it’s easy to get carried away by the possibilities of what a shiny new technology can actually accomplish. What questions should you ask to see through the tech hype surrounding everything from driverless cars, gene editing, and artificial intelligence to VR gaming and 3-D printing? What’s really possible? How do fiction and entertainment media affect the writing, publication, and understanding of actual scientific and technological advances?

More Magic!
Format: Children – DragonsLair

16 Feb 2020, Sunday 11:00 – 11:50, Galleria – Dragonslair (Westin)

Jim Macdonald does stage magic.

When Is Death?
Format: Panel

16 Feb 2020, Sunday 14:00 – 14:50, Burroughs (Westin)

Death is as intrinsic to the human experience as life, but what does death really mean in fiction … or in reality? Do we pass on to another existence? Will we be written back into the sequel? Will we be uploaded into a quantum network to exist as long as the hardware doesn’t fail? How has our imagination affected our understanding of death over time?