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Time Things


I stood up a little straighter. Normally I tried to keep down; standing up straight and tall during a shootout is liable to get your head blown off. But all of a sudden things had gotten quiet out there. Now, maybe Shotgun Dan Irving and his band of wild desperadoes suddenly decided to solve their problems with a civilized discussion of their differences, but I kinda doubted it. I poked my head over the makeshift barricade. Shotgun Dan was nowhere to be seen. Instead, a massive green-grey dinosaur was tromping its way merrily through Silver Saddle Stephanie’s saloon. Steph looked mighty put out at that. “Oh, blast,” I said, dropping the Western idioms I had been using for the benefit of the civilians. “It’s a time thing.”

“You bet it is,” said the purple-suited figure who had just materialized next to me. “Sam, I told you, don’t mess with the time machine!”

“I wasn’t messing,” I said huffily. “I was only looking.”

“You’ll have to explain the semantics to me later,” she said. “Excuse me a sec.”  She flew off and blasted the dinosaur with a fireball just as it was about to step on a shrieking civilian. That’s Gaseous Girl for you. Always saving the civvies.

I watched as she blasted the dinosaur for a while, until she had finally knocked it down for the count. Then she flew back to me and the barricade. “Okay, where were we? Right. The time machine. Now, look, Sam, normally I work alone. But the mayor wanted to set up this volunteer sidekick internship thing, good PR for the city, whatever. It’s cool. The thing is, I thought I explained the ground rules. And rule one is, don’t mess with time. Time things get complicated fast.”

“It’s not like I was going to kill You Know Who or anything,” I said. I had actually been planning that for the next trip, but there was no need to explain that just then. “I only wanted to see the West. Like it used to be.”

“You mean with the cholera and the scarcity of indoor plumbing?” Gaseous Girl remarked archly.

“It wasn’t all bad…”

“Sure. Whatever. We’re going back now.”

“Oh, come on,” I said. “It’s only one stupid dinosaur. And you took it down. No big deal, right?”

Gaseous Girl sighed. “Did you notice it was a mama dinosaur?”

“Aw, cute!”

“No. Not cute. Where the mom is, there’s probably eggs. And do you know what eats eggs?”

I considered the question. I didn’t much like the answer. Then the answer presented itself in a chorus of new screams from the saloon. “Velociraptors,” Gaseous Girl said, her face very grim. “Now we’ve got Velociraptors. This is just swell.”

I took cover once more behind the barricade. As Gaseous Girl swooped out to deal with the raptors, I solemnly promised myself that I would never use the time machine again. Not for a while, anyway.

The Birds


Ever have one of those days where it feels like the stars in their courses are fighting against you? Today was such a day. I did not get writing done.  I did, however, develop a relatively new theory about the Twelve Days of Christmas song, which I heard on a local radio station that has switched to an all-Christmas format. My theory is that the “true love” of the song is a crazed millionaire ornithologist.

First, consider how many gifts this guy offers. I am assuming that he isn’t just buying one set, i.e., one partridge, two turtledoves, etc. The song is quite clear in that the gifts are cumulative. He bought one tree-partridge the first day, another the second (this makes two), another the third (three), and so on. I found a website that did the math on all the gifts: 364. That’s quite a lot. And it’s quite expensive. Last year, according to the Christmas Price Index, the full cost of the gifts was $116,273.08. So we know our true lover is comfortably well off, at the very least.

But, then, consider the nature of these gifts. Consider how many of them are birds. Twelve partridges. Twenty-two turtledoves. And so on. I counted up myself how many total birds there are, from geese to French hens. I excluded the golden rings; while I’ve heard there’s a theory that suggests these are actually ring-necked pheasants, I prefer the obvious. So, in all, the true love gives … 184 birds. One hundred and eighty-four. That is quite a lot of birds. Not to mention 40 maids a-milking (presumably the cows are included, unless they’re milking the birds) and a marching band and ballet set. But still, almost two hundred birds. Birds of multiple species, no less. This guy knows his birds. He probably has some credentials in the area. Perhaps he owns an aviary.

Also, I think the guy’s a little nuts. Who gives their true love 184 birds? Why would you think that would help the relationship? Are all those birds housebroken? How do you feed that many? And, to quote Mr. Dawes from Mary Poppins, if you feed the birds, do you know what you get? FAT BIRDS.

I leave that problem to your imaginations. In closing, I would suggest that 184 birds is not a good Christmas present for anyone. You know what’s good? Gift cards. That’s a classic.

NaNoWriMo, Day 22


I am almost to the 25,000 word mark.  This, of course, means that, if I hit that mark tomorrow, I will have about six days to power through 25,000 words. Oh dear.

Darlene the Invincible’s plot continues. She is singlehandedly assaulting a castle because her army of followers (soon to be called Darlenists) have neglected to bring rope ladders with which to scale the walls. (Oops.)  I have, however, written myself into a small dilemma. The castle defenders have just dropped a pot of boiling oil on our heroine. She, being invincible, will of course survive. But, does the invincibility extend to her clothing? If it doesn’t, wouldn’t the oil set it all on fire, in which case Darlene would quickly find herself in an awkward position? And if that happens, if you’re invincible, do you still care about awkwardness? Is a puzzlement.

I could avoid the awkwardness easily, of course, by simply making her invincibility powers extend to her clothing. Then the question is, how far does it extend? Does it stay the same level, or does it grow? Would Darlene wind up accidentally making her enemies invincible? Then the world? Hm.  Questions, questions.  The story goes on!

San Andreas: a Review


I realize this movie has been out for some time. I have, in fact, had it by Netflix DVD for three weeks, and have only today managed to find the time to watch it. I am somewhat morbidly fond of disaster movies, from Independence Day to 2012, and so I was very much looking forward to this one. Plus, it has Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson!  (Side note: given the film’s casting, would its soundtrack be considered Rock music?  I’m here all week, folks!)

I was not disappointed. To be sure, San Andreas is not your most philosophical of movies. It does not spend time in thoughtful moral dilemmas, like 2012 did in the decision whether to open the gates of the ship to let in a crowd of desperate people, or whether to keep them out in order to ensure humanity’s survival.  (Boy, that’s topical). San Andreas is not like that. The only moral decision that I saw involved the guy who played Dwayne’s ex-wife’s boyfriend.  He was in a position where he could stay with the ex-wife’s daughter and help her out of a precarious spot, but he did not. Instead, he ran away. He was later squished by a cargo ship caught in a tsunami. Let that be a lesson to you: don’t abandon your significant other’s kid in an earthquake. You will be horribly splatted.

As you might have noticed, San Andreas checks off all the disaster movie cliche boxes. There’s the Terribly Earnest Scientist, who is the One Man who knows about the impending disaster. (“It’s not IF, it’s WHEN”). There is Dwayne Johnson, who plays the same role as Liam Neeson: Loving Father, Whose Ex-Wife Has Married A Rich Dude, and Whose Daughter Is Growing Up But Still Loves Him. (Rich Dude, spoiler, is the guy who got splatted).  The daughter, of course, finds herself in a different city than Dwayne, who must then go to rescue her. Meanwhile, Dwayne and his ex-wife have Unresolved Marital Tension, in this case due to Personal Tragedy, which Dwayne must overcome in order to Save His Daughter.  There is the daughter’s new love interest, who comes complete with a Precocious Younger Sibling.  There is the Small Child, who the Terribly Earnest Scientist saves from the first round of earthquakes, at the cost of his own life. She is promptly reunited with her mother, and never appears in the rest of the film.

The Terribly Earnest Scientist, of course, realizes that the first round isn’t the last round, and that San Francisco in particular is about to get it in the shorts.  This is because, as the Intrepid Reporter puts it, “Are you saying the entire San Andreas fault is about to go off?”

The Terribly Earnest Scientist: “Yes, that’s EXACTLY what I’m saying!”

Scientist’s Assistant: “Who should we call?”

Me: “Ghostbusters!”

The Terribly Earnest Scientist: “EVERYBODY.”


It’s that kind of movie. It is also the kind of movie where we don’t focus much on everyone else. We follow Dwayne Johnson as he saves his family. That’s it. And it’s actually kinda fun. As I mentioned before, San Andreas reminds me very much of Taken. In that movie, Liam Neeson’s daughter is kidnapped by Bad Guys. Liam Neeson happens to be an ex-CIA man, and so naturally he goes after the Bad Guys. There’s no deep thoughts, no weighty moral dilemmas. Same here: it’s Dwayne Johnson saving his daughter from the quake.

Now, I do appreciate thoughtful movies. I just recently watched A Face in The Crowd, a political-type movie starring Andy Griffith, who plays a rising entertainment star corrupted by power. But, sometimes, it’s just fun to watch a movie where Liam Neeson goes after Bad Guys, or Dwayne Johnson goes after a quake.  So, there it is. Next up on my Netflix queue are the various Christmas movies I usually watch: Holiday Inn, the original Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story…it’s the most wonderful time of the year!



NaNoWriMo, Day 20


Darlene the Invincible is, somewhat reluctantly, leading an attack by her newly acquired followers on a castle. My word count is over the 22,000 mark now. Only 38,000 to go, right? Right. :)

Meanwhile, today I had lunch at Wendy’s, and rejoiced to see that they brought back the round Sweet and Sour sauce containers; I very much preferred them to the square ones they have had of late. I often eat lunch while reading a book, if I can. I recently read an NPR article on the stigma attached to eating alone, and saw a Frasier episode that dealt with the same problem. I’ve never quite understood that. I have never felt that stigma, because whenever I have had occasion to eat lunch on my own, I usually have a book. There: problem solved.

So, today I was happily reading my book (Eamon Duffy’s Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, 4th edition, in case you were wondering), when I became aware of a group of individuals next to me. One individual was clearly a leader in that social group, and was also the loudest. This person said a number of potentially tweetable things. I finally got on Twitter this year. I could very easily have tweeted out what this person said. It might have gone viral. Ridiculously viral, even. I could’ve been a star!

But then, I didn’t.

I left the group to their own affairs, finished the chapter on the Reformation (I had not known about the Sack of Rome in 1527 before. Yipes), and left the Wendy’s to proceed about my day.

I didn’t go viral. Neither did they.  The world kept on spinning somehow.




NaNoWriMo, Day 19


I am falling further and further behind. My word count is somewhere around 22,000, which isn’t even halfway to the goal of 50,000. On the other hand, I hear CreateSpace isn’t doing free copies this year, so there’s that.

In lieu of plot news, here is a pun.

Why is Cinderella bad at sports?  She always runs away from the ball.


The Love of Mr. Stamper


I can’t write this; it’s coming out all wrong;

I am an otter; I do not write song.

Still – I met her in the by-ways of her

Moon; as the crowds rushed by in their night-song.

We shared a drink; a ship, a night, a day;

We watched the planet rise, dawning light-song.

Space otters don’t write poetry; this stinks;

She would laugh and say this is a trite song.

Still, I stamped this out, for her. At least I

Tried. Someday, for her, I’ll make a right song.


I bet you never read a space otter ghazal before. You probably won’t again. This form is awfully tricky, and I’m not great with love poetry. Neither is Mr. Stamper.


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