Ramblings from the Gryphon Rose

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Gryphonrose the LJ

After much poking and prodding, I’ve decided to get my LJ going.
When I first decided to do one of these things, I was torn between an LJ and a blog. I had friends on both, and the setups looked similar. I finally decided to set up both of them and see which process I liked better. The blog won by a narrow margin, so I went with that but I still had the LJ sitting around. I kept thinking I should do something with it, esp. since some of you are on LJs and prefer that method, but I kept not getting around to it.
So now I am.
From here on out I’ll be putting the same posts on both. My LJ’s at http://www.livejournal.com/users/gryphonrose/
This way you can pick which one to read. Isn’t that nice of me?

Monday, June 27, 2005

What were they thinking?

I had a nice quiet weekend. My wife spent Saturday with some of her friends and I spent the day with my daughter, which was a lot of fun. We didn’t do much—it was too hot to go out so we stayed in, played a bit, read a bit, ate a bit, and watched TV a bit. Lots of good father-daughter bonding.
One of the things I watched was the latter half of 50 First Dates, the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore movie. My daughter had fallen asleep and a Jackie Chan movie was on next, so I figured I’d just leave this thing on in the meantime. For those of you who haven’t seen it, the premise is this: Sandler meets Barrymore and the two like each other immediately. Then he finds out that she had a car accident a year ago and can no longer form short-term memories. At the end of each day, she forgets everything about that day. This has happened since the accident and is apparently a permanent condition. The two of them are good together, as evidenced in The Wedding Singer, and it’s very cute and very sweet.
Until the end.
Sandler has created a video tape for Barrymore to watch each morning, which gives her a quick rundown on her accident, her condition, recent events in the world, who he is, and their relationship. That way she only loses an hour each morning before they’re together again. At the end of the film she wakes up and watches the tape, which now includes their wedding. Then Sandler’s voice-over says “It’s cold out, so when you’re ready put on a coat and come have breakfast.” She does, and discovers that they’re on his boat up near the Arctic (he always wanted to sail up there and study walruses). Sandler greets her—and then introduces her to her daughter, who looks to be about four.
I’m sorry. Am I the only one who finds this horribly depressing? I looked over at my little girl, asleep beside me, and thought what it would be like to not remember her at all, to not remember her growing up, her learning new things, her smiling at me. I tried to imagine what that would be like on her side as well, knowing I wouldn’t remember anything about her or the time we’d shared together. I don’t mind admitting I cried thinking of that. I cannot imagine many things more horrible. Yet that was the end of this movie, and they acted as if it was okay.
Needless to say, I hugged and kissed my little girl when she woke up. And I was again moved to tears the next morning when I woke up and remembered her, and she woke up and remembered me.
Cherish your memories. And delight in the fact that you feature in the memories of your loved ones.

Friday, June 24, 2005

I Coulda Been a Coupla Chaptas

I’ve mentioned before that a few years back I was working on a humorous novel about a writer. It was called Quagmire, and some of the surreal situations were sparked by real events or real sights I’d encountered in the city. Recently I’ve had two such events, and if I was still working on Quagmire I would certainly adapt both of them for use in the book. Instead I offer them here as amusing anecdotes—and perhaps, if I ever get back to that novel, I’ll pull them from my archive here and use them after all.
The first was two weeks ago. Alex and Amy were visiting, it was Saturday morning and Alex and I were walking around in Queens, hearkening back to our old Saturdays of running silly errands together. We happened across a photo not two blocks from my house, and Alex stopped to pick it up. It was a guy in his twenties, and judging from the Flock-of-Seagulls hair and the artfully torn white shirt the photo was from the eighties.
A block later, on the other side of the underpass (I don’t know why I always wind up living near underpasses in New York. Must be a thing.), we found more photos. A whole passel of them. All clearly from the same set—some had the same guy in them, sometimes with other people, and those other people were in the rest of the photos.
We found more photos on the next block. And more a block later, on the other side of Queens Boulevard.
Now, this struck both of us as very weird. It’s easy enough for a photo to fall out of a book or bag or something. Or for a packet of photos to slip loose, though you think you might notice that. But this was at least thirty photos, possibly more, and they were spread out over at least four blocks and across both an underpass and a major street. Unless someone had been carrying all of them loose in a bag and the bag had a hole in it and was slowly leaking them all that way, we couldn’t see how they could slip out like that. Particularly without being noticed.
My thought was that it was actually a reunion of friends from the eighties. One of them had these photos, and had left them as pictorial breadcrumbs toward the gathering. That would explain the spacing between photos, and the fact that most of them were face-up. As a “follow these to the gathering” idea it was actually clever. But how could someone follow them across Queens Boulevard?
The second event was last night. My friend Peter and I went to see Batman Begins—we were supposed to go with a bunch of other friends but everyone bailed (except Mook who had train issues of the conflagratory sort). We’d decided to try a new place for dinner, a little Middle Eastern place called Bread & Olive (tasty food, btw, and very quick and fairly cheap. Not fancy at all, but a nice quick bite). We got our food and wandered into the tiny seating area in back (entertaining for its submarine-metal floor and its bright green corrugated ceiling, plus the Middle Eastern techno music playing over the speakers). Four people were already back there, three of them sitting together while one was standing up with his arms crossed: an older man and woman and then two young guys. The young guys were probably a couple, and it was one of them standing up—at first I thought he might be the other one’s bodyguard, the way he was standing. The woman was grilling the seated young guy about his dietary habits. And I do mean grilling him. She wanted to know what he had eaten that day for breakfast and lunch, what he had most mornings, what he usually had for dinner, how much he smoked, etc. It was like an interrogation. The older guy sat there and watched and didn’t say anything. Eventually the other young guy sat down again, and contributed a little by sharing what the first young guy had eaten recently. Peter and I agreed it was a very weird scene. Was it a nutritionalist with a new client? A protective mother checking on her son’s eating habits—or those of his boyfriend? A woman trying to make polite conversation and carrying one topic way too far?
Anyway, there you go. The surreal life of a New Yorker, where sights and sounds make little sense but often provide entertainment.
Oh, and I liked the movie. Best Batman film so far, definitely. Shame Katie Holmes was so cold throughout.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Addicted to Tales

One of the things Alex, Amy and I talked about yesterday was writing—a common subject and interest for us.
Alex is transitioning a bit in what he writes, focusing more on what he really loves and less on what he thought he should be doing, which is great.
I’m not changing much, though, nor do I want to. I’ve told people this before, but it’s still true—I love to tell stories. That’s what it’s all about for me. It’s not the physical writing, though I do enjoy watching the words materialize on the screen—I’d probably be fine dictating if I could find a system that worked for me. But I really do live to create tales and characters. It’s what I do. More than that, it’s who I am, which is why I get cranky whenever I haven’t written for a while. I don’t write because I enjoy it—I write because I need it.
The fact that I enjoy it is a pleasant bonus.

Hanging Out with Friends

Alex and Amy visited this weekend—I had lunch with them and their friends Bill and Jen on Friday, then we all had dinner Friday night, then they came out to our place Sunday night and stayed over. They’re flying out this afternoon. I took yesterday off from work to spend time with them. It was great to see them, as always—as Alex put it, “always too short.” But he also pointed out that we manage to see each other at least once a year now, which is some consolation.
Last night we had several other friends over, which was a lot of fun. By far my favorite parts of the visit, however, were earlier in the day. Yesterday morning Alex and I went walking around in Queens (and found a local geocache) and then got breakfast at a local diner. We used to run around every Saturday, years back—we’d check out any garage sales we could find, run errands, go get comics, and have lunch, then play pool for a few hours. It was great, and this was very much of that mold, just the two of us wandering and chatting. Then yesterday afternoon, while my wife and daughter took a much-needed nap, Alex and Amy and I sprawled about in the living room. We have three couches, so we each had one, and we just lay there and chatted about various things for a few hours. It was great.
As I told Alex, I think a true friend is someone you don’t have to “do things” with—you can just relax and hang out and enjoy each other’s company. Which is exactly what we spent yesterday doing.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Window dressing—no peeking!

Been getting some things done around the house this week, which is nice. Our friend Paul came over on Tuesday and replaced the outlets in our bedroom and in the office, which was particularly good because it allowed me to finally install and plug in the air-conditioners in those two rooms. Ah, blessed air-conditioning! Peaches, we owe you.
I also found these great shades at Home Depot (where you go in looking for one thing and walk out with seven), and we now have them up in the dining room and in our bedroom. Which means no more vertical blinds! Yay! Those things were hideous, esp. since they had been some sort of salmon color originally (we’re guessing) but with age and caked-in grease and grime had turned a weird pinkish gray—I call it Zombie Flesh. And they were sticky to the touch. Ugh. But now they’re gone, and we’re happy.
We also put up a stained-glass window in the bathroom. Sort of. It’s called window film, and it’s a translucent sheet that adheres to glass and looks like stained glass. Very cool, reasonably easy, and the bathroom looks a lot nicer now.
Still a lot to do, of course, but it’s cool to check those off the list.

Such opportunities you'll have!

So the other day I was websurfing during lunch and wandered over to a friend’s LJ. From there I bounced to another LJ, belonging to someone I’ve worked with before but have never met in person. So far so good.
I’m checking out his LJ, and he’s got an entry about writing for RPGs. He talks about how cool it is to write them, and how you can really hone your skills on them. Fine. But then he mentions that, when you hit the point where work comes to you instead of you having to hunt for it, it’s time to move on.
Fair enough, right? Aim for bigger and better things. But in the comments to this entry he goes on about how there are so many opportunities out there, and if you’ve got some credits under your belt (apparently from the RPG industry) it’s easy to get noticed and get gigs. Specifically, novels.
Um—wha? Or, more succinctly, what world are you living in? Because it sure ain’t the one I see out my window.
Sorry, but this really gets under my skin when I see people talking about how easy it is to break into things like novels. Bullsh*t it is. It’s incredibly hard, and I don’t care how many RPGs you’ve written. Hell, I’ve done something like 70 of them myself, and it still took me until last year to land a novel. A lot of publishers actually sneer at RPG credits (just like my wife discovered, years back, that a lot of NY employers sneered at non-NY work experience. Like it’s not real if your former job was in another state. Nice.) and are more inclined to work with a complete unknown than with someone with an RPG background. Others simply don’t care about anything you’ve done that isn’t straight fiction.
Basically, if you think getting a novel or two is easy you’re either naive, incredibly lucky, or possessed of unique resources (like a close friend or relative who’s an editor and can hand you a novel contract). Most of us have to work damn hard for it. So yeah, it irks me when I see someone waltz past and get it with little or no effort. But what really pisses me off is when that person turns around and sneers at the rest of us, or laughs and brags about how easy it was.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Yum, Brains!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Yes and No

Normally when people don’t post to their LJ or blog for a while, it means one of two things: they’ve been really busy or nothing much is going on.
Yeah, that about covers it.
I’ve been busy the past two weeks, certainly. With what, I’m not sure, but I know I haven’t had a lot of free time. Then again, I clearly haven’t been doing anything riveting enough to post about immediately, right?
Last weekend, of course, we had friends over Friday night (as per our usual), though we gathered earlier than usual because two of us had started summer publishing hours. For those of you not familiar with this, it’s a wonderful thing—during the summer (from Memorial Day to Labor Day) most publishing houses have employees come in a little earlier in the mornings and stay a little later in the evenings Monday through Thursday. But on Friday you come in a little early and leave VERY early. During the rest of the year, we’re supposed to work 9-5 (though try telling the designers that!). During the summer, we work 8:45-5:30 Monday through Thursday, and 8:45-12:45 Friday. I’m usually at work between 8:30 and 8:45 anyway, and I often stay until 5:15 or 5:30, so for me it means working my normal hours the first four days and getting half of Friday off. I love it. So does my little girl.
So last Friday we had friends over, and this past Monday we also had friends over and tried to grill (though that failed, thanks to the rain). A fun time was had despite the weather, and hamburgers and hot dogs cooked on a Foreman grill are still tasty.
The previous weekend, my dad was in town visiting, so we hung out with him. We also had dinner with our cousins one night, which was fun.
Honestly, there’s not much else to report right now. I’m still caught in that weird project loop I mentioned earlier, about taking something to a ridiculous level and having it encouraged, though it looks like that may change. We’ll see. Still waiting on some projects to finalize, though I do have several already locked in for this year. I’ve been brainstorming on several others with people, which is always fun, and those should lead to specifics soon as well.
Tomorrow we’re going to see my wife’s family out in NJ, which should be nice except for the “schlep the car seat on the subway and then on the NJ Transit train” part. Next week my best bud Alex and his wife Amy (also one of my really good friends) are coming for a too-brief but much-anticipated visit.
And no, I still haven’t seen Episode III.