Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Throwing class

After all this time I am finally trying to learn how to make stuff on the pottery wheel. I am not having much luck with it, but at least I am finally trying to learn it.

The first class I took at the university did not allow beginners to use the wheel at all, which was strange since the next semester you had to commit the entire four months to either hand building vessels, or hand building sculptures, or throwing on the wheel. And how are you supposed to decide if you want a whole semester of throwing on the wheel if you've never been allowed to try it? But that is the way it is set up there.

The second class I took at a community college, and they require everyone to at least observe a demonstration and sit at the wheel once. You don't have to make anything to turn in for a grade, you just have to try. I tried for about half an hour and gave up on it. If you watch someone who is good at it, like my teacher, then it looks easy and they have nice pieces done in about ten minutes. I can't seem to get the hang of even centering the clay.

So I didn't spend much time trying out the wheel, cause I knew that I wouldn't get anything done on it that was good enough to turn in for a grade, and there was always something else that needed to be done and I didn't have time to waste on the wheel doing extra stuff. So this semester I had skipped the regular classes and I am just taking this non-credit thing.

So I have been all summer without doing any ceramics, except for attempting to make some of my own clay, and that didn't go as planned either. So when class was about to start, I noticed the low enrollment and thought that the class would probably be cancelled. I decided not to get upset about it, and on the bright side if the class was cancelled I would be getting my $75 back, and we needed the money. So the week before the class started I was not really organized, and I hadn't even bought any clay, cause I didn't really think that there was going to be a class. At the last minute some students who wanted to take a different art class joined ours after they learned that their class was definitely going to be cancelled, so then we had a dozen or so people in our class and ours didn't get cancelled.

Still, I didn't learn that the class wasn't cancelled until after 5pm on Friday, which meant that it was too late to buy any clay. And then I was a bit late for class. Traditionally, the first day of a college course is a waste anyway, cause people don't have their books and such yet. The first day is just that day when you go and make sure you're in the right place and such. So I wasn't sure we would be doing anything that day or not, but that would be unfortunate, since the class is only on Saturdays and only for six weeks. Can't waste an entire class period like that.

But it turned out alright, since we wouldn't be doing much to start with he had enough clay for us to get started. Then there was about an hour of stuff that I didn't care about, like a tour of the building and talking about ceramics in general and such that I already knew. And then we watched a bit of a video that I'd already seen, but it had been a while and I needed to see it again. And then he did a demo himself. And then we got a few pieces of clay to work with, and two people already knew what they were doing, and the rest of us looked pretty bad at it.

So the first thing that you do is get the clay centered, and that just takes me too long. I do get around to it eventually, but it just seems to take me longer than everyone else. And then the next two things you do is to make a hole in the clay without getting the clay off-center, which I usually seem to do okay. And then the next bit is to make the hole larger, again without getting the clay off-center, which usually goes okay, but it doesn't always look as smooth at the bottom like it is supposed to, so sometimes I have to go back over it and smooth things out. And then comes the part where you lift the clay up and make a cylinder, and I never get that part right, and either it quickly goes off-center and looks more like an egg, or large pieces of clay actually come off. And then you have to start over again.

A couple of the new students have gotten to the part where they don't have a nice cylinder, but maybe they have a short bowl or a lopsided bowl or a bowl with a few curves in it that are not supposed to be there. And they like them well enough to keep them. But I've now been to my second class and do not even have a lopsided bowl to show for it.

The teacher says that this is normal and I shouldn't get upset about it. And I'm not upset about it, but two days of a six day class and nothing to show for it isn't my idea of a good time either.
The other thing that bothers me is that most of us have decided to use recycled clay. New clay is only eight dollars or nine dollars, but we are making quite a mess and spending the eight or nine dollars on stuff that we mostly end up putting back in the recycle bin seems silly, especially since there is now a machine all set up to recycle the clay. The problem is that since we all decided to use recycled clay, I spent half a hour of the two hour class getting the clay out of the machine. And then it takes me a while to get used to the wheel and the centering and such, and then we have to stop and clean up the area before class is over. So my first class I only got to work at the wheel for about half an hour, and my second class I only got to work at the wheel for about an hour and fifteen minutes. So I'm not happy about that, and I'm hoping that he'll at least let me use the recycling machine some other day of the week, so that on Saturday I am all ready to go when class starts.

I'm afraid that the money situation is so bad at the moment I can't even afford the eight or nine dollars for clay, and the store isn't open on Saturdays anyway.

I feel really bad physically. I don't know if it is the throwing class, or if maybe it was doing a lot of work the day before class. I am very tired and feel like staying in bed all day. Not the best idea at the moment. I'm am making progress on cleaning the backroom and I think that if I stop now it will just end up being a cluttered mess again soon.

The last day of class is the same day as the Halloween party, and I do not want to be tired and such then, so I am thinking that I might just have to skip the last day. Which means that if I don't at least get a lopsided bowl done during the next class I won't have a completed piece done this semester. Because the piece needs some drying time, and then you are supposed to put it back on the wheel for some finishing touches, and then it needs to be fired between classes, and then if it is going to be glazed that needs to be done before it can be fired again. So that's all hard to do in six classes anyway, so if I only go to five of the classes it's near impossible.

This particular class isn't supposed to be about finishing pieces, it's supposed to be about learning the technique. But I just can't quite look at it that way if don't have even one thing I'm happy with to take home with me.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Morons--You think that he's a good kid?

Well, Monday Morons used to be a regular feature around here, since there seems to be an endless supply of morons, and also Mondays seem to come around once a week or so. And then it became a matter of deciding which particular moron to write about that particular week, and sometimes saving a story til the next week when I had more time to write about it, or maybe writing about it on a different day entirely and just waiting til Monday to post it. And then for a while there were still morons, just that they were your average boring morons and not really worth writing about. And then sometimes a person gets busy with other things and doesn't really have the time to blog about much at all.

So I have been skipping over the Monday Morons for a long time. And then I wrote a few. And then I had several things that I wanted to write about, but I didn't write them down at the time, cause I was busy cleaning or something, and then they slipped my mind entirely. They seemed worth writing about at the time, but now I have forgotten them. And then last week there were three or four things that I thought I could write about, but they were minor things really. So when Saturday came and I heard about the violin a** woman, I had to write about that, because the violin a** woman pretty much trumps everything else except maybe the Homewrecking-Slut, so of course I had to write about the violin a** woman last week.

So those other things, whatever the were, have slipped my mind now. Like I said, mostly they were minor things. But there was this other thing, maybe not so minor, from a while back, so I'll post it today. And yes, I know that if you recognize which news story I'm referring to that it is a bit old as far as news stories go, but rest of it I only heard about a couple of weeks back.

Maybe a month or two ago, a couple of teenagers (or maybe guys in their early twenties) broke into someone's home. The couple that lived there had children, two boys I think. And the woman woke up while the teenagers were robbing them, and she fought with them, and then that woke up her husband, who also came into the room and fought with them. One of the teenagers had a gun, and the husband got the gun away from the teenagers and shot them. One of the teenagers died at the scene, and I can't remember if the other teenager died later or lived.

Now, maybe you're not supposed to do a dance when you hear that someone has died, but really, that's what most of us are thinking, isn't it? They got what they deserved. And there are two less thugs that we had to worry about breaking into our homes. And maybe the other little thugs will get a clue and stay in school and get real jobs, etc....

I think that the main downside to a father killing two thugs that broke into his home is that the man will have to deal with the police and the courts and such for a while before it is official that the father shot the teenagers in self-defense, and that maybe he will have nightmares and such, and his wife was there and she'll have nightmares and such, and if the kids were awake they might have seen it and even if they didn't they will probably have nightmares and such. So maybe the whole family will be in therapy for a while, and they might lose some time at work and so forth. In some ways it might be easier on the family if the thugs had gotten away.

But I don't feel much sympathy for the teenagers who were shot. They got what they deserved. They broke into someone else's home to steal a television and such, and they could have just gotten regular jobs and bought their own televisions and such. And not only did they plan to steal someone else's television, they came prepared to shoot someone to get it. The gene pool is better off without them.

Now I know that everyone has a mom and dad, and that the little thugs both had moms and dads, and the moms and dads are hurting. I don't know if these were bad kids because they had bad parents, or if the parents were near perfect people and the boys were total mutations. But the boys did something bad, and they got shot, and you don't really feel for their families the way that you do for families of soldiers killed in Iraq and people who get shot minding their own business at a convenience store that gets robbed, etc....

Somebody feels for these people. Somebody went to the funeral and held mom's hand and said sorry for your loss and all of that. Somebody did all the things that you would do if it were someone who got shot while fighting in Iraq or minding their own business and shot by a robber. Somebody took the family ham and potato salad and listened to them cry, etc....

So maybe it was the parents fault, and maybe it wasn't. But it was definitely the teenagers own fault that they were killed. If you break into someone's home, you are supposed to get shot, or you are supposed to get caught and spend years in jail. That doesn't usually happen, but that is what is supposed to happen.

My husband the photographer is not the perfect person, but I am really surprised at some of the people who are hired to work with him. Once in a while, someone asks him if he wants to go have a beer after work. My husband doesn't drink, I'll say that much for him. But I'm really surprised that there are all these people who get hired to do this job, and then they want to go hang out at bars after work. It just doesn't seem like some of them would have a good image and would make the company look bad to the potential customers, though sometimes I suppose that they end up going to the bars and such with the potential customers. But for the most part, I am surprised to hear some of the details of these people's personal lives. Still, if you keep that sort of thing to yourself, and don't openly present yourself as the sort of person who hangs out at a bar, and you wear the dress code and don't talk about hanging out at bars to people who don't bring up the subject themselves, then it might work out okay.

Anyway, one of the sales staff knew one of the teenagers who was shot and killed while trying to rob from this family. And so she's a salesperson, and she works on commission, and my husband also works on commission, but it is up to her to actually get the sales. So part of the job is to have pleasant small talk with people and act like one of them and act like you're a person who deserves a paycheck so that the customers will spend some of their hard earned money. If you act like a low-life and talk about inappropriate things and such, people spend less money. And right now, they are not spending a lot of money to begin with.

So this salesperson has to tell absolutely everyone she sees that she knew one of the little thugs who was killed. But she goes on and on about how he was a good boy and he didn't deserve to get killed, and that he was friends with her boy, and it just isn't right that he's dead. So no one wants to talk to this salesperson, and if they were going to buy anything they don't want to buy anything from her. And for all I know she is telling this nonsense to people who have lost loved ones in Iraq or have known people shot in convenience stores or even people who were shot in their own homes buy little thugs stealing televisions.

Shut up already!

He was not a good boy. At least, at the time he was shot he wasn't. Either he was just a bad kid, or maybe the other one was just a bad kid and this one got talked into doing something he wasn't supposed to be doing. But unless he was an undercover cop or someone was making him do this by holding a gun to his girlfriend's head or something like that, he wasn't some innocent bystander and he deserved to get shot. For all I know he was just a bad kid, and the other kid was mostly a good guy until that night when he was persuaded to steal a television set. For all I know the other kid got shot only because he listened to this one.

She just doesn't seem to get it. I don't see how she doesn't get it in the first place, but what I really don't understand is why she keeps telling this to people after she saw what happened the first few times she told this story. So she doesn't have any sales to speak of, and my husband comes home with half a paycheck.

And the next day, she is still at it, telling everyone how this boy was friends with her boy, and that they are just the same, and it isn't fair that he got shot. So if the salesperson is right, and the boy who was shot was just the same as her boy, seems like her boy must be a little thug too. And no one really wants to be around the mother of a little thug. And she really doesn't seem to get it, that if her kid is not a little thug that he's probably hanging out with thugs and that if her boy wants to hang out with thugs that he'll eventually be doing this sort of thing himself if he isn't already.

So maybe she should quit telling this nonsense to everyone she meets and find out what is going on with her own kid. And if talking to people about this stuff is more important than earning a living, could she maybe just stay home and talk about it with someone else who shares her opinion and not screw up my husband's paycheck?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Stuff I found while cleaning

The best thing that I found a few weeks ago was "my book." But that was a few weeks ago, and I brought it in here, and I've already misplaced it somewhere. But I'm pretty sure that it is here someplace, and about a month ago I had thought that there were no surviving copies of the thing. So that's good that there is one left, and it is good that it is probably somewhere in this room where I can find it later.

This week I found some other stuff. I found a short story that I thought was gone. I think that it's pretty good. I read it and I'm thinking, I used to be good at this, why did I let all this other stuff happen that caused me to stop writing this stuff? It's dated. I don't think that anyone would want it now, but it's good.

Also, I found a rejection letter from Omni magazine. I think that I must have sent them this story, but then I think that I must have written this about 1993 or so, and that seems a bit late for sending things to Omni magazine. So maybe I sent something else to Omni, but I can't think of what. I don't remember finishing anything else that would have been appropriate for them.

I found a bumper sticker for Star Trek 5. This is really funny that I have a bumper sticker for Star Trek 5. I don't like Star Trek 5 that much. Most of us don't. That is probably most fan's least favorite Star Trek movie, though some would pick 1 or 7 or 9 or even 10. But it's universally agreed that Star Trek 5 is just not anyone's favorite movie.

I found a teaser and two acts of a script I started writing for Deep Space Nine. I'd forgotten about it. I remember having a good idea for a story, but I'd forgotten that I'd actually gotten as far as starting to write a script, much less that I wrote half of it before putting it away. I wonder what did make me put it away?

We have just finished eating the last of the candy I stocked up on after Halloween last year. Now I've found a bit that must have been from the year before last. I think it will just have to go in the trash.

I've found stuff from conventions I went to in 1994. 1994 was a good year. Nigel Bennett threatened to bite me.

I've found several dead mice. Two of them recent.

And I've just found out that my toaster no longer works. I guess that they aren't supposed to work forever, but it was a surprise anyway.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The money sucks

We are broke. We are usually broke it seems, but this week is especially bad. Lately we have looked at the bills and decided that this and that credit card will just have to wait so that we can pay the insurance and the cars and the rent and maybe the one or two credit cards that we are still actually using. He gets paid every two weeks, which isn't exactly the same as getting paid twice a month, so every now and then it happens that all of the major bills come due on during the one of the two week periods instead of being equally divided between the two. And I think that has happened this week, as we do not normally pay for both cars out of the same paycheck, and we do not normally pay both the rent and the car insurance out of the same paycheck.

Well, we're going to end up paying the rent out of the next check. There are a few days grace, so we're going to use them. Today I am going to go and write a check for my car, which will take up the rest of the money in that account. That won't leave us anything else for a whole week. If we so much as go to a taco place we will be over the limit and start paying fees and such.

That sucks.

I have always found it more difficult to deal with the paychecks that come every other week instead of every week. It should not be this difficult. It would still be the same amount of money divided up differently. It's not like getting paid every week instead of every other week would actually add up to more money. But somehow it did seem easier to deal with when something happened and we only had to wait til the end of the week to fix it instead of the end of next week to fix it.

The other thing is that sales are down, and whether the sales are good or bad I don't really have a clue how much is coming in. When I was in sales too, I figured out how much the sales would mean to my paycheck. It's not something that you can figure out to the last dime, because there are always cancellations and such that get figured in that I don't know about until I get the check, but other than that I could make a pretty good guess as to how much was coming in. I could look at the check and know whether or not I should call the office and complain that I had earned more than that. I knew which weeks we would have extra money to do stuff and which weeks we wouldn't. But it isn't my job now and it isn't my paycheck, and he either tells me that it's going to be another bad week or maybe it's been a good week, but I never really know what that means until the check is deposited.

While I had wanted to get a job in a month or so, I would rather wait to get a job that I would like to keep for a while. Right now it looks like I should get a job even if I have to ask would you like fries with that? I really have not wanted to do that. Besides the obvious, I didn't want to do that because I figure that when I finally find something that I really want to do that I didn't want to go into the interview with an application that says my current or last job was something normally done by teenagers. Most of the time I'd rather explain that I took time off to go back to school or that my husband has to travel a lot for his job and that the reason I don't have my own job is that I usually travel with him. But now I think I need to take that out of the equation and just take any job that will at least pay for my car while I look for something else.

So it all sucks. I'm really glad that I didn't decide to take regular college classes this semester. Saturday is about all that I can handle right now. And I'm glad that I didn't plan to enter any costume contests next month either, cause if I did right now I'd probably be sitting here with a half-finished costume and crying about not having the money to finish it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wouldn't it be nice to be single?

Well, maybe it would, but I wasn't thinking about that sort of thing this week. This week I was just thinking it would be nice to have the house to myself. This week I was just thinking how it would be nice to not have this other person here so I could do things without having to think about how what I would want to do would inconvenience the other person who lives here. So it would be nice to have the place to myself and not have to consider the other person and the other person's schedule before I did anything.

Yesterday, I was a bit sick. Not really bad sick, but enough to be really annoying while it was still dark outside. One of those things where you get up and go to the bathroom and put water on your face and hope that taking a few pills or drinking a club soda will make you feel better. And then you go back to bed and hope that you don't get sick and try to go back to sleep. But you never quite get back to sleep. You get up again and think that you would probably feel better if you just took a few pills, but once you're in the bathroom you look at the pills and see that some are missing and remember that you already took the pills and it didn't help yet. Maybe a few crackers will help? What did I eat last night?

And you get out a heating pad for your stomach or your back, or you get out something cold to put on your face. And you try to do this without waking up the other person in the house, maybe the person who is even trying to sleep in the same bed with you. And you think that now that you've taken pills, drank club soda, eaten a few crackers, gotten a heating pad, and found something cold to put on your face, now you can go back to bed and hopefully go back to sleep.

You never quite get back to sleep. You just sort of lie there and hope that you don't get sick and wait for it to be morning. You try to be quiet about it.

Since I am not getting back to sleep, there's so much else that I could be doing instead of lying there hoping that I don't get really sick. I could turn on the television and watch some stuff that I recorded the night before, or I could pop in a DVD, or I could turn on a light and read a book. I suppose that I could find somewhere else in the house to turn on a light and read a book, but the idea was to do that in bed and hope that after a chapter or so I would feel like sleeping again, so reading elsewhere wouldn't help that and wouldn't be as comfortable anyway.

In fact the only thing that I feel I can do in this house without disturbing the other person who lives here is to come in this other room and use the computer. And that is probably why I've kept up the blogging this long. I almost always wake up before the other person. I should stop blogging so much and switch to writing fiction, but I never seem to get around to doing that.

So it would have been nice to have the place to myself yesterday. It used to be a relief that someone else was here, that if I really did get sick that there would be someone else here to take me to the hospital. But that never happens. No matter how sick I get, I always wait til morning to see if I feel better and go see a doctor then. And of course, if I really thought something was seriously wrong, that's what 911 is for, and before it got to that there are people nearby I could call.

There's just something really unpleasant about having to sit in the dark and be quiet. If I could just turn on a few lights and have some background noise of the television or radio. Then things would seem more normal, and then maybe I could fall asleep. But if I couldn't fall asleep I could at least have the distraction of the television and not have the only thing I'm thinking about being my sick stomach or headache or whatever.

I did not get really sick yesterday. I did not feel much better until nearly noon, and I took a lot of naps, but didn't feel really bad and I didn't go to the doctor or anything like that. I just felt useless and tired all day. I had stuff to do, but very little of it got done.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Morons--Update on the violin a** woman

Okay, the original posts about the people involved were more than a year ago, so you probably don't remember. I wrote a post about a former friend being stupid and leaving his wife and getting involved with the violin a** woman. And then a few months later I wrote another post that I heard they had gotten married.

Anyway, this former friend was not only was seeing other women before the divorce from the woman he was married to for thirty years, but he also gave a lot of their money away without her permission and ran up a lot of debt and took out a second mortgage on the house supposedly to pay for repairs on the roof, etc.... So I'm not sure what should have been done about that, but nothing was done about it at all. And in case like this in Texas, the woman should have received the house and/or three years alimony, but somehow she didn't even get that and has had to go through all sorts of nonsense just to continue living in her own home. Supposedly, she owes him a bit of money or she doesn't get the house.

The younger woman he was with had to get married right away or be deported, so you would think that the first wife should have been able to get a better deal than that just so that he would be free to remarry. But that didn't happen either.

So the younger woman married the former friend. And the former friend had some photos taken of her, some of which involved her being nude and holding a violin in her a**. And the wedding was two days after the divorce, which is not legal in Texas, and I'm told that they did not bother having the ceremony in another state to make it legal.

The best friend of the violin a** woman had a fight with her and told everyone that she only got married to so that she could stay in the United States, which was what we thought anyway. And then she told her boyfriend that violin a** woman was planning to get pregnant, and that she didn't think that her older husband was up to the task, so she was going to get someone else to do it. So that we didn't know, but the friend's boyfriend told us about it.

This weekend I was told that the former friend and the violin a** woman were splitting up. We don't know if he caught her with another man, or if he just decided that she was no good in general, or if she decided that she didn't need him to stay in the country and just dumped him.

So we don't know the details, but we expect to hear them eventually from the son or the friend's boyfriend. Whatever the reason, we think it's a good thing, cause neither one of them deserves to be married and happy and so forth. Unfortunately, this doesn't do anything to help the first wife with her house and her bills and such, but at least the idiot new wife won't be calling her anymore saying she owes them money.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

People who like to argue

My brother likes to argue. I think that he could argue about everything. If we do anything with my brother, at some point his voice will get very loud.

Sometimes he is "preaching to the choir." He hears something that he doesn't like, and he immediately wants to argue about why it is a bad idea. He hasn't even stopped to find out if anyone disagrees with him, he just starts yelling. Last year or the year before he was asking about movies I had seen, and I thought that I would tell him I heard that JJ Abrams was making a Star Trek movie with the characters of the original Star Trek, but using younger actors. He got upset and started yelling about what a bad idea it was. I was the only other person in the room. No one was arguing with him. I wasn't even offering an opinion about anything, I just thought that he'd like to hear what the latest rumor was, and he just started yelling about how wrong it all was.

Other times he will say something, and we tell him that we think he's wrong and why we think he's wrong. And then he wants to argue about what ever it is and convince us all that he's right. And we're like, we don't care. And he has to yell about a few more points. We still don't care. More yelling. Buddy, you don't get it. We really don't care. The subject matter isn't that important to us, and we don't want to talk about it anymore. Even if you end up winning the argument, who cares? Trying to win us over isn't going to do anything for you. Even if we agreed with you on the subject, we are not in a position to do anything about it. So let's talk about something else.

I think that my brother just likes to argue. I think partly this is because he misses Dad. Dad and my brother used to argue about everything, and now my brother doesn't have anyone to argue with. So now he tries to make an argument out of everything.

I get less and less interested in arguing about stuff as I get older. There's the stuff that I don't care about enough to argue about. This year that includes most political stuff. In fact, most years now that includes most political stuff. I just don't know of any candidates that share enough of my views to even bother to vote, so I'm certainly not going to get into an arguments about who is better. My answer to everything on that subject is going to be d--none of the above.

The only arguments that I bother with anymore are things that are only moderately interesting to me. I'll argue which Star Trek movie is better or what I would have done differently on last week's Stargate, but that's about it. And even that isn't fun if you're talking to someone who will make a big deal out of that.

The real important stuff I don't want to argue about either. The serious life and death stuff like religion is all stuff that I decided a long time ago, and I don't need to talk about it anymore. I know what I know, and no one is going to change my mind, and if you seriously try to change my mind it would probably just be an upsetting conversation that would serve no purpose. And while I'm supposed to try to get everyone to see my point of view on that stuff, I rarely bother with it anymore. If it isn't going to end up saving someone's soul or something, I just don't want to get into it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Never do friends the favor of critiquing their work

When I first met a few fellow writers, I was really excited about it. I thought it was so cool to make friends with people who liked to do the same thing I did. And of course I thought that they would all love to read stuff that I wrote, and I thought that for the most part everyone was going to like what they read.

I met a few people here and there, but except for one guy I was dating, the making friends with other writers didn't seem to work out like I thought.

I signed up for a creative writing class in college. I thought that either the teacher would tell me everything was wonderful and that with a little more work I would soon be published. Or, at least that was what I hoped he would say. There was also the possibility that I would really learn something in this class, and armed with these new skills I would then write the great American novel over the summer break.

Neither of those things happened.

I unknowingly insulted a student that I really liked (over something other than writing), and a lot of others I just didn't seem to click with. One who really liked me was a little too loud for my liking. Of the original 25 students, half of them quit due to serious problems with the class, and I didn't get to know them or read their writing or anything. The teacher of the class seemed to have more important things going on. He missed a third of the class periods, and then it was a month before we actually wrote anything that would be graded.

And then he didn't really have anything helpful to say. During class, he would praise you and tell you all the things that you did right, but then when you got the story back it was graded C-. There didn't seem to be suggestions on how to make the story better, just that it somehow wasn't up to his standards.

Since the teacher wasn't around much, we decided to get together without him and read stories that the others had written. I think maybe we still didn't get much done, because we were afraid of hurting other people's feelings. But still, it felt like we were getting more done without the teacher than with him.

Still, you can't pass a college class without the teacher, and rather than have bad grades on our transcripts, six more of us dropped the class.

Regular freshman English was better, but it wasn't quite what I needed either.

Friends and relatives read my stories, but I still wasn't getting back the kind of feedback I really needed.

And then the rest of my life happened. I wrote a few things. Actually, I started writing a lot of stuff, but I didn't finish that much. Once, when I was really into writing something about vampires, our house was broken into and my computer was stolen. I mostly stopped writing for a bit, and I didn't seriously take it up again until I went back to college.

Once in a while, someone would read something that I wrote, or I would read something that someone else wrote. And even after the other person says that they want an honest opinion, what a lot of people really want to hear is that their writing is wonderful and there's no major problems with it.

If you start out critiquing a friend's writing, and you tell your friend the truth, you may end up losing a friend.

I think that people need a lot of different people reading their work and giving them advice. And maybe they do need most of their friends to pat them on the back and say "Well done" and "Good job." Everybody needs some encourgement sometime. Everyone likes to know that even though they might never be published, a few people read and like their work, so the time and effort was not entirely wasted.

But they also need people who will tell them the truth and ask the tough questions.

I went back to college. I took a few classes that required us to read and critique each others work. One of them even graded us on our ability to work as a group and edit other people's writing. It's a hard thing to get used to doing. It's hard to go and tell someone who thought he was finished with an assignment that there's a major problem and he practically has to start all over. It isn't fun to tell someone that Buffy the Vampire Slayer has already been done, and that the first one was a lot better. I don't like having to tell my new almost friend that his story about the spaceman who got out of his spaceship and fired his spacegun at the spacemonster so that he could fix his space-engine that was damaged in the spacestorm, really does seem like a bad episode of Space 1999 or maybe Lost in Space.

But, that's what the classes are for. You learn to do it. Maybe you also learn that you don't like doing it and never want a job that is anything like that. Maybe you also learn that you don't want to do this sort of thing for friends, unless maybe it is those same friends who were in class with you and they've learned to handle it.

I think that the especially bad part for me on either end is that there is so much work and time put into writing a story that you really don't want it all to be for nothing. You don't want to do major rewrites and have parts that you were happy with taken out. It would maybe be easier to do if you could read an outline first, and point out all the major problems before a lot of time and effort was made. But a lot of us just don't write that way.

And some people just like their ideas too much to change even the most obvious problems, even if they haven't actually done any of the work of writing the thing. They don't want to hear that similar things have already been done, and done better, and maybe even done so often that no one really wants to read another one. Some people just want to hear that they have a good idea, that you can't wait to read their story, etc....

I don't get paid to do this stuff. I don't do this stuff for free for friends who haven't already taken a writing class and don't really want to know that their stories aren't that good. And I'm not in a writing class now, so I don't have critique stuff for a grade.

So what is in it for me to do this stuff at all?

Maybe there's nothing in it for me. Or maybe sometimes I think I might save someone some disappointment later. Or I might be able to show someone how to fix something, or ask the right questions that would get the person thinking along different lines to fix something. Maybe someday I'll open a book and find a dedication to me, and read how invaluable my help was. Maybe someday I'll end up helping the next Stephen King, and he might recommend me for a job.
Or, maybe, there's really nothing in it for me. Maybe there's not even the good feeling of helping someone else. Maybe it is just a total waste of my time and energy. Maybe I shouldn't bother with it at all.
Maybe I should quit wasting my time trying to help other people with this sort of thing and get back to my own writing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Why some of us put up with bad science fiction movies

There's a story that a couple of well known science fiction writers were invited to discuss being involved with Space 1999. The show wasn't yet on television, and perhaps at this early date they had yet to film anything. I'm not sure if they were just trying to get these two authors to write scripts for them, or if they were looking to hire more people to work directly for the show as consultants, or if they were just thinking that maybe these two authors would give them some advice.

I'm told that the two writers were Ben Bova and Isaac Asimov. But I did not read the story myself, so I might be remembering the wrong names.

So the two writers listen to the plans for the new show. If you're not familiar with Space 1999, let me explain. The story is about the men and women of Moonbase Alpha and their adventures in outer space, which all happen after a nuclear waste explosion sends the moon out of Earth's orbit, causing them to visit other planets and meet aliens, etc.... Somehow, the explosion that is big enough to part the Moon from the Earth doesn't destroy either. And somehow the out of control moon ends going fast enough and going through wormholes and such that it ends up visiting a different planet every other week.

This seemed like a good idea to someone in 1975. Someone invested money in this show. Really nice sets were built, costumes were made, models of spaceships were made, special effects experts were hired, etc....

So the two writers were in this meeting listening to all of the plans for Space 1999. At some point they all took a break, and Ben Bova said that he and his colleague were going to go outside and discuss a few things. Bova left and Isaac Asimov followed him. Bova just kept walking, and Asimov asked where they were going.

"As far away as possible."

My husband says that I will watch any bad sci-fi thing that comes on TV. This is possibly true. I did not get to watch Space 1999 when it first aired, when I was only ten and probably would have really enjoyed it, but I tried to watch it a few years later when one of our local stations was showing reruns. I was a teenager by then, and could see that it didn't quite make sense. Also, a lot of the episodes involve fighting with rubber monsters. But I didn't have much else to do and watched it anyway. I have recently watched them all again on DVD. I needed an excuse not to do housework, so I borrowed the longest thing I could from my brother.

This is probably not even the worst thing that I have watched. There's some really awful episodes of Lost in Space. And there are other series that I'll watch again just because I liked them as a kid. And there are still even other things that I will watch just because they are on the tube.

Notice my husband says that I will watch any bad sci-fi thing that comes on TV. I probably won't watch any bad sci-fi thing that is made into a movie. Going to the movies usually requires time and effort and money. Turning on the television is much easier.

We have found the exception to the rule. I will not watch whatever monster movie that ends up on The Sci Fi Channel on Saturdays. Those are usually really bad. And they are two hours each of really bad. Some of the stuff that used to be on at 2am on One Star Theater was better than most of these. Saturdays on the Sci Fi Channel often include movies about dinosaurs, giant spiders, sea creatures that Peter Benchley decided not to bother with, etc....

I've been told recently that I have to suspend disbelief....

No, I don't. I don't have to suspend disbelief, and neither does anyone else. I am well aware that this is the saying, but it is more properly said that if you can suspend disbelief you might enjoy the movie. Sure, that is true, but I might also enjoy the movie if there were not so many logic gaps, more interesting characters, properly thought out motivation for what everyone is doing, and maybe a bit more plausible science in the science fiction.

So it isn't that I have to suspend disbelief, it is that most of the time I want to suspend disbelief. I want to suspend disbelief for an hour or so to watch Star Trek or Stargate or Babylon 5 or The Outer Limits. I'll even suspend disbelief and watch those first few episodes of Lost in Space. But don't make us go that extra bit and make us suspend disbelief in places where you've just written a bad script and haven't thought things through or done the homework on the science. Our suspension of disbelief limit has already been used up by stuff like most aliens look like humans, act like humans, live on planets with the same gravity and air as Earth, and usually speak English.

And why is it that we want to suspend disbelief?

Because we like science fiction, but we really don't want to spend two hours watching a movie length version of "Cold Equations". One hour on The Outer Limits was good enough. Padding it for another hour with special effects and longer discussions of why someone has to die wouldn't help anything.

And we don't want Disney buying it and giving it a happier ending either.

So we don't have to suspend disbelief, but a lot of us want to. Not all of us do. When Star Trek first aired, it was not universally loved by the readers and writers of science fiction. It wasn't serious enough for them. For some people, science fiction should be left entirely to the written word, or very rarely made into a movie or an episode of The Outer Limits. So for some people, Star Trek was not taken seriously as science fiction, not seen as a good thing at all.

Some thought it was end of civilization as we knew it, rather like The Beatles.

For some of us, Star Trek is the standard by which we measure everything else. Other people will have other standards like Star Wars. Maybe there are others who would choose Plan Nine from Outer Space. A few people still go the other direction and measure everything against 2001: A Space Odyssey. But I think that most of us first saw Star Trek or Star Wars, and for us one of those is the ideal of science fiction, and we are either okay with people on the other side of the galaxy looking and talking just like us on Star Trek, or maybe we go with the idea that no matter what you look like or sound like you can still breathe the same air and still drink beer at Mos Eisley. Star Trek explains things with universal translators and such, while I suppose in the case of Star Wars that The Force might keep beer from doing more damage than the usual hangover.

If you measure things against Star Trek, you expect that most of the science stuff has been thought out to a certain extent and that except for the English speaking human looking aliens you don't have to suspend disbelief too much. If you measure things against Star Wars, you expect that the science stuff is going to be very limited, that spaceships work a certain way and that weapons work a certain way, etc...and for the most part other science is going to be left out of the story. If there's no science in your science fiction story other than having spaceships and lasers around to give the movie a certain look, then you can't ruin the story by messing up the science. If you try to add other elements of science to something like Star Wars, then you are probably going to screw it up.

Still, there are films that try to use varying degrees of science, which is often used incorrectly. While I might watch these films and even enjoy these films, I would prefer that the person writing the story would do the research and not make these mistakes. Or, at least, the writer needs to do the research and realize that things don't really work that way, but it just works out better filmed a certain way, such as explosions in space that make noise and spaceships that travel here there and everywhere without dealing with stuff like time has passed on the planets involved that the people on the spaceships did not experience.

And then there are films that just out right do things wrong. But we go see the film anyway because we enjoy watching the actors, we like most of the storyline, and most everything makes sense until the cable guy gives the alien spacecraft a computer virus. Or we go to see a film that makes even less sense, because we like Bruce Willis and scenes of stuff being blown up.

So what happens when your script has scenes that don't make sense and characters with no motivation, and Bruce Willis doesn't want the job, and whoever might be interested in it doesn't have the budget for good special effects?

If the script doesn't go straight into the trash bin, it might be sold but never made into a movie. Or it might go through so many rewrites that your name gets taken off of it.

Or it might show up on the Sci Fi Channel on a Saturday.

Friday, September 12, 2008

...and they eat us. The end

I've been discussing whether or not certain plots for science fiction stories are plausible. This reminded me that is has been a while since I have asked for help in finding a certain item from Omni Magazine. So, I think I'll have another go at it here.

Omni Magazine was a little bit of science fiction and a little bit of science fact. It had a lot of H. R. Giger's artwork. It had stories, and it had rumors about upcoming movies, and it had little articles about rock musicians claiming that the cure for the common cold was whatever illegal drug that they were taking.

And it had the funniest cartoons. Ripley from Alien says, "You men go out and die stupid deaths while I strip down to my underwear." And it had games and I.Q. tests and other stuff.

And one issue had a maze that supposedly contained the plots for all sci-fi movies. So you start in the middle of the maze--on Earth. And then maybe you stayed on Earth, or you went to the moon, or people colonized another planet, or people went to visit another galaxy, or maybe someone invented the time machine, etc.... And then from there you made another turn where something else happened, like maybe some aliens come to visit, or the spaceship breaks, or a bunch of people get sick, or whatever. Some of the maze routes were very small, such as-- we're on Earth, and we stay on Earth, and we invent something, and we blow ourselves up, the end.

There were a lot of things that could happen if we met aliens, but after all of the twists and turns we usually end up with--and they eat us, the end. One was, and the aliens take our women and leave, the end. And another one was, and the aliens take our women, and then they eat us, the end.

Anyway, I just loved this thing, and I kept that issue of the magazine. But then I got married, and I moved, and stuff happened, and at some point I lost the magazine. So if anyone out there has the thing, I would love a copy of this maze.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A screenplay treatment, writing seminars, and a Deep Space Nine script

Recently a friend sent me a screenplay treatment for a sci-fi movie. The screenplay treatment was written not by my friend, but by another friend of my friend, and I don't know the other friend. So I'm reading a treatment written by a friend of a friend, see? More about that later.

I used to go to sci-fi conventions a lot. Some of them had writing seminars. I didn't get to go to many of them because I didn't have the money. Once J. Michael Straczynski gave one, and I didn't have the money, and I was really not happy about missing that one. So I saved money so that I could go to the next one that sounded like the person giving it knew what he was talking about. I can't remember, but the guy on the next one either worked for Babylon 5 or one of the Star Trek shows for a year or two.

So we got to pick this guy's brain for a few hours. To start of with, he went around the room and asked us why we were all here. One guy held up a script and said that he was here to find out the code, did the little brass bracket go in the first and second holes of a three hole punched script, or did the little brass bracket go in the first hole of a two hole punched script, or did all the holes need little brass brackets, or did we need to switch to another color bracket or staples or a maybe a magic paper clip? And about half of us were laughing, and the other half didn't have clue what he was talking about and moved away from him in case he was contagious.

There is all kinds of stuff that might happen to your script or book or whatever after you submit it. For one thing, you have to be sure you are submitting it in the correct form. If the place you are sending it wants everything with certain margins and double spaced with one staple on the right side, and you send in something with the wrong margins or single spaced or a staple on the left side, all your hard work probably went straight into the trash bin. Nobody read any of it, except for your name and address so they'd know where to send the rejection letter.

There's other stuff you have to know about. Like you might need an agent. If you send a script to certain shows without an agent it is returned unopened, and also some places only read completed scripts and will not read any of your story ideas. Then you probably have to sign a lot of forms before anyone will read your completed script that was properly submitted through an agent, cause they might already have something very much like it, and they don't want to be sued because you think that they stole your idea.

And there's the whole slushpile thing. If you've never been published, your book is going to first be read by someone who doesn't really decide anything important. The only thing that person gets to decide is that you don't deserve to have your book read by anyone else. And most of the time, that is exactly what that person will decide. I have heard that some of these people get paid per book, so they'll get paid more the sooner they decide that your book isn't worth reading.

Anyway, I don't remember what was said about magic paper clips at the writing seminar, other than he confirmed that you need to find out the format that particular place uses and follow it exactly even if you have to go to Kinko's and have the whole thing reprinted every time. And unless you have a personal letter requesting something be sent single spaced, never ever submit something that isn't double spaced. Otherwise, single spaced stuff gets dumped in the trash, completely unread.

At another convention, I met R. R was the guy who came over and asked if his group could sit at the table with us, and his group ended up including the guy in the Vorlon suit. So we were all talking about this and that, and I think that the guy in the Vorlon suit says something to R like maybe, too bad about that whole Deep Space Nine thing.

What Deep Space Nine thing?

So R has to start over at the beginning of the story since I had never heard it before. R had also gone to a number of these writing seminars, and after this one guy kept seeing R over and over again, he says something like, it's time to show me what you've got. So R has been working on a Deep Space Nine script, and the guy giving the writing seminar is someone who either reads Deep Space Nine scripts himself or is in a position to have that person read the script. And they read the script, and they like it, and R gets a check for three thousand dollars and a note saying what changes that they would like, etc....And R says, cool, and then he goes back to his life and thinks about the changes that should be made to the script.

The Deep Space Nine people do not hear from R for a week, then two weeks, and then they continue without him. Whenever R got all the problems with the script worked out, he sent it in, and they weren't interested anymore. R's script dealt mainly with stuff happening to a certain character, and at the time they bought the script that would have worked out, but several weeks later they had read other scripts, and they had decided to do something different with the character. They couldn't film R's script and the other things that they wanted to do, so R's script was never filmed. So R got the three thousand dollars and a lesson learned, and that was that.

I've since lost contact with R and have no idea if he went on to sell more scripts.

Okay, back to the friend of the friend who wanted comments on the sci-fi script treatment.

I assumed that this was one wannabe helping out another wannabe. But that's okay, and I spent about five hours writing out the problems that I saw with the story. And I emailed him my first set of comments and then waited for him to email me back so that I could make some more comments. I think that both my friend and the friend of the friend are (unlike me) professional writers, but I don't think that they have any movie credits. While I'm waiting for the friend of the friend to email me, the friend emails me and tells me not to get upset if it takes the guy a few days to get back to me, cause he gets tons of emails and he's busy with his other writing, etc....

I sent the email on Sunday. It is now Wednesday. I have read a few things that make me think that maybe this isn't just one wannabe helping out another wannabe, that maybe this guy has had a conversation with someone who could actually get this movie made, that maybe another friend of a friend is really interested in this guy's story, or at least is interested in making some sort of story on the subject into a movie.

So now I'm worried that this friend of a friend could really sell a movie script if he would change a few things, but he's going to blow it cause he's taking too long and there are other scripts and treatments to read, etc.... Also, the guy's treatment is typed out singled-spaced. He says that he knows people are supposed to type double-spaced, but he thought that he would save some money and paper and space on the computer and such, and so he typed it single-spaced instead. While I appreciate it being sent to me single-spaced, he'd better know to change it to double-spaced before anyone else reads it, or it will go straight into the trash bin. So that could totally ruin things for him too.

And I think that I've got the answer to the guy's main problem with the story, but for all I know he hasn't even read my first email, so I don't think I'm going to write out anything more until he does.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Some odd comments from some people who mean well

I am living in my house and trying to figure out what to do about my situation. I know the general bit of what eventually must be done, but I haven't a clue about the specifics. Sometimes I think that I should get on with it anyway, and maybe I will figure out the rest as I go along.

So I try to get on with it, and then something happens. I maybe have a bad job interview. It's maybe a bit silly to get one's hopes up to that degree over one interview, but at the time I was really looking forward to getting a job, and getting a job at this place in particular.

Two things went really wrong at this interview. Actually, the first happened a bit before the interview. While I was not quite walking around the house singing, I did feel a bit better having come to a decision and having a job interview scheduled and a few other such things. And then my husband tells me that he really wants to work on our marriage and that he agrees to do some things that he should have agreed to long before. The point of all that being that if we were going to do what we'd agreed to do, I'd need Mondays off, or maybe I'd just need Monday afternoons off. So instead of going into the interview with the idea that I should say anything reasonable to get the job cause I really need a job, I end up going into the interview thinking the I don't need a job but I should probably feel better if I got one anyway, but it would be best if I could get one that did not involve working on Mondays or at least having Monday afternoons off. I'm not sure that getting Mondays off was really a problem, since the whole thing is rescheduled so that people get off Fridays during the summer I would think that a similar thing could be done so that certain people got off Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday during the rest of the year. And getting off Monday afternoons wouldn't have been any problem at all, as some people work in the morning only. In fact a whole lot of them work mornings only, since they have a strict policy of not having anyone in this particular job work over nineteen hours a week.

So it would not have been the perfect job in any case, even with Mondays off or afternoons off or whatever. But still, I would have liked it, and I would have tried harder to get it if I hadn't been asked to totally switch gears a couple of days before the interview. And that was all for nothing anyway, as my husband did not actually go through with any of the things he promised to do and I did not need this particular time off to schedule other things.

The other thing that went wrong during the interview was that while I was being asked the usual questions that one expects during a job interview, a question was asked that upset me just a little bit. One gets asks stuff like do you really want this job and can you handle this job and have you had a job like this before, etc.... And then maybe you get asked why you left your last job or why are you leaving your current position? And then you have to find something to say other than you quit because your boss was being an a**. I had this idea that this particular part of the process was going to go smoothly, because I did in fact have something to say other than my boss was an a**. I had in fact reasonable answers to why I left my last two jobs, even though technically I was let go from one of them. My last job was in fact, a temp job at the Halloween store. So there was nothing bad to say about anybody on that one, since it was just a temp job for a certain period of time and then the job just ended, and it wasn't a matter of anyone getting fired or anyone deciding to quit. The job before that was a sort of private daycare, and I was too much out of my element and was going to admit that and quit anyway when they decided to hire me some help. My help did such a good job that they decided she could probably do the job without me, and I was really rather relieved to be let go as I had planned to go back to school anyway. I really liked those people, and if they had anything for me to do other than watch the kiddos I would have asked to stay, but as it turned out getting fired right then was the best thing that could have happened to me since it lead to me getting a Pell Grant. The job before that one was a less pleasant story, more of the I was going to quit because the boss was an a** but they fired me first, but I had paperwork on the subject if anyone really needed to know the details. I was a traveling salesperson, and I rather got drafted into that job because my husband was a traveling photographer. I never wanted the job in the first place and had pretty much told them that I was quitting the job over arguments about the schedule in March, and I somehow got talked into continuing to work for them the rest of the year. And then after that I'm told that I don't have a job after November, because I'm such a terrible employee. Really, if I was that bad why did they keep me on seven months after I wanted to leave? It's hardly the same as really getting fired when it's seven months after you've already said "I quit."

But none of that really came up about why I left certain jobs, which is what you'd expect to be asked if you're asked about it at all. What did seem to get the interviewer's attention was that my last job had been at the Halloween store, and he didn't seem happy about that. He said something like, what made you take that job? He almost made it sound like, why did you waste your time there?

I don't think that I've ever been asked about a previous job in quite that way before. People need or want money, and other people need jobs filled, and the two come together and one person pays the other to do a job. Maybe the person gets paid a reasonable amount of money for the work done, or maybe the employee likes something about the job that he's willing to take a little bit less money than he would normally want, or maybe he's just so desperate to get any money that he ends up taking a job that he doesn't really want and he'll leave as soon as he can get something better. But I don't think that the employee should be expected to explain any of that to anyone else. I wanted a job, and there was one available, and I took it.

What really upset me was that in previous interviews for other jobs, the main thing that seemed to get people's attention was the years I had not been employed at all. Like they didn't notice that I'd quit working for almost three years to go back to school. I had thought that going back to school would be a positive thing to potential employers, and instead I was finding out that no one cared that I now had a B.A. in English, and everyone cared that I spent a lot of time being unemployed.

So while I wanted to make a little money at the Halloween store, and I hoped that the job might be fun, my main reason for taking it was that I'd have a job to write down in that wasn't as far back as 2002. And it seemed a whole lot better to work at a temp job that had an end in sight, rather than say take a job at McDonald's or something and then quit after a couple of months. So it really upset me to hear this guy asking me why I took the job.

I did not get that job, and I didn't get called back for the five other jobs that were available at that same place. And that and some other stuff rather upset me, and I haven't been on any other interviews since then. But at the time I didn't care that much, since we were supposed to be working on our marriage and that was the priority, not getting a job.

People who mean well say other upsetting things too.

I've had people tell me that it is obvious that I'm only still with my husband because I need the money and that I should just get rid of him.

Despite what might or might not be obvious to other people, my needing the money is not the only reason my husband is still here. The money issue is, on occasion, a major priority, and sometimes maybe it is the main reason for the current arrangement, but it has never really been the only reason.

Still, if people think that it is obvious I only keep him around because I need the money, it does seem odd that they think I should throw him out. I need his money, but I should say since I only need his money he has to get out? I don't recall these people saying similar things to other people, like since you only stay at that job because you need the money you should quit. Or that people who stay in a certain apartment they don't like because it is the only one that they can afford to live in should move someplace else.

On a completely different note, I've had some people say some particularly odd things about selling my art. I've posted before about the difficulties of selling art, and I posted about the problems of trying to figure out how much to charge for the art and other difficults of trying to sell stuff on eBay here. Basically, there's a huge gulf in between what I want to be paid for my art and what the people want to pay for the art. I want to be paid for the supplies I used to make the art plus a reasonable amount of money for the time I spent making the art. What a person is willing to spend on the art is partially determined by how much other things cost that they would be just as happy buying at the mall. So usually, people do not want to buy scarves that costs $80 or $175 or $330 or even more if they can go to Target and buy a scarf that they like for $15 or $20. True, they might like my scarves more, but not that much more. So I have only sold two scarves, and had an order for a third that was cancelled. If I try to sell ceramics I have a similar problem. Usually what a person wants to pay doesn't even cover the cost of the supplies, and they don't seem to realize that an artist should be paid for their time just as much as a person who does "real work." People expect that if you enjoy making the art that you shouldn't expect to make money from it, though those same people don't expect doctors and pilots who enjoy their work to do donate their time.

Part of the confusion comes from the fact that we do sometimes sell our art for smaller amounts of money that do not take into account the time it took to make whatever it is. Let's say that you know someone who enjoys hand-knitting things, and the person is always knitting either socks or little squares that can later be made into pillows or blankets or scarves or maybe even sweaters. And this person always has some knitting project with her, so that if she ever has to wait for anything that the waiting time is spent knitting instead of just being wasted. So five or ten minutes here and there while waiting for class to start and waiting for the phone to ring when someone is going to call right back and waiting for the pasta to boil while making dinner can all add up to an hour or two a day, and in a week or two you can make a scarf or pillow or maybe even a blanket or a sweater without having to really set aside much for knitting. So when this person is selling a scarf she only wants to be paid for her supplies plus something for her time for the hour or two that she spent putting the squares together, and she doesn't think about all the time that she spent actually knitting the little squares. She enjoys knitting and it keeps her from getting bored sometimes, so she doesn't think to charge much for her scarves, just enough to pay for the yarn and maybe a bit more. She has no problem selling scarves for $20 or so.

But if that same person were to quit her job or give up school or whatever she normally does to become a professional scarf maker, she can't keep selling the scarves for $2o and expect to earn a living that way. The people who have been buying the scarves for $20 probably will not keep buying them if they have to pay more for them, and they can probably find someone else who knits these little squares in between doing other things and charges $20 for a scarf.

So I don't sell much of my art. Most of my art is a labor of love to make something that either I want to keep or I want to give to a close friend or that I specifically made for a charity fundraiser. Yes, I can make you one almost just like it, but it will cost you. It will cost you whatever the materials cost, plus a very reasonable rate of ten dollars an hour for my time. I think that a lot of artists do eventually sell some of their stuff for a lot less than that, just to get rid of some of the stuff. This is especially true of art students who had to make a particular thing for a class, but didn't really like the piece. They just did it for the grade, and once the class is over they have no use for the piece. It is just taking up space, so eventually you either sell it or give it away, and sometimes you even throw some of it out. So, yes, sometimes an artist will sell you a vase for $25, even though it costs that much for just for the glaze and the clay, but you just got lucky. I like almost all of my art and don't feel the need to sell anything just free up some space.

So I get these comments from people. You should sell these. You could make some money. But the people rarely know what they are talking about. If I made something specifically to sell, I would have to make a certain amount of money for it, and probably no one wants to spend that much. Besides the two scarves, the only art I can remember selling was one tile and two decorated eggs (and one of those eggs was purchased only because the purchaser broke the egg and had to buy it).

What really puzzles me is that one of the people saying this stuff is someone who actually was an art major in college. She knows all this stuff. She is an artist, and she doesn't make art for a living. Maybe it was so long ago that she doesn't realize how much supplies cost now, or maybe she's forgotten how much time it all takes.

Another odd thing comment came from my ceramics teacher. I was making a Sleestak head. The teacher doesn't like Sleestak heads. He says that I can't make anymore of them for class credit, and he's not going to fire anymore of them. So I said that I would make more next year in the non-credit class, when we're allowed to make anything that we want. I said that I would like to try to sell some of them to fellow fans. He said that he didn't think that selling Sleestak heads counted towards the "personal enrichment" goals of the non-credit class and he was still unlikely to fire any of them for me.

So I thought that was an odd thing to say. If I can actually sell some of them at a profit, I can buy more supplies and have tuition money to keep taking classes. He would have no problem with me selling vases or something like that after we make them in class, but he has doesn't want me to make duplicates of things that I might actually be able to sell at a profit. I am very unlikely to sell many vases at a profit, since most people can find something that they like just as well for less money somewhere else. I don't know of many other people selling Sleestak heads, so I thought that maybe I was onto something.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

New TV

That is, there is now new American TV.

Since I forgot to remind my friends that Prison Break and Bones both started their new seasons last week, I will now remind everyone that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles will have new episodes starting tomorrow, and the new show Fringe starts Tuesday.

Come back Tuesday and Wednesday and tell me what you think.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Halloween fun for my readers up north

I have already written about how I miss old haunted houses and how today's stuff just isn't the same, so here is the old post, because I don't think many people got to read it the first time.

Anyway, it's too bad this haunted cemetery isn't around here. A new reader (or perhaps, a one time reader) sent me this link to Brandywine Cemetery. I wish that I could visit it. It is in Ann Arbor, so maybe one of my readers will get to see it. I suppose even if I did get to see it I wouldn't be able to enjoy it. It is too cold for me in the great white north.

I doubt that I will do much this year as far as haunted houses go. After the accident last year and Kansas City's Chamber's of Edgar Allen Poe, I'm not sure that I want to tempt fate again. I really don't like falling and getting hurt. I worry that the next time I it will be very bad and I will break something and be stuck in bed for weeks or even months. And it would be especially bad to be stuck in bed for months right before Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Still, with The Boneyard being practically down the street, it will be hard to stay away.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I cannot tell other bloggers what or when to post, but...

My fellow bloggers are not posting what I would like to read, when I would like to read it. Or, at least, that is what some of them are doing. While I'm sure others are quite interested in knowing that a certain blogger went out with her friends and got drunk, what I'd really like to read is whether or not she's mostly gotten over her ex-boyfriend. Going out and drinking with friends could either mean that she is getting over the breakup or that she is not. With drinking, it's just hard to say. In either case, she is not required to let me know how the breakup is going.

Other bloggers have gone on a bit about superlambananas. I cannot say that I like or dislike the superlambananas much either way, and to tell the truth I can't remember if I was all that interested in the bulls of Kansas City or the horses of Fort Worth (which was like seven or eight years ago, and for all I know they stole the idea from yet someone else). But what does interest me in the case of the superlambananas is that the people blogging about them feel good enough to go out and look for the things, which is not always the case. So good for them. On with the superlambananas.

Other people are having problems with their parents. I suppose at some point that all of us do. But I'll be reading about someone having a problem with mom or dad, and then the next post is about some dumb thing that a politician or celebrity said, or something like that. Who cares about that? I can watch that stuff on the news if I cared about that. What's going on with the parents?

But what really, really gets to some of us is when a person just stops blogging for a while, or maybe forever. I realize that I do not really know these people, and it is none of my business if they choose not to blog sometimes or if they want to totally stop blogging. But I think that if you've decided to blog and let the world at large read your blog, you should realize that there are people reading the blog and wondering why you haven't written anything. If everything is okay, you should post something at least once a week so that people know that everything is okay. And if everything is not okay, and you've already posted something indicating that, don't just stop posting for a week or so unless you've already said that's what you plan to do. I don't care if you don't think that you have anything interesting to say, or even if you really don't feel like saying anything at all. After you post something that sounds like "I feel awful and just don't want to go on" post something everyday that just says "I'm still here, but nothing has changed" or "I'm okay right now, but I just don't feel like talking today," but post something so people know you didn't really fall off the face of the earth.

Other than that, I should not bitch too much about other people's blogging, or lack thereof. Sometimes a person isn't blogging very much because real life is great at the moment, and the bloggers are busy enjoying it. So good for them; absence excused. Other times, maybe life isn't so great, the the bloggers have to go deal with things, and I shouldn't beat up on them if they do not have the time or desire to post about whatever has gone wrong. Again, absence excused, but don't let it go on too long.

Now go post something.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Headaches over social situations

Later this week there is a social thing that I should probably be going to. But I'm probably not going. I'm probably going to something else. I'm a bit upset that I'm going to do one thing instead of the other, even though I was somewhat uneasy about doing the other, and now I have an excuse not to be there.

My sci-fi group sometimes invites other groups to join us at our Halloween party and our picnics, etc.... And sometimes other groups invite our group to join them at some party or other event. And some of us are in more than one group. And sometimes someone in one group will go hang out with another group for a while and go to one of their parties as an individual even if they did not make a big deal of inviting the whole other group.

A few years ago one of my friends in our group tried to get another group started. Her reasons were a.) she wanted a group to meet closer to where she lives, and b.) she wanted a second group so that she could meet more people. The second group is definitely closer to where she lives. As for meeting new people, she did meet some, but the group never got very big and as far as I can see most of the new people quit, and now the second group is usually just a smaller group of people from the first group.

Then there were some problems and the price of gasoline went up. My friend didn't actually quit the first group, but she did seem to miss a lot. Someone else from the second group said he was considering quitting the first group. I pretty much stopped going to things with the second group. I like seeing my friends, but it is a bit of a drive and it costs gas money and then it costs money to go to dinner. I don't think that I ever just said, I quit, don't expect to see me anymore. But I missed a few things and the world did not come to an end, and then I stopped marking the second group stuff on the calendar, and the world still did not come to an end. After I had missed a few things, one of them called to tell me that there had been a change of plans, and instead of the usual they were trying to get together at someone's house and have a few more people over, because it was someone's birthday. So I went to that, and I don't think that I've done anything with the second group since then, which was a little more than a year ago.

So again someone calls me and says that the second group will not be doing the usual, that they want to meet at someone's house and watch DVDs, but this time it probably won't be a big group and it isn't for anybody's birthday or anything like that. They just want to hang out and this person's house. Could I come over if they did that?

Well, of course I could come over, but have you noticed the date? Aren't you guys going to a certain party that evening?

Now, about a year and a half ago, the first group was invited to a party by a third group. Several people from the first group went, including me and most of the people who are in both the first group and the second group. We all had fun. We met some people from the third group that we didn't know before, and they had also invited people from a fourth and fifth group, so I ended up meeting a few more people and seeing some people that I used to know but hadn't seen in a long time. This was in February. It was meant to be annual event.

In October the first group had the usual Halloween party and invited people from the third group and several other groups. I spent about half the evening with people I already knew, and then later I was hanging out with someone from the third group and some other people that I had just met. Now, I think that I must have met this person from the third group back in February, but I met so many people that evening that I didn't really remember him that well, and he didn't seem to remember me at all. Two weeks later I had a school thing to go to, and while I invited the first group in general, I specifically invited my friend who started the second group, since the event was near where she lives. And while we were talking I found out the guy from the third group also lived in that general area, so I invited him too.

After I told him that I was married, and after he told me that we could just be friends, I thought this was okay. And after talking to him a few times, I found out that regardless of my marital status, I would never want to be anything but friends anyway. I think that I can make friends with a lot of different people, but if I were to start dating again I could only date people who meet certain requirements, and this guy really didn't meet any of them. We can just be friends.

Apparently his idea of just being friends and my idea of just being friends are very different.

So I did not see him again or talk to him again. He has emailed me a couple of times, but these seemed to be group emails and I did not reply to either of them. I felt bad about not talking to him anymore, but he just wasn't going to get the message if I kept talking to him. Later I found out that it didn't have anything to do with anything I had said to the guy, he just behaves this way around everyone. I've been told by two other women that you have to hit him over the head with a brick. And I didn't ask about him or tell the other women that I thought I was having a problem with him. This is just what came up in a conversation that started on a totally different subject.

So February came around again, and I was trying to decide if I wanted to go to the third group's party, and if I did go should I carry a brick with me? While I was thinking about all this I realized that I hadn't actually gotten an invitation to the thing. I asked around, thinking maybe I had already missed it. But they had some problem and decided to postpone the party.

So the party ended up being scheduled for September. And I assumed that the same people from the first group would go if they went last year, including about half of the people from the second group. So I just had to decide if I wanted to go, and what I would wear if I wanted to go, etc.... I wouldn't be able to do anything too elaborate, since I haven't even fixed my Halloween costume yet, but I did find a black and red dress that I thought I could work with.

I had fun last year. But really, my motivation for wanting to go this year was more of a desire not to avoid things that I used to do because I want to avoid certain people. I mean, if you avoid places where you might have to deal with someone unpleasant, eventually you'll never go anywhere. So I had the dress and was starting to think about shoes and such, and did I want to bring anything to the party, and how much could I afford to spend, etc.... Then with all that was going on, it occurred to me that I might not even have the money for the tickets and such.

So that's when my friend from the second group wanted to know if I would come over to the house and watch movies with the second group.

I reminded him of the date, cause I was pretty sure that some of the second group had already bought tickets to the third group's party. Movie night was going to be changed to the Friday night before, but then someone died, and it got moved back to Saturday because there's a wake or something like that on Friday.

So it looks like I'm going to miss the third group's party. And it's not so much that I'm upset that I'll miss the party, and it isn't that I bought a dress for nothing because I'll wear to something else later. But it does bother me that I have now three times planned to do something with the third group, to get it over with, to deal with the idea that I'm not going to avoid the whole group because I don't like this one person, only to end up having those plans change.

So now I either won't see this person until the Halloween party, or maybe not until next September. And I guess it also bothers me that he might get it into his head that I am avoiding his group to avoid seeing him. I really don't like for people to get such notions in their heads, especially when it isn't true.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

It's almost Halloween

While according to the calendar, it is not officially fall yet (and since it is Texas it will probably not feel like fall til the middle of October anyway), it is September and Labor Day has past. Except for the weather, the summer stuff is over. When I was a kid, this was when I would try to put up the Halloween decorations. That would make everyone else in the house nuts. But my reasoning was that if it was September then it was almost October, and Halloween was in October, so it must be time for Halloween decorations.

Anyway, if my house was not such a mess I would start putting up Halloween decorations today. That is, I would start putting up the indoor Halloween decorations that I don't already like well enough to leave them up year round. The outdoor stuff would still have to wait til October, except maybe for a scarecrow and a few pumpkins, since they also count as fall decorations. The reasoning for this is that a.) I like Halloween and I like having the decorations up longer than the one month that most people have their decorations up, and b.) by the time that October gets here I am usually too busy doing Halloween related stuff and other stuff that I don't have time to put up the decorations then.

For the past several years, I haven't put up any decorations at all (other than the ones already out). The house being relatively clean did not coincide with any days that I was not extremely busy. Last year I was out of town for a bit, and the two years before that I was out of town some, but mostly I was working at the Halloween Store and was too tired after work to do any work at home, much less do any decorating. And last year I had art class, which also left me too busy to do much decorating. I don't much remember what was going on in 2005, but the three years before that I was in college full-time. I don't remember doing much decorating then either.

I have five boxes of Halloween stuff in my bedroom. Half of that is costumes, and half of that is decorations that I bought last year and the two years before that. In the backroom I have more boxes (not sure how many) of stuff bought from previous years. The the decorations in the boxes in the bedroom have never actually been used to decorate anything. They went from the store clearance sale to my car and then into these boxes.

I hope that most of it will get used this year. I have no plans to work at a Halloween Store this year, and the pottery class that I have yet to even sign up for is a Saturday only class.

While it might be a bit too early to decorate the house and yard for Halloween, I'm afraid I've waited too late to work on my Halloween costume. I had already decided it was too late to do anything about being a Triffid, and now it looks like I've waited too late to make the Vampira/Mortica dress that I wanted, unless I want to work on the costume during all of my free time for the next two months, which I don't. So I'll have to go with one of the backup plans, probably a witch or perhaps a vampire. If I really get pressed for time, I have something of the rack, but I'm afraid it rather resembles a Halloween themed bathrobe. But I have two dresses that would easily convert to costumes, one above the knee black dress with a bit of silver trim, and one straight full-length dress that is red under black lace. A pointed hat and a corset would make either a witch, or a corset and a black cape would make either a vampire. And if I have to I can skip the corset, but it won't look as good.

I don't think that either option is good enough to competition, so I'm wondering if I might talk someone into letting me be a judge this year. I've never been a judge. It might be fun. And it might be less stressful.

Still, there is the issue of the house being a complete mess.

Monday, September 01, 2008


Yesterday was nice. A group of us went out to lunch, seeing as with this and that we'd somehow missed celebrating a few birthdays and such. I hardly ever eat steak, but one of the birthday boys is quite fond of the stuff, so we all headed to Texas Land & Cattle Steakhouse.

I had never been to this place before. We arrived a bit early and stood off to the side for a bit looking over the menu. Being the first couple there, we should have put our names on the list or whatever, but then I didn't know what to do. I didn't know if they had made reservations or what, and then I didn't know if I should say that we would be a party of six or a party of seven.

I totally forgot to ask if they were bringing the baby.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I'm pretty clueless about babies. I don't know at what age the new parents start taking the babies out to public places like that, and I don't at what age the babies are big enough to sit in highchairs, and if they are not big enough to sit in a highchair do you ask for an extra seat so that you have a place to put the baby carrier, etc....

So the new parents and baby showed up, soon to be followed by the other couple. The new daddy asked for "table for six and a sling." A sling. This I had never heard of before. But it's rather like a little foldout mesh hammock, and then you sit the baby carrier on the mesh and that puts the baby at a height where everybody at the table can see him.

This was only my third time to see the baby. Everybody is saying how much he's grown, etc.... He looks about the same to me.

When they first got to the restaurant, the baby had this look on his face, like why the hell are we here? Later, at the table, he seemed to discover his feet. It was like he had never seen them before. He'd raise his feet and look at one of them, and then he'd look over to the other side and there was another one. Wow, two feet. He spent a long time doing that, and then he went to sleep.

After lunch we all said our goodbyes and wondered if we'd all get together again before Thanksgiving. That seems so far away, but considering that was the first time we had all gotten together like that since before the baby was born, maybe it wasn't such a silly question. Then the husband did not want to go straight home, and we ended up at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens.

It was hot, but not so unbearably hot as it had been. We walked to parts of the park that we don't normally go to. We even wandered over to the building with the conservatory, though we decided not to go in and look at the plants. We did go in just long enough to get some water and have a look at the fish tank. I hadn't realized what a nice tank it was. It has about half the cast of Finding Nemo, minus the sharks and sea turtles.

Anyway, I can finally go in the place and not be upset about Dad. I can't imagine ever going to the place and not thinking about Dad, but I didn't get sad over it. Dad's astronomy club used to meet there, and I went with him a couple of times right before he died.

We wandered around the park some more and maybe got a bit lost. And then we headed for home, but stopped for a Slurpee first. It isn't as hot as it had been, but it was still August in Texas.