31 January 2010

Advance reader copies and stories, oh my

Too much temptation this week.

1. I swore that we were getting no more dogs. We were going to let the numbers run down by not replacing them until we got to live normal lives free from noise, hair and poo bags.

Except my uncle, who owns the most delightful working cocker spaniel I have ever met, just texted me to say that he'd just seen her puppies on ultrasound and I could have one. Now what do I do?

2. I swore that I was done with fanfic. Original or nothing from now on.

Except that one of my favourite authors is running a competition for a copy of her latest arc, and I could enter a 500 word story using her characters for it. Her characters are complex and dark and one of them has been preying on my mind since I read Demon's Lexicon.

I am weak. Help me.

28 January 2010

On the subject of winning

When you have lived with someone for a while, you start to recognise recurring themes in the things they talk about. When you have lived with them for a long time those recurring themes start to shout at you so loud that the words become a kind of meaningless noise around the outside.

The Old Git is a competitive man. He knows it, I know it, anybody that spends more than an hour in his presence knows it. It is a sad fact of his life that he loves chess, draughts, scrabble, and any other board game that allows you to use strategy to destroy your opponent, but that he can't find anyone to play him. He has played a lot of people like me, who know the moves but just play for fun, but strangely enough, after enjoying a taste of the full on play-to-win meat grinder, we usually aren't in any rush to repeat the experience.

Frankly, I'd rather stick pins in my legs.

So, he doesn't have a steady supply of willing victims, and this disappoints him. Now I may not want to play him, and I may frequently want to stab him, but The Old Git's happiness does mean something to me, so I do sometimes try to find him a new victim, oops, I mean opponent.

I thought I had cracked it when some friends introduced me to lexulous on facebook. It's a variant of scrabble. Eight letters, different layout of scoring squares, but essentially the same game and you get to play other people that aren't on your friends list.

My simple little strand of Rosa logic went:

--> Playing strangers
--> Playing people who like to play a lot
--> People like The Old Git
--> people he can play
--> SCORE!

Problem solved, right?


Now we have a new problem.

He is playing. Oh my, is he playing. When my friends saw his active game list they said, "This dude is obsessed."

The Boy would concur. Most evenings he complains that Daddy is always playing lexulous. Some of that is jealousy, though; he wants to play too but facebook doesn't exactly have a junior section. He too has a competitive streak a mile wide.

And then we have the game talk. As with other obsessions that have come and gone, he wants to tell me about it. This is where those themes come in.

"I don't understand how the rankings work."
How is everybody going to know that I'm winning.

"This game allows nonsense words. No way is that a word."
The game is letting the other person cheat and stopping me from winning.

"I found out how the top ranking people stay up there. They delete any game in which they think they might get beaten."
They're using cheat tactics to stay up there. If they played fair I'd be winning.

"My opponent got 400 points and still lost. That's got to hurt."
Look at me winning. Am I not awesome?

I guess it could be worse. You should have seen him in his paintball phase. Imagine Rambo with a paintball gun. Now imagine him half the size and armed with a devious mind and an evil grin. It was The Old Git who proudly announced that he took out half a dozen people at one time firing up into the air so that the paintballs dropped down on them as they hid behind the barrier. Boy did they complain. He's also the one who worked out that you could rack up some serious points if you hid near the Quasar gun recharge point and shot all the people coming back with empty guns.

No, I don't play him, at anything. I'll just carry on running a victim procurement service. At the moment he's dragged himself away from his lexulous victims for a while to teach The Boy how to play chess.

I'm scared.

23 January 2010

In a nutshell

Some moments sum up the family dogs in a nutshell.

It is morning. I go downstairs, open the stairgate and let the dogs out. As they come back in they assume their positions.

Teddy goes upstairs, greets The Boy and takes up his position on the stairs to guard the family.

Buddy goes upstairs and surgically attaches himself to The Old Git.

Buzz stays downstairs on his own to keep an eye on the breakfast toast crusts.

12 January 2010

A tale of tales

Sit back and I will tell you a tale. A tale of a woman telling a tale of a woman who told tales. With musical accompaniment.

Once upon a time in her youth, Rosa discovered classical music, and discovered that she liked it. She liked the music of Rimsky-Korsakov very much indeed, and her favourite of all was Scheherezade.

Fortunately for Rosa, many other people also liked classical music and Scheherezade, and she listened to a radio station that played it for her and all the other people that listened.

When Rosa discovered she was pregnant, she was very happy. She played classical music in her car, and in her house, and on her computer. Nobody knows how much the bump heard as it travelled around with her, but it is an undisputable fact that Son of Rosa also liked classical music, and his favourite was Scheherezade.

It came to pass that one day, Rosa and Son of Rosa were on a long drive together. As they drove along the motorway, Scheherezade came on the radio and they turned it up and listened to it together. Son of Rosa was a very curious boy much given to asking questions, which Rosa did her best to answer, for she felt that being given answers to your questions in life is a Very Good Thing. And so Rosa and Son of Rosa found themselves discussing the tale of Scheherezade, and from there the tales of Sinbad the Sailor, and Aladdin, and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, for these were tales she remembered from her youth.

Just like Rosa, Son of Rosa loved reading and tales even more than classical music, and he begged his mother to read to him the tale of Scheherezade, and from there the tales of Sinbad, and of Aladdin, and of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Rosa remembered that she had read the Tales from One Thousand Nights in her youth and promised that she would.

In fact, Rosa still even had the book from her youth, and when Son of Rosa asked, she found it and opened it to read to him at bedtime.

But the book was old, and things were not as Rosa remembered from her youth. She feared that she had made a terrible mistake when Son of Rosa asked what it meant that the Queen was found in the arms of a Negro slave, but she tried. She explained about the Bad Things that are slavery and racism, and why he should never use That Word. She explained that the Queen had been found kissing someone that was not her husband, and that this too was a Bad Thing. She feared that worse was to come, but she loved Son of Rosa very much and she had promised, so she continued with the story.

She read, and she read, until she came to the next page. When the next Queen and her slaves all took their clothes off and the Queen prepared to be unfaithful to her husband, Rosa closed the book with a snap and would read no more.

Son of Rosa was sad and asked why he might not hear the rest of the tale, and Rosa did confess to her son that the tale was Too Naughty For Children, and picked up the tale of the Fantastic Mr Fox instead, and Son of Rosa was happy.

Rosa suspects that, some day soon, Son of Rosa will find the Tales from One Thousand and One Nights in the bookcase and read it for himself. She knows that this is the way of children everywhere, and that it is as inevitable as Son of Rosa one day playing the collection of rap CDs with naughty words belonging to Husband of Rosa. She feels that, while Son of Rosa's life will be improved by contact with classic literature, her own life will be much improved by not knowing. And so she has returned it to the bookcase and not hidden it.


04 January 2010

Reasons to be cheerful, 1-2-3

  1. I'm going to America this June to meet some of my dearest friends, whom I happen to have never met before.
  2. I just got paid for a story for the first time.
  3. Best of all, I still have my dog. He's a fighter. Always has been, and he's not quitting now. Happy New Year, Teddy. Keep fighting.