Cinzo update and random acts of data housekeepery

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Posted on December 19, 2014 by

imageI try to limit my whine bloggery, but this week has had the emotional tone of a light bear mauling. You know the kind of thing I mean: buffeting, skull-gnawing, the occasional rake of claws. Still, the bear ain’t seriously pissed off or, worse, hungry. Eventually she heads off to play with some other food–because bored–and you pick your foot off the ground and hop to Dr. Frankenstein’s for a discount reattachment.

There were awesome things too, like the Chizine Saturnalia party, the Carbide Tipped Pens book launch, and–so delightful and exciting!–Kelly selling a story, “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill,” to Clarkesworld. Her list of upcoming publications can be found here now, if you haven’t been keeping score.

So! Someone remarked that I haven’t been posting about the kittens. Can that possibly be true?  Here’s a very weird picture of the two of them hiding from the dude who came to fix our doorjamb.

CinZo afeard

The most notable thing right now about Lorenzo and Chinchilla is that they look an awful lot like cats. They’re about eight months old, which implies another few months of growth, but Lozo’s hit the 12 pound mark. CinCin’s half his size, and will certainly be the tiniest cat we’ve ever owned. Not the tiniest beast, thanks to the lizards, my college tarantula (yes, like so many other girls, I experimented with arachnid ownership when I was at university) and their coterie of magical crickets, whose short, pointless insectile lives were devoted to helping the noisiest singer among their number escape, all so that we would be treated to a constant symphony of sunsets at summertime, an echoing, bree, bree, bree, FRIGGIN’ BREE!!! HAHAHA PRIMATES YOU WILL SUFFER FOR YOUR CRIMES AGAINST MY COMRADES, I CAN DO THIS ALL NIGHT!! from under the refrigerator.

The kids have also picked up a few new spy nicknames: Fred and Barney, Moose and Squirrel. We still also call them Loaf and Sauce, though interestingly they seem to have mostly lost interest in the wet food that spawned this pair of names. They can pack away the kibble like nobody’s business, though. Anyone else had their young cats go: “Meh? Kibble’s fine; I’m bored with the wet stuff.” It happened with Obiwan too.

On a more mundane note–and I’ll probably repeat this a few times, in various entries–my sff.net e-mail address is going to be shutting down some time in the New Year. You can still get me at alyx@telus.net or the main addy. Many people do use Facebook to reach me, which is completely fine as long as you understand that a) it may take me weeks to remember to check that Inbox and b) I do not respond to single-line demands for anything, whether it’s a book review, a Like My Page, my mailing address, jam, blurbs, signal boostage, photographs, or money. Say hello, for pity’s sake! Tell me how you’re doing and what you’re up to, and then hit me up for whatever it is you want. I might still say no, but chances are better that I’ll answer you rather than leaving a trail of steaks leading to your door, all to tempt that bear I mentioned.

Cafe Writers Unite (Toronto day 578)

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Posted on December 16, 2014 by

Something I did in October when I was in Vancouver was to tell everyone I know that I’d be at Caffe Calabria in the mornings, writing if I had the place to myself, and socializing if anyone cared to show. I met Barb there. Badger came, as did Emily from our old condo. I figured I’d see some of the cafe regulars, but it turned out there are a shocking number of them: I saw both Toms, for example, the alternate-energy physicist and the religious studies professor. An aspiring YA author, Jenny, was there both mornings. I caught Adita and Harry, the snowbirds whose daughter is a poet, on their last day in Canada. Oscar was there (what I know about Oscar is TMI for the Internet), and Yespat the engineer. I even exchanged friendly hellos with a trio of people I think of (not that this reflects well on me, but their voices carry and all they do is bitch bitch bitch some more) as the Friday Snark Club.

The sheer number of people I had a “Hey, how are ya?” relationship with and the delight that came with seeing them made me realize how many connections I’d built up just by going to work at dawn in the same place, 6-7 days a week, 2 hours a day. It drove home that I hadn’t even begun to do that particular kind of in-community root-growing here.

This lack of effort was no accident–in fact, I had it scheduled for November. I didn’t put much effort into a cafe hunt in May when we first moved to our new building. I knew there’d be guests coming and then travel and more guests and more travel, and the publicity push for Child of a Hidden Sea and then the film festival and more travel atop that. It was a thoroughly awesome summer and autumn, but I wasn’t keeping to the sort of schedule that makes it possible for me to settle into a routine.

Of course it was impossible I’d score another place quite as perfect as Calabria. It was 300 meters from my door, it opened at six in the morning, and Frank Murdocco’s eclectic curation of 20th century music is uniquely delightful, irreplaceable.

But! Now that October and all those trips are in the rearview, I’ve been going to a recently opened cafe called Portland Variety. The coffee is excellent, the atmosphere is right, the staff is lovely, tables are plentiful and the music leans to jazz (which is easier to tune out than pop, satellite radio’s litest hits or the go-to choice at Jimmy’s Cafe, the Doors.) I’m comfortable working here for hours on end, and there are starting to be other morning regulars. It’s not obscenely close to home, but the route back to the condo leads past the grocery, and that’s a significant plus.

It’s promising, in other words. I have high hopes that at last I’ve found this particular piece of my workaday puzzle.

Telewitterings, meta version with an app review

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Posted on December 8, 2014 by

photo by Kelly Robson

photo by Kelly Robson

Over a quarter century ago, I had the fortune to be in a relationship with someone who would, every Friday, remove the TV Guide from the newspaper, go through it with a blue highlighter, and mark very neatly all the things he might wish to see in the coming seven days.

This represented an excellent division of resources from my point of view, as he had the paper, the guide, the highlighter, the TV, a cable package and time set aside for a meticulous clerical task on Friday nights, whereas what I was bringing to the table was a desire to watch Dr. Who and Star Trek: TNG.

After I married Kelly, it turned out the VCR could perform much the same function, though only for 8 shows at a time, and only reliably if you left it a five minute margin of error on either side of the hour. The technology improved as we wore out and replaced gadgets. Then for awhile there was a DVR and it recorded everything, happily, only to fill up with unwatched hours of content when we hit that sad couple of years when the best things on were, like, Bones and The Mentalist. And why were we bothering with cable again? So then we weren’t.

Nowadays what I want seems to be the thing that tells me when the things I like are airing new episodes… And happy day, there is an app for that! It’s name is TV Forecast, and all it does is provide the info I want:

IMG_5585.JPG

It doesn’t ask me if I watched the stuff, or if I liked it. It just gives dates, or says TBA, or admits the thing is cancelled.

I am sharing all of this with you in case you also just need an app that tells you when your favorite shows are returning. And also in case you know if there’s one of these for bands. If I could have a list like this saying exactly when my fave bands’ next albums were being released, no muss, no fuss, but here’s the day… let’s just say that certain media empires might make dozens more Canadian dollars per year.

Are there any apps in your life, small or large, famous or unknown, that make your life better?

Color of Paradox review, plus cinemancy

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Posted on December 5, 2014 by

imageThere’s a nice, short review here at Exploring Worlds for my story “The Color of Paradox,” which is a time travel story set in 1920s Seattle. You can read the story for free at Tor.com.

Meanwhile I’ve been previewing – having a look at what might be in the theaters during the holiday season, trying to figure out if there are any upcoming film releases that won’t give Kelly and me hives and a bad case of cineloathing (that special feeling of self-hatred you get after sitting through a terrible movie, especially if you kinda suspected it’d be bad). To that end I’ve watched previews for A Most Violent Year and Unbroken. Both looked tedious, unpleasant and predictable. Into the Woods might be a possibility if someone we trust tells us it’s not too bad. I’m interested in the U.S. Civil Rights movement, so Selma‘s a possibility for me. Big Eyes sounds interesting, but  Tim Burton has made soooooooo many disappointing films.

Mr. Turner looks great, though, and I may see Rosewater with my sister. Maybe Two Days, One Night?

What have you seen lately that was worth the time?

Toronto, day 565

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Posted on December 3, 2014 by

imageAccording to my handy-dandy day-counting app, we’ve been here for 565 days now. I’m poking my nose into my second Ontario winter, and am curious to see how I feel about it now that the cold and snow lack, a bit, for novelty.

What’s far more significant to most of us about this time of year is less the dig for coats and toques packed away months before, and more the monolithic rah-rah-Christmasness of it all. December has come again, bringing with it three stat holidays configured, this time ’round, into one four day weekend and a Thursday off the following week.

Needless to say, this probably won’t be the most sentimental Alyx and Kelly Christmas ever. We’re never very sentimental, are we? There will be firsts: our first holiday with CinZo (and sans Rumble), the first in the new apartment… ah, that may be it.

The plan, such as it is, is to eat a couple nice meals out and see if we can find several amazing movies to see. Got any candidates? Anyone here a fan of doing a matinee on the 25th?

CinCin practices pinup poses on her plinth.

CinZo have gotten their present already: having failed numerous times to make the $3 cheapo versions work–and straining my hand in the process–I ordered a pricey and thoroughly awesome laser pointer that doubles as an LED flashlight and a UV flash too. (What does one do with a UV flash, exactly?) It debuted yesterday and we ran the kids up and down the apartment, up and down the cat tree and in circles until they were heaving with exhaustion.

There will, inevitably, be footage of this as soon as the right lighting comes my way.

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