Now? You want to do this now?
I have a right to know! I'm getting married in four hundred and thirty years!

Wednesday, June 25



The Eskimos are famous - perhaps apocryphally - for having forty words for snow. Cecil Adams once noted:
In my spare time I have been attempting to construct an Eskimo sentence in my basement, such as will be suitable for the season. I have not get it perfected yet, but it is coming along pretty well, and with a little work it might pass for the genuine article. So far I have: kaniktshaq moritlkatsio atsuniartoq.

When completed, this sentence will proclaim: "Look at all this fucking snow." At present it means: "Observe the snow. It fornicates." This is not poetic, but it is serviceable, and I intend to employ it at the next opportunity.

Since English was invented by, well, the English, one wonders whether it in turn has forty words for rain. Perusing a handy thesaurus, I was able to come up with only 12:
cloudburst, condensation, deluge, downpour, drizzle, monsoon, precipitation, rain, shower, sleet, spit, sprinkle
Other than that there are a few dubious ones like mist (not really rain) or sun shower. (They also offered to take me to the 10 most popular sites for "rain", an offer which I have set aside for a fine day.)

Which is just my round-about way of noting that, irrespective of all the nice things I have said about Sydney's weather, it is raining again.

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Harry Who?

It would seem that I have been labouring under a misapprehension and Harry Potter is not in fact the colonel who commanded the 4077th in later episodes of M*A*S*H. He is, it would appear, the hero of an absurdly popular series of books by one J. K. Rowling.

I dropped in today on a friend of mine who runs a bookstore here in Sydney. Not a small bookstore, but not a huge one either. He ordered in 600 copies of the hardcover edition of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - and sold them all in three days.

Now, I don't begrudge Ms. Rowling her squillions... Alright, I do begrudge her her squillions, but not to the extent that I begrudge Microsoft theirs. But I'm at a loss to explain the popularity of these books. They're not bad, but -

I have a collection of Fritz Leiber's short stories; I bought it because it contained some stories that I'd never seen collected elsewhere. Total world-wide print run of this book was 80 copies. Why? There's no question, none at all, that Fritz Leiber was a better writer than J. K. Rowling. Why wasn't he a squillionaire too?

Leiber's work isn't for children, but a large proportion of Harry Potter readers are adults. I don't mind at all that adults read and enjoy Harry Potter, but why aren't they also reading Dunsany? Or in a similar vein, Neil Gaiman's Stardust, a beautiful and wondrous tale almost flawless in its tribute to Dunsany's style. It's good to see that Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser books are being kept in print, but where oh where is The Silver Eggheads?

Why, if adults find they enjoy fantasy, are they not reading masters of the weird and wonderful like Tim Powers and Michael Shea? Why not Lois Bujold, who can create characters who sometimes seem more real than my own family, or C. J. Cherryh, who writes so well that a hundred pages can pass with no action and you barely notice and care not at all? When will we see a movie version of The Anubis Gates or Nifft the Lean or The Curse of Chalion or Gate of Ivrel?

Why are they not reading Ursula Le Guin? Why not T.H. White? Why not - well, actually, Terry Pratchett is doing pretty well. And Stephen Donaldson - his novels may not appeal to all, but do try his short stories in Daughter of Regals and Reave the Just.

As for me? Well, since I couldn't buy the latest Harry Potter epic, it may be time for me to finish my own novel and maybe, just maybe, make some squillions of my own.

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Monday, June 23


Ex Cathedra

This lovely cathedral with its wooden belltower was in, um... Wangaratta, I think.

Yes, Wangaratta.

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Sunday, June 22


Cheesecake Photos

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Tastes Great

My cousin Melissa encounters wasabi for the first time.

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Power Saving

We unplugged the cat and it went into sleep mode.

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Saturday, June 21


Uh, Skipper?

I think the GPS is on the blink again...

(I think I may have been on this submarine once, back when it was still in service when I was in the Cub Sprouts. There's not enough room on one of these things to swing even the smallest and most uncomplaining of cats.)

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Perfect Weather

We left Sydney at 5:30 AM on Saturday morning. Ignore everything I've said previously about how delightful Sydney is in winter: This morning it was cold, dark, wet, windy and generally miserable. (Of course, after we left it cleared up and turned into a delightful day. One of my colleagues described it as "beach weather".)

We, on the other hand, followed the miserableness south. By mid-morning, the rain had mostly stopped, the darkness had lifted, the wind had died down, and though it was still a touch chilly, we had otherwise perfect weather for a long drive in the country.

Perfect except for the impenetrable fog, that is.

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Signing Off

I'm signing off now, hoping to catch fifteen winks before we set out on our road trip at five o'clock. (I didn't realise that there was a five in the morning. At least, not as a time where one wakes up, as opposed to stays awake 'til.) Then I'm off, and unless my WiFi card suddenly decides to work, you probably won't hear from me until Tuesday, when I will be presenting Pixy Misa's Big Adventure: Twelve Hundred Miles Sharing The Back Seat With A Two-Year-Old.

So's you don't get lonely (and taking the opportunity for a swipe at Orrin Hatch), here are some completely legal mp3s for you to download: Crunchy Frog Blues, What Dance Dance Kitten Did On Her Holiday, and Return of the Return of the Electric Ant. All are written by the brilliant [And modest. — Ed.] young composer, novelist, programmer and blogger... Uh, that is, me.

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Campbell's Condensed Geek

Neverwinter Nights, Bioware's fairly nifty multi-player Dungeons and Dragons game, is now available for Linux!:
CD-Key: You will have to purchase a copy of the game to get a valid Neverwinter Nights CD-Key. Of course, with this purchase you also get a lovely Neverwinter Nights mapkin, a spiral-bound game manual, and three plastic-coated aluminum-reinforced W1nd0z3 brand coasters.

And Shadows of Undrentide, the first Neverwinter Nights expansion, is expected to arrive in Australia next week.


And there's another new hardcover D&D rulebook out: Ghostwalk:

Ghostwalk contains everything needed to run a stand-alone campaign in and around the city of Manifest, or to integrate it into an existing world, including rules for playing ghost characters and advancing in the new eidolon and eidoloncer classes, several new prestige classes, over 70 new feats and 65 new spells, three complete adventures, four highly detailed encounter sites, and fourteen new monsters and templates.
That makes, what, 24 official 3rd Edition hardcover rulebooks? Not counting unofficial stuff, softcover stuff, D20 stuff...

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