Thursday, March 31, 2005

One More: I don't think that the people who are arguing for her death understand how much their repeated admonitions that this woman really, really needs to go creep the rest of us out.

The fact is, the question of whether her life is worth living is an opinion. Even among us healthy people, some of us would want to be let go, and some of us would want to be kept alive.

Do you really think arguing that someone who is "unaware" of their surroundings for whatever reason should die is going to get you anywhere with the other side?

The crux of the argument for letting her go hinges on one thing--that this is what she really would have wanted. No matter what you personally would prefer, what you think is the better choice, this entirely comes down to doing right by her.

Even when you narrow it down to just that thing, it's still a tough case. You have the word and desires of one man vs. the word and desires of the rest of her family--however, that one man is her husband, the one who probably deserves the most say.

But saying that life--any life--can and should be tossed away because of the state of the person--would that still hold up if the husband were saying he wanted her to live, and the rest of the family wanted to let her go, trying to take her away from them?

Shouldn't the husband's desires hold exactly the same weight, no matter which direction he's pulling?

And if we must err, aren't we required, duty-bound, to err on the side of life, no matter which side is pulling in that direction?

It's the repeated assertions that she was already gone, that she was already dead, that her life was worthless, that have left us strongly feeling that some people wanted her dead precisely for moral, rather than legal, reasons.

Obligatory Terri Schiavo Post: I almost let this go, because Scott Card already said most of what I wanted to say.

From a perfectly selfish standpoint, I was sort of upset this came up right now. I was in the process of writing a science fiction story dealing with euthanasia that was meant to be an indictment of reality television, but with this case at the forefront of everyone's minds, I fear it will skew the reader's reaction in a way it will be impossible to compensate for.

I will never know what the right answer was in this case. For all I know, Terry looked her husband deep in the eyes the last morning she spoke to him and pleaded with him that if anything ever happened to her, to pull the plug and let her die. He may be valiantly trying to fulfill that wish.

But we've learned far more about each other, about how we feel about each other, about how we really want to treat each other, than we learned about this woman or about her family.

I come across post after post that goes something like: "There's really no bad guy in this. Everybody's doing what they think is best. Except those religious people. They're just nuts."

I've been listening to idiot talk show hosts screaming for this woman's death, vilifying anyone who wanted to keep her alive as being ignorant and extremist, scientifically and medically illiterate.

Forgive me, but what is ignorant and extreme about erring on the side of life? What is worth shouting about if someone wants to grant a helpless woman the same rights afforded death row inmates?

In my case, my predisposition shows up in my feelings.

Many people, even Card, are attributing motives to the husband in this case. I go to no such extreme. I know nothing of the man--I haven't so much as seen his picture, so I cannot guess his motives.

But there is one group that does have an ulterior motive in this that is bent on Schiavo's death, and who has purely selfish motives for insuring it happen.

That is the judiciary. The judiciary of this country has decided that allowing Terry Schiavo to live would have weakened the grasp they have on the governing of this country, a grip they absolutely refuse to release.

Card points out a criminal can receive a Presidential pardon, but the sick cannot.

Similarly, a law that has been "killed" by a Presidential veto can receive a congressional "pardon" by the Congress, if they can raise enough votes. Madison goes on at some length in the Federalist Papers about why the President was not given the absolute veto.

However, under the current system, there is no such hope for laws "vetoed" by the courts. As it was explained to me, the majority opinion that led to Schiavo's death was not, as Congress requested, based on a de novo look at the facts of the case. Instead, it ruled that Congress's request was unconstitutional, and that no such inquiry should be made.

The courts have granted themselves the absolute veto, in spite of many of the founders' objections to such power. It was more important for the courts to censure the Congress and the Chief Executive than to recognize Schiavo's right to life.

Those in favor of saving her are accused of "ignoring the facts" and trying to "denounce the court's power rather than acknowledge the validity of their ruling."

In reality, it is the judges who aren't looking at the actual facts of the case, and are, instead, ruling based on interpretations of how lines in the sand should be drawn rather than on evidence and proof and the fundamental principles of the founding documents.

They're truly straining at gnats while swallowing camels.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Honesty: Another blog 'fesses up.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Openin' Up: More blogs have come clean.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Admission: As I'm sure all of you have realized by now, this, like most of the blogs on the Internet, is not actually a real blog.

I know a lot of you have had a hard time understanding the blogosphere / livejournal / typepad craze. You've dabbled in reading this popular blog or that little blog for a while, but overall, after reading your 1,000,000th "Lost is such a cool show" or "My significant other is such a dork! He/she thinks I talk about them behind their back, and I don't! He/she is such a meddling, trouble-making finger-pointer!" or "The Gladioluses are coming in nicely this year"-style posts, you decided there was nothing to this blogging thing.

But an overwhelming suspicion kept gnawing at you that there was something more to it--after all, why else would so many people read them?

Well, you were right. Blogs are not the musings and ramblings of everyday people who think that random passers-by would be interested in their day-to-day lives or their opinions about things you've already heard everybody's opinions about.

They are actually a highly developed system for conveying information over the internet in code.

Really, only two types of people surf the internet. The first are the people who want to send coded messages (terrorist groups, revolutionaries, the people who screwed up Star Trek, the little gnomes in Switzerland, etc.). The second are the people trying to decode their messages (Homeland Security, FBI, CIA, the IRS, and cryptology majors).

Oh, and there's you.

So, in the interest of 100% disclosure, I'm going to admit right here, out in the open, no code involved, that this blog actually contains coded instructions for the slow emergence of the Underworld Dwellers of Thryandia to begin their slow assimilation into above ground societies, leading to the eventual takeover of the entire Upperworld.

I invite all other bloggers to come clean as well.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

At the Amoeba: Went and saw the free show at Amoeba Records last night, and finally got to meet John & John at the signing afterwards. Pictures will be forthcoming.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Word Count: Like I've been talking about in my other blog, I've been trying to write 1,000 words a day.

Lots of writers advice this, but the best book I've ever read on writing is still Ray Bradbury's Zen In The Art Of Writing.

I've probably told this story a million times, but I'm going to tell it again.

I met Bradbury about 5 years ago, shortly after Marci and I were married. He was signing at a delightful bookstore in San Dimas. He was being his usual self, providing plenty of opinion and personality to everybody in line. It was interesting, because we usually couldn't hear the people who were talking to him, but we could always hear his responses.

"Crap!" he shouted at one point. "That's all the internet is, really, is crap."

If the most eloquent writer I know chose that terminology, I think there's something in it. My wife put that on a sign and hung it over my computer for a while after that.

So we got up to him, and I pulled out my little paperback copy of Zen In The Art Of Writing.

"I love this book," I told him. "This is what I take for depression."

"That's wonderful!" he said. And then, "So do you write every day?"

I hemmed and hawwed.

"Well, I'm sure you're busy," he said. "Work, school, other things." His enthusiasm faded as he made my excuses so I wouldn't have to.

I wanted to tell him, no! Don't make excuses for me! Chastise me publicly, right here in the front of the line at Mrs. Nelson's Bookshop!

But he didn't. He went on to say clever things to the person behind me, and I went away knowing he thought I was just another dreamer pretending to be a writer.

For two days now, I've put 1,000 words on paper each day. Tomorrow, can I make it three? And the day after that? And after that?

I can't convey how much I want the answer to be yes. I have something to prove. To myself, to my wife and my family, but also to the most eloquent writer I know, the one who put my excuses in my mouth for me, and in so doing, chewed me out royally.

They Might Be Doing The 123's?: Article on They Might Be Giants at

Another Obit: Somehow I missed, until now, that the guy who made the DeLorean died this week.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Incomprehensible Visions: For about the fifth time, I'm attempting to read Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions anthology. The anthology was put together in 1967 to showcase the new and exciting direction the field was headed in.

According to Asimov's introduction, all the "Golden Age" writers--who, under the guidance of Joseph W. Campbell, had learned to find harmony between the "science" and "fiction" halves of the genre--were now spending all their time writing non-fiction. This, combined with the emergence of the space program, which had taken many of their futuristic visions out of the pulps and into the headlines, created a big hole in the publishing world. What could stir wonder in the readers, when what they'd been wondering at was now mundane?

The answer, it seemed, was style. Rather than showing readers strange creatures or strange worlds, the strangest thing of all now was the story itself.

However, most of the print anthologies still consisted largely of stories from the 40's and 50's. Ellison wanted to do an anthology that would show where the field was at the moment. Even more importantly, he wanted to show where the field was going. He wanted the edgiest, most controversial stories he could find. He wanted stories the magazines wouldn't touch. He wanted readers' eyes to burn and minds to spin in wild new directions.

It was a landmark anthology. It is what every anthology since has aspired to be.

You can see why I think it's so important to read it. I found it and its sequel, Again, Dangerous Visions at a used bookstore years ago (there is a third anthology, The Last Dangerous Vision, that has not been published, although a book has been published about why the last book was never published).

So why haven't I read it?

I've tried. I really have. Some of the shorter stories in it I've read dozens of times.

But then I come across a story like Phillip Jose Farmer's "Riders of The Purple Wage," and rather than burning, my eyes just cross. I honestly have no idea what the man is talking about. The first page of the story remains incomprehensible to me.

And it's not just that the writing is describing such new concepts that I need to re-read it a few times. I've read stories like that--Felix Gotschalk's "Vestibular Man" comes to mind. This is different. It's just--incomprehensible.

I'm still pushing through it. Ellison swears this story is the best one in the book. It's got fascinating turns of phrase, and interesting metaphor, but I can't help but feel that all of that is just a lot of frosting to conceal that this story has no cake inside.

I hope I'm wrong. I think after I finish this story, I'm going to go back and re-read it to see what I'm missing. And I'm definitely going to finish the book this time.

It's certainly not the format that's inaccessible. The introductions and afterwards are delightful--Ellison's constant commentary is downright chatty, offering a clear snapshot of the Sci-Fi community in 1967, taken through his eyes. I'll often use it as a reference book, to read what he has to say about this writer or that.

I don't know whether this is a book review or a rant or a cry for help. Maybe I just need some sleep.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

In My Own Backyard: I just discovered one of the nation's most extensive special collections of science fiction is located right here at UCR.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Missed: SF Grand Master Andre Norton passed away yesterday. From

SF and fantasy author Andre Norton died this morning at her home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, of congestive heart failure, at the age of 93. Born Alice Mary Norton in 1912, she legally changed her name to Andre Alice Norton in 1934, the year her first book was published. She wrote over 100 books, including popular YA novels in the 1950s and '60s such as Star Man’s Son 2250 AD (1952), and the science fantasy series that began with Hugo-nominated Witch World (1962). In 1984 she became the first female SFWA Grand Master; in 1997 she was inducted into the SF Hall of Fame; and in 1998 she received a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

They Might Be . . . Where?: Pollstar just told me They Might Be Giants Will be performing in, of all places, Springville, UT.

I was a toddler in Springville. We lived in, I swear, the Green Acres mobile home park. It is there I broke my arm trying to fly like Superman.

Please forgive me for this self-indulgent post.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Get-Togethers: My little brother Andy went into the Missionary Training Center this afternoon to start his two-year mission to Minnesota.

On Sunday night, he had a couple of friends over and they all played music. It wasn't a show, really. It was just a few guys with guitars and mandolins playing and singing and having a good time. Anybody could sing along if they knew enough country music to know the words.

This things seem to happen at my parent's house once in a while. Often, it's around the time one of us heads out. Before my brother Dustin left for Switzerland, there were people over at their house singing and dancing the Haka. My sister's wedding reception had a whole bunch of singing and dancing by various groups doing various island and other dances. My brothers even got into the act, doing the Haka with her new brothers-in-law.

(I didn't get invited to participate in that one, I think because no one wanted to see me with my shirt off.)

I dearly love these times. I sometimes get nostalgic for a time I wasn't even around for, a time when, instead of seeing what new insipid torture the reality TV show producers can put people through for money, we would try to entertain each other, gathering around a piano and belting out lighthearted stuff loud enough to wake the neighbors.

Now, when anybody with a CD player can compare your voice to the greatest vocalists in the world, people are embarrassed to sing. It's as if we've forgotten that really, singing isn't so much about talent as it is about recreation.

It's just plain fun.

Obviously this doesn't mean I don't enjoy hearing the pros when I get the chance. And Sunday, it helped that the guys with the guitars and mandolins were really talented.

But all of that was backseat to the fact that it was just plain old ordinary fun.

So I call for all people, everywhere, to lighten up! Sing along with the radio! Bang that steering wheel like a drum! Dance with your kids!

Let this be the blog post that took the timidity out of the world! We will harken back to this message, to these words, as the Declaration of Independence from Judgement that allowed us to have a good time again!

In fact, I feel so strongly about this, I'm going to sing about this right now!!

I'm going to . . .

Hey, where's everybody going? Wait!

Come back!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

No TV And No Beer Make Homer Something Something: I don't watch much TV. The only show I try to watch each week is Smallville, and I think I've missed it for weeks now.

(Has anything big happened since that episode where a bunch of meteors fell and one of them had a kid in it?)

I do, however, listen to a lot of radio.

However, this has become nigh unto impossible lately. The entire airwaves, every station, every conversation, has become about Michael Jackson or Robert Blake or whatever the Hot Trial Of The Week is. I am sure that within the next few weeks, even the commercials will be centered around the trials. Pop stars will begin to release trial-related songs just to get some airtime on pop stations again.

And, since I have not replaced the stolen CD player the bad guys got back in January, I can't take my muse-ic with me. (No, I do not call Dial-A-Song over and over on the cell phone my work pays for. Work would catch on to that eventually.)

I'll just say it again . . . I'm so glad I missed the OJ trial.

Monday, March 14, 2005

My Muse-ic: It's back.

Please, step back.

Things are about to start getting a little bit crazy . . .

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Disney: If you're interested in the opposition take on the new CEO, check out

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Stuff To Bookmark: If they want to start giving out Hugos to websites, James Patrick Kelly has some suggestions.

Incredibly enough, this blog is not mentioned.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Dance-Off: No, I'm not rushing out to see Robots. But I did think you'd want to see this promo site because of the guy with the curly hair.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Fame!: Thanks to Reflections in d minor for the link. And for the information about Jelly Beans, one of my favorite things.

It's also worth noting you can get a free sample of Jelly Belly jelly beans if you take their trivia thingie.

So A Guy Walks Into A Comic Book Shop: . . . and asks the twelve year old girl behind the counter if they had any copies of "Ultimate Iron Man" left.

What, you don't think that's funny?

She sure seemed to.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Preview: The first six pages of Orson Scott Card's new Ultimate Iron Man comic are up here.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Traffic Problems: It was exciting to drive by the 210 construction in north Rialto and see the exit sign lit up with the exits for Ayala, Riverside, and Pepper all marked. That thing is going to be fantastic when it's finished.

In the meantime, the detour stinks on ice. The detour for Highland took me all the way down to Baseline? I jumped off the 15 north on Sierra to try to avoid Friday traffic and ended up driving by Eisenhower?

I'd have done better just sitting in traffic the couple of miles.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Moe's Dad: I lived in West Covina during the height of the "Save Moe" frenzy, so I was surprised to hear this story about the latest chapter of that tale.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Watch Out: In some ways, I'm the perfect audience for most genre movies. I am absolutely and completely willing to suspend my disbelief. You will never, ever hear me rant about a movie, "Oh, that would never happen." To me, the kiss of death for a film is the opposite--to be too mundane, too run of the mill.

I do not want to go into a movie and see people do a bunch of stuff I can do in real life. Save me your brooding. Save me your heartache. Save me your pining. Save me, for crying out loud, your angst. Been there, done that, okay? The only thing I can think of that would be worse than going through that again is watching somebody else go through it.

So when I read a negative review that says, "As unrealistic as it gets," I'm left wondering whether it was the movie that had problems, or if the review just wasn't a genre film watcher.

My wife is one of those non-genre filmgoers. "This could never happen," is a regular beef she has with genre films (or "Daddy Movies," as we call them at our house).

So my plea, my earnest, heart-felt petition, is please, please--if you're not a fan of a genre, don't ever critique films in that genre. Your review will be, at best, unhelpful to real fans of that genre, and more likely, patronizing towards fans of that genre, and they will be forced to conclude you are a two-times-idiot.

One time for not "getting" the genre, and one time for sitting through a movie you knew you weren't going to like.

I swear I will never review an "angst" movie on this blog.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Coming Soon: Do you realize this is going to be one of the coolest years ever for movies? It's like that one year when Batman, Indiana Jones, UHF, Ghostbusters II, and a bunch of other cool stuff all came out at once.

We've got the new Star Wars movie, Mr & Mrs Smith, Batman Begins, The Hitchiker's Guide To The Galaxy, War Of The Worlds, Fantastic Four, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, and a bunch more.

Will some of these stink? You betcha. I already have some guesses about which. But man, a few more years of offerings like this, and I may have to quit my job and become a projectionist.