I walked past a bakery the other day and thought to myself, "Oh my god I don't believe Rocco has ever eaten a butterfly cake!" I bought three - one each and one for spare because you just never know.
When he came home from school I told him I had a surprise for him, something he's NEVER had before and to wait inside while I set it up. He was SO excited.
I set up a picnic in the neighbours backyard because our yard was full of weeds and dog poo and the neighbours are never home. It's their holiday house, every week religiously a maintenance crew come and mow and weed and do all the stuff.
He wanted to eat one STRAIGHT away but I had to tell him a story first. Hearing his silent groan, I pressed on regardless.
"WELL sweetheart, one day I had 10c for the cake stall at school. I think I was in year one too, just like you. At lunchtime we walked round the hall and could buy whatever cake we liked. I already knew I was going to get two toffees for 5c each but I walked up to a table and Rocco - on that table were the most amazing little cakes. I'd NEVER seen one in my life, they were cupcakes but had cream in them with these two bits of cake sticking out, see? The lady told me they were butterfly cakes. BUTTERFLY CAKES. IN THE SHAPE OF A BUTTERFLY. I bought just one, because they were 10c. It was one of the best things that had ever happened to me in my life."
So me and Rocco sat there on the blanket, eating butterfly cakes together. Later he told me he thought "the surprise" was a new video game or Lego or something. Our cakes were chocolate with real cream. They were beautiful. Butterfly cakes will always be magical to me.
Last night he was really tired and had to go to bed early. So I told him to pick a book. He went to the shelf and randomly picked When The Wind Changed.
I told him I didn't feel like reading that book can he please pick another book?
"But why can't we read this, mum?"
I told him I just didn't feel like it. The real answer is, I stole this book from my brothers bookshelf when he was about 14, growing up and growing out of all of his toys, losing his sense of wonder and joy in the world. Losing his little boyness. All kids go through it. But I pinched this book from him, to always remind me of the times I'd read it to him in bed and we'd laugh so, so hard, pulling the worst faces we could possibly pull.
And now on an even deeper level, I believe my brother thought he was stuck and the wind changed and that he would never get back to being "himself" again, or feeling joy, love. So he left.
I didn't explain that to my six-year old. I just chose another book - one from the entire collection of Mr Men books that Max proudly owns.
Yeah. I should have twigged from the title that this wasn't going to be such a great read. It wasn't.
I read the entire book to Rocco, grabbing tight the frame of his bunk and then my trick of digging my nails into the palm of my hand so hard it hurt so bad but it still didn't hurt more than reading that book. I read that book in an even voice, with all the right inflections.
When The Wind Changed would have been an easier read. Of course I knew some magic crap would happen to make Mr Nobody better OF COURSE.
The Wizard! Of course the Wizard had some special potion but I still don't understand his logic. By the end of the book, Mr Nobody chose a colour to be (yellow) and turned into a somebody. Of course. Like it's that easy.
I kissed Rocco goodnight VERY quickly. He had utterly no idea. "NITE MUM LOVE YOU."
Came straight out to throw Mr Nobody in the fire. It lit up so quick, even crackled and popped, gone within seconds. Quite the show, for a nobody.
Sometimes no matter how hard they try and fight, not everybody ends up to be a somebody. Life is unfair like that.
So now Max has the whole Mr Men collection minus one.
This morning, Rocco and I made poo from play dough. The beautiful @deenapoteet sent me an ENTIRE box of goodies all the way from the dirty south - Texas.
Complete with CORN KERNEL MOLDS to make your poo look even more realistic. Rocco laughed, hard. Mushed the corn in and VOILA!
I PROMISED to leave it there all day, to trick Max and Dave when they get home.
Poo. Poo is the way to a boys heart. Rocco most likely won't remember the time I told him about the day I discovered butterfly cakes but he sure will remember gleefully making that poo this morning.
Day 21 of 31: “No one’s gonna mourn you…”
The post 31 Days of Halloween 2014: 21 of 31 Michonne appeared first on False Positive: A Horror, Sci-Fi & Fantasy Webcomic Anthology.
This server will shut down around 10:30pm tonight, an hour after this message appears.
It will then take a brisk drive down the motorway and hopefully be back up and running around 3:30am, although I'm not going to stay up to nursemaid it.
I am disabling comment posting until the morning, to ensure database consistency across the shutdown and move.
• “The opposition to it was really either political or ideological. … I don’t think that holds water against real flesh and blood, and real improvements in people’s lives.” That’s Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich talking about Obamacare.
• A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds that most Americans think the country is “on the wrong track.” It turns out this has been true of every such poll since January 2004. The Journal’s Elizabeth Williamson says this marks a prolonged period of national gloominess.
But keep in mind, this poll question isn’t solely a measure of the national mood. It’s also asking the public to make a prediction about where things are heading. That prediction may turn out to have been accurate or inaccurate — right or wrong. It’s not an entirely subjective question. Just look back to that January 2004 poll, when a majority of Americans said the country was “on the right track.” Does anyone today think they were right about that?
• Credit where credit is due: Kudos to Focus on the Family for denouncing right-wing “Bible prophecy” loon Rick Wiles for celebrating the Ebola outbreak. Wiles said, “Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography and abortion.”
• Here are two great examples from yesterday that show why I think Hemant Mehta’s Friendly Atheist is one of the best blogs in all of blogtopia.
First there’s this: “Maryland Delegate Spreads Story of Anti-Christian Discrimination at Sheriff’s Office … Turns Out It’s All Wrong.” He heard the story and then checked it out — calling the sheriff’s office and getting the sheriff himself on the phone to get the actual story. That looks an awful lot like actual journalism.
And then there’s this, which is just terrific: “An Interview With Robert Wilson (a.k.a. rwlawoffice), the Commenter Who Always Seems to Disagree With What I Write.” It’s a neighborly, mutually respectful exchange — the rare achievement of genuine disagreement.
• “I’m gonna tell God how you treat me, I’m gonna tell God how you treat me one of these days.”
Bill Lindsey’s post had me searching for additional versions of that great old song and I came across this one — an adorable a capella rendition by a 9-year-old girl. She’s seated at a desk, apparently reading the words off the computer screen in front of her. Or maybe she’s looking at the latest round of awful stories of online abuse — the terroristic threats against Anita Sarkeesian, the vile cesspool of “GamerGate,” and all the other daily horrors that make life online intolerable for any woman with an opinion and a voice. That’s what I was thinking of, anyway, as I heard her singing, “I’m gonna sit at the welcome table one of these days.”
It’s a beautiful song. I hope it’s true. My eye reaches but little ways, etc.
• “Rental America: Why the poor pay $4,150 for a $1,500 sofa” The question should actually by why it’s legal or in any way socially tolerable for some evil bastard to charge poor people $4,150 for a $1,500 sofa.
And the answer to that question is partly this: Because we’re a nation of sanctimonious, victim-blaming jerks. We’re addicted to the endorphin rush of moral superiority we get from blaming uppity poor people for wanting furniture that we think someone in their station doesn’t deserve to have. And we’re too busy doing that to bother reining in the loansharks, scammers and predators who gouge the poor with schemes like “rent-to-own.”
• “You might get AIDS in Kenya, the people have AIDS, you got to be careful, the towels can have AIDS.” This man finished second in the Republican Iowa caucus. And now he’s warning us against Africanized AIDS-towels. OK.
One of the main Muzak loops they play at the store (overnight, all night, the music never stops at the Big Box) includes a couple of Indigo Girls songs. “Watershed” is lovely, and so is “Power of Two.” No complaint about either of those, and after hearing them both a couple of times a night for a couple of weeks, I’ve even got the harmony parts down pretty well.
But the Big Box is a hardware store. It’s kind of bewildering that a hardware store would play two Indigo Girls songs every four hours without either of them being this one:
It’s even weirder because every 10 minutes or so, the PA interrupts whatever song is playing for one of the store’s in-house ads. “Let’s get out there and get building,” the ad says, touting a sale on hammers and nails before cutting back to “Power of Two.”
(I recently learned that there’s a name for the annoying presumed intimacy of that “let’s” construction. It’s apparently called “forced teaming.” I’ve always just thought of such presumptuous first-person-plural rhetoric in terms of the old Lone Ranger and Tonto joke — “What do you mean ‘we,’ kemosabe?”)
The Muzak channel that plays the Indigos is full of mellow, acoustic folkie pop. A little Norah Jones, some Sarah MacLachlan, Jonatha Brooke, Shawn Colvin and the like. All quite lovely in the right setting, but not exactly the kind of thing to keep one awake and energized at four in the morning.
The ’70s music channel that sometimes plays instead is better for that. Say what you will about disco, but those beats-per-minute do keep your heart-rate up. Plus it can be a fun reminder of some of the great music I don’t always think of as “1970s” stuff — old Bowie or Springsteen or Dolly Parton. But then it also includes some songs that are even more 1970s than I might have thought possible — like “Float On” from The Floaters, a song so utterly whatever it is that I’m a little bit in awe of it.
The other weird Muzak channel is a decent mix of ’80s and ’90s pop. Some oddly wonderful choices in that playlist, but the strangest thing to me is the Simple Minds. There are five Simple Minds songs in that tape loop — five!
These are songs I don’t ever remember hearing on the radio. I think the only reason I know them is because I forgot to send in that Columbia House Record Club card once in college and wound up owing them like $28 for the Live in the City of Light double album.
So in case anyone was wondering what Jim Kerr was up to these days, now you know. He’s working for Muzak, programming the overnight playlists of Big Box hardware chain stores. (Not actually true — according to Wikipedia the former Simple Minds frontman is actually running a hotel in Sicily. No, really.)
Anyway, if you’re awaiting the point to this post, there is none. But there’s a No Prize for anybody in comments who can guess all five Simple Minds songs.
Garnier Brasil really got their fans’ tongues wagging when they posted this image to their Facebook page.
Aside from that improbably-coiffed hair, this model’s arm/hand seems a bit off, right? Then they posted an uncropped version:
The plot thickens. What do you think, is this a strange angle, or more shenanigans?
Thanks for sending this in, André!
There's some kind of bizarre curse hanging over my Laundry Files series. Or maybe it's a deeper underlying problem with writing fiction set in the very near future (or past): I'm not sure which. All I'm sure is that that for the past decade, reality has been out to get me: and I'm fed up.
My first intimation came a long time ago—in 2001. I'd just finished writing "The Atrocity Archive" and it was being edited for serial publication in issues 7-9 of the Scottish SF magazine Spectrum SF (which folded a couple of issues later, in 2003). It was late September, and I found myself reading a terse email from the editor, Paul Fraser: "Charlie, about your story—do you think you can possibly find some new bad guys for Chapter 4? Because you've just been overtaken by current events ..."
In Chapter 4 of "The Atrocity Archive" Bob learns from Angleton who the middle eastern bad guys who kidnapped Mo, intending to use her sacrifice to open a gateway to somewhere bad, really were ... and when I originally wrote the story, in 1999-2000, they were a relatively obscure bunch of anti-American zealots who'd blown up the USS Stark and an embassy in Africa. I know this may boggle the imagination of younger or more forgetful readers, but Al Quaida and Osama bin Laden had not at that time hijacked any airliners, much less etched themselves into the pages of world history: they were not, at that time, the Emmanuel Goldstein of the New World Order.
So, on the 12th of September, 2001, the score stood at Reality 1, Fiction 0. And I hastily did an edit job, replacing ObL and AQ with Yusuf Qaradawi as inspiration behind a hypothetical radical group based in groan Iraq (hey, this was before the invasion, all right?). And lo, part one of "The Atrocity Archive" was published in November 2001, and parts 2 and 3 in March and June of 2002.
I don't recall being bitten by any such copy edits to reality in the process of writing "The Concrete Jungle", which together with "The Atrocity Archive" forms the first book, "The Atrocity Archives". Nor did anything particularly batshit derail me late in the process of writing "The Jennifer Morgue". But the Laundry Curse came back to haunt me again when I got to "The Fuller Memorandum", and it's been moaning and rattling its chains at ever increasing volume with every subsequent book.
I wrote "The Fuller Memorandum" in a cold-sweat panic in 2008. (It didn't come out until 2010 because I emitted it out of sequence in a frenzy of 24 consecutive 12 hour working days.) You may recall that the impact of the financial crisis of 2007/08 took a while to trickle down to affect all levels of the economy, precipitating a full-on economic recession in 2008/09.
For reasons of plot, I wanted to move Bob's office from the Laundry's HQ building at Dansey House—hypothetically, somewhere between Leicester Square and Charing Cross: the legacy of wartime spillover from Westminster—to a New Annexe located above a department store somewhere unspecified in South London. An ongoing background story arc that surfaces in book 7 concerns the abortive attempts to redevelop Dansey House, and their catastrophic consequences. While I was writing in the autumn of 2008, it seemed perfectly reasonable for the New Annex to be a dismal 1970s brutalist slab squatting on top of a branch of Woolworths, a downmarket department store chain that had been around for almost a century—at least until the chain's collapse on November 26th, 2008 left me grinding my teeth in frustration.
Take two: I briefly considered Marks and Spencer (too high profile, and anyway, these days they've all gone multi-storey), John Lewis (far too up-market), and British Home Stores (too likely to make non-UK readers go "whut?"). But the risk of any retail chain going bust before the book saw print seemed too great: so in the end I copped out and placed the New Annex atop a branch of C&A—who do not currently operate in the UK (although they have within living memory, and still trade elsewhere in the EU).
At least that zinger got sorted out before the novel went anywhere near a publisher. Right?
The next book I wrote was "Rule 34". I think I've already explained about how the first plan for "Rule 34" (titled "419") didn't survive contact with the
global financial meltdown enemy, so let's tip-toe past it. This brings me to the next Laundry Files novel, "The Apocalypse Codex"
Early in "The Apocalypse Codex", which I wrote from April 2010 to March 2011, Bob gets sent on a training course at the National School of Government at Sunningdale Park, the civil service training campus. However, in March 2012 the NSG was closed down for good—some of its tasks were taken on by Civil Service Learning, part of the Home Office, but it was a thing of the past four months before the book finally saw print. I'm a bit burned about that: I spent quite a few days finding out all the publicly accessible information I could about the NSG and talking to a few folks who'd passed through its doors, only for HMG to pull the plug after the book had been typeset (at which point changes are virtually impossible to make without pulping a whole shitpile of printed book blocks—which publishers are loath to do because it costs lots of money).
For a while I thought "The Rhesus Chart" might actually have dodged the curse. It looked pretty bulletproof when I put together the first draft between September and December of 2012, and it didn't have a long lead-time to publication: but the curse struck yet again, this time in the way that the NHS Central Data Warehouse was set up and accessed via users of NHS Connecting for Health. I am told I nailed the description of Bob's project closely enough that an actual medical statistician working with that hairball of hideous Excel-generating big data didn't stumble over the reading—and it's murderously hard to get the minutiae of someone else's job right when you're writing a work of fiction. So I was still patting myself on the back when I learned that the NHS Spine Secondary Uses Service had been completely reorganized between me handing in the final manuscript (in June 2013) and the book being published (in July 2014). As wikipedia explains, "NHS Connecting for Health ceased to exist on 31 March 2013 ..." And to put the final nail in the coffin, The Spine was migrated to a new Open Source system in August 2014.
Which brings me screeching up to the event horizon of the present.
I cannot discuss the contents of "The Annihilation Score", Laundry Files book 6, without some risk of spoilers. This book is so fresh it hasn't been copy-edited yet; it's due out in the first week of July 2015. But I am going to have to modify it to explicitly set it in 2014 or 2013 (coincidentally setting the Laundry Files chronology in stone, something I've been reluctant to do before), because ...
I don't think it's a spoiler if I mention that a big plot point in "The Annihilation Score", is goings-on involving an organization called ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers. (The specifics of which are quite intricate, and totally central to the novel.) Indeed, I don't think it'd be a spoiler to say that ACPO is as central to the plot of the new novel as the Black Chamber was to "The Apocalypse Codex". But I fucked up, because I didn't make ACPO up: they're a real thing. Or they were.
I handed the manuscript of "The Annihilation Score" to my agent and editors around September 28th, 2014. That's last month. On October 17th, 2014, it was announced that ACPO is being scrapped and replaced by a new body, the National Police Chiefs' Council, which will be hosted by the Met and have a somewhat different role and responsibilities.
(You may now pause to imagine yr hmbl crspndnt. leaning on his desk, weeping and clutching his forehead.)
I'm officially done with this shit. The Laundry Files explicitly exists in an alternate history to our own, okay? Word Of God speaking here. "The Rhesus Chart" is set in mid-2013, and "The Annihilation Score" in summer/autumn of 2013. I'm going to kick "The Nightmare Stacks" (or whatever book 7 is titled) down the road into a 2014 which will be well in our past and nailed down by the time the book is handed in, in autumn of 2015. Because I am sick and tired of reality refusing to conform to the requirements of my meticulously-researched near-future or proximate-present fictions. It's gotten to the point where if I write a book that is dead on target when it's handed in, at just the most inconvenient moment before publication reality will snicker and pull out its blue pencil. And I am too old for this shit. Do you hear me, reality? Do you hear me?
(Author screams quietly, then gets up and slowly backs away from the keyboard before turning and shuffling dispiritedly in the direction of the kitchen, and another mug of tea.)
Huckleberry Finn said it when he decided that he'd rather damn his immortal soul than betray a friend, which is exactly the kind of morality we need to see more of. When God tells you to do something immoral, the appropriate response is to tell God where he can stick it.
(Also, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say, "Yes," but that's a different story entirely.)
Interviewer: In our initial interview you talked about Javier Pulido's sense of design and page layouts. How has that manifested in some of the pages you've seen so far? Are there some sequences from the first couple issues that you were especially impressed by?
Charles Soule: Literally every sequence, and that isn't puffery. Javier is brilliant -- he's a pure storyteller, and he takes every one of my ideas and makes them more interesting. He's told me repeatedly that all he needs is a good story. Give him that, and he can work miracles, and it's certainly been the case on "She-Hulk." Honestly, my scripts are pretty tight -- or at least I think so until Javier gets his hands on them. He tends to break them apart a little and reconfigure the paneling in large and small ways to make something new that's a killer synthesis of both of our takes. Just a true collaboration.
( Read more... )
In 1972, Archie Comics made its first major venture, since the MLJ days, into horror, with the series Chilling Adventures in Sorcery as Told by Sabrina. (This is not to be confused with the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina title launched earlier this very month in the wake of Afterlife with Archie's success.) Loosely patterned after the EC and other horror comics of the fifties, it was an anthology title hosted--for its first two issues--by everyone's favourite Teenage Witch, written and drawn by regulars from Archie's creative team: writer Frank Doyle and, in the stories excerpted here, Dan DeCarlo and Rudy Lapick on art.
( If nothing else, this horror host is easier on the eyes than EC's GhouLunatics )