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The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "The Ferrett" journal:

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July 1st, 2016
10:11 am


Almost Forgot: If You’re A Book Reviewer, FIX Is Up On NetGalley!

The third book in The ‘Mancer series, FIX, is finally available on NetGalley if you’d like to read and review.  Alas, this only applies to book reviews approved by NetGalley; the rest of you will have to wait until September.  But you can order it now!  (And please do!  My birthday’s this weekend!  Pre-orders help authors out, every time!)

I have to admit, though… seeing NetGalley tout my book as “THE THIRD TITLE IN FERRETT STEINMETZ’S CRITICALLY-ACCLAIMED ‘MANCER SERIES” is a little weird.  Actually, a lot weird.  I was like, “It wasn’t critically… okay, it got a lot of nice reviews… maybe a lot of them… but okay, it’s a marketing thing, I can turn off my ego-dampener just this one.”

Anyway.  If you review books, go request it from NetGalley.  If you simply want to find out what happens to Paul and Aliyah next – and major, major changes happen to everyone in this book, as I raze the potential of future books to the ground – then purchase it in advance.  Call it a birthday present, from you to me to you again!

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/545360.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

(2 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

09:24 am


Was Finding Dory Localized To Each City It Was Shown In?

So I saw Finding Dory last night, which was an interesting experience if you live in Cleveland.  Because a major plot point is that the fish are going to be hauled away to an aquarium in Cleveland, and many zany rescue attempts are made.

I kept wondering whether that was actually Cleveland.

I mean, a truck had “Cleveland” prominently written on it, and that truck showed up several times.  Characters mentioned Cleveland, but I kept watching closely to see whether their mouths were moving when they said it, or whether their mouths were obscured.

Because, being in Cleveland, seeing a major reference to Cleveland, I wondered whether Pixar had localized the movie.  Could it be that the fish were only going to Cleveland because I lived in Cleveland, and if you lived in Boston the fish would be going to Boston, and if you lived in Thailand the fish were going to Thailand?

It’s been done before.  Captain America had a list of things he needed to catch up on after his return to modern society, and that was localized – every country showed a different list, tailored to historical and musical events that happened in their country.  That was one shot with one notepad, but…

They’re already changing ads shown in live baseball games.  It’s called Virtual Advertising, and that Taco Bell advertisement behind the batter might be a Mutual Insurance ad for someone in another city.  We’re already tailoring ads.

Why not tailor movies? Why not give the kids a thrill by thinking that Dory might be coming to your city?

If anyone could do it, Pixar could.  It would take some doing – a lot of recording and timing issues, and you wouldn’t want to re-render every frame entirely.  But with some tweaking, I’m sure you could reserve a box area on the side of the truck and swap out city names with only a bit of overhead.  Make sure the characters never faced the camera when they spoke {$CITY_NAME}, so you don’t have to animate their mouths.  Then make a list of major cities with aquariums, have Ellen Degeneres speak all their names, and map out a distribution network.

As it turned out, Cleveland was hard-coded into Finding Dory.  (I was a little relieved.)  But I got a glimpse into the future, because I’m sure someone in Hollywood is thinking about this, and maybe it didn’t happen this time, but as the costs of digital distribution and animation fall, it will.

Some day, animation costs may fall to the point where you see a global destruction movie, with asteroids falling across the world, and you’ll see your home town destroyed by a meteor.  And it will be your home town annihilated no matter where you see it, because it’ll be trivial to take a helicopter shot and overlay it with personalized mayhem.

Not today.

Probably not tomorrow.

But it’s coming.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/545218.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

(3 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

09:01 am


Why “Anyone With Common Sense Would Know That!” Is Not Common Sense

Occasionally, I write about simple topics and commenters scorn: “This is obvious! Anyone with common sense knows that!”

First off, “common sense” is often “education” in disguise. I have a lot of common sense when it comes to money, but that’s because my parents were good with money and taught me a lot of quiet financial stuff when I was very young about saving cash and being careful about contracts and so forth.

I only realized it wasn’t really “common sense” when I started hanging around folks whose parents didn’t teach them these lessons, and it turns out that my “God, everyone knows that!” turned out to be something that I’d actually been told back when I was seven. I’d simply known it for so long that I’d forgotten someone once had to educate me.

Scorning people for not knowing things that someone didn’t actually tell them is a douche move.

Second, ya do realize that some people have had their common sense purposely broken by abusive families, right? There’s all sorts of folks who don’t have common sense when it comes to love simply because their family needed someone compliant, and so taught them that love looked like “shutting up and never expressing your own needs” or love looks like “tending to someone relentlessly no matter how terrible they are to you” or bullshit like that.

Scorning people for not knowing things that someone purposely misled them away from is a douche move.

And lastly, “common sense” is often “instinct” in disguise. And everyone has different instincts. If you’re the sort of person who’s naturally slow to trust, it’s “common sense” to not fling yourself headfirst into love – but that’s not actually common, it’s an emotion distinct to you.

You know what should be common sense? Understanding that your comfort zone is not a universal thing shared by every other human.

Scorning people for not being born with your inherent preferences is a douche move.

I take the XKCD 10,000 approach. I too try not to make fun of people for admitting they don’t know things. It’s a big world. Someone’s discovering something you thought was blazingly obvious every day – and in some cases, that admittedly-trite advice hits home to someone and helps them.

What people write sometimes may be obvious.

It should also be obvious that that essay was not written for you.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/544873.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

(6 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

June 30th, 2016
10:18 am


How We Operate

Gini and I, in bed: “Could you scratch my back?”

*Gini scratches.  I purr.*

“Mmm.  The Empire Scratches Back.”

“That’s a much gentler sequel.”

*I pause.*  “Does Darth Vader even have fingernails on his gloves?”


“Then he couldn’t scratch anyone’s back.”

“No, no, he could use the Force.”

“I don’t think he has that kind of control.  He can choke you, but that’s blunt trauma.  Being able to rip off a piece of machinery isn’t the same as scratching a back; it’s like saying hitting someone with a baseball bat is the same as scratching your back.”

“Well, okay… no, wait.  The Emperor releases Luke’s handcuffs in Return of the Jedi.  So Vader could…”

“I don’t think that’s fine manipulation.  He’s hitting a button on the handcuffs, not picking the lock.”

“Handcuffs are springing loose!  Are you telling me that the Emperor put Luke in cuffs that he could free himself from by hitting a button?”

“Well… Darth did.”

“Okay, point.  But still.  Hitting a small button is fine manipulation.  The Emperor can scratch someone’s back with the Force, so Darth can.”

*I get up on one elbow.*  “The Emperor also has force lightning!  He’s way better at the Force than Vader.”

“You asked whether Darth Vader could scratch a back!  He’s got the Force!”

“That’s not the way the Force works!”  *We giggle from laughter at referencing the Force Awakens.* “But seriously, we’re debating whether Darth Vader could scratch someone’s back, using the powers he’s known to have.  He’s known to be way worse than the Emperor at the Force. Just because the Emperor can do it doesn’t mean that Vader could scratch someone’s back with the Force.”

“Jesus, you… all right, fine.  What about the prequels?”

“Do we have to go there?”

“There’s that scene in Attack of the Clones where Anakin lifts an apple off the table and carves it.”

“Does he carve it?  I remember him just picking it up.  If he’s tossing it around like a baseball, that doesn’t indicate he can scratch a back.”

“No, I’m pretty sure he carves it.  Hang on, lemme bring up YouTube.  And… oh, man, there’s a lot of videos here.”

“Oh, it’s a pear!  He eats a pear!”

“But all these videos are music videos, and none of them seem to have the scene where he cuts it in mid-air.  Just videos where Padme looks like a total doof as he steals her pear.”

“Okay, goddammit, let’s go downstairs and get Attack of the Clones out.”

*Fifteen minutes later, after we’ve turned on the television and scanned to the scene*

“Well, that settles it, Gini.  You were right.  Anakin slices up a pear in mid-air, so Darth Vader could definitely scratch a man’s back with the Force.”

“…you realize we were supposed to be having sex now, right?”


Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/544602.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

(19 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

June 29th, 2016
09:33 am


Sorry, Mom: I’ve Never Really Been Here

While the Greek vacation was lovely, I’m told my Mom had one complaint: “He always has his nose in that cell phone!  He’s missing everything!”

Which is interesting, because it mirrors the complaint she always had of me on vacation as a kid: “He always has his nose in a book!”

I remember endless vacations as a kid where my Mom told me to leave the damn book in the car.  And half the time I’d smuggle it along anyway, sneaking a page in here, half a chapter there, re-reading when necessary.  I tried not to do it when there was anything interesting happening – though it often took me a while to determine that conversations not directly involving me were interesting – but what everyone always seems to forget is that a lot of vacations are about standing in line, getting tickets, trapped in that interstitial area between Point A and Point B.

I don’t mean to be rude, I really don’t.  But I’ve got two problems that have always shadowed me: I get bored very very easily on travels, and crowds of people overwhelm me.  When I have the energy, I try to strike up conversations, but being among so many people rubs me raw as sandpaper.

For me, reading (whether that’s a book or Twitter) is a mini-way to recharge so I don’t melt down.  It’s like bobbing into a pool of cool water on a hot day – I’m generally trying to rinse off some excess stress quickly so I can get back to whatever semblance of normal I have.

The world’s a little overwhelming right now, so I’m gonna dart off into this closet to forget where I am.  Then I’ll pop on back.

(And the truth is, half the time when I’m not looking at my book and/or cell phone, I’m not there either.  I wonder whether I became a writer out of some defense mechanism, because while you’re looking at this beautiful Turkish countryside, I’m wandering through a fictional world I’ve created, wondering how the economy in a floating castle works.  I spend a lot of time not here, and the cell phone’s just the obvious sign.)

And I know it’s substandard.  Sometimes I do miss out on conversations, try though I might.  Sometimes I know people wanna share things with me and they can’t get my head out of the otherworld in time.  Sometimes they wanna talk to me and I don’t look like I care.

It’s a weird balance.  Because the truth is, if I put the book down, I don’t think it’d be a much better experience for them.  I’d be more stressed, and more likely to snap, and more likely to withdraw into myself in weird depressions.  (People who travel with me have seen me get overwhelmed, and I promise you it’d happen more without the books.)

The truth is, I am a carefully perpetrated illusion.  I function as a human being because I have very carefully controlled my environment to manipulate myself into productivity – my social life is carefully orchestrated, my social media is designed to allow me the personal contact I need, my outings brief and preplanned.  People like me because I’ve engineered my life so I show up at the good moments and close the shutters when the bad days come.

(Even as part of that environment involves revelatory posts like this, so those who know me understand me on some level.  I’m addressing this to my mother because she’s the one who inspired this, but part of that environmental shaping involves friends and acquaintances reading this and going, “Oh, yeah, that’s who he is.”)

So yeah, I’ve got my nose in a cell phone, or a book.  And I get that it’s annoying.  You have a right to get annoyed, because honestly I’m annoyed.  If I was a normal person I wouldn’t need to retreat.  If I was a normal person I wouldn’t need this continual pressure valve of me nipping off to Elsewhere to come on back a little stronger.  If I was a normal person I could spend three hours at a party without having to close myself in the isolation of a bathroom for a bit so I can breathe.

But I’m not.  I try.  But you have a right to be annoyed because I wasn’t listening when you needed me to, because you wanted to share this experience and it flittered by before I could see it with you.

My life’s a compromise some days.  I’m sorry about that.

I’ll try to look up more.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/544376.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

(13 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

June 28th, 2016
10:06 am



Ever since I got back from Greece, I’ve had almost zero energy for anything.  I’ve had guests and all but fallen asleep on them.  Going out to dinner with friends leaves me stupefied. And I’ve written no fiction, so thank God I have the Clarion Write-a-Thon to goad me.

Is this a sickness?  Some jetlag hangover?  Who knows? Either way, it’s annoying. I’ve just got the energy to play videogames and sleep.

Which is especially irritating, as my birthday is this weekend – it’s the most important day of the year, y’know – and I can’t really muster enthusiasm for a party or anything relevant.  I’m going to see some movies with Gini, but largely I just want to collapse and play Doom.

And I have ideas for essays. Just dealing with the feedback seems exhausting, though.

I wish I knew how to fix this. I’ve crashed a fair amount.  But I haven’t been this tempted to take a couple of days off from work to just sleep in a long time, but weekends have shown that sleep isn’t this issue here.

Anyway, I’ll probably be back about the Internets at some point.  But if I’ve fallen off in my correspondence with you, I apologize; even texting seems kind of onerous right now.  Everything’s underwater.  It’s not awful, it’s just very few hours of productivity.  I’d like to do more with my hours in the day, honestly, but it’s not like my Seasonal Affective Disorder.

This is just me staring at a lot of things, vaguely perplexed as to why I’m not doing more with myself.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/544004.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

(12 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

09:29 am


I’ve Started Live-Writing My Next Novel To Raise Funds For Clarion. Will You Donate?

So as of last night, I officially started writing my new music-as-magic novel and blogging about the process – showing you what professional writers think about when they’re starting the opening chapters.  If you’re interested in upping your writing game, or just want a sneak peek into my next novel, it’s only $10 to join for the next four weeks of watching me hone the opening chapters.

If doing this helps educate some people and keep the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop alive, I consider that a bargain of my time.  So would you help out?

Step #1: Donate at least $10 to the Clarion Foundation.  More is good if you can spare it.  You don’t have to donate in my name or anything, because honestly, their Write-a-Thon webpage forms are dreadful.

Step #2: If you don’t already have one, create a LiveJournal account.  Rejoice in this feeling of web page time-travel, as one suspects there’s not a lot of new LJ accounts created!

Step #3: Email theferrett@theferrett.com with your Clarion receipt and your LiveJournal handle, with a header of “HEY FERRETT LET ME IN.”  I’ll do the mystical LJ gestures to get you access.

Step #4: Watch me figure out how to introduce you to Gwendolyn, the protagonist, and how she’s sucked through to Backstage, the mystical world-behind-worlds that influences all other civilizations with the cataclysmic Battle of the Bands.

(Secret Step #5: Share this post if ya can.)



Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/543977.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

(2 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

June 27th, 2016
10:20 am


Game of Thrones Season Finale: This Show Is Turning Us Into Psychopaths
Here's the spoilery stuff about last night's Game of Thrones:

Thoughts! So many thoughts.Collapse )

(18 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

10:09 am


Why The Game Of Thrones Season Finale Was Predictable, Like All Good Late-Season Finales

So Game of Thrones’ season finale was yesterday, and as usual I have thoughts – but unusually, the first thought is completely spoiler-free, so I can talk about it in public!

Bart Calendar has complained that a lot of what happened in the finale was both predictable and predicted.

The same could have been said of Breaking Bad’s finale – we all saw it coming, as long as you count “all” as “those of us who read the spoiler theories.”  And that wasn’t bad, either.

The problem is, we’re rapidly reaching the end of season-ending surprises for long-term shows.  Because now, we have literally thousands of people who’ve inhaled the show so they know it better than the writer – seriously, George R.R. Martin has a couple of people he calls upon for reference, because he can’t remember all the details of his own world – and they’re like a crowd-sourced spoiler Sherlock, gobbling up every clue and intuiting what’s about to happen.

That’s good.  By the time you get to season four or five, what happens should be predictable on some level.

Because the alternative to that is that you go the J.J. Abrams route and all your clues actually mean nothing, they’re just a big cloud of red herrings tossed casually into the air because we don’t really care about cause and effect, and the big surprise literally comes out of nowhere.

With this many people analyzing and expositing, your clues either mean something tangible – in which case it’s entirely possible to spoil yourself – or they don’t, in which case the narrative is total bullshit and you’re going to be sad.

We are now approaching the end game of Game of Thrones, at a time when viewership is as high as it’s ever been.  That means the big surprises in the early seasons will winnow down as the reasonable alternatives condense into a couple of paths, and viewers will spend hours refining their theories until they align fairly closely with what happens.  That’s actual goddamned storytelling instead of some X-Files spaghetti-plotted clusterfuck – and good storytelling rewards diligent reading.

Yes, it’s less satisfying than, say, the big shocks of the opening season.  Payoffs are always less predictable than setup, but that’s because payoffs rely upon setup.

If you don’t want to blunt the payoffs, then you gotta stop reading fan theories.  Otherwise, well, the results are equally as predictable.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/543573.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

(5 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

June 24th, 2016
10:04 am


My Clarion Write-A-Thon Delayed Until Monday!

As you’ll remember, I was supposed to start live-writing my new novel for you tonight.  And I shall write it for you!

Just on Monday instead.  (But no worries, I’ll still write for four weeks, so you won’t miss a day.)

The reasoning’s twofold: first of all, I always forget how long writing the opening chapter to a novel takes, and thanks to me oversleeping I only have about an hour to write tonight.  (Figuring out how to set all the factors up is possibly my least favorite part of writing a novel.)  Ideally, I want at least two or three hours so I can bang my head against the keyboard until I come up with something good.

And secondly, quite honestly, watching the fallout from the Brexit vote is stressing me out to the point where I’m having problems switching gears to an equally-stressful opening chapter.  Though this eventually swells into a magical musical Ragnarok, the heroine of this book starts in dire, nonmagical economic straits – $8.10 in her pocket, living on the streets, begging to wash dishes – and emotionally, I need a day or two to switch into that headspace comfortably.

So.  If you have any money left after a global economic collapse, and can donate $10, then you can read about how to watch me live-write my new novel (along with blog posts detailing the techniques I’m using) here.  It’s a pretty cheap writing workshop, all told.  And it starts Monday, when I’ll have a lot of time to discover just who this new heroine of mine is.

(And to give her a name. Which I haven’t done yet.  Wondering if I can get away with “Melody.”)

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/543383.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

(Tell me I'm full of it)

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