Friday, April 11, 2014

Five Things on a Friday: Mid-Hiatus Update

The last couple of weeks have been a real roller coaster ride.  Amazing highs, crappy lows...  That's life.  It's a contact sport, and sometimes I feel like I ought to wear a helmet.

When I left off last week, it was on a decided down-note.  A few of my regular readers dropped some pretty nice thoughts in the comments, and I wanted you guys to know that I appreciated it.  A really terrific weekend followed last week's tough couple of days, and this past week has been rejuvenating as well for a variety of reasons.  Life will always have its ups and downs, and that's okay.  Things have been great this week in particular, so more than anything, this update is about letting you guys know what's going on--and saying thank you for your well wishes.

1.  My blogging hiatus isn't over.
Bottom line, my reasons for wanting to take time off from the blog are still in full effect.  In fact, I feel like I ought to be working on my book right now instead of goofing around here, but writing fiction is ten times harder than blogging, so...

Anyway, I'm almost into Act 3 on the draft of "The Crown of Pluto".  I'm pretty excited about it.  I feel like I've been setting the pieces in place for months--that's literally true, I suppose--and it's almost time to start knocking them down.  I'm quite looking forward to it.

With that said, I doubt very seriously that I'm going to be able to finish the draft and do all the rewrites for my book before the end of the year.  I'm not a professional writer, and I don't want to rush the re-writing process, and I don't see how I could possibly get the thing out on my self-imposed deadline without cutting some corners.  Since I'm not on a real deadline, I don't see any reason why cutting corners would be a good idea.

2.  Marvel's Agents of SHIELD.
There's been a lot of chatter on the Internet recently about Agents of SHIELD, so I'm gonna throw in my $.02.

Saw this on Facebook and loved it.
Yes, the show is better.  I loved this past week's episode, and there have been a couple of others that have been good as well.  But it's still not as good as we all want it to be, and there's no two ways about it.

I think the problems are two-fold.  First, it's a show with limited resources and limited scope that's got a musical score like a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster.  It comes across weird, and at least it my mind, it makes everything look cheap.  And then, too, the way the sets are designed doesn't help.  Everything on that show is always super-clean and pretty while we're supposed to believe that lives are in danger.  It simple doesn't look like a spy drama.  It looks like Agents of GENERAL HOSPITAL.  And that problem is exascerbated by the cast, most of whom are still too young and pretty for the roles they play.  

I like the show's plotting and it's direction, but visually, it's like the cast of the Young and the Restless performing a SHIELD-themed daytime soap opera against a background of cheap sets, accompanied by a rousing Hollywood big-budget soundtrack.  As much as I want to like it, fact is, I get cognative dissonance every time I tune in.

3.  Team RWB and the Run as One.
I got a nasty stomach bug two weeks ago, and it laid me out hard.  I was only physically down for three days, but I came back long before I actually felt like myself, and that showed up every time I tried to do anything physical.  I swam badly, ran badly, felt stiff all the time...

Anyway, I swam better on Tuesday night and then finally pulled out of it completely on Wednesday during my lunchtime run.  And now Sally and I are doing the Team RWB Run as One tomorrow morning, and I'm quite looking forward to it.

Team RWB and Team Rubicon "Run as One".

"Vladimir Putin’s land grab in Ukraine has led to Russia’s worst crisis with the West since the end of the Cold War, but it may have one favorable consequence for people far away from Crimea. With Russia’s lucrative exports of natural gas to Europe now threatened, Putin needs to find new customers to the East—and that could mean the smog-choked residents of Beijing and other Chinese cities may be able to breathe a little more easily.

For the Chinese, a Russian pipeline would help reduce the reliance on coal-burning power plants that have fouled the air of the world’s most populous country."

Long story short?  Vladimir Putin would very much like to have the Ukraine back under his control, and he is quite willing to cut off energy supplies to the West in order to make it happen.  In fact, if he can build a natural gas pipeline to China, that'll allow him to give the West the finger in perpetuity, and it might even help him (eventually) achieve his aim of forcing the world off the dollar standard.

I mean, there're only so many reasons why we have the dollar as a monetary standard globally in the first place, and the fact that international energy sales are denominated in dollars is perhaps the most important of them.  If the Chinese and Russians jointly denominate their sales differently--and then begin to denominate their debt differently as well--it could potentially create a very interesting dual-currency situation in the international monetary markets.  Granted, I wouldn't bet on the long-term health of a currency dependent on the good will and transparent management practices of two historically corrupt command economies...

But other people might.

Especially if those other people are hard-core believers in the value of having a currency backed by actual physical resouces like gold.  Or, in this case, oil and natural gas.

5.  Amazon bought Comixology yesterday.
I don't know whether to be happy or sad, but I suppose I'm happy for the guys at Comixology, who're probably billionaires today.  When it started, Comixology was a decidedly weird project in very experimental market, but it's grown into a real engine for growth in the comics industry as a whole, which is why Amazon wants it.  At a minimum, I suppose that means that the comics industry will continue to grow for the forseeable future.  That, at least, is a very good thing.

Six issues for $5.94 is a great deal.  Especially for these six issues.
On a related note, Comixology has the above ad on its front page right now. I'll just say that The Immortal Iron Fist is a terrific read and leave it at that.

That's all I've got.  Have a great weekend!


  1. Cool. :)

    Don't rush the writing process! But stay focused.

    I agree with you on every point about SHIELD but I have to point out that I think Arrow is the same way. I mean, did you see that ridiculous scene where everyone has their shirt off with their ripped arms and abs? BUT, Arrow is a much more entertaining show and I think it's because they're not trying to be something that they're not and while actual canon is sometimes barely in sight, that's okay. SHIELD wants the clout of the big Marvel machine, while telling the tight knit, small story which is fine, but they need to give us more if they want that big time feel. I love the characters and the stories are generally cool but it still feels a little flat. On top of that Deathlock looks kinda dumb (though the image we got of him through Fitz's camera was EPIC) and the Tahiti thing was cool but...he wanted to die, and he was awake while trying to save best, the presentation was fumbled.

    Good luck on the Team RWB run!

    Y'know, I had no idea what the Ukraine Crisis article meant until you explained. I fell smarter because you explained it. :)

  2. But I like Arrow better!

    Seriously, yeah, they are all ripped in the most ludicrous fashion, but I think their sets look better. Much better. They're grittier, and the producers at Arrow spend a LOT more time thinking about how their characters are going to move through their environments. It makes a HUGE difference.

  3. I love comiXology. I also hope nothing drastic changes about it. Except for the better.