A kindred site.

Posts from January 2008

I have a handful of friends and professional acquaintances who do the self-employed gig (Darren, Don, Kam, etc.). Sidestepping the Man (who the rest of us work for), they thumb their noses at the rest of us. Sometimes they can only do it for a while, sometimes they make it last. But whatever the duration, it takes guts. I suppose writers dream of being able to do this, too. We look to those who can (Stephen King, R.A. Salvatore) who can survive on writing alone and begrudge and admire them.

Josh Wentz——the unreticent founder of Sidedown (and now Sidedown LLC)——detaches from the great collective and makes the searing transition into greater independence today. And anyone who visits my website now and again sees mention of this Sidedown business. What's up with that name? He describes it thusly:

"I guess it's just about the way I think——It's random, it's eccentric, and it's probably only amusing to me. The name stuck, and a few months ago, over five years after buying that dumb domain name, I registered Sidedown LLC. I can't imagine my business being called anything else."

"The primary goal for the next month of Sidedown is to solidify its existence as an understandable entity in the public eye."

So get to it, man!

posted on 01.30.2008

"It sets one dreaming——to interchange thoughts with beings whose thinking had an organic background wholly different from ours (other senses, other appetites), to be unenviously humbled by intellects possibly superior to our own yet able for that very reason to descend to our level, to descend lovingly ourselves if we met innocent and childlike creatures who could never be as strong or as clever as we, to exchange with the inhabitants of other worlds that especially keen and rich affection which exists between unlikes; it is a glorious dream. But make no mistake. It is a dream. We are fallen.

"We know what our race does to strangers. Man destroys or enslaves every species he can. Civilized man murders, enslaves, cheats, and corrupts savage man. Even inanimate nature he turns into dust bowls and slag-heaps. There are individuals who don’t. But they are not the sort who are likely to be our pioneers in space. Our ambassador to new worlds will be the needy and greedy adventurer or the ruthless technical expert. They will do as their kind has always done. What that will be if they meet things weaker than themselves, the black man and the red man can tell. If they meet things stronger, they will be, very properly, destroyed."

Not my words, but apt.

posted on 01.27.2008

Some would said they never fear a thing / Well I do / And I'm afraid enough for both of us / For me and you / Time, if nothing else, will do it's worst / So do me that favor / And tell me the good news first

So here's mine:

  • I recently signed a contract to write a second novel with Wizards of the Coast. I'm enormously thrilled to be able to think that, much less to say it. I can't say anything else about at this time, but you can be sure I'll do so here when I'm able.
  • Rush is going on tour again this year, and in April they'll be releasing a live album from the Snakes & Arrows tour. Which is good news (as much as I'd love another studio album), because I thought their show last year was the best ever. I'm hoping some of the lesser known songs they played will make it to the album.
  • It's cold outside, true January weather as it should be. The Weather Gargoyle should be pleased.

Oh, I am. Certainly. I even had to grab a hot chocolate from Dunkin' this morning. Which isn't easy to find. I can spot a Starbucks easily, there are nine--NINE!--within spitting range from today's perch. Not so many Dunkin' Donuts® in this city, although they are numerous in New England. Which is just as well. They make you put your own sugar and milk in your coffee in New York, and for some reason they do it better than I do. So I tend to fly outside of the five boroughs when I want Dunkin' Donuts® coffee.

posted on 01.19.2008

In fantasy--okay, and in real life--cities get epithets. Sharn, the City of Towers. Waterdeep, City of Splendor. Prague, City of a Hundred Spires. New York's nickname (the Big Apple) is lame. Oh, and the City That Never Sleeps is bogus; it should be the City That Goes To Bed At A Reasonable Hour.

Well, I'm dubbing it the City of Choices. I've lived in many places, usually Army posts and suburb-like housing, but I've visited many cities over the years. Some big ones, too. Indianapolis, San Francisco, Detroit. And as smelly and mean as NYC can be, I know that when I eventually get myself out of here I'll miss the multitudes of conveniences and the sheer variety (people, food, goods, art, buildings) that can be found here.

I have only a small example at the moment. Yesterday I randomly desired Indian food for lunch. So I Googled Indian cuisine and within a 5 block radius of the building I work in I found a host of options. I picked one that seemed interesting, walked there, and discovered a very cool, subterranean restaurant (complete with Indian videos--always amusing) and very authentic, very spicy, and decidedly unAmerican yummy food. I was the only white person there at the time, too. I was dubious about the unlabeled meats, so I actually favored the vegetarian section of the buffet. They had good naan, too. And the whole affair was $8. Not bad for a Manhattan lunch.

I know many other cities have similar options, and good ones, too. But the sheer density of this one makes it the most choice-prolific. But that's just my biased opinion.

So what epithet would you give your city or town (even if it already has one)?

posted on 01.17.2008

Let's talk movies for a moment. 2007 had a few good ones, but plenty of crap not worthy seeing, too. Incidentally, Sweeney Todd was excellent. If you can stomach the copious amount of bright red blood.

Movies I'm looking forward to in 2008:

  • Cloverfield (January) - This could be good or bad. They're taking a chance going the Blair Witch Project angle with its handycam-style storytelling, but I'm hoping the monster(s) in this movie get enough real screen time to differentiate it.
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles (February) - I simply have a weak spot for fantasy films, and faeries are always intriguing. Another children's-book-to-film adaptation. Plus, artist who illustrated these books is Tony DiTerlizzi, the guy whose work depicted the old D&D Planescape setting. Props to him.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (May) - It's not the best of Lewis's 7-book series, but it's still got some neat elements and the trailers for this movie look great.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (May) - What a title. I can't wait for this movie. All the talk of "Harrison Ford is too old" is nonsense. So he's an older Dr. Jones. So what? The pulp action style of the Indiana Jones saga doesn't have enough presence these days, so I welcome some kind of revival, even if it's temporary.
  • The Happening (June) - Really, I'll see anything M. Night Shamaylan puts out. His movies aren't all created equal. Unbreakable and Signs were the best, but I really liked The Sixth Sense and The Lady In the Water. The Village, if not as good as the rest, was still well-acted and visually intriguing.
  • The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (August) - I like the Mummy movies; they're not as good as their inspiration (Indiana Jones), but they're the closest thing to it. And these are the only movies I like Brendan Fraser in. But this one might suffer for losing Rachel Weisz; when they swap out actors for a role, it's seldom good.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (November) - Just for the sake of continuance. I enjoyed the books, and the movies aren't half-bad.

What am I missing? What are you looking forward to or dreading?

posted on 01.10.2008

In an act oddly unforeseen by the stars' alignments, Jeff's big brother, John, has made a post over at his annex of Ashlock.org. Just click on the "Brother John Is No. 9" image over on the right hand-hand side of this page.

His new post is about new year's resolutions. Enforcers of the cosmos like myself typically only make new eon's resolutions--or, in rarer instances, the more realistic new millennium's resolutions. Nevertheless, I admire when members of Earth's humanity make solar-cyclic resolutions.

However, I am not surprised when they do not keep them. Mortals have a hard time with commitment on any scale. I would like to see a universal improvement...beginning with Brother John. So as this universe's Cosmic Enforcer, I am going to mandate John to include a new item on his resolution's list: making more posts here at Ashlock.org. I'm certain he will not disappoint. So do check John's annex from time to time to see if he is in keeping with this cosmic directive.

Incidentally, the Very Us Artists have made a post about Jeff's book over at their weblog. How kind of them.

The temperatures in New York City have been sufficiently wintry of late. I've even had to unpack my scarf at times, a woolen, argyle affair that my aunt knitted for me last year. Mildly embarrassing, but I was a good deal more comfortable. However, today's temperature is climbing to 58° F. Which would be fine, if this was freakin' MAY. But my watch is telling me it's January 7th. Of all the cockamamie....

posted on 01.06.2008

New Year Resolutions: Many folks do 'em. Most of them break 'em. And many strive for the same handful of goals. I've never made new year resolutions before, knowing I'll probably fail. So here goes nothin'!

Never one to set trends, I'll be endeavouring to set and keep a few of my own this year, and some of them are these really popular ones. However, I'm going to be more specific and realistic about my resolutions than most others. My self-discipline is terrible, so I need to set goals I can reasonably expect to keep if I'm to have any chance at all.

The One About Eating Healthier: Okay, so I actually already eat pretty healthy. But I can do better. But the only thing I'm targeting is high fructose corn syrup. This stuff is probably as bad for you as it is ubiquitous, so dodging it will be tough. But I'll be giving it a go.

Will I refuse to consume anything with HFCS in it? No. But I won't buy anything with HFCS in it if there are other options. If HFCS-infused items can become an occasional treat rather than an everyday comestible, then I'll say I've met my goal. Also, Kate is joining me in this venture, so that should help a lot!

The One About Reading More: I'm not sure that this is really a popular one. I'd say most readers read about as much as they want or they feel that, if anything, they should spend more time doing things other than reading. But I really like to read and almost never do. I have a stack of books that I really want to read, and it's growing. So, starting with a book I just got for Christmas, The Compleat Enchanter: The Magical Misadventures of Harold Shea (thanks, Mom!), I plan to read at least a couple hours each week, hopefully more as my schedule allows and especially if I can combine it with the next item on this list. After that, I'll read Bound By Iron to brush up on my Eberron lore. After that, probably something by China Miéville.

The One About Exercising: I am inherently lazy. Yet I want to exercise more, (though anything would be an improvement from my current nonexistent regimen!) It's not about losing weight, though that would be a nice side effect (and a synergy with the avoidance of HFCS could actually make that happen!) All I really want to do is get some decent aerobic exercise--to get my heart going and give myself a bit of physical endurance and fitness. I've been in that sort of shape before and it feels really good. I like feeling really good.

I won't go to a gym because I'm too lazy to actually go. I won't go jogging locally because 1) the area I live in has no good place to jog, 2) I get shin splints, am prone ankle sprains, and get asthmatic when I run, and 3) I'm too lazy. And the last thing I want to do after standing on my feet at work all day is anything that involves not sitting on my ass. So, I plan to find and buy a used recumbent exercise bike and use it on a regular basis. I'm not yet sure how often, but something like three hours a week would be a good goal.

Why a bike? 1) I can sit on my ass, so even if I'm feeling pooped at the end of the day, there's still a chance I'll get that exercise. 2) It should be easy on my ankles, shins, and back. 3) I can more realistically expect to meet this goal if I can combine this resolution with The One About Reading More, and a stationary bike is the only thing I can think of that could allow me to do that.

The One About Not Watching So Much Damn TV: Possibly also not a popular one, though it should be. And really, I don't watch all that much TV, at least not compared to most Americans. Still, I don't need to watch as much as I do, so cutting back would be good. I've got so many more important things I should be doing, but I often really just want to veg. Fortunately, the one thing I can think of that I could do while watching TV is The One About Exercising. Now that'd be winning combination!

So there. I've said it. It's on the record, publicly announced. Wish me luck. And feel free to pester me about my progress if you like. As I mentioned, my self-discipline leaves a lot to be desired, but accountability goes a long way for me.

posted on 01.04.2008