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DaveHD Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "DaveHD" journal:

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December 1st, 2008
10:34 am


Monday Hedges
I'm watching the formation of the Obama Cabinet, and I'm almost buying the rhetoric that he's gathering a collection of responsible thinkers, regardless of party.   But where are the progressives?

As always, keeping me from getting too caught up in Hope, Monday is Chris Hedges day at Truthdig: 


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November 18th, 2008
04:48 pm


I alway wanted to be a whore,
But I could never find buyers. 

I'm not sure if posting this here is whoring or pimping:  http://www.fairfoodfight.com

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October 13th, 2008
11:44 am


Bragging on me.
Have I mentioned that I write?  Not regularly, but often enough that over the last fifteen years I've managed to have a few short stories published.  And enough of my ego survived the brutal process of submitting fiction for publication, that a few years ago I decided I should tackle novel writing.  In June of this year I finished the first draft of that novel (Sea Oath) and over the summer worked to polish it into final form.  Its done. 

Over the weekend I finished the synopsis and cobbled together a query letter for agents.  I just sent out the first one (at 11:44am on 10/13/08). 

Figured this was a milestone worth noting. 

Now starts the obsessive mailbox watching.

UPDATE 10/13/08  12:02pm:  Damn, still no reply to my e-mailed query.

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October 2nd, 2008
11:32 am


Not worth a post, but
there's nobody around to listen me rant about John and Sarah's claim to be "the original mavericks".   Other than the outright bold-faced lie of that shit, isn't that some sort of violation of the code of mavericks?  It's like calling oneself "cool."   Isn't it an inviolable tenet of "cool" that to state "I'm cool" is the un-coolest thing one can do.   Isn't the same thing true of being a "maverick?"   If you're really mavericks, you can't give a shit who thinks you're a maverick.   I guess "the original deregulating dominionists" didn't market-test as well.

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September 23rd, 2008
01:23 pm


New Friends
If you grew up in Minnesota, there's a good chance that the friends you had the day you graduated high school form the core of your friendship group today.  Some of us adopt our partners friends and we occasionally add a few work friends into the mix, but if you hold a party, the work friends almost never mix with "real" friends.  For me, the same is true of the books I read.  I read fantasy and SF in high school, and that's pretty much what I read today.  

Lately though, I find myself bored by my old friends so I've been looking around for new ones.  I've found Nick Hornby (who's violently allergic to all things sfnal), and Christopher Moore (fantasy with a good marketing plan),  and Mark Haddon (two books, so it's still a tenous relationship.)  I'm really trying to warm to Michael Chabon, but I'm not feeling the love yet.  I went on a trip  with Salman Rushdie and flirted outrageously with Michael Pollan, but I've never been interested enough to bring them to bed with me.  Apparently I'm a homoliteralist 'cause the last female writer to do it for me was Maureen McHugh (her books are pretty good too, [thank you, I'll be here all week]) and that was back last century.  I'm thinking I might start letting Oprah pick my friends for me...At least they'd come from somewhere other than minnesota.

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September 9th, 2008
10:07 am


Worst Books I Ever Read
Kelly McCullough posted a comment on the Wyrdsmiths blog about what makes a book interesting.  Being at heart a negatavist and naysayer, I felt compelled to post on what I really don't like in a book.  For the most part, I like reading, and I'll read a variety of styles, genre, subjects, and feel that the time was well spent.  I've also read a fair number of books which I'd never recommend to anybody, but nonetheless am satisfied that I read them.  For the most part I am indiscriminate in my reading.  There are, of course, exceptions:

(Posting this a little early to respond to Kelly.  I'll be adding to it in the next few days:)

Slave Girl Of Gor.  In my mid teens I  read the first couple of John Norman's Gor books and they were marginally interesting/entertaining and let's face it, my standards weren't that high. (You kids out there have no idea how deprived life used to be for anybody interested in reading fantasty.  My god, we ate up anything with a whiff of magic to it [how else do you explain the popularity of the Sword of Shannara,) and that bright yellow Daw binding called to me.)    Even as a teenage boy I could recognize SCoG as a rancid piece of shit.  It is so entirely appalling, that even the dirty bits couldn't compell a fiftteen year old boy me to finish it. 

Apparently, one of the most damning things I can say about a book is that it is forgettable, so thinking of this list is harder than I imagined.  Anybody have a "Worst Book" nomination?

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September 5th, 2008
11:26 am


Shortly after getting my driver's license I got a job delivering pizzas.  A good chunk of the job involved sitting around waiting for a pizza to cook, so I spent a lot of time reading.  I always have a book nearby, but one slow night when nobody in the world wanted pizza, I ran out of book.  In desperation I grabbed the book which had been gathering dust atop a gallon can of sliced black olives since before I'd started working.  The book I found,  Roger Zelazny's  Jack of Shadows, changed what I read.  I needed more Zelazny (though JoS remains my favorite), so using the power of my new driver's license my brother Bill and I traveled to Minneapolis (about 110 miles) to visit Uncle Hugo's and fill the trunk with used books (actually, it was a hatchback and I remember the pile of books pressed against the back window).   Having mainlined the gateway drug of Zelazny, I started hitting the harder stuff of the New Wave SF, Blish, and Aldiss, Ellison and eventually, Philip K. Dick (I might be wrong on who is orthodox New Wave).  I'm not among the (very considerable) crowd who deifies Zelazny (really, try rereading Nine Princes without laughing at the dialogue), but I still remember being pissed that I finally had to deliver a pizza and had to put it down.

Traveling through Europe during the summer of 1989 I had brought along crappy books (I think I was trying to impress my traveling companions with my wide and sophisticated tastes) and I was struggling through J Ceaser's Conquest of Gaul (by way of retracing histroy).  On a brick ledge near an outdoor cafe in Nice, I found an abandoned book.  Actually it wasn't abandoned, but intentionally left for me to find--written on the inside cover were a list of names, cities, and dates as that book travelled with different readers around Europe  ( a last century pre-intertube version of www.bookcrossings.com)   I think the book was something by Randall Garrett.  I took it from Nice and it was a good traveling companion.  If you have seen the book, I'd be interested to know what it's been up to since we parted in Barcelona. It did save me from ever trying to finish the CoG (the Roman's won, right?)

I don't get much time to read at work, but a while back outside our building I found Wait Until Midnight, by Amanda Quick.  It promises to be "a thrilling new novel of the darkness and desires hidden beneath the orderly surface of Victorian England."  I'm excited, because reading found books has always been good to me. Best of all, Amanda Quick writes under a bunch of other names, so if I really like it, I'll be set for the rest of the year.  Though, when I finish WUM should I start with  Late for the Wedding?  or skip right to Ravished?

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August 27th, 2008
02:45 pm


Captains Courageous
There are books I'm afraid to reread, lest the close-minded, opinionated prick I've become deflate my fondly held youthful memories.  I've often found that the euphoric recall of reading gets undermined by the nasty reality of shitty prose, bad writing, or just crap story-telling.  I tried to read Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time to my daughter when she was young, and it became a violent victim of this sad devaluation as I read its weirdly jingoistic, simplistic, craptasticness. I was so heart sick to have a childhood favorite fall to dust in my hands that I couldn't finish it.   Like many SF/F writers and fans, Tolkein holds a special place in my reading history, and I've reread it dozens of times, and thought I was pretty familiar with it.  After watching the Peter Jackson  LOTR saga came out, I found myself missing "The Scourging of the Shire" (fifteen endings, and he still couldn't squeeze in one actually in the book) so I went to read it.  Wish that I hadn't, 'cause its almost unreadably stilted and clumsy.  I'm stunned that the thing survived and spawned a whole genre.  (Thank God for Peter Jackson, whose film  version completely redeems LOTR and has saved me from ever having to read the Trilogy [intentional capitalization there] again.) 

I've tried to turn my children on to many of my favorite books, and they picked up a few, but have lately been unreasonably reluctant to take suggestions.  It's very frustrating to hand a cherished book to one's child and get it shot down as boring, uninteresting, or just plain bad.  I might have to consider its because my kids are more discerning than I was (which pains me, 'cause my daughter reads [she's certainly doing it this very second) almost nothing but Harry Potter and Twilight fanfic.])  So I'll probably never suggest to any of my kids that they read R Kipling's Captains Courageous.   This, despite the fact that it is a giant underpin in my moral education and thinking.  Harvey, the MC of CC, is a spoiled rotten rich kid swept overboard during an ocean voyage.  He is rescued by Portugese fishermen and given the opportunity to work on their ship for the duration off their journey.  Work at sea strips Harvey of his privleged pretentions as he matures into a decent, thoughtful person.  I loved the decriptions of life at sea, but it was that notion that worth has nothing to do with wealth that has persisted since I read CC. 

Having CC bubbling in my hind brain probaly has a lot to do with why I wrote a novel about a boy and his sailing ship too, but don't expect me to re-read it any time soon.   

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August 25th, 2008
10:56 am


Catholic School Kid
Somehow I ended up attending Catholic schools from 5th Grade through High School. Given that I converted from Catholicism to Atheism when I was about ten years old, this seems like an odd choice for me to agree to.  I guess I wasn't very evangelical about the conversion. 

That said, there is a cultural identity to the parochial school experience that I fully identify with.  There's just weird shit that happens at Catholic schools that doesn't happen elsewhere. 'Fer instance, I bet nobody else (except Karl S., Andy P., Ed S., Bill M., and Jeff) has ever had a priest as the their very first Dungeon Master. Or suggested to the DM that it would be completely cool to play in the church at midnight, and even cooler to do a mock black mass as part of the role-playing.  I'm assuming hearing a priest say "are you out of your tiny fucking mind?" is probably a pretty unique experience too.

Sometime during that misspent immersion in the waters of Catholicism, I read John R. Powers Last Catholic in America and Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up.  The books portray Chicago parochial school of the 1950s, but when I read them in the late 1970s they sounded very familiar to me.  Though the 50s appear to have been funnier than the 70s. 

Theres a section in the second book that I think of often.  The main character, Eddie, gets a summer job painting railroad cars.  There is a paint shop where several painters work but after a few weeks of drudgery there, Eddie gets apprenticed to a solitary figure who does all his painting in a separate shed.  The character (can't remember the name) is an auteur of box-car painting.  The description of his method is pure magical realism (I'm certain that I'm the only person to ever call JRP a magic realist) with swirling clouds of paint, a dancing painter, and perfectly applied paint.  The painter emerges from the swirling clouds of paint completely untouched by the slightest smudge.  Over the summer Eddie picks up many of the skills, and becomes the second best painter in the yards.  The final task of any painting job is painting the serial/ID number on the sides of the cars. For no reason reason apparent to Eddie the painter intentionally skips one of the numbers in the sequences.  Shortly after that, making sure that Eddie is firmly secure in his job, the painter promptly retires.  Later in the book, the railroad executives are in a panic over the missing railroad car, convinced that the car was stolen.  That model of the solitary, highly competent, but nonetheless puckish figure is one of the most compelling I've ever read.         

Current Mood: nostalgicnostalgic
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August 21st, 2008
09:29 am


First Post-You Are What You Read
I'm never finished with a book. I've spent the past few weeks thinking of the books I've read during my life, and I've been struck with how much I remember of them, but also, with how they "feel" in my memory and how they continue to affect me. Books have changed who I am and how I think. Since this is the very first post commenting on how those various books resonate in my life, I find myself intimidated by the auspiciousness of the selection. The list of candidates is long: Should it be formative books like  James and the Giant Peach, written by the very first real life writer I ever met, or Captains Courageous, or Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel; or books that somehow changed how I view the world, Captains Courageous (again), or Atlas Shrugged (my view did subsequently re-change), or A Sand County Almanac; or books I loved to read: China Mountain Zhang, Dune, Smoking Poppy, Lamb, About a Boy; or books by friends: The Patron Saint of Plagues, Archangel Protocol, Webmage.  Too many to choose from.

Much to my relief, I have come up with the perfect Premiere posting:  L.Ron Hubbard's  Battlefield Earth.  I don't actually remember anything about BE, other than that I read all 1000+ pages of it in a single night, but that failure to remember anything about BE is precisely what makes it perfect for a first post.  It is emblematic of the literary composting of me.  It must have been at least coherently written for me to read that quickly, though not the least bit memorable.   I remember before reading BE thinking that  I should probably read something by L.Ron, given that the guy is arguably the most influential writer of all time (I said "arguably", but he is the godhead of his very own religion [name me one other writer revered as a deity {other that self-reverentially, of course}]).  But I do know this, I am different for having read Battlefield Earth.  And as I spend a few minutes thinking on it, I find I do remember some things, (a guy in a cage, or box, or something.  And aliens [though maybe I'm thinking of Larry Niven's Footfall]), and just having read the thing dumped all 1050 pages of it somewhere in my memory.  You can't come out of an ordeal like that as the same person you went into it.  (Though  the most significant change might be that I no longer feel the need to ever read anything else by L.Ron.)  Who knows, maybe some night I'll wake up in the middle of the night with some mental problem solved by what I learned from L.Ron.

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