Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Just When I Thought…

I spoke a bit too soon when I gave my opinion on Wicked. The first half was brilliant, but the other… perhaps too abstract and slow. It was as if, with the end approaching, the author simply threw up his hands and said, "This has gotten out of hand, now how do I kill her?" I really became attached to Elphaba because she was smart and had a big heart. Her life was tough, and her beliefs were mocked as paranoid, though all along she was spot-on. I was sure, after all her suffering that eventually something wonderful awaited her at her end of the rainbow.

Uh… not so much.

From a gratification standpoint this novel completely failed. Obviously there are many out there that love this from cover to cover, but I for one will not read any more of Maguire's novels. He hammered this poor girl relentlessly. Ok, for a short while she found a ray of happiness, but that was simply used to make her life even worse than it was. Even her friends were a disappointment, her family too. In the end I was well beyond depressed; I was disgusted.

In the first half Elphaba was in college. It wasn't easy being green, but she had finally made some good friends and was enjoyed for her wit. She was approached with an offer that could have made for an interesting second half, but the offer was barely a factor in the upcoming events. Later Elphaba found the Grimmerie, a book of magic from another world. Cool, I thought, this could get interesting! Nope. Another non-factor. In fact, nothing interesting happened whatsoever in the second half unless you enjoy watching someone you love wither and die from a terminal disease.

And the ending! What the hell? I'm convinced that the author got lost and had to wrap things up. What a total disappointment.

I remember once that a blog-buddy Janie read a short story of mine and told me to rewrite the ending because from a satisfaction standpoint it let her down that the protag had been dreaming all along. She wanted me to make it real instead. If I were a proof reader, my advice would be to live up to the promises made in the opening chapters. Let her be just a little bit capable.

It reminds me of an expression from an eighties ski movie, "We were small but we were slow."

This steaming kettle boils down to one word: bummer.

Monday, March 10, 2008


I haven't been hooked on a book like this since I was a teenager haunting the local drug store for the next in the Dune Series. Gregory Maguire rocks!

Monday, March 03, 2008

To Summarize

Where have I been? Let me count the ways.

I'm going to relate a story about work. Hang with me, there are other subjects below.

Remember when I waxed poetic about the boss and how he respects me? That theory was tested sorely. There is a genre (if you will) of computer programming dealing with what is called multi-threading. What this means is that there are two (or more!) "things" going on at the same time that sometimes need to synchronize with the other. This can be a nightmare, and has been mine for the last three weeks. We have a software release coming up to a major customer, so now there is a team of quality assurance folks that have been telling me about problems without providing much more detail than that. The longer these problems persist, the more my credibility slips. So all that goodwill I built up--remember?--took a shot in the gut.

My boss put it to me like this: I had until last Monday to fix it or we had to "punt." Meaning that if the problem couldn't be fixed, I had to back off everything I had been working on to the last functional state.

I worked through the weekend. My wife and kids had to take a backseat for the first time in I can't remember when. Daddy was a bear.

Come Monday evening I was forced to make the call. I was frustrated. Totally defeated. How close are you my boss asked me? Very close, but I've felt like I've been very close for a week now but it keeps coming back. Ok, he told me, send me a list of everything you've done and I'll take a look.

So this is what I did. In that process I saw something very odd in what I had done. Without explaining, I simply took it out. Voila. Problem fixed. For good. There was one other item that had persisted and I found that too. The quality assurance folks tested again and I was exhonerrated for all of it.

I tell you this: I was on the brink of despair. My job was still secure, but come April I will have to negotiate a salary, as I am a contractor now, and this situation wouldn't have helped. At least now I can say I was able to work through a hard issue.


We're not broke, but we're not rich. We went a little crazy on Saturday and outfitted our four-person family in skis. Except for me. I got a snowboard. On Sunday we all went to the bunny slopes.

Jackson is one of those kids that doesn't have much patience for trial and error. If it is hard, he might not make it past the rookie stage of the game. We rented snowboards a month ago and he didn't like it. I tried to talk him into a new snowboard, but he opted for skis.

Good choice.

I could not get him off the hill yesterday. He was a natural.

Emmett is four years his junior. I held Emmett's hand and scooted him across the base while he learned to just keep his balance. After a while I gave him a push and ran after him while he slid on his own, screaming, "I'm skiing!" We went up the conveyer belt and I pointed him in a safe direction and let him go. Somehow he always managed to point right at a clump of trees or some obstacle, so Daddy was running like hell the whole time. Next time I think I'll get him in a lesson. If he could only learn to stop and turn we could all go at the same time.

As for me, I learned to turn on my front edge without falling every single time. Backwards is still a problem, but in my defense I only got about six or eight runs on the slope before it was my turn with Emmett again. I landed on my tail bone three or four times, each being worse than the previous. I couldn't bend over or pick up so much as the tv remote that night, and today I am like Christopher Pike at Kirk's trial in the Menagerie.

In other news, I am totally addicted to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. This might offend some of my liberal friends, as this is game is about nothing but killing and killing again. To me this is cartoon violence, however graphic. I've been playing this multi-player, against snot-nosed kids that aren't even old enough to drive a car, and getting my butt handed to me. I'm getting better at it, but still, there are so many people out there to whom the game controls are second nature.

As for writing, well, that's the thing. I've put too much pressure on myself, and now I have to take a break. For a simple western short story I have researched and read and pondered and speculated and stressed. I'm sick of it. I need a break. I bitched about not being recognized in Jason's contests and now I've marked myself as a baby--and rightfully so. If I want to be a writer I have to handle rejection, and I'm not very good at it. Maybe I'm not cut out for it. I'm not giving up, but I see some of my co-bloggers having success and I can't even place in a contest. I've managed to exclude myself from even being invited and lost a few blog-friends in the process. And it all goes back to handling rejection badly.

So, it's time to hang up the pen, take a sabatical and come back fresh when I'm ready.