Sunday, November 30, 2008

NaNoWriMo No More

And this day, the last day of November, ends National Novel Writing Month. The usual goal for the month is a complete 50,000-word novel. For myself, I worked with the goal of 30,000 words. Totalling everything I have produced this month, discounting editing, blog posts, e-mails, work-related materials, and the like, I have completed the month with a total of 30,539 words, most of it comic book script.

Here's a small sample of the sort of rough draft I was producing this month:

PANEL 5

Down on one knee, Shin, in profile, cuts loose with the AK-47. We need a big ol' exaggerated muzzle flash right here.

SFX
BLATTA-BLATTA-BLATTA-BLATTA-BLATTA!

Yeah. It just kind of goes on like that. For pages. For the record, that blatta-blatta sound is the way a Vietnam vet once described for me the sound of an AK-47. I'll leave the gun aficionados to debate the accuracy of that onomatopoeia.

Twilight Review Delayed

Thanks to a glitch (one that's hit us before and that we should have guarded against), we just lost an enormous chunk, the most important section, of our review of Twilight and are now trying to remember what we said so we can rewrite it. The review will be delayed until tomorrow, at the earliest.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Dragonsaint" to MindFlights

Looks like it's official. My novelette "Dragonsaint" is set to appear in the magazine MindFlights. It will be in the October-December print edition of the magazine, which should appear somewhere around the end of December. I'll give more information as I have it.

The print editions sell through Lulu. You can see the latest issue here. (It does not contain my story, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Baby Got Glasses

Some time ago, the Deej posted DJ White Boy's Christian parody of "Baby Got Back," the destable and inexplicably popular song from way-back-when (the '90s). Figuring there ought to be an anime fanboy parody of the same, I wrote one. You better read it fast, because the Deej will probably take it down when he sees it.

So here it is:


"Baby Got Glasses"
Lyrics by Snuffles T. Dragon


Ah! My gosh! Kasumi-chan, look at her glasses!
They're so...big! She looks like one of those otaku guys' fantasies.
But, you know, who understands those otaku guys?
They only drool over her because she looks like Yomiko from R.O.D., 'kay?
I mean, her glasses are just so big!
I can't believe they're so round.
They just stick out there. They're gross.
She's just so...nerdy!

I like big glasses and I cannot lie,
Otaku brothas can't deny,
That when a girl walks in with some horn-rimmed frames,
And lenses on her face,
They go wild! We'll go to LensCraftas,
An' hit the bookstore afta!
She got bright shiny glasses that glow,
Make her look all freaky like Gendo.
Oh baby, I wanna go sketch ya,
Make a 2D picture!
My fanboys say you'd throw me,
But those frames you got make you so moe!

Ooh, Girl-with-no-friends,
You say you gotta get a new lens?
Well, wear 'em, wear 'em,
You're the best thing in this harem.

I seen her trippin',
Down her nose they're slippin'.
Hits her face, no grace,
Can't see two feet 'n front of her face.
I'm tired o' Newtype's schtick,
Sayin' you're just a sidekick.
Ask the average fanboy about those dames,
They gotta wear dem frames.

So, hey guys!
(Yeah!)
Hey guys!
(Yeah!)
Has your girlfriend got weak eyes?
(Heck yeah!)
Tell 'er to wear 'em!
(Glasses!)
Wear 'em!
(Glasses!)
Wear doze nerdy frames!
Baby got glasses!

(Wire-rimmed frames with real thick lenses!) x 2
Baby got glasses!
(Wire-rimmed frames with real thick lenses!) x 2

I like 'em round, and big,
And when she's shootin' a SIG,
I just can't help myself, I'm watchin' online fansubs,
Now here's the real rub,
I wanna watch your show,
Four eyes, double-up, four eyes!
I don't mean Mitsuragi,
Cuz Samurai Girls are f'r live TV!
I want 'em real cute and nerdy,
And maybe a bit wordy.
This fanboy can't believe,
When he sees how fast that girl c'n read!

So I'm watchin' bootleg videos,
Warrior girls fightin' in slow-mo,
You keep dem battle-babes,
I'll take doze chicks who get good grades.

A word to the thick-lensed sistas, I can't resist ya,
Wanna watch toons with ya,
But I gotta be straight when I say I watch anime,
Till the break of day!
Watchin' it all night long,
A lot of fans won't like this song,
Cuz dem geeks argue about voice and lines,
But I can't make up my mind,
If it's sub, or it's dub,
Where the translation is all screwed up.

So, ko-gals!
(Yeah!)
Ko-gals!
(Yeah!)
Do you think maybe we could be good pals?
(Yeah!)
Then wear 'em, till your eyes wear out!
E'en boy pilots gotta shout!
Baby got glasses!

Baby got glasses!
Yeah, baby...you thinkin' 'bout maybe gettin' some half-moon spectacles,
Or maybe a small pince-nez or somethin' like that?
Ha ha...only if your vision's, like, 20-20.

So your girlfriends are cute lasses, but do they wear nice glasses?
Cuz otaku guys won't make passes at mere sunglasses.
My fanboys just can't get excited,
Unless you're near-sighted!
You can get laser surgery,
But please don't lose those specs.
Some brothas wanna play that "hard" role,
And tell you dey make you look old,
So dey toss 'em, an' break 'em,
But I pull up quick to duct-tape 'em.

Some girls will wear contacts,
Well, I ain't down wit' dat!
Meganekko, I wanna get to know yo,
So come on down to my dojo.
To the clear-eyed dames in the magazines:
You ain't in my dreams!
Our relationship might even schism,
If you ain't got astigmatism.
Frame and lens are all dat,
Cuz doze glasses are where it's at.
Tho' some guys talk about another place,
I want the round things on her face!
So ladies, if you just can't see,
And you wanna vision test for free,
Dial 1-800-SQUINTS-A-LOT,
And read dat lowest line!
Baby got glasses!

(Pretty crummy vision so she still wears specs.) x 4

Hmm...

Listen to the song "Rich Fantasy Lives" by Tom Smith, covered by Vix and Tony.

To quote Yoda, "Never his mind on where he was, what he was doing..."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Upcoming Movie Review: Twilight

What? No, really, I'm serious. Actually, Lucky and Snuffles both want to see it, so we'll have a three-way review, our first ever. Lucky's been complaining about how I haven't taken her anywhere lately or something like that, so this should make up for it.

I gotta admit, though, the preview is giving me bad Covenant flashbacks. And the reviews are, to say the least, mixed.

Don't expect the review right away; I won't be able to take Lucky and Snuffles to the movie until I'm back from the field.

Sci-fi Essay at First Things

Thanks to a reader for pointing me to Russell E. Saltzman's essay "Reel Aliens" at First Things, an on-line religion journal. Saltzman says he's greatly looking forward to the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (I have to admit I'm not!). Soon to be admitted to the large body of unnecessary Hollywood remakes, this new film will take a nearly perfect sf classic and transform it into environmentalist schlock starring (*shudder*) Keanu Reeves. Keanu Reeves!! I can just hear the painful dialogue now: "Like, Klaatu barada, uh, nikto...dudes." This guy single-handedly ruins movies he's in. He managed to ruin Much Ado About Nothing, for crying out loud. He makes Shakespeare sound bad!

All that aside, Saltzman's essay gives a brief look at messianic extraterrestrial figures from movies (he inexplicably leaves out the recent Superman Returns, but he's not exactly aiming for an exhaustive list anyway).

It's been a while since I've seen the original Day the Earth Stood Still, but I think Saltzman gets the plot wrong. As he describes it, Klaatu comes to Earth to destroy it right away, but changes his mind. As I remember it, it was Klaatu's plan from the start to warn Earth to stop its violence, lest it be destroyed. Maybe someone else remembers better than I do.

Monday, November 17, 2008

November Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour, Day 1



This month's blog tour is a bit shady, though maybe not as shady as That Shady Bookstore Further Down the Street where Snuffles and I do most of our more questionable shopping. This month's tour is devoted to the novel Shade by John B. "Jimmy" Olson.*

Take a look-see at Olson's official website here. How did the dude manage to score a website address like "litany.com"?

This novel, which I haven't read because I was reading an engaging but misleading and poorly constructed Protestant nonfiction book on Original Sin, features vampires and schizophrenia. The reviews look to be quite positive.

Get your blog tour on:

Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Joleen Howell
Jason Isbell
Jason Joyner
Kait
Magma
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

*Whose nickname is not actually Jimmy.

My Life's Dream Fulfilled

This blog has gotten too narcissistic of late, mainly because these short posts are easier to put up when I'm crunched for time. We'll get back to actually reviewing stuff and discussing other people in the near future, but first I have to point out that I have, at last, made it into a Wikipedia article. I'm moving up in the world.

The article "Warrior Nun Areala," about the Ben Dunn comic book series I reviewed at Holy Heroes, now sports an extensive reference to my review in the footnotes. And no, I didn't do that.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Absolutely Not!

I'm already embarrassed by some of the barely edited posts floating around this blog, so when readers after my last post began requesting that I display, for my further embarrassment, stories I wrote in childhood, I said no way. Besides, most of my early work is no longer extant, with the important exception of that pirate story I dictated to my kindergarten teacher and which she faithfully transcribed.

However, it appears I do have most of my attempts from middle and high school, excepting the hundred-page novel rough draft I typed on a Tandy 1000 in seventh grade. Looking back on the way I used to write, I have to admit I think it's pretty funny. Maybe you will too. At the very least, a brief excerpt ought to silence everyone who wants to see my early work. Behold, then--be blinded by a chunk of unedited rough draft from high school:

The Insectoid glared with all-seeing compound eyes at the monitor before him. The picture was fuzzy, and loosing stability.

"The camera in my pet’s eye was damaged by the fall, and it is not repared."

With a powerful, armor-plated arm, he waved an elaborate guesture in the air and closed his eyes to concentrate. He spoke angrily to the monitor, screaming at it in sharp hisses. Slowly, the white fizz of the flourescent screen faded, until it lay only at the edges. The Insectoid spoke again.

"Bach’tarah’gak’tah’dak’kgagdk’noak’krok’bok’dok’fok’tok’trouuck."

The monitor reluctantly cleared.

The Insectoid crossed two of his arms in front of him and glared at the dim screen, elevated above the floor, from his dark cove. The picture showed him exactly what he wanted to see. He slammed a powerful fist mightily onto the corner of his dismal throne.

"Simple-minded fools! I have them where I want them. They will not escape me. None shall squirm between the fingers of my omnipotent wrath. The pitiful slimes shall writhe beneath my crushing boot!" The powerful voice rang with electric force throughout the depths of the black, cavernous room.

"My pet has already spied for me enough, and its weakling flesh is well-repaired. See now my indestructible armies of Undead shall smash their puny attempts at defiance!"

A great hand sliced down and smashed into a button at the Insectoid’s right hand.

After that, the great hall was filled with the bone-chilling sounds of deep, maniacal laughter, bringing on the creators of doom.

Yes, the bold text is in the original. And yes, in my early days, I wrote a lot like Thea von Harbou. Now don't ask for any more of that, because you're not getting any. Ever. But I do admit I would like to see "Bach’tarah’gak’tah’dak’kgagdk’noak’krok’bok’dok’fok’tok’trouuck" go viral and show up in weird places, sort of like "All your base are belong to us."

Is this the premise of Saw VI?

I could survive for 1 minute, 6 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor

Created by Bunk Beds.net



I'd be more interested in knowing how long I could survive with a Utahraptor. Or with an Alioramus, maybe. Or with Snuffles. I'm guessing my best bet here is to tackle the Velociraptor from the side and try to pin its legs down with my body and maybe clamp its jaw shut with my hands and hope it has trouble forcing its mouth open, like an alligator does. Of course, then it would proceed to scratch the heck out of me with its arms.

This takes me back to the good old days of my youth when I wrote stories about talking dinosaurs, stories that would probably disturb any adults who read them--especially that one about the angry teenage Triceratops action hero who kills carnosaurs to avenge the deaths of his parents. Or the one about the Tyranosaur who, following his pacifist ideals, decides to become a vegetarian and consequently suffers severe health problems.

Hat tip to Orthometer.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Battlestar Galactica: Lost Planet of the Gods Part 1



Ah, Battlestar Galactica, how do I love thee? Do I love thee most for thy hammy acting? Or for thy episode entitled "Lost Planet of the Gods," in which no lost planet of the gods makes an appearance? Do I love thee for John Colicos's Baltar, who goes from whiny to menacing as soon as he gets a taste of power? Or for thy phony measurements, in which time is measured in centons (whatever those are), but temperature is measured in Fahrenheit? Or do I love thee, perhaps, for thy skintight pilots' underwear, which we only learn about when you find need to introduce a platoon of female pilots?

Maybe I just love thee for thy obsession with gold-trimmed velvet. Who designed thy costumes? Oscar Wilde?

Seriously, though, I'm struggling here. I can't decide if I like the old series or the new series better. The old series has Boxey (Noah Hathaway), who's awesome, but the new series has Cally (Nicki Clyne), who's also awesome. So now I have to ask myself, "Which do I like more--cute children or alluring women?"

Um...alluring women, obviously. Why did I ask myself that? But if I prefer Cally more, that means I like the new series more, and that's downright blasphemous, a denial of everything I've believed in all these years... Auggh!!! Faith crisis! Maybe my priest was right! Watching the original series is evil!

But what I really like about the original series is how darn small space is. Here's a group of dimwits trying to figure out which way to go, and they're saying things like, "Well, it's a narrow passage..." or "We know we can't go that way, so we'll have to..." Hey doofuses, aren't you guys, like, in space??? What's with all this talk about narrow channels and such?

No, I take all that back. What I like best is that nameless, pigtailed communications officer who gives Starbuck a good talking-to when he has the audacity to sound worried over the intercom while his damaged fighter is blowing up. I kept waiting for her to say something like, "Starbuck, you flip switch A7 and shunt extra power to the cooling valves or you're getting a spanking when you get back!"

And I have been made aware that a debate has raged among high school girls over whether Starbuck or Apollo is the hottest. I'd like to settle that right now--it's Starbuck, obviously... Oh, but I'm thinking of the new series again. Seriously, though, as I can state matter-of-factly, being a Guy Secure in His Masculinity (GSHM), or perhaps more accurately, a Guy Who Doesn't Give a Frack What You Think of His Masculinity (GWDGFWYTHM), both series found extraordinarily good-looking actors to fill both those roles. But none of 'em are Nicki Clyne.

Wait, wait, I've got it--I love best the name Starbuck. It's an alien civilization far out in space, separated from humanity as we know it, possibly of an entirely different order from us, but they've read Moby-Dick. In other words, the Twelve Colonies are sort of like...like...like Boneville.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Battlestar Galactica: Saga of a Star World



Excuse me, sir, but your matte-editing is showing.

Ah, nothin' beats the classics. Watching the remake of Battlestar Galactica has made me want to go back and see the original, so I have just completed the pilot of the original series, "Saga of a Star World." If I had only known how fracking long it was, I wouldn't have tried to watch it all in one night.

Many yahrens ago, this was a precious part of my childhood, so on this revisit I am disappointed to see it's a lot dumber than I remember and pleased to see it's not nearly as bad as I had feared. Still, it's weird to watch this while I'm in the middle of the gritty, drama-obsessed remake. I would say it's remarkable that they made something so serious out of something so campy, if only that weren't unusual in sf.

As soon as the opening narration began with, "Some say life here began out there," I knew I was in for something campy. And when I say campy, I mean campy: gold-trimed uniforms, Cylon butt-capes, overacting from the whole cast, the cute kid and his furry robot (who tag along on dangerous missions for no apparent reason), and the supposedly super-intelligent yet motive-free robot villains whose only battle tactic is to strafe everything with fighters. Want to blow up a battleship? Strafe it with fighters. Want to destroy a planet? Strafe it with fighters. One wonders what they have capital ships for. And why does it take three cylons to pilot a fighter, anyway?

You gotta love watching the heroes and the robots shooting flashlights at each other. And the little serrated bayonets on the Cylon rifles are just so darn cute. But the best thing about the Battlestar Galactica pilot is easily the part where Starbuck and Apollo blow up an entire planet--with their handguns. Yes, this is the realm of pure camp.

Fans will inevitably squabble over which incarnation of this show is the better one, but I see no reason the two versions can't peacefully coexist. The original is undoubtedly the more fun, but the remake is unquestionably better written and more carefully conceived. The remake also deserves some credit for its casual nod to real-world physics, though you shouldn't let it fool you: it still uses fakey artificial gravity, and real spaceships engaging each other at such close ranges would destroy each other with flying shrapnel.

It's interesting to see how the new series pays homage to the old, and also how it intentionally twists things. I hadn't realized how much the new Baltar's (James Callis) sweaty antics resemble the sweaty antics of the original (John Colicos). Also, the new show's heavy reworking of the original's religious undertones, and the transformation of the human-Cylon war from a pointless conflict into a religious conflict, is a smart move. And making the Cylons into human creations is an obvious but wise maneuver as well.

The other smart move of the remake is putting together a believable military jargon to replace the pointless made-up words of the old series, words like daggit, yahren, and socia-whatchamacallit. In fact, my only disappointment with the new show, as I've said before, is the extreme lack of Boxey and Muffit. I got all excited when they introduced Boxey as a sullen, punkish kid who follows Starbuck around, but it was just a tease. How dare they!

My priest tells me that liking the original Battlestar Galactica is an excommunicable offense, but I don't care! I'm living in sin! Buahahahaha!

Blog: American Catholic, and...oops.

Most of you have probably noticed that we still haven't gotten this blog back to our regular almost-once-a-day posting schedule. I'm still adjusting to my new work schedule, and also trying to churn out a few other writing projects, and I'm also on something of a reading (and watching) binge, and the result of all this combined is that the blog gets shafted.

Oddly, this doesn't affect my traffic, which causes me to think most of you are just Technorati robots anyway.

When the blog gets shafted, that's not too much of a problem, but when I go shafting other people, that's not so good. Case in point, I missed October's Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour, which isn't cool. Becky Miller was polite enough not to give me the stern talking-to I so richly deserved, but let me nonetheless attempt, humbly, to make up for it somewhat now by pointing you to Brian Davis's novel Beyond the Reflection's Edge (Echoes from the Edge). Looks like it's getting good reviews. Here are Davis's website and his blog. And at the end of this post, I'll give the rest of the blog tour members some linky love.

But speaking of linky love, I got some recently from The American Catholic, on o' them political Catholic blogs. Since Blogrolling is having issues, I can't link them back in the usual way, so I'll do it here instead.

And here we go:

Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Courtney
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Kait
Mike Lynch
Magma
Terri Main
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Mirtika or Mir’s Here
Chawna Schroeder
Greg Slade
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Baby Got Book

Hat tip to The Art of Apologetics. This is dang funny.

The B-Team

Rejoice in my good fortune. After more than a year, after the judges have debated and argued and wrangled, I have at last been admitted to the Amateur Catholic circle of Catholic bloggers who don't make money off their blogs. Of course, I applied for this back before my blog started making money, so am I still eligible?

Monday, November 3, 2008

News from the Fish Bowl

TELEVISION WITH SEXUAL CONTENT LINKED TO TEEN PREGNANCY, SAY SCIENTISTS. "NO DUH," SAYS EVERYONE ELSE.

Even though Snuffles the Dragon and other otaku have been saying for years that there are no corelations between viewing habits and behavior, Lindsey Tanner with the Associated Press writes that a new study led by Anita Chandra has linked explicitly sexual television with higher pregnancy rates among women age 12 to 17.

Pregnancies were twice as common among those who said they watched such shows regularly, compared with teens who said they hardly ever saw them. There were more pregnancies among the oldest teens interviewed, but the rate of pregnancy remained consistent across all age groups among those who watched the racy programs. [more...]

Perhaps the most interesting (or at least irritating) sentence in the article is this one: "Shows that highlight only the positive aspects of sexual behavior without the risks can lead teens to have unprotected sex 'before they're ready to make responsible and informed decisions,' Chandra said." Is it just me, or does the AP get less unbiased every day? Perhaps while we're contemplating this study, we should ask why pregnancy isn't considered a positive aspect of sexual behavior. Perhaps we should also ask why in the world our seventeen-year-olds aren't ready to make responsible and informed decisions.

While we're on this subject, I remember that a few weeks ago, after a few beers, the Deej made a comment that I'm going to paraphrase here, partly because it's relevant, partly because it might be controversial, and partly because I want revenge for a private comment of mine that he posted earlier.


All this fretting over "teen pregnancy" makes us sound like morons. There's nothing in the world more natural and normal than a pregnant teenager, so instead of asking why they're getting pregnant, the answer to which is obvious to anyone with some basic biological knowledge, we should ask why we've made it so damn hard for them to marry, why we stigmatize them when they do marry, and why we expect and allow them to act like irresponsible children until they're in their twenties.

Think about this: The average marrying age in our society is now twenty-five for women and twenty-seven for men. That is about a decade after most people have completed puberty. On top of that, we have on the one hand a culture that worships irresponsible sexual behavior, and on the other hand, a pop Christianity that has thrown out all its real teachings about chastity in favor of "abstinence," a pseudo-doctrine that consists entirely of telling people to keep it in their pants until they're married because some celebrity or other says they should. We have no right to be surprised that young adults are fornicating and conceiving children as a result.

When St. Thomas Aquinas discusses the age at which people should be allowed to marry, he sets it at twelve for women and fourteen for men, and that was Canon Law until 1983 when it was upped to fourteen and sixteen. St. Thomas's reasons are simple: twelve and fourteen are the ages at which women and men are capable of having children of their own, and mentally developed enough to freely consent to marriage. And he's right: though they can be affected by such factors as weight, physical activity, and environmental toxins, the average age of menarche is around twelve and a half, and the average age of spermarche is around fourteen. That means many twelve-year-olds are capable of having children of their own.

Yet for some reason, I keep hearing Christians who think the solution to our broken families and out-of-wedlock conceptions is later marriage, so people can wait until they're "ready." Hogwash. Rather, we should stop treating young adults like children, we should throw out this artificial and ill-conceived concept of "teenager," we should teach a full-orbed concept of chastity, and we should encourage younger marriages. Contraception, divorce, the cultural worship of fornication, and the tendency to later marriage are all part of our society's slow suicide by means of wholesale attack on healthy sexuality. If we're going to combat this, we must combat it on all fronts, and not just one or two. Therefore, we must, among other things, bring our idea of marriagable age into tune with human biology. The Christian culture and the secular culture right now are agreed that sixteen-year-olds shouldn't get married, but remember, the secular culture has no difficulty at all with sixteen-year-olds fornicating, at least as long as they use contraception. If we oppose fornication, but also follow the secular culture in encouraging late marriage, and thereby unrealistically expect everyone to be celibate until almost thirty, our enemies will win this battle by default.

Crud, what have I been talking about? Don't you dare repeat any of that on the Internet.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween 2008

This year, being in Ely, Nevada, for Halloween, I was unable to carve a Jack o' Lantern. However, I was able to ride the Ely Ghost Train. They have a museum for the historic Northern Nevada Railroad, which has some working trains. Every Halloween, they have a haunted ride that involves listening to ghost stories while watching some poor volunteer schmoes freeze off their kiesters as they stand in costumes along the track and reenact horrific events. At the grand finale, the train stops and gets attacked by an army of pistol-wielding cowboy zombies.

(EegahInc, is there a movie out there about pistol-wielding cowboy zombies?)

Of course, the track is only one-way, so then we have to go back through the whole thing (and it's an hour long!). Fortunately, on the ride back, our crew found an alternative entertainment in the form of an adorable four-year-old girl dressed as a pirate. She attached to our group temporarily, said numerous amusing things, and insisted repeatedly that she was a pirate, a ballerina, a bee, and a snake, apparently all at the same time.

Of course, this was all a couple of days ago. It's now All Souls' Day, and so we are well into November, which means that it's National Novel Writing Month, during which the untrained but enthusiastic seek to churn out an entire novel in one month. I say more power to them. And more grammar lessons. Incidentally, the Catholic Writers Guild is doing its own variation on this, holding a "30K for Christ" event. Those who wish to participate are supposed to churn out 30,000 words of more-or-less Christian content during November. Since I've given you such an advanced notice, you can all totally get in on the ground floor of that. In fact, maybe we should do our own little version of that here: if you want, you can pledge to turn out 30,000 words of more-or-less Christian sf content during November. Or you can even reduce it to 28,000 words to make up for the two days of November that have already passed without my telling you about the 30,000-words-in-November thing. Heck, for all I care, you can just write nothing in November. No sweat off my back. None at all. And if it isn't obvious already, I'm counting this ramble toward my 30,000.

Let's get on to those train photos, shall we?


Here I am getting ready to ride the train. See how excited I am?


There were lots of scary sights to see from the train. This one was the schoolmarm murdering children with a butcher knife. I think.


One of the more frightening sights seen from the train; I think this is that hanging guy. Or maybe that zombie couple. I really don't know.


Beware the dreaded dwarf...thingy.


I call this one "Ely, Nevada--at night."