Watching Beauty Sleep

dreamy rose‘Twas one small prick that stole your destiny

Entwined your heart in thorns for century

Beneath a curse you drifted off to sleep

Escaped into a dreamland dark and deep

But this enchantment has a simple clause

One true love’s kiss from prince will nightmare pause

At peace, enwrapped in blissful dreams you wait

Convinced that handsome prince will change your fate

But Charming’s smile has vanished from all sight

And long ago the clock did strike midnight

Alone upon your bier in soft repose

A beauty who puts shame to any rose

The sun does envy radiance so fair

The moon aspire to shimmer of your hair

With each soft breath from satin lips you call

Bold knight to rescue you from sandman’s thrall


Uncertain rogue, I stand at Beauty’s side

Shadowed in doubt that I am qualified

To dare with foolish kiss against the spell

Against sad tale that I might not untell

I am to you a phantom, undreamed of

Though tortured heartbeats ache with pain of love

A simple man, not royal but in heart

Who, humbled by your glory, cannot part

And if, with touch of lips, I bold oppose

The drowsy chains that bind you, Briar Rose

Would you, unmoved by me, refuse to wake

Or would you, with cold look, my heart forsake

Oh, if you could not waking share your grace

Your endless curse of sleep I would embrace

Asleep, and but all time a moment seem

Content to join my sleeping beauty’s dream

Flash Fiction: The Tentacled Face in the Wall

Scary white faceThe face was horrifying, pressing out of the wall like the wall was made of plastic. It was a face in name only, covered in tentacles arrayed in a crude parody of eyes, nose, and mouth. The tentacles were long slimy things. Some ended in fingers, some in diamond shapes, some in what looked like the heads of snakes, snapping and hissing in a horrifying sort of 7.1 surround sound of nastiness. There were even two thick muscular tentacles erupting from where the eyes should be. They ended in bulbous nodules that looked, at once, like eyeballs, and yet, they were fleshy, oozy, and furrowed, like testicles after a particularly sweaty workout.

Danforth let out a scream like a cheerleader startled by a spider when he saw it, throwing himself backwards from the wall where it appeared. It howled and hissed there for a few moments, and then disappeared, slipping back into the wall as if it couldn’t quite penetrate the shrink wrap packaging that the wall made for it.

He hesitated, standing across the room from it, his breath coming in short, desperate gasps.

“Holy…,” he choked, even though he knew it was far from angelic. He’d been to church in his life, but he’d never believed in this kind of thing. He wasn’t even sure he believed it now. He’d been mostly clean and sober for years, except for wacky Wednesday with the gang. Could it be some reaction to the allergy medicine? That did something to your brain, right?

He stood there, in his Sailor Moon boxer shorts, trying to figure out whether he should go over to the wall and verify its solidity.

Well, it was the only way to determine if it was his brain or if he’d been dropped into some weird and scary reality show. He sidled over slowly, looking anywhere but the wall he was heading to. He might have even whistled.

As he got close to the wall, he dared a glance at it. The chipped paint revealed no hint of the strange scariness beyond it. It did not glow. It did not stretch. It did not heave with unearthly anger.

He gently reached out a hand that shook like a tree branch in a thunderstorm, fingers trying to curl back to the elbow. He willed them back out as much as he could, and edged forwards, his toes curling in sympathy with the fingers.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” someone said, in a rather high voice with the timbre of a drill instructor.

His hand snapped back. A glance confirmed all fingers were intact.
He looked over at the woman now standing in the doorway to his closet.
She had incredibly long, straight blond hair that framed a dour look, lips pursed and eyes narrowed. She stood straight, hands on hips, her stare burning into him, daring him to disobey or disbelieve in her.

“You…who are you?” he stammered. “And what are you doing in my closet?”

Her left eyebrow shot up in a bold arch and the dour look faded just a bit as she glanced behind her. “Is it a closet?” she asked. “Oh, dear. I hate it when that happens. No wonder you look disconcerted.”

He looked at her, then over at the wall.

She gave him a tiny, knowing smile. “You’ll want to step back from there. It might eat you.”

He stepped quickly away from the wall. She strode up quickly between him and it, glaring at him.

She looked a bit like a brand new substitute teacher on her first assignment. She was dressed rather fashionably and demurely for a figment of his imagination. A simple cut, navy-blue dress suit that ended at mid-calf, with a brighter blue shirt underneath. It seemed a little old-ish for her. He thought she must be somewhere in her twenties.

“It’s all right,” she said to him. “I’m a…detective.”

“Aren’t you a little short for a…detective?”

Her eyebrows furrowed. She looked down at her feet, then up at the ceiling of his apartment.

“Am I?” She huffed. “I thought this apartment was just small-ish. Rats.”

She ran her fingers through her hair. “I quite like the hair, though. Silky.”

She smiled at him. He couldn’t seem to help but smile back, brushed at his haystack of bed-hair. Despite being obviously bat-shit crazy, she was quite an attractive woman with pretty green eyes.

“So, let’s have a look here…” She examined the weird wall for a second, scanning it carefully, as if she were a handyman (err, handywoman, Danforth corrected himself in his head) here to fix a crack. She reached out slowly and Danforth couldn’t help but cringe, but she touched the wall boldly with a palm, rubbed it back and forth, this way and that. Then, she knocked. Danforth whimpered just a bit and cringed.

She turned to him, and tried to look him in the eyes, but his gaze kept traveling back to the wall behind her. It lurked behind her like a jack-in-the-box paused right before the last note.

“What’s your name?” she asked him.

“Danforth — Dan, really. My friends call me Dan.” He spared her a glance. That was his job, keep that wall from jumping out and swallowing the pretty girl that stood between him and it.

“Danforth,” she addressed him, “Was that the first time the wall did that?”

“Yes. The face with the tentacles, right? Yes, I mean, I think, I hope so. It’s the only time I’ve seen it. Only,” and here he gestured at her to move toward him with his hand, “Could you move a little further away. The tentacles…”

“Oh, don’t worry about it. It’s waiting for you, I expect.”

She grinned, as if it was funny to say that.

“Waiting for me? I…what’s your name?” he asked.

She got a solemn expression, seemed to pause to consider, eyes rolling off to one side as she thought. “Danforth…Dan…what was your mother’s name?”

“Elizabeth,” he said, without thinking.

“How incredible! What a coincidence. My name is Elizabeth, too. Liz to my friends.”

She paused to think again. “And what street is this that we’re on?” She waved a finger lazily in the air, as if gesturing to the space generally around them.

“East Umberland,” he said.

“Liz West,” she said, extending a hand with a shopgirl smile. “Detective. At your service.”

He took the hand, gingerly, by the fingertips, and shook politely.

“Now, listen.” Here she started to pace. “I need your help with this one, Don. Dan. Danforth. This one is just a little too much for me because he knows I’m here, and if he knows I’m here he’s not going to show his…face…”

She looked at him, head cocked to one side. “You’re not afraid are you? Big strapping young…”

She looked him up and down with a slight pause at the Sailor Moon boxers.

“…man like you. Interesting pants by the way. Very colorful.” She continued pacing. “I’m sure all those hormones, testosterone and the like, make you just want to grab a…you don’t happen to have a cricket bat or something? No? Oh, well, it was a thought.”

She stopped, looked him in the eye, shook a hip in a kind of robotic impression of a sexy move. She arched an eyebrow again, opened her mouth just slightly.

“Basically,” she said, in a husky voice. “I’m going back into the closet and I need you to touch the wall.”

He must have looked horrified. She frowned at him.

“I’ll protect you.”

Danforth considered this. He didn’t believe any of it. It had to be a dream. That was it. A dream. The whole thing. And if it didn’t get more pleasant after he stuck his hand into the jaws of certain doom at least he would wake up screaming, wash the cold sweat off, and go to work at his dead-end job. He could get back to his normal, scheduled daily depression. Life as per usual.

“All right,” he said, with a firm nod.

“Great!” she said with a little hop, turned, and marched back through the closet door, which closed behind her.

He looked at the white wall, staring hungrily back at him as only a blank wall can.

He took a breath. Wake up screaming, he told himself, and stretched a hand out to the wall.

With a whistling scream like the ripping wind of a storm the face appeared again, tentacles slamming out at him like a hail of fire from a machine gun loaded with snakes. He felt their cold sliminess grip his arm and start to pull as the thing howled in hungry anger. There were tiny burning sensations all up his arm where the suckers of the tentacles touched him. A cold numbness began to creep up his arm, not the cold of being exposed to freezing cold for too long, but the cold of his arm actually feeling like it was beginning to disappear. He realized he was screaming, flailing, stamping his feet, trying to pull away with all his might, even if meant ripping his slowly freezing arm from his body.

The closet door lashed open and Elizabeth West, Girl Detective (Lady Detective, he corrected himself, even through all the fear) stormed over to him. She winked at him, grabbed a handful of tentacles from his arm in both hands, and pulled.
The testicle tentacles turned and glared at her, ballooning up in what could only be fear. They shot back to the head, bobbing warily as the face started to slip back into the wall.

“Oh, no,” Elizabeth growled. “You’re not going back to being a wallflower. Time…to…dance!”

She threw her whole weight back, yanking hard, and there was a loud, slurpy pop!

The next thing he knew, Danforth was sprawled on the floor next to his bed, head spinning. Elizabeth stood in the middle of the room, brushing slime from her hands. Before her, bobbing slowly above the floor, was the…thing. It was a globe, about the size of an exercise ball. It was covered in tentacles and veins and some sort of flowing mucus, and it smelled like, rather like most of the things currently in Danforth’s refrigerator if they were all mixed together in a warm room. Danforth gagged.

“All right, you,” Detective West said to the thing on the floor, “I told you no more of that kind of thing in this dimension.”

“Why should I listen to you?” the creature whined at her in an echoing, screechy voice. He sounded a bit like Danforth’s foppish uncle. “Who made you boss of where I get my kicks?”

“You just watch it, speaking of kicks, or I’ll give you a kick in your—”
She glanced over at Danforth, and with a pleasant smile, finished with, “—eyeballs.”

The thing squealed slightly and rolled and spun in the air, the ‘eyeballs’ retracting close to it.

“So sorry about all of this,” she said to Danforth, with the same pleasant, insincere voice of  a returns desk employee at a store. “I’ll have him out of your way in a second. You wouldn’t happen to have a towel?”

Danforth goggled at her.

“Oh, never mind.” She grabbed his comforter from off the bed and scraped at the goo all down her arms.

“Thanks for your time,” she nodded and smiled to him. “Sorry about the mess.”

“Don’t let her take me! You and I could have some fun!” The globe creature started to bob closer to Danforth, a desperation apparent in its flailing tentacles. “I’ll bet you’ve never experienced a totally empathic link before! I could give that to you! I promise to only eat a few of your neural pathways!”

Detective West grabbed the thing by one of the ball tentacles and started dragging it away. It yelped and bobbed after her through the closet door.

“Shouldn’t you wipe his memory?” the globe thing asked.

“What, you don’t want him to remember you? Ugh, that’s so like your kind. I don’t have time to cover up just so you can stay in politics. Besides, it makes for a more interesting universe this way.”

“Remember me fondly, you know, if anyone asks!” the thing shouted as the closet door closed behind it.

Danforth sat on the floor for a moment, considering. He let out a loud scream, but didn’t wake up. Or did he? Perhaps this was a wake-up call. Perhaps his grey world, the daily grind, the soul-crushing routine, was about to get a lot more interesting.

He took a shower, changed into the Spider-Man boxers, skipped the allergy medicine, and left for work, whistling.

Flash Fiction: The Bird in the Park

A guitar

It was the kiss that did it. It was as sweet as a cherry ice on a hot blue summer day, but it finished with the warm burn of cinnamon that made him flush with the promise of mysterious things becoming clear and present and pleasant.

Her name was Astlyn, and she was wearing the t-shirt of a band he really liked. Not that he noticed that first. First, it was her eyes, the shape more than the color — almond-shaped and slightly turned in a permanent kind of snarky amusement. She looked right at him, her head tilted, and didn’t look away as he walked by the bench she was sitting on in the park.

“You have a nice smile,” she said after him.

When he stopped and turned, she added, “Or were you smiling at someone else?” There was an lilt in her voice, a kind of Irish thing, that made his ears dance.

He opened his mouth to reply, but just looking at her tied his brain up in knots and he couldn’t get a word out.

“Ah, mute. That explains everything.”

“I’m on my way to a lesson. Um…piano…lesson.” He kind of fidgeted his fingers in the air in lieu of more words.

“I had a feeling you were an artist,” she said.

He laughed. “No, not really. My mom makes me.”

“So you’re not a musician? That’s a shame. They always get the girl.”

Her smile was magnetic, tugging at something at the back of his chest, and he stepped, almost fell, closer to her. His heart raced. He glanced at his watch and saw his heart rate; it was twice normal.

She looked away, over her left shoulder, smiling the smile of a fisherman about to grab the pole and start reeling.

“You,” he said, “Are different.”

She quirked an eyebrow. “Different, how?”

“Well,” he huffed, trying to put the feeling into words without putting her off. “Most girls don’t talk to strangers.”

“We were in the same Classical Lit class, before I transferred out. I can’t believe you don’t remember. You’d have noticed that if you weren’t always asleep in the back.”

He tried to picture the warm, yellow room, full of dust motes and the droning beat of Mr. Llewellyn’s nasally voice chanting out lines from the Iliad and the Odyssey. He couldn’t picture her there, but then he could barely remember it, so often were his eyes closed.

“So,” she said. “You don’t look like a piano player.”

He shrugged and held up his hands. “I actually wanted to play guitar…or maybe drums. But my mom said I had to learn music first.”

“You should always listen to your mom,” the girl said, her eyes twinkling. He wondered if she was making fun of him.

“What’s your name?” he asked her.

She told him.

“See. Astlyn’s…different.” He’d wanted to say exotic or unique or something, but it sounded like a come-on. Not that he didn’t want it to be a come-on, but…

“Seems pretty normal to me.” She looked up at him through a cage of eyelashes. “I hope I’m not making you late.”

“Oh, yeah, right. I’ve got to…” He gestured in the wrong direction, then the right one, then smiled.

“Next time, bring your guitar,” she said.

And she did see him there, every day for a week. And he did bring his guitar on the days when he didn’t have piano lessons.

“How did you know I had a guitar?” he asked.

“Calluses,” she explained, and grabbed his left hand and ran the soft edges of her fingers over the rough tips of his. Every single touch was like a spark plug firing.

He played her the songs he knew, made up of a total of about ten chords — with a couple of barre chords that were very, very rough. And he sang quietly. He knew he didn’t have a bad voice, but it wasn’t…manly, or something.

She sang along softly with him, sometimes finding the harmonies, and it was a feeling like they were rising up out of the park into the ocean of warm, sweet air and sunlight, just spinning around each other, giddy. She’d smile at him, the tiniest, encouraging smile, and he would look away and fumble on the strings, and just keep going, trying to hide from the feelings rushing through him, forgetting the words and just repeating the refrain.

It was Thursday, and the song was a ballad that band they both liked did. It was about pain and love and memory. She leaned forward on the last, ringing chord, her eyes half-lidded, her mouth slightly open, smoldering. He leaned forward over the guitar, awkward and anxious, hesitated, and then, kissed her.

They hung there in the moment in-between, faces close, just breathing.

“You should write your own songs,” Astlyn told him.

“What?” He wondered if the kiss was bad or something.

“You have a poetic soul.” Astlyn licked her lips. “I tasted it.”

She squeezed her eyes at him in that way that promised she was always right.

And he felt it, like a bird fluttering in his chest, wildly trying to escape. Not words, not music, just a feeling, like he would explode if he didn’t…say something.

“I want you to write a song for me.” She was looking off, into the trees, at something far off he couldn’t see. Then she turned, and smiled at him again, and the bird fluttered madly.

And he wrote a song for her, many songs in fact, over many years, even after the last time he saw her, he was still writing songs about her. He’d stop there on that bench with his notebook and sometimes the guitar, and the little bird would sing in the long, dying afternoon, about that moment, the kiss in the beautiful place. And his pencil would scratch out the barest sketches, ever-looking back, ever-reaching forwards.

Flash Fiction: The Fire in Song

“Your daughter’s a natural at smithing,” old Bart told Samantha, “Just like her mother.”
The girl was barely in her teens, her sweaty read hair glowing in the light of the forge like strands of fire as her arms, wiry and taut, held a glowing red filigree of ornate ironwork in the blazing, dancing flame.
Samantha smiled at Bart, who was well-known to be a gossip and the general font from which all stories flowed in the village. He knew every tale, whether one wanted him to know it or not. Samantha decided to repay the content with his customary currency.
“Gregor’s illness forced my hand,” Samantha said, thinking of her deceased husband, a bear of a man who started as the town smith. “I learned all I know about fire and metal under his guiding hand. But you’re right, Elle’s talents are a bit…unusual.”
“Elle was your typical young girl, all flowers and bows, until she was about five. Gregor took her to Thunder Spring caves, figuring she’d enjoy looking for sparklies, what she used to call the fancy minerals he’d bring back from an expedition looking for exotic metals.”
“I noticed one day after that she was unusually quiet. She was always singing before that. Songs we used to sing to her as she was growing up, songs she learned at the town feasts, even songs she just made up. I tried to get her to sing something and she just…didn’t notice. I asked Gregor if he noticed anything different, but he just grunted at me and shook his head. We had a lot of work back then, and his illness had already started so he tended to get lost in his work when he wasn’t sleeping.”
Bart said, “You took her to see Meg, didn’t you?”
“If anyone would have a cure, the old lady would. Or so I thought. She looked at her, ran some trinkets around in front of her, but couldn’t even get her to smile. And she said, this isn’t your daughter, and she tapped her on the head and it was like knocking on the wall of the church. And she scratched her face with an awl and rock dust fell from it. She was a changeling.”
“I brought her home. Or it, I guess. What was I to do with this thing? How was I supposed to raise something that barely knew me.”
“I asked Bart again, one night before he collapsed into sleep again, and he swore nothing special happened. I thought about explaining to him what I knew, what Meg had told me, but had no faith in the old beliefs, just iron. When I asked him enough times, he did own up to being separated for a bit, when Elle wandered off on her own, but it was just for a few moments. And that’s when I knew it was true, that my beautiful daughter had been dragged off into Faerie and I had been left with this…this scarecrow.”
“You taught her to work with iron?” Bart asked.
Samantha laughed. “I could not have taught her much. She spent most of her day staring into space, or piling rocks in the yard. But I couldn’t live like that. I talked to Meg again, and tried the various spells of location she provided, to no avail. I even went to the caves, called for her, but nothing. Then I had an inspiration.”
“I spent weeks working with Gregor, more than I ever had before, learning the secrets of taming fine metal, turning it like a spider turns silk. And I took the thing…”
And here she felt the tiny, hot pin-pricks of tears in the corner of her eyes. “I spun her the most beautiful hair, more beautiful than Elle’s right now in the light of the flame. I sprinkled it with dust from the shinies Gregor had found. I made her gems for eyes, all opal and sapphire, and I created the most beautiful creature that my horrible new talents could stand to create. She was beautiful and sparkling and almost not of this world.”
“I took her back to the caves, as deep as I could, always going down, deeper, deeper, into the red hot guts of the world. And in the deepest, hottest cave I could find, in the red-hot light of the earth on fire, I had her sing. I had taught her the most beautiful song I knew. And she sang it with the voice I had given her, carved from a stone that was like the bones of the earth. And it rang out into the cave and shook the world.”
“It worked. From the walls all around stepped tiny men, no bigger than human babes, but made of brown and black and grey stone, some pure, some mottled. They had beards of iron filings and eyes of the darkest gems.”
“What is this?” They looked on my creation with delight. “We must have this beautiful thing.”
“And I stepped out of the shadows, my pickax on my shoulder, and I demanded to see my daughter.”
“The darkest of them, a little man with a beard down to his toes, came forward, frowning.”
“What is it yer doing in the land of the Gnomes,” he asked, with a voice like a rock slide.
“You took my daughter, and you gave me this. And I made it better. I want to trade.”
“Yer daughter is one of us now,” the Gnome said.
“And he took my hand and led me straight up to the wall and through it. It was the most marvelous, fearsome thing. Like the first time my mother took me into the ocean and she held me with her under the waves. I could see stones and bones and worms and the trapped shapes of iron and copper and sparkling gems like stars across the sky. And he led me out into another room with a pit of fire in the center, surrounded by humans, boys and girls, men and women, all working metal into ornate shapes and careful jewelry studded with gems.”
“We owe much to the Fey King, so we sometimes need to employ help.”
“He gestured to the scene before me, and then I saw her, my daughter, working iron just like her father, with hammer and tong, her eyes burning in the reflection of the fire. And I saw the beauty of the thing she had created, an ornately turned metal glove, speckled with the stardust of gems.”
“You have made her better,” I conceded, “As I have made this one better.”
“And I gestured, and the metal girl next to me began to sing.”
“You gave her the breath of life,” I said to the Gnome, “But I have made the breath of life useful.”
“And his eyes turned upwards in a smile at the beauty of the song, and the workers began to beat along with it.”
“It has been too long since there has been song here,” the Gnome agreed.
“And that’s how you got her back,” Bart watched the girl take the filigree of iron from the fire in a hand covered in a gauntlet speckled in stardust and carefully bend and form the thing in her bare hands.
“Remarkable,” the old man breathed softly.

World Poetry Day – Baseball Simile

Safe Training BaseballI’m like a rookie coming to the plate
Two out, the bottom of the ninth, no score
Should close my eyes and leave it up to Fate
Full count, it’s far from Springtime anymore
She’s like a pitcher with her steely eyes
Considering her possible designs
A hanging curve? A fastball blowing by?
I never got the hang of reading signs
I swagger to the box and take my place
With steady Karmic breath my fear relieve
But my percentage chance to get on base
Crowd roaring in my head just can’t believe
The stretch, the wind-up, and the ball takes wing
“Hey, batter! Open up your eyes and swing!”

Reading: “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the LaneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely loved this book. Neil Gaiman is so skilled at crafting a fantasy story and giving his reader just enough of the details via such beautiful, literary language that you manage to sustain a sense of wonder throughout even through the ending. The mysteries in the book didn’t leave me wanting more explanation, but rather made me think about the themes in the novel — growing up, the subjective view each individual has of the world, and more.

The book reminded me a bit of the Discworld “witches” novels of Terry Pratchett, or some of the fantastic-realism novels of Tim Powers.

One of my favorite quotes from the novel:
“Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”

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Reading: “Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You”

Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About YouSnoop: What Your Stuff Says About You by Sam Gosling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is meant to teach you how to learn about people from snooping through their rooms, but it’s also a bounty for social media marketers or writers.

If your job is in social media, in reading the tea leaves of activity people leave on their profiles, this will give you a handy framework for knowing what’s relevant and how to place a particular piece of detail you learn about someone.

Fiction writers can use the book in reverse — learning how to apply the psychological principles presented to craft an interesting, realistic character. The proof is in the details, and this book will help you understand how to create the layers of detail and description that make up a real person.

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‘Star Wars 1313’ Is The Live Action Series

I was watching a presentation at Star Wars Celebration VI about the new Star Wars game, Star Wars 1313. It was a pretty impressive tech demo. The game is rendering the world in real time, so that, during the demo where the ship is falling towards the lower levels of Coruscant, they could pause the game and zoom in to the freckles on a character’s face in amazing detail. The game renders, at least on the PC hardware they were running it on (which they wouldn’t reveal) at least as good as most CG in movies today.

The presenters also showed a video about how this game came about as a collaboration between ILM and LucasArts — the idea being that movie animators could create a method to render a movie scene in a video game. No complicated animation that needed to be rendered out overnight via a small city of servers. Just create your objects and let the engine (in this case a highly modified version of the Unreal 3 engine) churn out the action.

That’s when it hit me. This is the holy grail, right? This is the economy of scale that George Lucas is looking for to produce the live-action Star Wars series we’ve all been waiting for.

Then, with that clarity you have when all the edge pieces of a puzzle have been filled in, I began to see the similarities to the rumored Underworld TV series. Star Wars 1313 and Star Wars: Underworld started to sound astoundingly similar. They even mentioned on the panel that the player character in the demo was a placeholder for the main character who they weren’t ready to reveal yet.

My credits are on this game being some incarnation of the TV series, and the TV series being the same story line.

Carbon Freeze Me!

This will be one of my last blog entries as my days of jetting around the galaxy smuggling Jar Jar action figures to France finally caught up with me today as I was captured, accused of crimes against the Empire, and frozen in carbonite.

Against all odds, the carbon freezing facility is located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

My wife has thoughtfully recorded some pictures of the freezing process, as well as a video of the final results to share with you all. At some point, when they drop the slab…errr…me off, she’ll be able to post a photo of that, too. Hopefully I’ll get unfrozen in 200 years or so for good behavior, although when I don’t have much to do, my mind does tend to wander to thoughts of Twi’lek dancing girls and Slave Leias.

See the photos on Google+

Keith in the carbon freezing chamber.

Video of the final results of my carbon freeze.

Edit 07/09/2012:

You can see pics of the final result in the Google+ album. It’s actually a very nice resemblance. The slab itself was pretty dusty, though. Going to have to give it a nice soft brush off.

Oh my! They’ve encased me in carbonite. I should be quite well protected…if I survived the freezing process.

Reading: How We Decide

It’s that inevitable moment in the car, again. My wife and I are sitting there, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, just a little past the peak of hunger, and I am about to turn the key. We both know what’s going to happen, but the question is who is going to ask it first.

“Where shall we have lunch?”

Why is that question so vexing? A million thoughts come to mind, and some are even delicious. But…I can’t settle on one. This one is a little expensive. That one’s a little too far. Do we have coupons for that other place?

How We DecideHow We Decide may very well help me with my dilemma. The author, Jonah Lehrer, provides vivid examples of the decision-making process, from why people take out a sub-prime loan to how airline pilots land a plane they can no longer steer, and explains the neuroscience behind good decisions and bad ones. I feel more capable of investing in the stock market thanks to this book, which is more than I can say for most finance books I’ve read. The book makes me think about thinking, and that can be a very good thing.

I most enjoyed reading about the rational brain versus the emotional brain. I tend to try to be a rational decider. Before I bought a dishwasher, I spent hours poring over the interactive charts on consumer sites. I read endless reviews. I compared prices. This had to be the best way to make a decision. And yet, in the end, I still struggled with which dishwasher to buy.

How We Decide points out something I had missed. We humans are emotional deciders. The grandest circuitry in our brain is tied tightly with our emotional state. I should have learned this from years of watching Star Trek certainly — Kirk would get the technobabble details from Spock, but in the end, he’d go with his gut. That’s not to put down the value of the rational mind, the scientific approach; it’s a necessary and powerful tool in the decision-making process, especially when you’re making an emotion-wrought decision. As Lehrer says,“The rational brain can’t silence emotions, but it can help figure out which ones should be followed.”

Best of all, there’s a final chapter that outlines how to use the tools at your disposal to make decisions, a fantastic guide to what you should take from the book.

So, if you find yourself sitting in the driveway, trying to decide where to have lunch, go to the bookstore instead.