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Monday, August 24, 2009

I need technical assistance

UPDATE: The problem's been resolved with some help from Dina's IT group and the advice of some of my friends. Thanks for the help and input!

OK, technophiles out there, here’s an opportunity to help my wife and me out (involves XP and Vista).

We bought a new laptop for Dina a few months back. It works fine, but one of the main purposes Dina needs it for is to connect to her office with Remote Desktop. The problem is that her laptop has Vista and her work computer seems to be compatible only with Windows XP. (Her IT people have confirmed this, so it’s not just a matter of me guessing.)

Here are my questions:

  • Is there any trick to try to get around this (somehow making the Vista remote desktop connectivity act like/look like XP)?
  • Barring that, how difficult or expensive would it be to get XP on her laptop instead of Vista? Right now, other than Microsoft Office (which we have the disk for), there aren’t a lot of programs or files on the laptop.
  • With Windows 7 coming out, is there any chance that upgrading to that will fix the problem?

I’m stuck and frustrated over this. The whole idea was to get Dina something that would be a lot less hassle than the antique computer she’s been using, but it hasn’t worked out so far.

Thanks in advance.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Armadillocon report

hg_and_me I had a great time at Armadillocon last week. I did a poor job of taking photos (brought the camera, forgot I had it), but saw some familiar faces from prior cons, chatted with friends, made new ones, etc.

Highlights included:

  • Meeting H.G. Martin, fellow superhero author, and getting an autographed copy of his first book, Doctor Diablo. His second book, The Legacy of the Silver Scorpion, is out now in e-book format. He’s a very nice guy (that’s him in the picture with me up above) and I’m looking forward to reading Doctor Diablo.
  • Seeing some legendary writers like Joe R. Lansdale, James P. Hogan (who plays a mean piano), and Michael Moorcock.
  • Chatting with people I’ve met previous years, like Josh Rountree (who gave a terrific reading), Eric Marin (who I got to be on a panel with), and the talented Chris Roberson.
  • Seeing old friends Ben and Kelly (and imposing on their hospitality).
  • Making sure (as I do every time I go to Austin) to eat BBQ at Rudy’s (especially the breakfast tacos) and ice cream at Amy’s. Miraculously, restrained myself to a single scoop and a single taco this time.
  • Making new friends like D.D. Tannenbaum (who I’d met at a previous con, but not really gotten a chance to talk with much) and Mark Long.

Anyway, it was an enjoyable con. Next step: FenCon.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

8 Most Memorable Times at the Movies

A friend posted his list on Facebook and it got me thinking a bit.

This is not about the best movies you've ever seen. Describe eight experiences watching a movie that stick in your mind as being particularly memorable - for whatever reason.

Here’s my list, in no particular order:

  1. empire_strikes_back Seeing The Empire Strikes Back for the first time. I was so incredibly excited about the movie from the first trailers I’d seen. I was a huge Star Wars fan and immensely excited to see it. My friend Traylor and I waited outside for more than an hour to get in, I think, at the old Belle Meade theater in Nashville (which was later a BookStar, and I’m not sure what it is now). Still one of my favorite movies.
  2. Dina and I were having a romantic weekend at a bed and breakfast in Granbury, and decided to go to the drive-in theater. Unfortunately, the only thing playing was White Chicks. Oh, well.
  3. The Sword and the Sorcerer. This was a shlocky fantasy flick, and the first R-rated film I saw at the theater. Somehow or another I’d heard of it or seen a trailer and I begged my Dad to let me see it. He took me and my friend Ted, and it was kind of a coming of age experience for me. I’m sure it doesn’t hold up to the test of time, but I remember being scared and absolutely loving it. An intense (literally oozing) bad guy, a three-bladed sword (where two of the blades fired out of the sword!), a hero who rips his own crucified body down and uses the spikes (still through his hands!) to kill bad guys? Awesome. Also, naked women. Woot.
  4. The Running Man. This one is mainly memorable because it’s the only time I can remember going to the movies where I was the only person in the entire theater.
  5. A.I. Dina and I went to see this right before Alex was born—kind of our last time to have a night out before becoming parents. What a horrible, horrible movie to celebrate with. I’ve described the experience of seeing the movie as similar to cutting out my own liver with a plastic spoon, but I think that that might be too complimentary.
  6. Finding Nemo was the first movie that Alex ever saw at the theater, for his second birthday. We were all mesmerized. (Zack’s first movie at the theater was Happy Feet. We were all bored, disappointed, and somewhat freaked out—I still call this one Crappy Feet.)
  7. rambo-first-blood-part-2 I vividly remember going to see Rambo with my uncle Doug when I went to Myrtle Beach with my aunt, uncle, and cousins on vacation. It was kind of a bonding thing, and cool for me because my oldest cousin Stacey wasn’t old enough to see it yet. The most memorable part, though, was when we were waiting for the movie to start. My uncle farted very loudly, then turned to me and, with a straight face, said, “Rob! You shouldn’t do that in a crowded theater! You should at least say ‘Excuse me!’” Yeah, that’s Uncle Doug for you.
  8. Watching Somewhere in Time by myself when I was on a cruise with my parents. It was cool and weird watching a movie on a moving ship. I went to see it, of course, because of Christopher Reeve. The ending left me indignant.

It seems like I could come up with more of these (like the time I snuck up behind my friends Beth and Leslie when we were watching Watchers at the dollar movies in college, and scared them, or the time the guys and I saw Star Trek: Nemesis for my birthday and I’ve had to apologize every year since for picking such a stinker), but I’ll try to restrain myself.

What are your most memorable movie experiences?

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sherlock Holmes in Devil’s Cape, part 2

iaosh In yesterday’s post, I talked about the publication of the story “The Adventure of the Pirate's of Devil’s Cape” and the anthology itself (I’m really looking forward to reading it, by the way).

At some point, I’d like to go more into the shaping of the story. But for now, I’ll take the quick way out and give a short excerpt from it.

Some background first: In the summer of 1894, the investigation of a gruesome crime (“the shocking affair of the Dutch steamship Friesland”) leads Holmes and Watson to the corrupt city of Devil’s Cape, Louisiana. This scene shows their arrival.

I had assumed that the long summer boat journey, particularly the sweltering leg that took us through the Caribbean Sea and into the Gulf of Mexico, had prepared me for the heat of Devil’s Cape, but I was wrong. It was a tangible, constant presence, like walking through water.

Holmes and I emerged from the steamship that had carried us there—not that different, really, than the Friesland—squinting into the sun, having left our trunks behind with instructions for them to be transported to a nearby inn where I had arranged rooms. The docks were a swarm of faces and voices. A crew of black men was singing a chantey while unloading our ship. Three Chinamen hawked cool beverages and roasted nuts, arguing about prices and stirring cinnamon-coated pecans over small pails of hot coals. Masses of people milled back and forth, shoving and swearing. I heard traces of French and Portuguese and Hindi. I stared openmouthed, taking it in.

“Not so fast,” Holmes said, darting out an arm and catching a street urchin by the ear. The lad, blond-haired and tan as leather, winced as Holmes took hold of his elbow and forced a wallet out of his hand. My own wallet, I recognized. “Tut, tut,” Holmes said, handing my wallet back to me, and I wasn’t certain if he was scolding the boy or me. He gave the boy a quick kick in the rump and sent him scurrying off.

I nodded my thanks. “Not unlike one of the Baker Street Irregulars,” I said. “Where to, Holmes?”

He pointed at a black hansom drawing up, pulled by an Appaloosa horse. “I believe our transport has arrived,” he said.

The driver stepped from the cab and swaggered to us. He was smartly dressed in a tailored suit, the jacket open in front, a diamond gleaming from a ring on his pinkie. He had tanned skin, a handlebar moustache, and a confident smile. A golden police badge shaped like a sail was pinned to his jacket. “Holmes and Watson, right?” he asked in what I’d later come to identify as a Cajun accent. “I hope you not been standing here too long, you.” He shook Holmes’s hand, then mine, his grip forceful enough to grind my knuckles together. “My boss, he ask me to show you around town real nice and send you back where you belong, see,” he said. “Now, my cousin, he ask me to help you any way I can.” He grinned, showing an infectious smile and a chipped tooth. “I’ll leave you to guess which one I’ll listen to best. You got some boys bringing your things to your rooms?”

I nodded.

“That’s good,” he said. “We can start right quick, then, though I fear your entire trip’s been a waste.” He patted the hansom. “Hop in, gentlemen,” he said. We climbed inside, and he climbed above us, taking the reins. Then his head popped up in front of us, upside down, as he looked through the front of the cab. “Aw, hell,” he said. “I forgot to introduce myself.” He smiled again. “I’m Deputy Chief Jackson Lestrade. Welcome to Devil’s Cape.”

Next time on this topic, a little background on the writing process.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sherlock Holmes in Devil’s Cape, part 1


I’ve mentioned it on Twitter, but not on my blog, so it’s far past time to share a bit of exciting news.

My short story, “The Adventures of the Pirates of Devil’s Cape,” will be published in a new anthology coming out next month called The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

The basic premise of the anthology is that it collects stories where Holmes encounters mysteries beyond the norm—fantasy, science fiction, and horror.

You can read more about the book on a special mini-site here, read a short interview with me about the story here or just straight out buy it here.

The editor of the anthology is John Joseph Adams, a very nice (and discriminating!) guy who has been responsible for several crackerjack anthologies lately including the captivating The Living Dead, which has been keeping me up nights of late.

Other authors include a few name you might have heard of, like Anne Perry, Sharyn McCrumb, Michael Moorcock, Laurie R. King, Neil Gaiman (!), and Stephen King!

Needless to say I’m very excited about the publication, and I think that readers of Devil’s Cape will want to read my story to see some of the city details I throw in there, and a familiar element or two, like the people the Holingbroke Psychological Institute was named for.

I’m a long-time Holmes fan, so it was a huge thrill writing the story and I’m looking forward to reading all the stories in the book.

My plan is to follow this post up in the next few days with another post or two giving a little more background on the writing process of the story, and maybe an excerpt.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Come see me at Armadillocon

armadillocon I’ll be at Armadillocon (a Texas-based science fiction and fantasy convention) in Austin this weekend, so be sure to come by to see me. I’ll be around a bit Friday night and Sunday, but most of my activity (two panels, a reading, and a signing) will be on Saturday.

Follow these links for a programming schedule for the convention or for a grid of the schedule. I’ll be in the City Building panel at 11, I’ll give a reading at 3:30, I’ll be in the Let Me Look That Up panel (about research) at 4, and I’ll be autographing (and selling copies of Devil’s Cape) at 5. Other cool people like Chris Roberson, Matt Sturges, Joe R. Lansdale, A. Lee Martinez, Elizabeth Moon, and Josh Rountree will be there. It’ll be fun. Come check it out.

This year’s reading is likely going to be from a new project I’m working on that fans of Devil’s Cape should like, so there’s that.

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