Out With The Old, In With The …

This may be the last year I get to use that tagline.

Last year (2014 – yes I’m late with my End of the Year post) was intense. Heck, every single year for the last four has been intense. Ending an 8 year job, international move, career reboot, starting and finishing law school, ending relationships and starting new ones, running an award-winning podcast, and those are just the big things off the top of my head. I realized yesterday that these two weeks off have been my first official no plans, no requirements, true Down Time since I’ve met Alasdair.

That’s scary. And completely unacceptable.

Look, I am the first person to admit I’m a full-blown Type A workaholic. Give a task to a busy a person and they get it done could be my motto. I like it. I thrive on it. I’m good at it. Which is part of the problem: it’s not going to slow down (let’s be honest, it’ll never stop) unless I make it.

The September Deadline was a fantastic (and successful) experiment which I’ll be repeating. And this year we’re only going to three conventions (two for me, unless Charles Soule makes it to Thought Bubble). We’ve scheduled several long weekend / short vacations, money willing. Time for this country and part of the world to be a place I get to explore and experience and enjoy instead of being just the place I work.

And tentative feelers are in the water about wedding venues and dates and such, but that’s a whooooole other thing I’m still unpacking.

Looking back 2014 was amazing and hard and busy and emotional. Amazing highs (engaged, training contract started immediately) and tough lows (visa trauma, yet another Annual Move). All I want from 2015 is a more stately pace: more breathing room, more downtime, less cost to the accomplishment. I want to concentrate on spending more time doing and learning and experimenting with the things I enjoy. I know what that involves in an ideal world, we’ll see how reality stacks up.

Four years worth of montage. Time to see how it pays off.

The Holidays Approacheth

I can always tell when the holidays are getting close – my free time evaporates.

This year we hosted Alasdair’s parents for Thanksgiving, which was lovely. They don’t like cornbread, and do like pumpkin pie, which I consider a victory.

And then of course, there’s Dragon Age Inquisition. Which I’m trying very hard NOT to take up my every waking weekend hour. So far, so good, but I’ve still logged close to 30 hours since launch. More posts on that later. My current interaction with the game is … complicated.

While I struggle to balance household chores with saving Theda, enjoy this lovely Pat Cadigan story, “Cody”, which I narrated for Clarkesworld.

Thomas Edison Weekend

There’s a story about Thomas Edison and inventing the lightbulb, and how it took him over 500 attempts. The last three days have been a lot like that – learning things by making a spectacular mess of them.

I was in a three day advocacy training course this week. Most of it I enjoyed and thought I did rather well at. The closing argument I prepared? Not so much… I choked. I managed to recover at the end enough to at least offer some rebuttal, but yeah – spectacular argumentative face plant last thing on a Friday.

Then this weekend, I thought I’d make a batch of Nadine’s amazing pumpkin pie fudge. What I learned after the 60 minutes of failing to reach the correct temperature, followed by too rapid of a temperature change, was I’d forgotten to double ALL the ingredients in the recipe for this double batch. The resulting disaster smelled amazing, but wasn’t even viable as a sauce.

Success and failure are only half of the equation. The other half, the HARDER half,  is what you do when you screw it up.

The Last Big Project

Alasdair and I are trying a new approach to projects this year: a cut off date. And of September we officially closed the doors to any new conventions, projects, collaborations or other new work. One month later and it’s already have a big impact on our free time. Namely, we have some every single weekend, and the projects still on the boards are making steady progress to complete by the middle of December. It’s a simple, glorious hack.

Of course it meant a few last-minute “quick get this in the wind!” emails, but so far none of those have come in to roost. And since the big one for me (a Law and History track of programming for next year’s Nine Worlds) has months and months yet, all the better.

This last couple of weeks was also the end of THE big project – my visa. We’re squared away for another two years, and all the paperwork has been carefully archived for if it’s needed again. A huge psychological sigh of relief, followed by a lunch of tapas and cipriani.

This weekend was another gloriously relaxing, rambly couple of days. The bikes have been given an overhaul and are ready for some dry weather to go out and explore MK’s Red Ways. We found a great new Indian restaurant, and I’ve read THREE novellas in the last week. I can see actual physical progress on my To Be Read bookshelf, it’s a miracle!

I love taking on new projects. And this time of the year, when it feels like the world is ready to sleep, it feels just as good to finish them up and put them down.


Published in: on November 2, 2014 at 18:43  Leave a Comment  
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Two Out Of Seven

Weekends haven’t been a thing I’ve been able to enjoy the last two years. Between studying and podcasting and the training contract application process, they were just an extension of the working week.

And boy am I glad that’s over with.

I missed sleeping in, and to do lists that shrink instead of growing ever longer. I missed having time to let my brain wander while I walk home, and whittling away at my To Be Read shelf. Second pots of coffee over comic books on Sunday morning. Not constantly pushing. Planning, instead of reacting.

I’ve watched three movies in the last four days, two of them in the theater. For the curious, Mazerunner was excellent and Dracula Untold was boring / ridiculous. I’ve been planning out a possible November spa weekend while Alasdair’s at Thought Bubble. And I’ve resolutely refused to make plans for my two weeks off at Christmas beyond experimental baking and Dragon Age: Inquisition.

This year, as the world slows down and prepares to rest through the dark months, I’m going with it.

Published in: on October 19, 2014 at 17:21  Comments (1)  
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Home Sweet Home

After a busy weekend of shopping for all that little stuff you forget about while packing, my third move in three years is a done deal. And so is my brain, if the grammar of that sentence is to believed. Sheesh.

It’s been an absolutely breathlessly busy couple of weeks, but the tide is finally turning. All our things and people are in the same place now (hurray!) and as soon as the cardboard clears, we can start moving forward with older stuff that’s been on the cards a while. No new stuff. Alasdair and I have both promised not to take on any new projects the rest of the year, and I aim to stick to it. Having a garage means the ability to set up another permanent recording space, plus keep the bikes out of the wet weather. In the mean time, it’s exploring all the home stores and nearby shops and excellent, excellent burger joints.

I love having a commute again. I know some people hate it, but for me the transitional time to start to plan out my day, or unwind and leave work-things away from home, is more than just useful, it’s precious. It means my podcast backlog is evaporating, and I’m already starting to take a look at the medium and longer-term project list for Cast of Wonders again.

The new job is fantastic. My first transactional work in a long time, it’s challenging and exhausting and exhilarating and confusing and I love every minute of it. Sitting open plan is equal parts challenge and joy, and it will be interesting to see how that evolves as we transition to laptops.

One quick piece of legal news. As has been widely reported, the Kirby estate has settled with Marvel. While on one hand I’m delighted the dispute has been resolved, on the other I am a bit disappointed the “work for hire” question won’t be addressed at the Federal level. Unsurprisingly there are no public details of the settlement. We’ll have to see how Marvel handles attribution moving forward, and guess at the dollar figure.

Published in: on September 28, 2014 at 17:52  Leave a Comment  

Tanned and Ready to Go

Welcome back, true believers!

As I write this my final beach day sunburn is just starting to peel in the last spots. While outside, we’re being treated to drizzle before the weather is supposed to climb to the perilous upper 20’s later this week. Hoodie and lovely new tea one day, shorts and tank tops the next. Ah English weather, you do like to keep me on my toes. (more…)

Seeing Green

Let’s talk about She-Hulk.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know Jennifer Walters is my homegirl. Superhero, lawyer, socialite and all-around solid friend, Shulkie takes no guff from anyone. She stands up to Doom to defend his son in an attempt to seek asylum and wins. She can match banter with Iron Man and his legal department. Her current run is being written by Charles Soule, a lawyer himself. Issue four has her visiting Matt Murdock, i.e. DareDevil, ALSO a lawyer, for some advice on the aftermath of a case. When Iain and I were mediating, I used Jennifer Walters as my alias. And she’s green, my favorite color.

So when DC’s new it-director David Goyer calls her a “a giant green porn star”…

Goyer’s claims are as disgusting as they are mired in the ancient and erroneous All Boys Club of comic history. “An extension of the male power fantasy” and a sexual conquest for the Hulk – her cousin?! Please.

The backlash was immediate and from all angles. Even the grandfather of the Marvel universe, Stan Lee, put Goyer in his place. The Scriptnotes episode host, Craig Mazin, attempted to row back from his Goyer cheerleading / slut-shaming with this non-apology.

Marvel’s Phase One and Phase Two have made it abundantly clear that the modern world of superheroes has stepped firmly away from its white-washed origins. Three out of Nick Fury’s right-hand agents, between the movies and the television series, are women. The Bechdel Test is passed consistently.

Meanwhile over in Goyer’s DC camp, we hear the claim audiences won’t connect with a female lead, which is their excuse for there not being a Wonder Woman anything. She’s been announced as a cameo in the Justice League movie, should it actually ever take the screen around yet ANOTHER Batman / Superman project.

Marvel, meanwhile, offers us a gun-totting raccoon, a black Spiderman, and a young, female, Muslim Ms. Marvel.

The defense rests.

Published in: on May 25, 2014 at 12:51  Leave a Comment  
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Stay On Target

Another week, another six days of revision.

-I took one day “off” this week to attend an Open Day with a local firm. Their group exercises were creative and designed to reduce tension – a welcome and fun change from the usual fare.

-I’ve finished one of my three subjects (Private Client) and I’m about half way done with the second (Advanced Commercial Property). This week I have those two exams, followed by the final push for Commercial Law on the 21st. I won’t be able to take a full-day off this week, but I’m taking two half-days after each exam to unwind and go see a movie with Alasdair: The Wind Rises on Wednesday and Godzilla on Friday.

-Eurovision last night was the usual fantastic spectacle, made all the better by Austria’s well-deserved win. Conchita Wurst is a fearless inspiration. She and the song, “Rise of the Phoenix” would make a perfect pairing in the next Bond film, perhaps with the rumored casting of Idris Elba? One to-camera bow tie shot, that’s all I ask…

-The Cast of Wonders rebuild continues. I’ve reconstructed the Camp Myth Phoenix Watching episodes as well as 2014’s Parsec-eligible stories. An hour or so every day makes for good revision breaks.

-After exams and vacation I’m thinking of starting a book club devoted to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s list of 8 books every intelligent person should read. I’ve read seven (all but Gulliver’s Travels), but none recently. Maybe a Google hang-out arrangement for flexibility. Let me know if you’re interested in joining up.

-And finally some more legal news. There’s another article on the Washington state AG’s consumer protection suit regarding an Kickstarter. And on May 15th the Jack Kirby Marvel suit gets its day in front of the Justices as the US Supreme Court takes oral argument. Lower courts have consistently agreed with the Marvel position of Kirby’s contributions as work-for-hire, so this is the court of last resort for Kirby’s family. More news after the hearing.

Published in: on May 11, 2014 at 13:45  Leave a Comment  

Eighteen Days and Counting

“I should be revising” will be my constant refrain for those next 18 days, but in the meantime here’s some tidbits from the Geek Legal world this week:

May the Fourth Be With You. Which is about all I need to say on that subject, not being the world’s biggest Star Wars fan. Expect announcements today. And if there ISN’T a female lead role casting announcement today, expect commentary on its absence.

Warner Brothers may be shelling out millions to Tess Gerritsen, author of “Gravity”, the novel she claims the recent hit movie copied. Her lawyers claim there’s substantial evidence not only of copying, but of overlapping staff and a lapsed option contract.

-Kickstarters beware: AG’s are looking your direction. Washington state’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson has initiated a consumer protection suit on behalf of 31 residents of his state who have yet to receive any of the rewards promised them by Altius Management’s 2012 pledge campaign to print a deck of “retro-horror”-themed cards designed by a Serbian artist. Kickstarter has suffered criticism in the past for being unable to take action against deadbeat pledge campaigns. It’ll be interesting to see how this suit progresses and if other jurisdictions follow suit.

Back to administrative clauses for me, catch you in 7.