Netflix, farewell. It’s been nice knowing you.

A Netflix envelope picture taken by BlueMint.

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I just cancelled my Netflix account.  I’ve been a subscriber with them for a long time.  Sometimes it was on and off, but for the last few years, since I began using their streaming service, it’s been on with us.  I loved the service; I loved being able to rent movies and keep them as long as I wanted to, and later to stream things whenever I chose.  It was almost better than buying the DVDs.

A little while ago, you may remember, Netflix raised its prices.  Essentially it stopped offering a combo service of disk and streaming rentals, and forced its customers to pay for each separately, effectively raising its rates by something like 60%.  Now, that didn’t affect me since I’d gone to all streaming a while ago.  But it didn’t seem like a very good idea to me.  Well what do I know about that sort of business, right?

Apparently enough to have foreseen the result.  Just the other day Netflix appeared shocked at having lost a million more customers than it expected thanks to this new policy.  (We’re shocked, shocked we tell you, to find that so many of you aren’t the complacent suckers we took you for!)  I mean, let’s face it.  Netflix isn’t the only game in town anymore.  Yeah, they put a massive crimp in Blockbuster’s hold on the rental marketplace, but that doesn’t mean they can afford to behave as if we don’t have any other options.  Even if they were the only game in town, there is always the option to stop renting.

What? you say.  Stop the immediate flow of media into my home?  Are you mad?  I’d lose my mind if there wasn’t a constant stream of noise in my home!

No you wouldn’t.  You just think you would.  And you’d save money.  And you’d actually make a point that needs making:  That big companies can’t simply assume that we’ll shuffle along like good animals and do whatever they want us to do.  See, the thing is, I’m not affected at all by the changes, but I’m pissed.  I’m pissed off that Netflix thought it could suck that much more money out of its subscribers.  I’m pissed that they were surprised when more people said “Oh HELL no!” than they expected.

I’m pissed at the non-apology that they made today, and I’m pissed at the stupid name they’ve given their new enterprise.  (Okay that’s a silly thing to be annoyed about, but as long as I’m on a roll…)

As anyone who knows me can tell you, when I get pissed off I am more than willing to forego things I enjoy to make my point.  Now maybe this all seems like what my mother used to call “cutting off your own nose to spite your face,” but I don’t think so.  It’s time to remove Netflix from my life, and if that means I see fewer movies and TV eps than I used to, so be it.  I get kind of tired of being a media victim sometimes.

Maybe I’ll get more done.

 

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Countries of the Mind, 3: What’s cookin’ in Edrais and elsewhere.

The Jotun giants are playable in the game. Ill...

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Quite a while ago I promised that I’d talk a little bit about how my fantasy world has evolved.  There’s still a lot of silliness, but I’m starting to find that this is fertile ground.  I’m working in a world in which magic plays a large part.  Here there be dragons and all that.  (I have three so far: Amurdal Vash-Draechenth who you might remember as the sorcerer Ignatius Bijagy, his brother Azhinidem Vash-Draechenth who belongs in the Micah Darcy part of the universe (Yes, the Micah stories are out of print, by choice.  I was never really happy with what I’d done with them.) And finally Narrestil Fath-Cedrasul who is a rock star.  No really, he is.

Right now I’m working on the gender-bending swashbuckler, a tale about Arnau Corwin, a cheerfully polyamorous, bisexual rogue who actually does end up doing the right thing fairly often.  But not always.

The key worked, and Arnau slipped into the dark, quiet house without a sound.  He made his way up the stairwell slowly, under cover of his shadow spell. Arnau had a nice repertoire of such glamours, but becoming one with shadow was his favorite.  He much preferred it to the chameleon one which was really only useful if you were standing in front of a background that wasn’t too busy or vivid.  (He’d once made the mistake of using the chameleon glamour to blend into a mural by Baptiste Donvier.  The owner of the house he was trying to rob laughed so hard that Arnau was able to escape.)

 

Another story within this same universe is “Anna Magdalena’s Song” about the life and loves of a castrato.

For his own part, Max had hoped that marriage would spell the end of the embarrassing flood of proposals and propositions from women all over Edrais and even further afield.  They made him frankly uneasy, particularly the letters which were pornographic or included items of (all-too-frequently unwashed) intimate apparel.  Unfortunately the announcement of his engagement simply changed the tone of those proposals from interested to desperate, and in some cases even violent.  One woman, already married to a wealthy businessman from Radosch, threatened to kill herself, her three children and the  family dog if Max didn’t give up Zoë and marry her.  Max had sent the letter to her husband with a note begging the man to restrain his wife.  There had been no formal response, but the lady in question disappeared from society shortly thereafter and was said  to be visiting her relatives in Bogatyr.  Max was relieved; he’d been a bit worried about the dog.

I began a retelling of The Ring of the Nibelungen for a friend’s anthology but it got too long and wasn’t doing what I needed it to do.  I was trying too hard to make it fit his requirements.

Architect brothers Fasolt and Fafner Riesenstein, of Jotunheim Design and Planning Associates, were jubilant when they were awarded the contract for development of the Asgard site.  Valhalla, as their clients already referred to it, was to be an extensive reworking and expansion of the old complex of government facilities, private residences and pleasure gardens that had dominated the Asgard district for centuries.  In fact, the district itself had been expanded recently by some judicious real estate purchases made by the government during the recent Fimbul-Winter scare when property values plummeted as owners vied to make a little money before Ragnarok made wealth and power moot.  Since then, along the borders of Midgard and Niffelheim, old commercial and residential properties had been razed in preparation for the development and in spite of the fact that lawsuits had been filed by the Nibelungs of Niffelheim and the human residents of Midgard, where questions about the source of the long and unseasonable winter weather were being debated in the city councils.

We’ve agreed that it’s going to be much too large and I’m working on another for him,  a story of enterprise and adventure:

Sir Archimboldo Khedive’s work was well known across Edrais and even into parts of Nüwa.  The famous Nenuphar Gate that straddled the narrows that led into the Sea of Arcadia linking the southernmost tip of Tammuz and Padi?ahinkizi, Bul-Bul’s capital city was Rennie Flynn’s design, but had been grandiose and impossible.  Khedive had turned that monstrous impossibility into something awe-inspiring — an enormous sunrise-colored glass archway, graceful yet strong enough to withstand the infamous storms that swept through the narrows each spring.  It shimmered with a soft internal light that welcomed visitors day or night.  Flynn became famous for his design, Khedive was knighted by the Queen of Bul-Bul and given a commission to construct a canal between the Sea of Arcadia and the Sea of Silk, so named for the groves of nyam which surround its eastern shore.  These trees were the favorite home to the giant silk spiders of Satyagraha, and Queen Lejka had long desired to find a quicker, more reliable route to the silk markets than the long and arduous (and sometimes dangerous) overland routes.

Each of these stories explores a little facet of this world, and as I work, I find out the most amazing things about the characters, the places, and the way things work in a universe that runs parallel to our own.  It’s what I love most about building a fantasy world.  I’ve gotten lost in these places; they were there for me when I needed some sort of distraction, and now I owe them my attention.

If anyone has any questions, I’ll happily try to answer them.

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Live Journal readers? A moment of your time.

Something has to give sometimes.  Lately, between the new kids in the house, the new job and my writing (and trying to promote myself and my work) it’s been reading LJ.  What that means, apart from me not seeing your posts, which I really do miss, is that I don’t see any comments you make on my blog posts.

I appreciate everyone’s good thoughts and wishes and I would genuinely love to answer all of you, but unless I can see your comments, I can’t do it.  I am trying to keep up more these days, though I have a lot of work right now, so if you want to make sure I see your comments, please follow the link in my posts to Persimmon Frost and comment there.

To be honest, I’m not noticing that all my blog posts are showing up on LJ.  I could be wrong, but there doesn’t appear to be any way to check that.  I hope the feed is working properly.

In any event, I just wanted to let you know I’m still alive and working hard.  I’ll catch up with you all as I’m able.

Countries of the Mind, part 2: A Brief History of Fol-de-Rol, Including the Amazing Story of the War with Feathers

Morris dancing in the grounds of Wells Cathedr...

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(It’s raining and I’m sleepy.  I don’t feel like writing anything new, so here is a short history of events which occurred on the flying continent of Venusberg.  Enjoy!)

Fol-de-Rol, a small country on the airborne Isle of Venusberg, was discovered almost by accident, when some of the inhabitants of Lesser Dimpie looked to the left and said, “Look!  More land!”   Naturally, they wasted no time moving out of Lesser Dimpie and into the unexplored territory, much to the chagrin of the rest of the people of Venusberg who had always wanted to discover more land someplace.  (It’s a terrible drawback living on a continent which floats over a mile above the nearest neighbors.)  It was a nice piece of land, too, and people from all over Venusberg flocked to it, and it was named “Fol-de-Rol.”

Eventually, though, Fol-de-Rol’s Grand High Cassowary, Galago I, decided that it was simply too much land to be bothered with so he gave away much of it to people who wanted their own kingdoms, keeping only the peninsula because, as he said, “It has a rather nice view.”  In addition to Fol-de-Rol, this area became home to, Filigree, Floristan, and Feathers.   All of these countries were quite small.  In fact, the country of Floristan has a population of one rather depressed artist, for whom it is named, and is just big enough to house his studio and one art gallery which won’t show his work.

Feathers turned out to be a rather unpleasant little country, always squabbling with its neighbors, tossing  its garbage over the edge of the island, and jeering at Floristan’s artwork.  Eventually, tensions came to a head, and Feathers went to war with Fol-de-Rol over a Morris Dancing contest.  It happened that the Wazoobob of Feathers, Jasper the Unsuitable,, and Galago I, were both fanatica lMorris Dancing enthusiasts –Morris Dancing being, in fact, about the only thing that Galago was really inclined to put any effort into — and when dancers from each kingdom faced off at the yearly contest, a dispute arose over the decision of the judges.  Jasper insisted that Galago had bribed the judges to award the prize of a 300 lb. marzipan pig to the Fol-de-Rollan dancers.  Galago replied that the Featherino dancers didn’t know a ha’step from a hey nonny and therefore didn’t deserve the prize.

Further insults were exchanged, ambassadors were recalled and both countries prepared for war.  The 300 lbs of marzipan pig was donated to the Fol-de-Rol Ministry of Eats by the Morris team in preparation for what might have been a long siege.  Hostilities between the two countries reached a fever pitch when, under cover of night, 200 armed Featherinos snuck across the border and cemented large plastic flamingoes onto the front lawns of prominent Fol-de-Rollans.

The ultimate blow, however, was struck by the Fol-de-Rollans.  Six months into the war, Fol-de-Rollans from all over the country converged at the border with spades, shovels and pickaxes.  During one long, moonless night they worked at digging up the entire border of Feathers.  As the first light of dawn was seen on the horizon the last few feet of earth could no longer support the country’s weight, and Feathers broke free of Venusberg, to plummet towards the planet below.  The war was over with only a single loss on the Fol-de-Rollan side, a blacksmith named Torque who had been standing on the wrong side of the border as he dug.  He did earn for himself a hero’s memorial and the posthumous nickname of “Torque the Complete Idiot.”

The fall of Feathers takes on an interesting twist.  Inhabitants of the northeastern portions of the Slata Baba Empire, the north of Fata Morgana and all of Eisbjörn report seeing the kingdom fall from the sky in the early hours of the morning.  “It was descending at a phenomenal rate,” wrote Arthur Inscriptus, a historian living on the west coast of Freedonia at the time.  “It fell directly towards the Nayad of Marx, but just before the impact, a huge, grey shape rose out of the waves and appeared to swallow the falling country whole.  The behemoth then descended quickly, leaving only a wild disturbance of the ocean which lasted for many hours and caused much flooding, particularly in the low-lying areas of Kitsuné Province.”

Naturally, the Nix of the area were concerned, and undertook an investigation.  “That Nayad is very sparsely populated,” said the official report given at the 437th Nix Congress in Atlantis, “and could be home to any number of unusual creatures, but we feel sure that nothing so monumental could exist, even in our frontiers, without our having heard about it before this.  We feel certain that the eyewitness accounts, though sincere, are in error.”  Nevertheless, among Nix, the Nayad of Marx is often more popularly referred to as “The Nayad of Behemoth.”

Recently the Galago I’s heir, Galago-Over-Eggs, issued a formal apology to “Feathers and all Featherinos, wherever they may be,” for the unprecedented act of aggression by the Fol-de-Rollans.  Cassowary Galago, appeared at the ceremony of contrition in an apple green bombazine dress with pale pink ribbons and pink crinoline, and a bright yellow lace mantilla.  He was reported to look “fetching.”

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Review: Aloha from Hell, by Richard Kadrey

I love the Sandman Slim books, I purely do. Richard Kadrey knows how to tell a story; his prose is as smooth as a 35 year old single malt, full of violence, cheerful vulgarity and extreme smart-assery. “Aloha from Hell” is no exception. It’s a rough, funny novel with an awesome body count just like the first two.

In this third book of the series which picks up fairly soon after the end of the second book, Stark figures that killing all the zombies on earth should earn him a little bit of a rest. The universe begs to differ. There are a lot of loose ends — Mason, Alice, Alita, the Kissi, the Golden Vigil — all of whom have some kind of agenda which runs roughshod over Stark’s serenity. In spite of himself, Stark agrees to look into a demonic possession which turns out to be far more than it seems, and convinces him that he has to go back to Hell to finish Mason once and for all.

The problem with any series is that its author always has to walk a fine line between more-of-the-same and WHOA-where-did-that-come-from? In that respect I think Kadrey has done pretty well, though some of the unfinished business in this book did show signs of strain. That Stark still can’t seem to let go of Alice is probably perfectly reasonable in terms of how human beings deal with loss within a relatively short time frame. But over the course of three books,the audience can find it fatiguing. Ditto Stark’s vendetta against Mason. Nevertheless, these plot lines had to be wrapped up so that the series can end or the characters can move on. And in this case it seems pretty clear that Kadrey intends the latter. He leaves Stark in a highly unusual position, to say the least, and one that needs to be resolved.

As usual, the secondary characters shine. Vidoq and Muninn are back as are Candy and Allegra. And Kasabian is back, thank goodness. He’s well on his way to becoming my favorite character. There’s also an excommunicated priest who is relatively interesting. I hope Kadrey does more with him in later books. And then there’s the usual cast of monsters and Hellions who are the redshirts of the series, and a cameo by an infamous criminal which is amusing and disturbing by turns.

In all, I think this may be the weakest of the three novels, but it’s far from being a disappointment. On the contrary, I’m really anxious to find out what’s going to happen next. That’s the mark of a good story as far as I’m concerned.

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