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I never post movie trailers

Until I do.

Here’s the trailer for Captain America: Civil War, and it looks really good.

Comes out May 6th. Wow.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.


This year I sent four copies of the limited edition hardback omnibus version of The Great Way to Worldbuilders. Fewer than 200 were printed and they aren’t designed to be sold in stores; there’s no ISBN, no listed price, no bar code. I created them for Kickstarter backers who pledged at $100 or more, and while I shipped out a whole bunch, I ended up with a significant number in my back hallway, still in their boxes.

I’m not planning to sell them, but I have sent one of those boxes to Pat Rothfuss for his Worldbuilders. The picture of the three books included in the book lottery is here. (Remember, that’s not the three books of the trilogy, that’s three separate copies of the entire trilogy).

However, if you really want that particular limited edition, there’s an ebay auction going on right now. And it benefits charity. If you’re interested in learning more about Worldbuilders and its charity work, you can.

To sum up: If you’re a fan and you missed out on the Kickstarter, you may think you also missed out on your chance to pick up a limited edition hardback. You didn’t! Just click on that ebay link above and do your part for charity.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.

Honey-glazed onions: a Turkey Day tradition

My wife loves this recipe. I make it every year as part of our Turkey Day celebration, and every year it wins the award for Least Likely To Become Leftovers. It’s also the only part of my dinner that’s sweet. We don’t do the yams with marshmallow thing, and the pies we eat for dessert always come hours later.

While in Portugal, I made this for my sister-in-law when she organized a Thanksgiving dinner for an American friend who’d been living in Italy for many years. I promised to give her the recipe, but I forgot. Here it is, converted to European measurements.

.5 kg small boiling onions
75 grams butter
40 grams honey

Bring a big pot of water to a boil, add the onions, and boil for 5 minutes if they’re really small, 8-10 if they’re big.

Drain and cool, then peel them. The easiest way to peel them is to cut the root base almost all the way through, then pull off a strip of the outer layer, then peel off the outer skin. (I do this part the day before, usually).

On the day of, melt the butter in a skillet large enough to hold the onions in a single layer. Medium heat. When the butter stops fizzing, add the onions and then the honey. Stir until everything is well combined.

The original recipe said they were done when slightly browned, but I cook them way past that point. I cook them until the glaze is dark, dark brown and incredibly thick, and the onions are basically falling apart.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.


Divers Matters (aka N things make a post)

With all the terrible news in the world right now (along with the deeply awful responses) I’m going to write about some personal stuff.

1. One of the regular features of this blog is the recurring Story Seeds posts: when I get a story idea that starts taking over too much of my thinking, I give it away here on my blog for anyone to use. Well, as I mentioned before, a writer ran with one of those ideas and sold his story. And now the anthology is out: Caped: An Anthology of Superhero Tales. His name is Stephen Kotowych. Check it out.

2. Everyone’s buzzing about the latest new awesome video game, so let me mention one I played right before my Portugal trip: it’s called PORTAL. Very fun and funny! I played Portal 2 immediately after, which was also fun and funny, although not as much. The cake is a lie! Right?

My kid has other ideas, and convinced me to preorder Fallout 4 for him. With our terrible internet, it took 2 days to download, but he’s been playing it regularly ever since and he loves it. Do you love post apocalyptic settings? You might like it, too, but if you wait ten years you can probably pick it up cheap and play it on an old computer.

3. For the first time ever, I figured I’d try NaNoWriMo, because I was having trouble getting momentum on the book after a month away. I’m supposed to write 50,000 words during November, and today is the 15th. The halfway mark. How many words have I gotten done? 8,000.

That would be fine if they were all excellent words in great scenes, but there’s at least one pivotal scene that I know I screwed up in a big way.

4. I mentioned this on social media, but I’m almost psyched to watch Jessica Jones on Netflix. I say “almost” because I don’t really have strong expectations, and might be deeply disappointed, but I still plan to start watching at midnight when it airs, just as I did for Daredevil.

This is the way I enjoy big corporate entertainments: I see them as quickly as I can, with little to no enthusiasm. This lack of excitement is why I usually find myself deep in online discussions of movies or shows without feeling even remotely like a “fan.” I think it’s also why online disagreements about a show, which usually feel clinical to me, can be so upsetting to other people, especially now that everyone has decided that casual conversations are “attacks from fans”.

5. The other video game that is taking over my life is Sentinels of the Multiverse, which started as a cooperative card game but was turned into a virtual card game last year. It’s a complex game, and frankly I found all the conditions impossible to keep track of when I had to jot them on pieces of paper. I much prefer to have the software keep track of all that for me, not to mention how much easier it is to read the cards on my screen.

Steam assures me that I’ve played this game for 83 hours this year, which doesn’t cover the many hours I played the version on my wife’s iPad. And while the graphics are colorful and the knock off superhero characters (pseudo-Flash, pseudo-Iron Man, etc) are cute, the different decks interact in interesting ways. Winning games becomes a matter of working out each deck’s strengths.

Anyway, Handelabra has created a free version of the game that you can download. You can play the free version with a tutorial that teaches you the game or you can turn that off. And while the paid version of the game comes with four villains, four environment decks, and ten hero decks, the free one has only a single villain and environment deck, with four heroes to oppose him.

So if you want to see not-Superman, not-Flash, not-Batwoman, and not-Iron Man take on not-Lex Luthor on Dinosaur Island, try out that game for free. There’s no time limit on it and you can play it as many times as you like.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.


Randomness for 11/12

1) Icons Unmasked. I liked the Goku one.

2) Theater from the back of a car during a traffic jam. Video.

3) The top ten Lifehacker posts of all time.

4) “If you were with me, you’d suffer.” Australia falls in love with Chinese dating show.

5) What it’s like to drive the worst car ever built.

6) Every country where James Bond has spied.


Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.

My kid is downloading Fallout 4, and we’re already into day 2 and it’s only half done. Our internet is bullshit, but I hate the idea of upgrading to a cable company for better. So while that’s using up our internet, no uploading pictures, so no posts for a short while.

My gaming group is about to start up a new game with a new system: BREACHWORLD. It’s been a while since we started a game with practically helpless level one characters. I’m concerned. My PC has zero fighting skills and the magical healing skill that’s his whole justification has a 16% chance of success.

I’m currently reading The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman. There’s all kinds of woo woo bullshit around being lucky, but (as I’ve mentioned before) a lot of luck seems to boil down to specific psychological traits and behaviors, like being open to meeting other people and so forth.

I’d like to be lucky. I’m giving it a try.

My NaNoWriMo is still bullshit. What I need to do is ruthlessly cut out everything from my life for a week or so just to get back into it. It doesn’t help that I have all kinds of distracting crap going on–not all of it bad, but still distracting. For example, our dishwasher broke and the landlord replaced it. The guy who put it in tore the front off our cabinet (and I didn’t even notice at first). Plus, I keep thinking I need to put together a Bookbub proposal and whip up reddit ads for my trilogy.

Stuff! There’s so much stuff all the time, and I just want to write my book.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.

Portugal, Day Six

The day before, we’d agreed that my son would not have to come up the hill to the castle because we thought he’d have to walk the whole way, and he can’t do that without pain. However, once we found out about the train-car, we had to drag him up there.

Actually, I dragged him up there while his mom and her sister brought their sketch pads to the local gardens (which turned out to be more park than garden, but whatever). With the boy, I found parts of the castle that I’d missed the previous trip, but things were also cut short due to pain. I don’t have many pictures today, because the boy was reluctant. I do have a photo of the train-car, though.

Portugal, Day Six

Food-wise, the day was better. The less expensive Italian place was open, and the boy got the pizza he’d been wanting. After that, my wife and her sister wandered the town with their sketch books, while I kicked back on my computer, mostly writing these blog posts. We wrapped up the day by playing a round of iota, a card game so small that it fits into a tiny bandaid-sized tin, and is perfect for travel.

It was sorta sad that we’ve had two meals out that we really enjoyed, and both were in Italian restaurants.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.

Portugal, Day Five

There are, in fact, two walking tours to take in Tomar, Portugal. One goes through the historic part of town, and the other trudges up the hill to the castle and convento.

The boy has issues with foot pain, so he only had to do one, and naturally he chose the one on flat ground. The tour of Tomar was enjoyable enough. We saw a beautiful old church with a relic inside, and very modern river walks, and the oldest synagogue in Portugal, which was shut down in the 1500s sometime due to forced conversion. We also saw that a bunch of the restaurants in town were closed and that the beautiful old churches were holding mass. Hello, Sunday.

After an unsatisfying lunch (the boy had already eaten from a Grab n Go automat-type thing) we started toward the long uphill trek to the castle. My feet already hurt. My wife’s knee was aching (she hadn’t taped it correctly, somehow) and my sister-in-law’s foot and ankle were sore, but we were determined.

And what did we see but a little train-car parked in the Praça da República, ready to take us up to the castle? By “train-car”, I mean that it was a four-wheeled car with a chassis like a steam train, and three passenger cars that it towed along behind. So we didn’t have to walk up the hill after all.

The castle was a castle. If you’ve been to Europe you’ve probably seen a bunch, but this was my first trip and I’d never walked along a castle wall before, or looked through the archery slits, or stared up at the gates, imagining myself storming the place. It was pretty cool.

The Convento de Christo was even cooler, full of multiple levels and one cloister after another. I would have been lost in that place in flash, if I’d ever been a novitiate.

Of course there are pictures.

Portugal Day Five

We caught the last train-car back, then hunted everywhere for good food. We failed to find it, but we did get some calories. But no meal, no matter how disappointing, could darken the day we had.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.

Portugal, Day Four

For the fourth day, the boy stayed home while I accompanied my wife and sister-in-law on a shopping trip. When we do our shopping in Seattle, we go to the local supermarket, get everything we need, then haul it home. In Lisboa, there were vegetable stalls in the church parking lot, a butcher shop, then a big market building that held a number of different sellers displaying fish, meat, veg, the whole deal. We even ordered a turkey from yet another butcher shop. After that, it was the health food store so my wife could have some gluten-free foods.

It felt very European, which means we walked around a lot.

After, we dropped by my sister-in-law’s health club for an afternoon drink at an outside table.

This is what everyone imagines themselves doing in Europe, right? You sit outside with a little coffee or a whatever, enjoy beautiful weather, chat, and people-watch.

I won’t lie. It’s pretty great.

Sadly, it doesn’t take long for me to start feeling antsy. I should be writing. I could be reading. I could be jotting down one of these posts. Taking it easy is hard.

Then, in the afternoon, we caught the subway to Gare do Oriente, their big train station, and then took a two-hour local train to Tomar. You pronounce the name of the town Too-MARR. If you raised your hand in a flourish with that last syllable, you’d get the spirit of the thing.

My brother-in-law was about to record an album, and he needed the apartment space to put up the musicians who were coming into town to play. So this was our first big tour of the country, and it was coming quickly.

Tomar was founded by a Templar, and there’s a castle (a castle in Europe? No way!) but the Convento De Christo is supposed to be the real reason to visit. It’s supposed to be unique and amazing.

We made our way to the guest house my sister-in-law had reserved, which sounds like we had our own little house, doesn’t it? Nope, it was a funky old hotel called Residencial Uniao Take a look. Or: https://goo.gl/maps/ztQxQp7hchu

If you back up that street view, you’ll see the Praça da República and the statue of the Templar who founded the town. But we have pictures, too.

Portugal Day Four

Still, it was too late to do anything but eat, and since the tourist season was closing, it was tough to find a place. Luckily, we came across an Italian restaurant with wisteria growing along the patio. I had chicken with blood sauce, which tasted a lot like blood sausage. The boy, sadly, ordered more shrimp, and was disappointed when they arrived with the heads still on. He’s going to give up on shrimp for the rest of our trip.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.

Portugal, Day Three

Four times a year, for three days only, the Museum of Lisboa opens the city’s Roman galleries to the public, and since the fall dates were perfectly timed with our visit, my sister-in-law arranged for us to go.

One problem: the Galerias Romanas were on the Rua de Prata (the street of silver, because that was once the street all the silver smiths were on) but there was no further detail. It was somewhere on that street, which is about 8 blocks long. We were told that people would need to arrive at the meeting place 30 minutes early, and that we couldn’t leave bags near the monument, but there was no address included with the reservation confirmation. What monument? What meeting place? An email sent to the museum asking for an address was never answered.

And this is something my brother- and sister-in-law explained about Portugal: as cultures go, it’s very non-confrontational. Passive, even. People drive like crazy, but they rarely honk. People are routinely late, only to find the person still there waiting for them, an hour past the time they agreed to meet, and no mention of the delay will ever be made. People will lie to your face to avoid saying something that might upset you.

So you end up with things being done in a half-assed way, because there’s no strong/systemic correction. A major city museum will tell people to be at the meeting place a half hour early but never specify where the meeting place is.

This sort of thing will come up again during our trip.

Anyway, we walked down the Rua da Prata and, a block from the end, I saw a cordoned off side street, a hole in the asphalt, and a woman in street clothes being helped down.

“There it is,” my wife said immediately, and she was right. It was right there in the middle of the street, and that street was not the Rua da Prata. It was near the intersection with Rua da Prata, but it was not the street itself.

The galleries themselves were pretty cool, but not extensive. I have pictures, naturally, and the tour guide explained that they’ve been rediscovered several times over the centuries, often so that shop owners could use them as free storage. In fact, that was probably what they were built for originally.

Also, GMs: you are not getting the smell of your dungeons right.

Sadly, they’re prone to flooding, and one shop-owner’s brilliant idea to store sacks of cement down there has severely damaged one section. Also, they were blocked off in the 1800’s. The only evidence that there are more galleries are the drawings made years and years ago; the only way modern archaeologists will get access to the hidden galleries will be if a shop owner digs down and uncovers them. Unfortunately, shop owners know the galleries are there and they won’t do that, because they would have to notify archaeologists and it would be a mess. It will probably take another massive earthquake to open them up for study.

Some pics:

Portugal Day Three

Afterwards, my son was a little freaked out by the smell, how dirty they were, and how dirty he’d gotten down there. (It didn’t help that the tour guide talked about sewage floods in the distant past.) I took him back to the apartment while my wife and her sister hit the town. They had a great time and saw amazing things. We slipped out to a restaurant where no one spoke English, ordered skewers of bacon-wrapped beef.

Inedible. The beef still had the silverskin attached, so it was impossible to cut the pieces small enough to eat using the dull knives we’d been given. It wasn’t all that easy to chew, either. The bacon was undercooked, so it was all soft and squishy. It also had tiny bones in it. Bones in bacon? I didn’t even realize that was possible, but there were tiny round chips in there.

You know how American food is sometimes derided as meat, carb, and two veg? (As thought that’s boring?) Well, Portuguese food is meat, two carbs, and no veg at all. The menu item will only list the meat; it’s assumed you’ll want a plate of fries and a plate of rice with it. I ate a bit for politeness’s sake, then we got out of there.

So far, Portuguese cuisine isn’t winning me over, and the boy has been decidedly uncomfortable with it.

Mirrored from Harry Connolly. You can comment here but not there.