Fresh babble here! Innocent bystanders Stale babble here Who's to blame Zander's Tangle Last babble Last babble
Zander Nyrond
Name: Zander Nyrond
Log of Smallship One - Passionate and Confused
I'm just, you know...I'm just the guy who does the thing.
Chapter five of Journey To Conservatoire is now up at and part three of Sam Armitage's new adventure in the chronicles of Mary-Sue Montfitchet, "Northcombe," is available at for your perusal and enjoyment.

And if you enjoy what you see, please consider leaving a donation on the Support Avevale page. I will be removing the Paypal links this week, so this is the last hurrah for Avevale as any kind of source of income for us. I will of course continue to write and publish on the site, and anyone who knows either of my emails can still donate that way if they choose, but there can be no question of my offering any kind of exchange of goods for donations.

Thank you for your support. It's been fun and it has helped in many ways.

New episodes next week.

Originally posted on Comment here or there or both if you wish.
This is going on for ever. The situation was established ages ago and has been marking time for at least half an hour. The story has nothing useful or interesting to say, is too nasty to be fun and too thin to be dramatic. In other words, the mixture as before.

Gods, how many times?
"...very successful and the best for some years..." (parrot_knight)

"...inexplicably inept and excruciatingly dull..." (stevegreen)

I wonder what we will think of it. It would be nice to be wrong again.

In other news, I made a fairly successful Christmas dinner last night, we watched some good films and some episodes of Murdoch Mysteries (good as ever) and The Librarians (great fun, and nobody kicking up any kind of fuss because they had a real Santa Claus) and hopefully today will be more of the same.

Love and happiness to all.
Share all of our friends who celebrate Christmas, and to all of you whatever you celebrate, love and good wishes.

And may 2015 be a year in which suffering is relieved, fears prove groundless, and things begin at last to get better. For all of us.

Originally posted on Comment here or there or both if you wish.
The internet is full of the fact that an astronaut on the ISS successfully 3D printed a wrench whose pattern was emailed up there from Earth. This is indeed a very cool trick and worth talking about for a while.

I find less compelling the idea being bruited about that this will solve all our problems for ever. But then, I've not been that enthusiastic about 3D printing in general. I think it's a fad, utterly dependent on the huge techno-industrial infrastructure we've developed on this planet over the last couple of centuries, and its continued usefulness is predicated on the continued existence of that infrastructure and its successful full-scale transmissibility to other planets. Both these preconditions seem to me very much open to doubt, both as to feasibility and advisability.

I don't actually know whether email can be made to work over interstellar distances, reliably and consistently. I don't know if 3D printing can be made energy-efficient and sustainable; from what I've read about it to date, it isn't, and while I have seen hints that a sustainable form of plastic can be made out of hemp, I don't know how practical that is right now. I gather that attempts to 3d-print guns have not been hugely successful, and long may that happy state of affairs continue; I do know that very few useful and/or complex things are made entirely of one kind of plastic.

My concern about advisability is more serious. Sure, we can maybe send out fleets of shining starships, whose computers hold the patterns for every conceivable artefact humanity might ever need, crewed by robots who can suck the raw materials from a planet and build huge factories so that when the first human colonists arrive the first cars and microwaves and warm-air hand dryers are already rolling off the assembly lines and nobody needs to know how to do anything. It would be far less work, and speaking as an idle waste of space I'm all for that.

But is that how we really want to colonise the universe? Is that the form of humanity we want to send out to the stars? What happens when the 3D printers break down, or the pattern buffers get corrupted or wiped completely, so that our first human colonists arrive on their new world to find huge stockpiles of useless plastic and a bunch of very large and expensive bricks?

Maybe I'm just an old Luddite sticking my head in the sand, but I don't think so. I don't think we're really, in our heart of hearts, all that keen on plastic. It's useful, but it isn't how we want to live for ever and ever amen. It's the easy option, whose only virtue is its easiness. I think that when people want to go to the stars they'll do it because they want to do things for themselves, and if they don't want that, they won't last long. And I think here on earth, doing things for ourselves is going to come back in a big way, sooner or later and one way or another, and that that might not be altogether a bad thing.

There's a place for easy replication, maybe--it works on the Enterprise--and certainly it's cool that we've worked out how to do it. But I know that I'm part of a generation of human beings many of whom would last about five minutes outside our technological cocoon, and that we are not the true heirs of humanity or fit claimants of the universe. Those will be the ones who, if they find they need a wrench they haven't got, can make one themselves. Or, better still, who remembered to pack the ones they were going to need before they left.
Chapter four of Journey To Conservatoire is now up at and part two of Sam Armitage's new adventure in the chronicles of Mary-Sue Montfitchet, "Northcombe," is available at for your perusal and enjoyment.

And if you enjoy what you see, please consider leaving a donation on the Support Avevale page. I will be removing the Paypal links at the end of the year.

Originally posted on Comment here or there or both if you wish.
Chapter three of Journey To Conservatoire is now up at (spot the "deliberate" mistake in this week's episode), and part one of Sam Armitage's new adventure in the chronicles of Mary-Sue Montfitchet, "Northcombe," is available at for your perusal and enjoyment.

Originally posted on Comment here or there or both if you wish.
Chapter two of Journey To Conservatoire is now up at for your pleasure.

Also, I'm very pleased to announce that the Guests page has been updated with a new piece by Sam Armitage. This short interlude will be followed soon by the first episode of the next book in the Mary-Sue Montfitchet series, which is entitled "Northcombe." You can find it at . Please read, and enjoy.

Originally posted on Comment here or there or both if you wish.
As in Twelfth Night.

His last line bothers me.

On the face of it, he's a simple enough character; an upper servant who puts on the Puritan act and derives satisfaction from sneering at almost everybody else, nobles and servants alike, while nursing a festering ambition to be the master of all. A hypocrite, devoid of wit or humour, who gets his comeuppance in the form of a cruelly perceptive practical joke played on him by the people he despises. I burlesqued him briefly in the Eight-Man Austin, and I was planning for my burlesque to end on the same note as Shakespeare's original, but somehow it didn't turn out that way.

Malvolio, having been locked in a dark room for a day and a night on (supposed) suspicion of insanity, is released and brought before Olivia, his employer, whom he intemperately charges with having mistreated him. She denies it, the culprits own up, and the Clown, one of Malvolio's chief victims, reminds him of the sneers and scorns he has lavished on all those around him. "And thus," says the Clown, "the whirligig of time brings in his revenges."

"I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you!" Malvolio says, and sweeps out. As usual with Shakespeare, there's no indication how the line should be played, and in the (admittedly few) versions I've seen, it's done straight, somewhere along a line between simmering resentment and full-blown spitting rage. Malvolio is Malvolio to the end. And this might well have suited the mood of both Elizabethan audiences, who would have had no love for Puritans--especially fake ones--and modern audiences who tend to be rather solicitous of Malvolio's feelings and think him cruelly hard done by.

I'm neither Elizabethan nor especially modern, but I like comedy to be funny (why am I bothering with Shakespeare then, you cry? Who knows) and that ending for the Malvolio plot sours the thing for me. It didn't use to, but it does now. Maybe writing my primitive stick-figure Malvolio brought it home to me. I think, now, I would like to see it done this way:

CLOWN: ...and thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges.

Long pause. ZOOM IN (if we're on film) on MALVOLIO's face, still set in angry, minatory lines, as he looks from side to side; he is thinking, of his shattered dreams, his outraged dignity, his recent discomfort; looking at his own behaviour, at himself, suddenly from an unaccustomed angle. He makes a small noise; it might be a cough. Again. Twice more, and suddenly it's clear that he's actually laughing, in a queer, stifled way. Not uproariously, not naturally, but he's seeing himself as funny for the first time in his adult life, and it's doing him good. And gradually, the laughter is joined by a smile. An evil smile.

MALVOLIO: (rounding on CLOWN and others, almost playfully) I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you! (Exit, still chuckling)

I know. It's me. I just love redemption, and I don't see why in a comedy even Malvolio shouldn't get it. And I like my happy endings happy.

I wonder if anyone's ever played it that way?
The second Gestalt novel, Journey To Conservatoire, has begun! Chapter One is now up at…/10-eps…/31-journey-to-conservatoire for your pleasure. The story will continue in weekly episodes, gods willing and the sun don't 'splode, and there will be a song in every other chapter, because that's just how I roll.

So, here it is, my latest trick. I hope you like it.

Originally posted on Comment here or there or both if you wish.
Doesn't belong in a Gestalt story, but hey, you take what comes, right?

I wake up in the morning
And I go out on the street
I see a single magpie
And my heart sinks to my feet
I say "Good morning, Mister Magpie,
How's your lady wife today?"
And he just gives me a filthy look
Before he flies away.

I know just why he's unhappy
It's a fate he didn't choose.
I've got those had enough sorrow, bring me joy tomorrow,
Too many single magpies blues.

But when I see two magpies
The future looks more bright
I call them Mister and Missus
And I hope that I am right
But I'm no good at sexing magpies
It's a test I always fail
So for all that I can tell
Both those magpies could be male

I want same-sex marriage for magpies
I want to see it in the news (dear Daily Mail...)
I've got those, &c.

And when I see a crowd of magpies
Maybe four or five or six
I don't know what to expect then
Superstition's full of tricks
Do they all have to be married?
I don't know and that's the rub
They could all be lonely members
Of the Magpies Rugby Club

Polyamory for magpies!
It's a cause I can't refuse (sign my online petition)
I've got those, &c.

Every possible combination
Of magpies I have seen
There's a lady in Seattle
Who was asking about thirteen.
Does it matter if they're happy,
Married, single, straight or gay?
'Cause they all just give me filthy looks
Before they fly away

Do they know just what they do to me?
Would they do it if they chose?
Because if all of them are single
And they just can't learn to mingle
And the portent is dictated
By their matrimonial state, I'd
Be so happy and in clover
If they all got their leg over
So it's no surprise I'm feeling quite morose--
Because I've had enough sorrow,
Bring me some joy tomorrow,
"Too many single magpies" blows!
As my good friend Paul said...

The Overly Obnoxious OIK Operation is now on general release, and here is where you can buy it:

Attractively packaged in muted earth tones, crammed with exciting incidents, lively conversations and insights into the long history of the universe in which the Nyronds live, this book would be a very good thing to buy if you're in the mood for buying this kind of book. Plus that would mean that in a couple of months I would get some money, which would please me.

So, there's that.

How are you doing?

Originally posted on Comment here or there or both if you wish.
"Yelling. You think I'm yelling? Do you think I'm yelling? Because that was what you said. You think this is yelling? Do you think this is me yelling? Is that what you think? Because if you want to see me yelling, I can yell. I can certainly yell, if that's what you want. If you want me to yell, I can yell. DO YOU WANT ME TO YELL? DO YOU WANT TO SEE WHAT IT'S LIKE WHEN I YELL? DO YOU REALLY WANT ME TO YELL AT YOU? DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT YELLING REALLY IS?? I CAN SHOW YOU YELLING IF THAT'S WHAT YOU WANT! IF YOU WANT YELLING, I CAN YELL AS LOUD AS ANYONE! DO YOU WANT ME TO MAKE IT CLEAR TO YOU EXACTLY WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE ME YELL?? DO YOU??? DO YOU????"

With a respectful tip of the hat to the great Gene Wilder, and a loud phthppbbbbpt in the direction of certain souls who are even more delicate and oversensitive, it seems, than I am.
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Yes, finally. The print edition of Return To Argenthome, with cover and contents page and everything, is now available to buy from As always, watch the shipping--if you're in the UK there should be a £2.99 option, which I can confidently state will get it to you as quickly as anything will. Both Soren and I received our copies in good time and in good nick.

And I should also mention that the lyrics section at the back of the print edition has chords! I'm working on sheet music for a separate song book. Sorry I couldn't add it to this, but it would have made the book even bigger, delayed piblication even more, and probably been too small to read.

I really hope you enjoy it. If you do, do tell your friends about it, and maybe even review it, anywhere you feel comfortable doing so.

And a heartfelt thank you to all the loyal friends of Avevale for your patience, your encouragement, and the donations that have kept our heads above water while I wrote this book.

Now on to the next one!

Originally posted on Comment here or there or both if you wish.

Lyrics byZanTM

TTTO “Highland” by Blackmore’s Night (original here)

(Disclaimer: I do know the Nyronds aren't real and I'm not going anywhere.)

Late at night and I’m trying to get some sleep
While I’m stuck at the bottom of the heap
I decide real life is just not working for me
Everywhere people’s lives are going south
Just like me they’re all living hand to mouth
Hard times, nothing rhymes, it’s part of this new century

Now I finally have decided
I will leave it all behind
And discover something better
In the realms of my own mind
Find a place of independence and security
If you want me, that is where I’ll be...

I’ll be travelling, with the Nyrond,
And their flexible morality
Going round-trip on a homeship
That’s my way of life
Running long cons, with the Nyrond,
And their gift of immortality
When the ship goes, that’s all I need, all I need

With the Nyrond in the books I write
They use their powers to help the right
And they only ever con the people who deserve it
I’ve got the look, I’ve got the nose
I can learn how to run scenarios
And I feel I could deal with piloting a smallship
Here there’s nothing I can do but
Try to cope with being poor
Growing older, growing colder
Knowing that the end is sure
Lying wakeful every night, and fearful every day
Now I know I’ve got to get away...

I’ll be travelling, with the Nyrond,
And their flexible morality
Going round-trip on a homeship
That’s my way of life
Running long cons, with the Nyrond,
And their gift of immortality
When the ship goes, that’s all I need

I’ll be travelling, with the Nyrond, and free...

If I join them, it’s a promise
I will live for all eternity...

I’ll be travelling, with the Nyrond,
And their flexible morality
Going round-trip on a homeship
That’s my way of life
Running long cons, with the Nyrond,
And their gift of immortality
When the ship goes, that’s all I need

With the Nyrond
With the Nyrond
I’m free!
Down in Cardiff there's a man
Who's working night and day
To keep the British public entertained.
He's doing all he can
But as he slaves away
It's clear to see his output
Is growing rather strained.
We really feel it's time he took a rest
So we're sending him this message, with our best...

Please, Mr Moffat,
It's time you took a break.
The writing works much better
If you do it while awake.
The stress of creativity
Has taken its toll on you
So please, Mr Moffat,
Step away from Doctor Who.

Back when Russell left the show
A change was overdue.
Though production values were extremely slick,
The emphasis on ro-
Mance, fun when it was new,
Had begun to make even seasoned fans
Feel more than slightly sick.
So we looked to you with hope of something more,
But what we got was just "the mixture, as before"...

So please, Mr Moffat,
Diversify your career,
This job must be depriving us
Of many a fine idea.
Develop other properties
Like maybe Tintin 2
And please, Mr Moffat,
Step away from Doctor Who!

Please, Mr Moffat,
Your welfare's our concern.
Your candle's just a pool of wax
There's nothing left to burn.
Perhaps an early retirement
Is something to pursue,
But your plottin'
Has gone rottin
And your pacing
Needs replacing
And your characters have the piquancy
Of a long-abandoned stew--
So please, Mr Moffat,
Whatever you're on, get off it,
And please Mr Moffat,
Step away from Doctor Who
(And also Sherlock)
Step away from Doctor Who
(Give us more Jekyll)
Step away...
From Doc...tor...Who!
It's official. Day Of The Doctor was the only good Doctor Who script Steven Moffat had in him.

This entire season, series, whatever, has been building up to what I just watched. And I'm really glad we had a great band rehearsal weekend before it, because if I had been ordinarily depressed when I started watching that, who knows where I would have been by now.

The usual responses to "this is not Doctor Who as I knew it" range from "you were just a kid, your memory is deceiving you, it wasn't any good then either" through "of course it isn't, the world has changed, the old series wouldn't work now" to "why are you still watching it then?"

I've answered the last one, oh, many times. Call it love, addiction, Stockholm syndrome, gambler's fallacy, whatever the hell you like. The first one makes me wonder why we bother sending kids to school if we know they're not going to be able to remember even simple and important things right when they're grown up. And as for the second one...well, if the old series would not work in the present day and this does, all I can say is it's not exactly a ringing endorsement of the present day.

I have a foul taste in my mouth and in my brain. And I need to sleep.

Thank whatever gods there may be for my friends, and especially Cosmic Trifle.
Maya Bohnhoff linked to this article on Facebook, with the words "I love science. I love religion. I love it when the two come together."

I don't especially love either one, though I don't hate them either. I love stories, and art, and music. But I certainly agree with the writer of the article that the advocates of science and those of religion will achieve a lot more in their respective spheres if they stop wasting their time and energies futilely fighting each other and learn to get along instead, and it really doesn't matter who goes first. Both are important to people, both are necessary to life, and neither is going away any time soon, so get it together, people, draw whatever lines you need to draw and let's concentrate on the important things.

But this is a digression. The writer ends by saying, "Reality, like fantasy and imagination, goes on forever. With its billions of galaxies, so does the universe." I thought science had decided that the universe didn't in fact go on forever, but that may have been last week; the paradigms seem to get revised almost on a daily basis these days. Certainly imagination does not go on forever, and I speak as one who's been using his all his life. Imagination works within clearly defined limits; we cannot imagine that which is utterly outside our experience, which is a good thing because we would never be able to communicate it.

In fact, everything in this universe has a limit. And that's also a good thing. I may grouse about the limiting velocity of light, but it's good that things can only go so fast and no faster; imagine if exploding stars could emit debris at three hundred times lightspeed. You wouldn't dare go outside. And anyway, we may find a way round that one day. Some limits are meant to be circumvented.

This line of thought was prompted by a mention of Moore's Law, which if I have it right states that computer processing power will double every two years. For ever, presumably. This seems to be part of a general perception these days that there are no limits, that everything will go on getting bigger and stronger and faster and better for ever. This strikes me as unlikely in the extreme. I don't know anything about electronics, but it seems likely that at some point we will hit an upper limit to the number of floating point calculations we can make a tiny chunk of silicon do, and quite likely that there simply won't be anything that works any better. Why should there be? And looking at it from the other side, I know for a fact that there is an upper limit to human performance, both physically and mentally. (I've wibbled about this before.) Why go on designing and building ever faster and whizzier computer chips, even if we can, and then coming up with ever larger and more cumbersome operating systems to slow them back down to the point where we can cope with them? (Did you not realise that's what's happening?) How much processing power do we actually need?

I realise I'm sounding rather like the brilliant minds who decided that 640k of memory was all anyone would ever need in a computer, or the chap who said there would only ever be five hundred motor cars in Britain because that was how many chauffeurs were available, but even though they were comically wrong in the specifics they had the right general idea. Infinite expansion is all very well as an abstract concept, but on a finite planet it doesn't work. There are limits, whether we like it or not. Some limits can be pushed, gently but firmly, and will give; our understanding of the universe has grown and will continue to grow, and I firmly believe that not only will we one day understand it all, all that there is to be understood (because there is a limit to that as well), but that on that glorious day the real adventure will at last begin. Some limits are hard and fast: you cannot get a quart into a pint pot, you cannot hold more than--is it five or seven?--things in your head at once, you cannot hold your breath for more than a certain number of minutes and you cannot achieve escape velocity on a bicycle (without alien assistance). But whether the limit is hard or soft, porous or non-porous, it's there, and it's good that it's there, because it gives us something to push against when we're fresh, and something to lean on when we're tired.

Creativity thrives on limits. Say to me "Write something," and I boggle. Tell me you want a cycle of eight sonnets, each describing a different kind of alien love affair and each containing the word "artichoke", by Tuesday week, and I might manage it. (I might not, of course, so preferably don't.) Where do we get our ideas from? We start by setting limits, defining what kind of idea we want. Only when we've done that do the ideas emerge.

Limits are good. May we always find more, and may we be wise enough to know which ones we can surpass, and which ones we should respect.
Don't know if this will work...

Originally posted on Comment here or there or both if you wish.
I've started it.

This is not an entry for NaNuNaNuWriMoTiddleIDo; I can't write that fast any more. But now it's started, I hope to continue with it. Besides, I want it longer than 50k words. I'm hoping Sam will help.

I won't be posting anything till I have at least a couple of chapters in hand, so there will be nothing new on Avevale this weekend. Next week--who knows, eh? Who...knows?

Wish me well.

Originally posted on Comment here or there or both if you wish.