Tuesday, February 27, 2007

And Here is the Outside Knuckle Roll

Keeping Your Fingers Supple - fingertip roll

For some reason, YouTube decided to repeat the sequence at twice normal speed at the end, dunno why. Would that I could do it that fast -- I'd be working the crowds at Vegas ...

Feed Me, Seymour!

So we got up this morning to a wet, sloppy, blowing snowfall. Won't stick, it's not cold enough on the flats, and it is already turning to rain, but we had to take our camper into the shop in the middle of it because that's when they could slot us, and traffic was, well, rush hour traffic compounded by icky weather.

Not being a morning person, I'd prefer that such things should commence no earlier than, say, eleven a.m. Those folks who run around going on about the beauty of the sunrise and all? It's just like a sunset, except on the other side of town ...

Our camper has in it a toilet, and it was leaking. Having expended my handyman abilities by tightening everything I could reach that was loose, and doing so in a space designed for Lilliputians, I realized it needed a new seal, and those aren't like the normal wax rings you can get at the hardware store for the house johns, so, in it had to go.

The idea of looking up to see the dogs wading neck-deep through black water effluvia in the camper is not one I wish to contemplate in any detail. If you think a toilet backing up at home is bad, picture the scene rolling down the freeway at sixty with it swirling around your ankles ...

Nope, no thank you, it went in to to the professionals.

Income taxes loom, the toothdriller wants to send his kids to college on my dime, the dog's surgery took another bite, and last month's heating bill during the cold and snow is the highest it's ever been in this house, and that with the thermostat dialed down every night. Easy come, easy go, so it is said, but have you ever noticed that spending it seems to happen a lot faster than making it?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Is it Safe?

Saw Mr. Dentist today, and without going into the too-much-information-ick-ick! realm, let me just say that some years ago I had a crown installed and, unbeknownst to me, it was badly-fitted. The result of that led to a pair of small dental caries where neither floss nor brush could effectively reach. These have now been drilled and filled, and a fitting for a new and -- we hope -- properly-positioned replacement crown done.

I brush, I floss, I Water Pik, and even so, I've had more cavities plugged than get filled on a busy weekend at the Mustang Ranch ...

The statute of limitations has run out on the original crown, and the guy who did the orginal work is now plying his trade in the afterlife anyhow, so that's that.

Never a dull moment ...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Snake Oil

In light of recent discussions, here and elsewhere, I am going to offer some free advice. (Given the price, one must consider its worth in that light -- might be worth exactly what one pays for it -- but I've never let that stop me before ...)

Leave off already with the snake oil.

People who pay attention to such things tend to hear alarms and see red flags when a claim seems, on the face of it too good to be true. It might be true, but as a basic rule one learns early in writing fiction, truth is no defense. It can be absolutely true, but if it doesn't sound true? It won't play.

If you have a product or service you wish to offer, it is much better in my mind to undersell it than to oversell it.

I know, I know, nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public, and advertisting folks will tell you that hype works, and for some it does.

Not for me. So if you are looking for discerning folks such as myself to try your product or service and you pound me over the head with how miraculously terrific and unbeatable it is, I'm not going to come have a look.

Recently, I wrote and offered some ad copy to a guy I know who has a training seminar. He and his co-teacher are extremely well-qualified, what they offer is great material -- this from folks I know and trust who have told me -- and you will certainly get your money's worth and then some, but the kind of student they really want is apt to turn away once the get a whiff of the cure-all, walk-on-water hype they've come up with to offer it.

Hide your light under a bushel. Hide the bushel. Tell us you think you have something worthwhile and why, but don't deck it out with neon and brass bands, please.

Look at the way you tell us about what you do. If in your description you have the words "best-ever," "revolutionary," "unique," or "unbeatable," then rewrite it. You don't have to be humble, but if something comes across as bullshit, that's going to lose those folks who aren't looking for that addition to their diet ...

Friday, February 23, 2007

More Mayhem with Sharp Steel ...

Thirty or so years ago, I worked in a medical clinic. As part of that, I got a lot of medical magazines and surgical catalogs, and in one of these, I came across a knife I thought was cool, so I ordered it.

It was an autopsy/dissection knife. Not a disposable, nor a scalpel, it was an old-style reusable, and looked rather like a hunting knife, something like the one pictured up top. The handle was black, ebony, I believe, and lightly fluted for a better grip. It was designed to flay open a corpse. German steel, cost about forty bucks as I recall.

Eventually, I gave it away or lost it, I can't recall exactly, and I was sorry. This was before I got interested in knives as a result of the study of silat. It was always kind of fun to tell people who asked about it: Oh, this? It's an autopsy knife ...

Got some great double-takes off that line.

It was a great tool and designed for the kind of thing that would serve a knife fighter ...

Which brings us to today's lesson: The right tool for the job.

Realistic knife defenses using one's bare hands and other body parts are iffy at best. Guy has a knife and you don't, run away. If you can't, find a weapon -- a chair, a piano, a bowling ball. If you can't do that, and you have no choice, and your barehanded stuff is all you have, then you have to go for broke. You'll get cut, and if you are lucky, not so bad that you can't take the guy before you bleed out.

If you are unlucky ... ? Well. You know.

The question is not whether you wind up in the hospital, you are going there, the question is only if it's gonna be the ER or the ICU.

I can't tell you what will work, save that trying like hell to survive will serve you better than assuming you won't.

But, I will offer a story concerning the idea that you can beat a knife barehanded like they do in the movies.

One of our semi-regular silat students and a nice guy is, let's call him "Jim," holds rank in another martial art, a Chinese hybrid system. He's either a 4th or 5th degree black belt, and highly regarded in that art. A while back, one of Jim's fellow black belts and some friends were out of an evening and got into a confrontation with some gang guys in a restaurant. Outnumbered and unarmed, the black belt and his buddies did the smart thing, they hauled ass.

The other guys gave chase, and as the black belt got into his car, he was stabbed, once, under the armpit. The wound proved fatal.

Jim was shaken by this. He had trained with this guy, and knew that he had known their knife defenses. So he grabbed one of the other black belts and a training knife and said, "Okay, look, come at me full force, no give-me-your-arm slomo stuff, don't tell what you are going to do, just do it, really try to stick me. Let's see which of our defenses work in that situation."

And it turned out, none of them worked.

So Jim stopped teaching those defenses, because he said that if somebody used one and got killed, he would feel responsible. That rather than give out a defective tool, better not to give out any.

The barehanded knife defenses I know are last-ditch, no-choice, back-to-the-wall things, and I hope I never have to pull them up. I don't know how good my chances would be, though I believe they would be better than not having them. They aren't fancy, they are simple and brutal. One of them is informally known as the "Oh, shit!" move, and that pretty much sums up the situation you're in if your attacker has a knife and you don't.

This is why it is a good weapon for somebody who is small or weak or infirm. With just a little bit of practice, a knife will equalize things against a larger, stronger attacker. Steel against flesh? Bet your money on the edge to win most of the time. Yeah, there are martial arts experts out there who can go bare against a knife and come out again, but they are few and far between.

Silat guys I know all carry a legal-sized knife. Some carry more than one. Go to a silat class and ask loudly if anybody has a knife you can borrow, and you are apt to be deafened by the sound of folders clicking open ...

Lot of knives out there. It would be wise if you consider yourself a martial artist to become passing familiar with them. Me, I am no expert and well aware of that. But I have put in some time to become used to seeing and playing with them. Forewarned is forearmed ...

Cut and Run

There is a South African style of knifefighting called "Piper." That's their logo above. Much of it, as I understand, is derived from prison-based material, and from actual assassins -- that is, stuff that really worked on the street well enough to get them put away for murder.

Lot of folks get carved up in SoAfrica. Knowing how to use a knife there is a survival characteristic.

It is pretty scary stuff to look at.

Rather than try to explain it here, I'll give you a direct link: Piper Knife Combatives

Go and have a look. You can also get reviews of the system by Mushtaq Ali and Bobbe Edmunds, over in my link list. (Traceless Warrior and Thick as Thieves, respectively). And I'm going to put a link to Piper in my list, too.

I first saw a garage tape of some the senior Piper players back in 2001. It looked nasty, but I saw some holes in it. A couple years ago, when I wrote my martial arts science fiction novel The Musashi Flex, I started the book with a knife fight. One of the fighters used a style called "Peepah," which was based on Piper. He got carved up by my protagonist Mourn, who was a galactic-class fighter and expert in a lot of martial arts.

Peepah/Piper didn't come off in the best of lights. Part of this was that I had seen but one old tape I used as a reference. Part of it was because my protagonist was an expert used to fighting to the death and had managed to survive twenty-five years doing it. (And if he lost, it was gonna be a really short novel ...)

Naturally, the senior students/creators of the Piper system weren't particular thrilled with how their art came off -- especially since they had been getting a lot of crap from traditional martial artists who disdained it. If you want to see really ugly politics and in-fighting, martial arts schools are the places to go. (We all say that there is no one perfect martial art -- but in our hearts, we all believe that whichever one we do comes the closest ...)

I re-visited Piper, saw some more recent vids, and noted that it was much improved from my original exposure. Not perfect -- I still see things I think an expert with a knife could exploit against Piper -- but it looks more coherent, is still evolving, and no two ways about it, has some really bad-ass stuff. A lot of traditional martial arts knife defenses simply won't work against these guys.

So I'm here to point that out. These guys have something, and if they continue to refine it, it's going to be as good a knife system as any, and better than most.

I still think Mourn could win -- he cheated after all, and that's a big part of his (and my) art. But I expect that he'd likely get cut in the doing of it. The old Javanese saying has it: In a knife fight, the loser is ashes, but the winner is charcoal ...

And there is your mayhem content for the day ...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bunch Book

Got the galleys on the Bunch book today. We'll do a fast read and turn them around, and it seems that the novel will see the shelves in mid-summer, late June or early July, probably.

I think Bunch would be please that we stepped up and did it, though I also expect he'd bitch about the writing. Wouldn't be Bunch if he didn't.

Too bad, Chris. That's what you get for dying -- I get the last word.

I miss him.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Well, it Worked Once, so ...

We'll give it another try. This time, the knives are Shiva Ki's kerambits, 250 layers of laminated damascus., carried in a custom sheath by Chas Clements.

Mushtaq's Little Knife

In my continuing effort to keep at least a distant view of technology, I'm gonna try linking to a vid I did of Mushtaq's little tiger blade ...

Matters Medical

For five years, I worked as a PA-C in a family practice clinc, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana -- the upper respiratory illness capital of the country. (I was the second PA certified in the state, and would have been the first except for that Air Force guy who beat me to it by a week.) During that time, I was expose to all manner of infectious diseases, from the common cold to meningitis to Dengue Fever to ... well, a bunch of things. During flu season, we would typically have as many as two hundred patients with influenza passing through the place on a given day.

I never once got sick. Not one time in five years.

Nary a sniffle. Save for the epidemic-that-never-happened, the Swine Flu -- I didn't take flu shots, either.

Oh, I banged myself up from time to time. Badly sprained an ankle, pulled a few muscles whilst jogging or lifting weights or catching fainting patients. I had to be sewed up a few times for various lacerations -- dropped a samurai sword on my foot once, stepped on some glass, like that, but I never caught any infectious diseases.

I have a theory as to why. First, I was pretty faithful to practicing sterile technique. Washed my hands between every patient and didn't let them cough in my face. Second, I think the constant exposure to stuff helped my immune system. Yeah, I was a jock, worked out, did martial arts, and I took vitamins and ate pretty well, didn't smoke or seriously drink, but I think the main reasons I stayed well were these two things -- hand-washing and low-level exposure.

Today, I am nursing a nasty cold, sniffling, sneezing, all like that, and I generally develop one every winter. I think the reasons why are that I'm a stay-at-home writer who doesn't get much exposure to what's going around, and thus my immune system is weaker. Plus I have five grandsons who bring home what's going around and when I visit with them -- my little walking petri dish lab experiment boys -- I am more exposed to viruses than I was in the clinic. I pick 'em up, hug 'em, and even though I know I should go wash my hands after I do when they have colds, I don't. Of course, I am older, and that might play a part in it, but I still eat well, take vitamins, and work out.

Oh, well.

Second matter medical: In a couple hours, I have to take Layla, the puppy younger, to the vet to be spayed. She isn't going to be a show dog, and were she to get pregnant and have puppies, that would be bad, because we wouldn't be able to give any of them up. Spayed female dogs tend to live longer and are much less likely to develop certain cancers, so it's for her own good, but she's the baby and so little I cringe at the thought. Better for her in the long run, I know, but until now, she's liked going to the vet's office. And since she can't eat anything, she's curled up in her bed, hungry for breakfast, looking pitiful.

Just another perfect day in paradise ...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Troop Morale?

I am sooo tired of hearing the warhawks prattle on about how if we say anything that is not 100% in favor of the current administration's idiocy, that we will be hurting our troops' morale.

Morale? What morale?

Think of how you'd feel if you were packed onto a cargo plane and shipped to a godforsaken desert nine thousand miles away from home. Where you are to fight a war you never had a prayer of winning from the git-go against people who have been killing each other for more than a thousand years over which Caliph should be dancing on the head of a pin.

Where every other person you see on the street would happily kill you if he could get away with it. Where, every time you take a ride in your Humvee, there's a good chance some religious fanatic is willing to blow himself up to get you, or that there's an IED on the roadside with your name on it, and that you are protected by armor slightly more effective than Saran Wrap. That the National Guard guy riding next to you is somebody's grandfather.

That three thousand of your fellow servicemen and women have died in this burgeoning civil war you are refereeing, ten times that many have been wounded, many of them maimed and crippled, missing limbs, deaf, or blind.

That your tour of duty never ends because the military can't collect and train enough new cannon fodder to replace you. That most of the word hates you for being here, and that hundreds of thousands of the locals are dead since you arrived, more than a few by your hand.

It was me? My morale would be in the toilet. If I didn't think most of the citizens back home wanted nothing more that to shut this lunacy down and bring me home, I'd be really depressed.

So enough with the "It hurts troop morale to think the public doesn't support them." bullshit.

Fuck that.

And of course, our new Congress, the broom that we brought in for a clean sweep to end this war is girding their ball-less loins and buckling their belts over gutless bellies to bring forth a non-binding resolution!

How forthright of them! How brave! Harsh language to make the President feel bad. Colbert's wag of the finger. Ow, ow, stop!

About as useful as tits on a boar hog, that, and no way, no how what we hired them to do.

Oh, Steve, you have all the answers, do you? What would you do?

Easy. I was Congress, I'd look at my watch: Look, George, it's two o'clock. Let's say, by ... end of August, you have all the troops packed up and on their way home, hey? Or we shut off the money spigot that has been wasting the taxpayers' dollar on this brainlesss business, end of discussion, period.

All the rest of the rationalizations are just pouring more people and money down a bottomless rat hole. Surge? A surge is something that happens when you floor the accelerator on a Dodge Viper. Sending more people into harm's way isn't going to do jackshit except cost more lives.
Everybody with two neurons to spark at each other knows this. Shiites, Sunni, and Kurds aren't going to listen to the Crusaders this time, any more than they did last time.

Fuck it. Bring 'em home. We're coming up on five years into this mess. Bring 'em home.

SkyNet Warms Up

Well, apparently the quantum computer I offered up in a technothriller novel a couple years back is rapidly being developed.

Big Brother is little slow, but still on the road.

As Gina Davis said in the remake of The Fly: Be afraid. Be very afraid ...

Check it out: Quantum Computer

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Rules? No Rules in a Knife Fight!

So a quick review of the knife seminar:

Mushtaq showed some basic moves from his training, Sonnon showed a few moves from his Russian background, and we all danced back and forth for a little while waving our training blades and a fun time was had by all. (Well, except maybe for one guy who had stayed after the main Path seminar who, at the end, voiced a question/opinion that this was nasty stuff, all this cutting and stabbing business, and why would he want to know it?)

Both Mushtaq and Sonnon are well-spoken and effective teachers, and what they showed us mostly didn't violate any principles of the art I study. You can't learn this kind of thing in two hours, it takes a lot of practice, but the idea was to open a door and show a glimmer of the material on the other side.

I'd offer that people who are serious about self-defense in today's society take a class like this, just to understand how dangerous a knife is. There's a silat guy who says that a knife takes away your first five years of training. By this he means, that even a fairly-untrained person with a blade is not somebody you want to face barehanded. Steel beats flesh most of the time.

I have spent some time training with knives, and what last night did was re-enforce the belief that going up against somebody with a blade who knows how to use it, even if you have one of your own, both of you are going to get cut. The only questions are, where and how bad ...

Afterward, a bunch of use decamped to Todd and Tiel's house, where they had prepared a sumptious feast. We sat around, ate, drank, and talked, and it was an intellectually stimulating and interesting evening. I left around midnight and they were still going.

(And in truth, Bobbe's euro-trash beer wasn't too bad. A little stale, being in the bottle so long, but better than Brew 102. Terry Trahan and I spent maybe a little too much time picking on the Kid, but he was a good sport about it.)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

That's not a knife, THIS is a knife ...

So, Mushtaq Ali and Scott Sonnon are doing a short knife seminar tagged onto The Path workshop in Portland today, and it worked out that we did grandkids stuff early enough so I think I can swing on on by.

I don't know about Sonnon's bladework, though he certain has beaucoup credits across the board in various disciplines; Mushtaq has a bunch of silat, plus other things, including some recent exposure to African knifery, so
it should prove to be very interesting ...

Friday, February 09, 2007

Blind Whitebread Perry Plays

So my latest attempt to learn a fingerstyle guitar piece. This one is El McMeen's arrangement of the traditional tune "The Water is Wide." Full of clicks and pops and squeaks and all, and a couple of flubs, but a work-in-progress. I really like the piece, and with some more practice, may some day be able to do it justice. It's in Dropped-C tuning (like Dropped-D, but everything tuned down a full step, to CGCFAD.

Want to hear it, click here, then on the hi-fi button under the title.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


So last night I want to First Wednesday, in Forest Grove, as part of the Author Autographing. This a monthly gathering designed to draw customers to the downtown area.

The big draw was Jean Auel, but I had a few folks drop by with books to sign. Jean was in the ice cream parlor, I was in the antique store, and I think the romance writer was in the spa.

As I was sitting there, being all writerly and smiling, I felt myself start to sink to port. The antique chair upon which I was perched just ... gave up the ghost, left front leg collapsed and snapped off at the seat.

Fortunately, it seemed to happen in slo-mo, so instead of being dumped unceremoniously onto the floor in view of the horrified passersby, I managed to catch myself in a squat-and-hop from which I stood to regard the mortally wounded furniture.

Oh, my. I hope that wasn't an expensive antique ... ?

I know that I'm a few pounds over my best fighting weight, but I guess I need to go on a diet.

Of course, after the shindig, a bunch of us went out to eat, good fried stuff and beer, so the diet had to wait until today ...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Don't Try This at Home ...

Here's vid for martial artists -- or those interested in unusual archery methods:

Click here

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Transcend Dental Medication

Went to the dentist yesterday. I'll spare you the gory details, but lemme just say this:

Even a man who is pure at heart
And flosses and brushes each night
Can grow snaggle-toothed as a werewolf
When the exam light is full and bright ...

Aahhooo -- !

Monday, February 05, 2007

Classical Guitar Makers

Guitar-makers come in all shapes and sizes: on one end, you have folks like C.F. Martin, the company that produces thousands and thousands of instruments every year. On the other hand, you have the one-person-shop luthiers, who might make but a dozen instruments in that time, plus or minus a few.

Martin makes fine guitars, but if you want a classsical guitar much better than entry level, you want to find a luthier who makes them by hand. The good ones -- and there are far too many for me to list here -- you'll have to wait a while until they can get to you. (There are some luthiers in their fifties who have stopped taking new orders because they worry they won't live long enough to finish the ones they have on order -- they might be ten or twelve years out.)

Among those who are outstanding makers, I will mention two: Alan Carruth and J.S. Bogdanovich. These men can make for you a concert-quality instrument at a reasonable price and in a relatively short time. There are links to them in my list on this page, and if you are looking for a fine classical guitar at a cost that won't require robbing a bank to pay it, please, go check them out. Neither man could make a bad instrument if they tried.

Both men are acknowledged experts in their field, though both would be quick to wave that off. Some people in the guitar realm -- me included -- have been trying to get Alan Carruth to write a book for years, and it is my hope that he does someday, because he is a wealth of information on the care and feeding of stringed instruments, and not just guitars. Talks the talks, walks the walk.

Jack Bogdanovich, who also can walk his talk, has written a book, just out: Classical Guitar Making: A Modern Approach to Traditional Design, and if you have any interest in the subject, this is a gotta-have-it book.

I'm a terrible craftsman, it's hard for me to figure out which end of a screwdriver to use, but with this book, I think maybe even I could figure out how to build a classical guitar.

The volume is chock full of pictures, detailed how-tos, drawings, and the hard-learned knowledge of years of practice. If you like guitars, you'll enjoying having this on your shelf. If you think you might want to build one, you can't pass it up. At $29.95, it is a steal, oversize format, more than 300 pp.

You can find Jack's book here

Friday, February 02, 2007

Pukulan Pentjak Silat Sera - Core Principles

So, in last night's class, we played with the pukulan (hitting) aspect of Silat Sera, working on several things, but coming back to the bedrock of what we think makes this stuff work:

Position and sensitivity.

Without those two, yeah, you have technique, and if you are fast and strong enough, you might be able to make those work for you most of the time, but against somebody faster and stronger, that's apt to be iffy.

Or, to once again paraphrase the Fabulous Furry Freak Brother, Freewheelin' Frank, "Position will get you through times of no speed and power better than speed and power will get you through times of no position ..."

Or as Guru likes to say, it's like the three most important aspects of business and real estate:

1) Location. 2) Location. and 3) Location ...

Sensitivity, in this instance, means being relaxed enough to feel the flow of the encounter and to move accordingly. Once you are close -- short punch, elbow, knee range -- then feeling is better than seeing. If you can tell what an attacker is about to do by his shift in position or his set, you can control him.

I'm guessing that experienced martial artists probably won't be too surprised by this claim. Probably not too surprised by the notion that it's a lot harder to develop than simple blocks and counters, too ...

As for the forms -- we call them "djurus" -- with which we start each class, there is one contingent of the martial arts world that considers these a waste of time. "Dead" training, they say. How we look at it is, of course, somewhat different. Our analogy is that the djurus are ingredients -- flour, water, eggs, butter, salt, sugar -- which, once you have in hand, you can make a variety of things, depending on how you combine them. Cakes, pies, bread, cookies, scones, muffins, even paste ...

(Technically, the djurus are the upper body moves; the lower body ones are called langkahs. We combine them and just called them "djurus." We have eighteen of them that we feel pretty much cover what you need to know, and that you are fair way down that road if you can do the first two well, since the rest are based upon those.)

We feel that the djurus cover the ranges of hand motion one can effectively use, and that once you have these motions down, then you have the tools you need.

It's not as if I haven't heard all this a thousand times; every now and then, though, I blink and it makes more sense. One more step on the thousand mile journey.

One of my fellow students asked me last night, "So, how long did it take for you to get comfortable in your position?" To which I said, "I'm not there yet ..."

(The picture is of Guru Plinck, from the cover of the old Bukti Negara tape.)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Pacing (Beep, beep!)

A little bit about pacing in a novel. I think I might have spoken to this once before, but somebody asked, so ....

Writers tend to get freaked out about this, but here's my hit on how to keep a story moving.

Up to about 100,000 words, a typical chapter in an action/adventure novel will have three or four scenes. Generally speaking, any scene that runs more than 4-5 pp is probably too long. (For our purposes, a "scene" is usually one setting, with whichever characters you want to showcase. When the viewpoint shifts to a different locale, the scene is over. Not always, but mostly.)

More than a hundred-k, the scenes can be a bit longer, because the volume will allow it. People who pick up an eight-hundred-page novel aren't expecting to see MTV fast cuts, so you can take your time and fill out what you need -- within limits.

There's a story about a old man who goes to circus. He sits down, and a performer comes out leading three elephants. As the audience watches, the guy down in the center ring picks up an elephant and tosses it into the air.

Holy Crap! This is the most astounding thing anybody has ever seen! The crowd goes wild!

But wait! The guy catches the elephant, throws it up again, picks up the second elephant, then the third, and starts to juggle them!

Utterly amazing! The audience is stunned into silence. Impossible! Fantastic!

After a minute, with the guy still juggling three elephants, the old man leans over to his neighbor and says, "Is that it? That's all he's gonna do?"

Even miracles get old. If you get so involved in your research and you want your scene to reflect every bit of it and it runs on for ten pages? It will be boring to a certain percentage of your readers, no matter how fascinating you think it is. If you have two people sitting at a table telling each other stuff they both already know and it runs more than a page or two, that's bad, but even a gunfight palls after a few pages. The days wherein the Waverly novels could spend a hundred pp following the protagonist from his carriage as the strolls up the walk to the manor are gone.

Four, maybe five page for a scene. Past that, the longer it gets, the more a reader will want to skip ahead. Trust me on this. Or don't -- read a book you think really moves well and count the pages. A master storyteller can stretch it, of course, but since I'm not him, I'm telling you how the rest of us do it.

An action/adventure novel needs to be like a roller coaster ride. You can start easy, climb that first rise, then drop like a big rock, slow down to breathe, take off like gangbusters. Mix 'em up, until you get to the last big drop at the end, and then let us hear Goofy's waaaah-hooo-hooo-
hooo-hoooooo -- !

As you get closer to the end, in order to speed things up you can alternate a regular-length chapter with one that is a page or two long. Begin to punch up your language, veer away from "be" verbs and a bunch of adjectives and adverbs and strip the action down. Chop sentences short, use the em-dash, like this:

"Crap -- !"

"Yeah, tell me about -- oh, hell -- !"

What you want is a reader turning pages, not thinking, not looking for flaws in your plot, caught up in what you want him/her to be caught up in.

"I couldn't put it down." is just what you want to hear.