Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Another thing I like: SkullyFlower

I met the artist, Dragon Green, at a not-very-successful art festival(*), and I bought the SkullyFlower books. I suppose the writing could use some polishing, but folks who like NerkyMarg's surreal observational comics will probably enjoy this too.

Oh, and Dragon has terrific merchandise. Seriously—If your daughter is not wearing hand-made felt SkullyFlower barrettes, what kind of parent are you?

(*) Note to artists: Publicity. It's not a dirty word.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Great Chocolate. Free Shipping

It's a poorly kept secret that Hedonist Artisan Chocolates of Rochester, NY is offering free 2–3 day shipping on orders of $25 or more placed between now and December 11 if you use the code "HOLISHP10." Lot's of great stuff, but personal favorites include the milk chocolate sesame bark (and I don't usually like milk chocolate), and the holiday truffle collection. The more adventurous might want to try the goat cheese or spice truffle collections.

Just sayin'.

Monday, November 29, 2010

In the Eyes of God and the Rochester City School District

Critter and I are now officially "domestic partners"... at least as far as health insurance goes.

Oh, and I haven't written anything in here in a very long time.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Book for Her

I once was asked, 
if I were offered
the last book in the world
or the last child, 
which would I save?

I said that I would choose the child.

And I would write a book for her.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

“At the Gates of the Bureau of Culture and Refinement”: a fragment

Please ignore the sign over the gate. That is a joke. Every time we scrub it off, some wit spraypaints it up there again.

The last thing we want you to do is abandon hope. 

We have never needed to advertise, but if we were going to put up a sign, it would be in Dutch, not Latin, and it would say:

Wie mooi wil zijn moet pijn leiden.

Which is best translated as: "Those who wish to be beautiful must suffer."

You want to be pretty, don't you?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Officially a Non-Issue in 2010: "Gays in the Military"

The title from Yahoo! News says it all: "Afghanistan Troops Go Gaga With Their Own 'Telephone' Remake."

OK, we have two choices here:
  1. The US military is full of gay guys.
  2. The US military is full of straight guys who love Lady Gaga.
Either way, the issue of whether openly gay men would be accepted in the military is officially over. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Managing GMail

I'd like to hear what methods and tools folks use to manage their GMail accounts. I just don't feel like I'm using it's potential. Out of habit I treat my GMail accounts just like any other IMAP accounts—I just let them feed into the mail reader on my computer because all of my email organization habits center around sorting things into folders. I don't use the web interface at all. That's totally backwards, I realize, as "kids these days" generally have their non-Google mail forwarded into GMail, where they can tag and sort everything. What frustrates me about the web-based interface is that GMail doesn't have a built-in way to manage multiple accounts (I have one for this blog, one for work, and a fairly new one for Google Voice), and Google's official advice is to log in/out of the different accounts... not particularly helpful. I know there are a few ways to work around this, and I would be interested to hear what people like best.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

For the Record

It's a dangerous thing to call a particular band your "favorite." For one thing, it's reminiscent of the delicate absurdities of childhood best-friendships (and to this day I still wince a bit when I remember the day Derek Mac informed me that I had been down-graded to second-best-friend.) More importantly, though, in a world full of so much damn fine music, I really have to question the intellectual breadth and depth of a person who can pick out one particular group of people as "the best."

And all that being said, there's still just one band that I have driven thousands of miles on multiple occasions to see live: Over the Rhine. If that means I'm playing favorites... well, so be it.

And the reason I bring this up is that on April 23 Linford announced that he and Karin are preparing to record a new studio album. They've concocted a number of clever ways to raise money for this, and I encourage folks to check out their "Let's Make a Record" website. I for one have already bought a ticket for the June 26th reunion of the original band as they perform their album Good Dog, Bad Dog straight through. (I'm traveling alone since The Critter has rehearsals. Wanna meet me in Cincinnati?) We will almost certainly be attending the special events planned for December.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

An Important Milestone

Today I told some kids to get off my lawn.

This means I am officially old—more so than the grinding in my knees, the graying (and thinning) of my once-lustrous mane, and the fact that I have been home for two days because of lower back pain. (OK, the "kids" were in their twenties, but the fact that I refer to twenty-somethings as "kids" just makes matters worse.)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Notes on Photography

I'd like to point my photo-geek readers to Notes on Photographs, a new website hosted by the George Eastman House here in Rochester, NY. The site is a curated wiki focusing on print photography, particularly on conservation and authentication of art photography. The project has been under development for about five years, but the Eastman House is just beginning to throw its considerable weight behind it. You can read more about the origin and purpose of the project on their "about" page.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Things That Are Secret

I want to share something personal with you folks, but first I need to digress briefly into my understanding of  the differences between privacy and shame. Privacy is when you conceal something for your own protection. Shame is when you conceal something you know (or think) you've done wrong. Privacy is critical to living a healthy life in a hostile world. Shame is not; in fact, it's detrimental. I like to use clothing as my basis of comparison. Wearing clothing to protect your private parts from harm is healthy. Wearing clothing because you are ashamed (or at least embarrassed) of your body is not.

On that note, I have always liked to think that I am good at keeping portions of my life private without being ashamed of them. After reading the biography of an old college friend, I have had cause to rethink whether that is really true. In particular, although this blog deals with my writing, I have chosen to omit a significant fact. I thought at first I was protecting my privacy, but the more I think about that, the sillier it sounds. Simply put, the people who read this blog are either complete strangers or they are my best friends. The former don't know who I really am, and the latter know me well. The point being that, within certain limits of taste, I can say pretty much anything here.

Unless I'm ashamed (or at least embarrassed).

I don't think that's healthy.

So here goes. Let's do this in two parts.

First: I am a published author. Not famous, but published, and by published I mean I have published stories in real magazines that were then reprinted in real books by major publishers. I've even had stories blurbed for the inside front cover of a couple of "best of" collections.

Now you'd think I would be pretty proud of that, and I thought I was.

But I've never mentioned that fact here. In fact fewer than five people even know.

And that really doesn't sound like "proud" to me.

Which brings us to the second reveal:  The stories are sexually explicit.

Now, it is understandable that I want to keep my sexual writing separate from my real name. But this blog is not under my real name. Furthermore this blog is supposed to be about my writing, so neglecting to mention that I've actually been published is a pretty grievous sin of omission.

So the uncomfortable truth that I have now accepted is that I must have been embarrassed about what I wrote.

I don't want to be anymore.

So there, now it's out there.
A brief post-script.

I guess I should further confess that I am an ex-erotic writer and also pretty much an ex-published author all together. There are two reasons for this.

First of all, I ran out of things to say about sex, and I've found it difficult to sell other things. While writing erotica is not a stigma to writing other fiction, it's also not a stepping stone. So far no editor has said "Wow, your porn was reprinted by Little, Brown & Co? Let's give this new story a second look."

Second, after being a "successful" short story writer, I came to accept that there are other things that I am better at that also pay better. I am not Harlan Ellison (some of you are grateful for this). In particular I cannot write Hugo and Nebula award winning fiction over the course of an afternoon while sitting in a shop window. Even though I write regularly, a short story takes me months and, if published, pays a few hundred dollars at best. That's fine for a hobby, but nuts as a career choice.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Guest blog: Rites of Spring

And now a post from guest blogger, Aleister the Python: 

"Fuck you, Groundhog. I'm gonna eat your fat mammal ass."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Gamers: Dorkness Rising

Brad and I just watched the low-budget gamer movie Gamers: Dorkness Rising. The film deals with a Dungeons & Dragons DM, Lodge, who is struggling with the fact that his gaming group has devolved from role-players into rules-lawyer munchkins. (If you've played any role-playing games, you know what I'm talking about.) The situation is complicated when one of the players introduces his ex-girlfriend, Joanna, as a new player in the group, and she begins to share Lodge's frustrations with the unrealistic behavior of the other characters.

 So we're watching the movie, and we're enjoying it, but I can't shake the fact that I know "Joanna" from somewhere. I finally write it off as a passing similarity to other spunky blonde gaming geeks I have known, but when the credits roll, it all snaps into place. Joanne is played by Carol Roscoe, an old friend of mine from college. Small freakin' world, huh?

By the way, I'm not so much surprised that so many in my circle of friends have found success in theater as I am surprised that so many (OK, two) have done so by making really clever parodies/homages to gaming culture. (Yes, I'm looking at you, Tom Lomell.)

And on a tangentially related note (i.e. films, geekiness, and people I sort of know), Joe Winston, creator of the amazing Chicago public-access cable show This Week in Joe's Basement, seems to have hit the big time with his new documentary What's the Matter with Kansas, which Roger Ebert has slathered with praise. I can't wait to see it later this month.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The First Cut Is The Deepest

Both Brad's general fiction novel (Alice's Misadventures Underground, self-published) and his young adult novel(The Little House in the Dark Woods, unpublished) have made the first cut in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest! For more information, see the contest site.

Probability that at least one novel would make it in: 36%. 

Probability that both novels would make it in: 4%.

So that kind of rocks.

Now he merely needs to crush the remaining 999 competitors in either category. Probability of at least one novel winning: 0.2%.

(So y'all could, you know, pray or whatever it is that you do.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thursday Cat-Blogging

I swore I wouldn't become a cat-blogger (not that there's anything wrong with that, Two Bad Kitties), but even The Neil does it on occasion, so please indulge me here.

Our cat Erasmus was diagnosed with inoperable oral and lymphatic cancer last month. Most folks reading this blog know that Brad has fought off lymphatic cancer before... twice, in fact. So this feels like a real pot shot on the part of the universe... a sort of "OK, I didn't get you, so I'm gonna kill this adorable kitten" kind of thing. At moments like this I wish there were a god, just so that I could smack him for being so fucking vindictive.

The good news, though (and we'll take what we can get) is that Erasmus qualified for a clinical trial at a world-class veterinary school, which means that he's getting several thousands of dollars worth of chemotherapy for nothing more than the cost of some blood work and gasoline. Not a bad deal.

Odds of success are slim... based on canine trials probably only a 40% chance of a 50% reduction in the tumor sizes. But Erasmus has always been an extraordinarily healthy cat (strangers cannot believe he's just shy of 15 years old) and he's kind of... well... demanding.

So we're hopeful.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Baby's First Web Comic


(Yeah, it's illegible. You have to click on the comic to see it at full resolution.)

(Also, yes... this really happened.)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Final Impression of "Soon I Will Be Invincible" by Austin Grossman

I finished reading Soon I Will Be Invincible, and although I was a bit disappointed, I still recommend the book on the grounds that:
  • Austin Grossman (who has a blog, by the way) has a Douglas Adams-y gift for ending paragraphs with terrific gag lines.
  • It's the closest thing you're going to find to The Tick: a novel.
  • Cyborgs! With boobies!
For some folks, those three points alone will be enough to ensure their interest. For me, though, the book took its first misstep in Chapter 11 "Invincible" with the paragraph:
[The Pharaoh] wasn't much of a supervillain at all, just a crank, a nuisance in a costume. I think he called himself the Mummy for a while before I met him. He pulled a few bank jobs in the late 1970s, claiming to be the reincarnation  of the pharaoh Ramses. His most notable feature was that he'd chosen the same name as a famous hero, but he wasn't important enough for them to fight over it. Some villains make you embarrassed to be a villain.
Now, there is nothing wrong with that paragraph in and of itself. It's just that all of that information had already been covered previously (and better) in Chapter 5 "Free at Last", and that kind of repetition is hard to justify in a first-person narrative. That was the first symptom of a basic choppiness in the plot... unnecessary repetition in some places and missing information in others. It's the sort of stuff that a good editor would flag. Maybe I'm just sensitive to that because so many of my friends are such good editors, or maybe it's because I see that same choppiness when I look back at the novels I've tried my hand writing. Either way, it made for a kind of bumpy ride for me. Nothing that derailed the book, though, and there's plenty to enjoy. I'm hoping that the next book is a bit tighter, though.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pretty Pictures Make Me Want to Kill

Much furor and fuss is being made over a school where Afghan children were brain-washed to be suicide bombers by looking at paintings of heaven while being taught to wire explosives. I would like to clearly state that I am definitely anti-child-suicide-bomb. In fact, despite some of the applications of my research, I am pretty much anti-blowing-things-up in general.

But what got me about the CNN coverage is that there is no trace of irony when quoting a Taliban expert who says things like:

"I have never seen such elaborate paintings about so-called heaven,"


"They say life is a waste here and if you do a good thing you will go to heaven, immediately to heaven. For someone who does not have anything to look forward to, who does not have any opportunities and is living a wretched life, this sort of thing comes as a big incentive."

It's not just Muslim extremists, folks!

In fact, I think that pretty much sums up "The Last Judgement" panel of the Sistine Chapel.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bad Omen

On the drive home New Year's Day, the first song the iPod shuffled to was "Not Your Year" by The Weepies.

I am soooooo doomed.