Monday, January 31, 2005

Catching Up With The Resurrected Man

I've fallen a little behind on my book reviews, so I'm catching up first with The Resurrected Man by Sean Williams. Just for fun, I'm breaking the review into two parts:

The Good

Williams does an excellent job with world-building. Set in the late 21st century, nanotech and true artifical intelligence are an everyday reality. The new developing technology called d-mat, the matter-transporter made famous via Star Trek, offers cheap, fast transportation for everyone. Its champions push its merits, declaring it as not just a way to revolutionize trade and travel, but as possibly holding the secret to mankind's immortality. Its opponents fear the d-mats potential to harm the human body and any who might use it to hurt another person.

Author Williams, making full use of this detailed future world that slightly echoes Neuromancer, creates a mystery-thriller that's a pretty addictive and easy read. A diobolical serial killer known only as the Twinmaker exploits some hidden glitches within the technology and uses the d-mat network to kidnap his unsuspecting victims, personifying all the people's fears of d-mat. Detective Marylin Blaylock spearheads the case, an investigation made all the more personal with all the murder victims strangely resembling her. More than just a standard thriller, this novel raises interesting and unique questions of legality, technology and identity slightly remenescent of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

The case's prime suspect is Jonah McEven, private investigator and former partner of Blaylock. Although he's spent the last three years lying unconscious in a tub of protein gel, all the evidence strangely points his way. The investigative team forces McEven to aid in the investigation in order to prove his own innocence. As an added twist, McEven reopens the investigation of the death of his father, a noted scientist and known opponent of d-mat. The two story lines weave back and forth, finally converging into the climax.

The Bad

The plot style is pretty heavily borrowed from Agatha Christie. Perhaps its my own personal bias, but mystery writers need to move beyond her little tropes. It was clever during her own time, but now comes off as quaint at best, or just a bad knock off when not done well. For example, towards the end McEven calls all the suspects and investigators back to the scene of the crime. I half expected him to say, "So I guess you're wondering why I've called you all here." Likewise, a good number of the characters are types and don't really seem that unique to the setting and time period of the story. You have a driven businessman, a cop with attitude, a crazy serial killer, and on and on. In his defense, Williams does well with the primary characters, McEven and Blaylock, and the AI character is pretty compelling.

So should you read it? If you're a big s/f nut, certainly. I'd even give it to mystery readers looking for something different. Not high art, but it's a good, fun read.


Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Filling Station on Memory Lane

Last night on my way home from work, with the impending doom of today's one inch snow fall, I stopped to fill up my gas tank. After my car chug-a-lugged as much as it could, I went in to pay. There was a rather large man with a handlebar mustache buying an inordinate number of lottery tickets in front of me. So I waited. And tapped my foot. And waited. And tapped my foot some more as the line behind me got longer and longer.

And then Handlebar wanted scratch-off tickets. So I tapped my foot some more. And then I heard a voice.

"Hebdomeros? Is that you?"

(no, the voice didn't call me Hebdomeros...she used my real name)

I turned around and saw this girl I used to know, and in fact dated briefly both in high school and college. Not being a high school reunion, it took me a couple of seconds to realize who she was. She looks virtually the same now, tall, ultra-straight shoulder-length blonde hair, and very Icelandic features. Imagine a tall Bjork with blonde hair, and you have a pretty good idea. I was smitten with her to varying degrees at different points in my life. She was one of those girls in high school who pretended to be dumb to get guys. I was one of the few she didn't bother to do that with. But she liked chaos and high drama, and would do anything and everything to sabatouge a good relationship. And not just with me. After the second go around with her in college I realized as much fun as she was to hang out with, it wasn't worth the tension and turmoil to date her.

We chatted in line for a couple of minutes, and then another little bit after Handlebar finished up. I told her where I'm working, what I'm doing, future plans. She told me she dropped out of college her senior year, is now out of work and at the beginnings of her 2nd divorce (she's about 30). I wish I could say I was surprised, but I wasn't. It's still heart breaking, though. She's smart enough to do lots of different things.

As we exchanged pleasantries, a line from Updike's Rabbit, Run flashed through my mind. Rabbit slips out of his house one night, feeling like he needs to get away from his family, his salesman job, his life and just start over again. He stops at a gas station to fill up.

The attendant looks at him and says something like, "You look lost,"

"I am lost," Rabbit replied.

"Well, where you going? I might be able to give you directions."

"I don't know where I'm going."

"You've got to know where you're going to know how you're going to get there."

Paraphrased from memory, of course. So by no means exact. But an odd thing to leap into my mind since I haven't read it in ten years.

But it made me realize that as much as I bitch to myself (and a little to other people) it made me appreciate a little more what I do have. Sure, I don't have everything I want. But all things considered I do have it pretty good. I wish the Icelandic girl, and anyone else reading this, good luck and better fortune than they have now.


Saturday, January 29, 2005

Jay the Writer

My boss went to L.A. a week ago for a business convention (which, from her stories consisted mostly of drinking, drinking, going to a taping of The Jimmy Kimmel Show, and drinking), and saw a crazy roadside billboard that said: "HEY, NBC, I Just Wrote Something For You. Come Look!--JAYTHEWRITER.COM". I thought she was joking when she told me about it, but now I see it mentioned on Michael Hemmingson's blog.

So, of course, I looked up the site.

If this is for real, it's one of the wackier ways to promote your writing that I've heard of in awhile. If not, it's an expensive joke.

It makes me wonder how far I'd go to sell a piece of writing. While a billboard may payoff for the advertising-driven world of Hollywood, a move like that would probably put a black mark on anyone attempting to do anything remotely literary. Would I do a stunt, barge into a publisher's office demanding they read my manuscript? I could become a male slut, selling my body along with my manuscript. Or maybe drive around NY City with a bullhorn touting my brilliance.

But I think the ones who have respect in the industry are those who toil away, work hard and go through the channels. Even an "upstart" like Dave Eggers was heavily involved in the L.A. lit world before he exploded on the scene with his staggering genius. One of my profs in school was fond of saying, "I can get famous and sell lots of books anytime I want. All I have to do is go down to the White House and defecate on their lawn. I'd get more free press than I'd know what to do with. But a book should sell itself."

Needless to say, he's one of those irascible types. But all things being equal, I think he's right. I doubt Jay the Writer will pull off this little gambit, although I still wish him luck.


Friday, January 28, 2005

Reasons to go to Oklahoma (or not)

I have some relatives in Oklahoma who I haven't visited in probably close to a decade. You've got the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, and not much beyond that. Although they're great people, I'm sure part of the reason I don't visit my uncle and cousins is there's just nothing to do there. Or so I thought.

USA Today reports on a State Senator trying to make cockfighting more palatable by giving the warrior fowl boxing gloves and other padding to protect them. I've always had a weird fascination with the sport (although I don't condone it), probably tied to my general amusement of all things chicken-related.

And Heavener, Oklahoma offers up supposed proof that the vikings made it all the way down to what we now call Middle America. I'll admit, it's an intriguing idea thinking they made it all that way. Kind of fun thinking of all those big, burly guys with horned helmets trading and partying with the Native Americans in the area. We know the Vikings probably made it to Newfoundland, Canada but Oklahoma is quite a boatride from there. In fact, it seems like a pretty strange spot for a seafaring culture to end up, but who knows. All I know is that I'm tired enough after a two hour plane ride to Oklahoma, much less a hike several weeks long from the east coast.


Thursday, January 27, 2005


Well I thought I was the only person in the U.S. who watched this odd little comedy on Fox about a woman who starts getting advice from talking figurines. But apparently thanks to the forum at Save Wonderfalls they are releasing a dvd with all 13 recorded episodes.

If you never saw the show, it definitely qualifies as a Down the Rabbit Hole diversion.


Down the Rabbit Hole

Maktaag posted earlier that today, in honor of Lewis Carroll, is Down the Rabbit Hole Day. We're supposed to blog about something odd, out of the ordinary, or downright strange.

So in the spirit of the rabbit hole, I offer up action figures a la HIƋRONYMUS BOSCH!

I'll be hunting weirdness throughout the day.



Although I have a love for them, I haven't written too much on here about comics (graphic novels, narratives with pictures, whatever moniker you want to use I still prefer comics). I just finished Blankets by Craig Thompson, which was kind of the "it" graphic novel of the year for '04. Blankets received a lot of critical praise, from expected places like Comics Journal to unexpected mainstream places like The Washington Post.

So I'm a little late coming to it, but so what.

It's a big honker of a book, going past the 600 page mark. A considerable difference from the usual near-minimalist approach most independent comic author/artists take. Basically, Blankets tells the story of Craig. We see him as a child, being raised with his younger brother Phil in a small and very religious town in central Wisconsin. As he gets older, Craig struggles to justify feelings of lust and a love of drawing with his religious upbringing. The summer before his senior year of high school Craig meets Raina at a church camp. Although more confident and outgoing than Craig, she is every bit the outsider he is. The two fall in love, and a large part of the book is made up of a two week period when Craig goes to visit her in Michigan during a fall break from school. These sections are filled with wonderful moments as their relationship grows and Craig continues to question and justify his feelings in regards to his religion.

Thompson's black and white artwork walks a delicate but well balanced high-wire act; most scenes are rendered realistically, but some memories of his childhood and scenes retelling or explaining Craig's thoughts on religion dip into a surreal side influenced by the psychedelia style of underground comics in the 60's. It's an effective blend that Thomson uses to advance his narrative.

The story itself has a Charles Baxter feel to it; although there a wonderful and profound moments, Thompson wisely chose to not force an overly dramatic ending. I came away from the book feeling like I've seen into this person's life, and am the better for it. Highly reccomended for those who enjoy the art form, and also a great introduction for the curious and even for those skeptics who don't regard it as art at all.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Radio Induced Stigmata

I had trouble sleeping last night. I woke up around 1:30, and ended up listening to all of Coast to Coast on the radio. Host George Noory interviewed John Zaffis, some sort of paranormal investigator, on hauntings, posssions and exorcisms. Between his stories and all the tales from the crazy callers, I got more than a little creeped out. I eventually fell asleep around five and had a wacked out dream.

In the dream, I was lying down when my childhood dog walked into my room. She was mutt through and through; her mother was a pure bred boarder collie, but the dad was a mutt. My dog ended up with the red-brown fur with white trim of a collie, but the face and floppy ears of something else. Maybe a beagle. Anyway, in the dream she looked like she did towards the end, the hair of her face turning pure white. Her eyeballs were missing, so you could see straight through to the moist-red sockets, and her mouth overflowed with oatmeal.

She barked a raspy but forceful kind of bark and walked out of the room. For some reason I followed. After walking out of my bedroom I was in my gradnparent's old house in Wisconsin, a place I haven't been to or seen in at least 25 years. The lights were off, and it was cold. Clouds of air puffed out of my mouth. Although I couldn't see her anymore, I heard my dog's claws click-clacking on the linoluem floor somewhere up ahead. So I kept walking.

Being dark, I couldn't see much of anything. I walked slowly, navigating myself by touch around chairs and sofas that shouldn't have been there. I finally made it to the kitchen. A red light shone from the ceiling, and my dog was there slowly wagging her tail. After standing there a minute or two, she got impatient and nosed her food dish.

"Hungry, I guess," I said.

I looked at the kitchen table and saw a raw side of beef. I reached out to start tearing flesh off for my dog when I noticed something odd about the back of my hands. Both hands had tiny pinpricks on the back; I held them up to my eye, first one, and then the other. Both were punctured clear through. If I placed the whole up to my eye, I could see through it like a pin hole camera.

I then flipped over my hand, and became sick to my stomach. My palms were bloody and torn, and the deep wounds seem to grow as I watched. Before long, my entire hands faded away, to be replaced with nothing more than the empty space of the pinprick hole.

Although I feel like there's more, that's all I remember.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Last week I used a gift card and bought the dvd version of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. It's a limited 3-hour long series done for the BBC. Dave McKean, who did artwork from time to time for Sandman, did the animation for the title sequences and Brian Eno did the musical score. It's not hard to imagine all three sitting down for tea and dicussing odd things like Tibetan mythology and patterns of music created by the human body.

Being the BBC, the production quality of the series is a little different than what U.S. audiences are used to. The action fights are a little sloppy, and special effects and sets are not quite up to the level of even a Sci-Fi channel show. But the acting is decent, and it's a great storyline. A very different experience than the novel, especially since it's broken up into six seperate episodes. The DVD also includes commentary from Gaiman, which I haven't watched yet. But it's at least worth a rental if you like fantasy-oriented stories, and probably worth buying if you're a big fan of Gaiman.

After looking up some info on the project, I was surprised to find out the novel came after the series. According to what little I can find, Gaiman wrote the novelization while the series was being filmed. I don't know if that was just his way of bringing the story to a U.S. audience, if he was not happy with the turn-out of the project, or something else entirely.

Gaiman and McKean have a film hitting theatres this year called Mirrormask that looks promising. I've also heard some recent rumors that they're working on a version of the Beowolf myth, one of my age-old favorite stories.


Monday, January 24, 2005

Publish America

Two big articles this week on the company Publish America: One in the Washington Post and another off the AP.

What it seems to come down to is if you want to be taken seriously, watch out for these guys and others like them. If you just want a book out so your friends can see you in print, they are a viable option (no, I'm not knocking the latter...for some it's all they care about and that's fine).


Sunday, January 23, 2005

Kill My Television

Mr. Tom Shales has an interesting review of the new show Numb3rs on CBS. It caught my eye mostly for this line:

More and more, these shows are about laboratories and machines and chemicals and autopsies, not about characters and relationships and human conflict.

If you're not aware of the show, its a typical cop show with a twist: the brother of a cop is wild-crazy with numbers. Using his super cool abilities with a chalkboard and calculator, they find patterns that allow them to catch all the bad guys. Going on the review, though, it sounds like it's all about the gimmick. Other shows like Monk have given me the same reaction, and the new ABC show Blind Justice about a cop who loses his sight looks to be much the same.

The Shales review caught my eye in part because it ties in nicely to an article by Sam Howie in the most recent issue of Writer's Chronicle that I've been meaning to write on anyway. Howie writes on the idea of Southern Grotesque, stories that are not only set in the south but make use of unusual characters to create a moving end result. The best example used in his essay is the story "Good Country People" by Flannery O'Connor. The story's main character, Hulga, has a false leg. Howie's main point is that in the hands of a lesser writer, this character would be nothing but a false leg. When you read the story, the reaction should be "wow, this is a really moving story" and not "wow, what a wacky story about a crazy lady with a wooden leg". O'Connor, in her masterful, macabre manner, develops the character and uses the false leg in a style that ties in nicely to the themes of the story. Hulga is not just a character missing a limb; Hulga is seen as a real flesh and blood person with a history and deep psychology.

But I was talking about cop shows.

One of the big questions now is why CSI continues to do so well, and yet it's various spin-offs (Miami and New York) don't pull in numbers equal to the original. Some have blamed the cast. Sure, David Caruso's acting style is William Shatner minus the wry humor, but Caruso can't take all the blame. Gary Sinise is a fine actor, and CSI: New York is one of the more boring police shows on the air right now.

Personally, I blame the writers. William Petersen's character on the original CSI(Grissom), for example, is an odd fellow. He's anal retentive, an expert with bugs and quotes Shakespeare and Shelley for fun. But he's a developed persona with problems, both personal and professional, and an occassional social life. Caruso's character, Caine, (good lord, even the name is cheesy) on the otherhand is a man who appears to do little but pine for the wife of his dead brother and swagger around crime scenes. Unfortunately as more and more of these formulaic-driven shows spin-off and multiply they get worse and worse. And don't think I'm just picking on cop shows. If there's one more sitcom with a fat guy and a thin wife, I think I'll elvis my t.v.

I know, I know. As the saying goes, have a little entertainment with your art. But if they want me to keep coming back, I'll need a little art with my entertainment.


Saturday, January 22, 2005

Keep Struttin', Joe Meno

Imagine if you will. You've finished writing a novel, a pretty good one, dealing with issues of love, alienation and rebellion within a teenage boy. You use the music you love, punk rock, as a backdrop to enhance the mood and themes for your book. Bands like the Misfits and Minor Threat come back to life for you through the joy you give your character.

And then you get an offer from a publisher. Mtv books, to be precise. They love your book, they tell you. They "get" your book, they tell you. Only they want you to update it from 1991 to 2004. And they want you to change the bands, they ask you to drop the Misfits for Three Doors Down and to drop Minor Threat for Linkin Park.

You turn them down.

They offer you more money, and you still turn them down. The book you've written, those words and characters and moments you love and feel proud of still sits unpublished. Finally you land it at a small publisher that's taking their first forays into fiction.

Well that, according to the interview on NPR this morning is the story of Joe Meno. Meno, author of the book Hairstyles of the Damned that I briefly blogged about earlier, talked about this grand offer and how and why he chose to go with a small press instead of a monster who would have put his book on every big display rack in the country. Kind of an odd conversation, hearing Scott Simon (who either read the book or was very well prepped) ask questions about the Misfits and Minor Threat, but still good. Meno expressed great dissatisfaction with the current niche marketing of both the music industry and the publishing industry. But coming from a punk aesthetic, it's not surprising.

Anyway, Meno's choice in the end was the right one. Now after rave reviews in the Chicago Tribune, Library Journal, here and NPR, he's on his way up and over with this little gem of a book.

Keep going, Joe. I've got my eye out for your next one.


Friday, January 21, 2005

The Scar (T)issues of Anthony Kiedis

Scar Tissue, the autobiography of Red Hot Chili Peppers vocalist Anthony Kiedis, opens with a present day frame, giving Kiedis a chance to introduce himself and make some allusions to his drug history, something very central to this book. From there it moves quickly to his childhood, when Kiedis bounced back and forth between his doting mother in Grand Rapids, Michigan to his drug dealing father in Hollywood, California who held dreams of becoming an actor. As Kiedis moved into his early teens, he became harder and harder for his mother to control and began living with his father full time. Young Kiedis becomes a tag-a-long to his father, accompanying him to hip rock clubs and wild parties; his father provides him with pattern-setting experiences, like his first experimentations with drugs and sexuality. An odd source of stability for him was Sonny Bono (yes, that Sonny Bono); a customer of Kiedi's father, Bono would often watch over young Anthony and tried to reel in some of his more wild tendencies.

Surprisingly, Kiedis managed to do fairly well in high school, showing strong talents in particular for writing. Here he befriended Michael Balzary (aka Flea) and HIllel, two who become important members of RHCP. The band started as a joke, opening for another L.A. punk bank, but they did well enough to start playing dates all across California and eventually land a record deal. In their early days, Kiedis worked any number of odd jobs and even spent some time living on the streets and out of his car. The band struggled through the years, running through a rotating roster of guitarists and drummers with Kiedis on vocals and Flea on bass acting as the bandaids keeping the band alive. Scores of anecdotes and stories pepper the years, from roof diving to troubled relationships, showing the pleasures and pains of his unique life. In the fall of 1991 the Peppers release their album Blood Sugar Sex Magic, tieing them directly to the alternative rock explosion of 1991 and pushing them from a moderately successful underground band to a quartet of rock stars. Other big names like Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana populate his life at this time. Kiedis writes about this time with a touch of nostalgia, conveying a sense of widespread energy and vitality you don't see in music industry too often.

Drug use functions as the main theme of the book and we see Kiedis struggle with it all through his life, at some points reaching sobriety at others reaching the most desperate points. Kiedis does a wonderful job conveying the spiralling, out of control feelings one must go through when living the on-again/off-again life of a drug addict. Even after the huge successes of the band, it wasn't uncommon for him to hide out in slum motels while he scored his drugs. Drug use is not limited to Kiedis, though. It's shown all around him, from his bandmates to his girlfriends. During his longer stretches of sobreity Kiedis would travel to places like New Zealand and Nepal, where he had the pleasure of meeting the Dalai Lama. Part memoir, part confessional his writing throughout is very conversational, and surprisingly frank and open in regards to his patterns of abuse. The book closes with a short chapter that ties the opening frame together, ending it with a sense of hope that the last time he used really was the last time.


My Trusty Ol' Sitemeter

Yesterday I got a lot of hits here, mostly because I used the word "protestor" in my post. So "protestor protestor protestor". And, for good measure, "inauguration".

For the record, I somehow missed all the real excitement listed in the Post. I saw plenty of protestors, and plenty of supporters but everyone seemed to co-exist well enough from what I saw. I did see one cop in full riot gear holding a Starbuck's cup and jumping up and down repeatedly. I just attributed it to an excess of caffeine. The Post also sponsored a Faux Blog that has some interesting perspectives.

I've also gotten a lot of hits from the last couple of days. Basically the site looks like a long list of links to reviews for books, music, and on and on. Apparently it picked up titles I referenced in different postings last week, both in my review of the Conjunctions issue and when I listed the books I got to review at my last magazine meeting.

So anyone coming here to read a review of The Age of Wire and String by Ben Marcus; sorry. Keep looking. The others I'll review when I finish reading them, so keep coming back if you like. I'll probably have my review of Scar Tissue up later today.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Report From the Front Lines

The whup-whupping of low flying helicopters overhead, the oscillatting flashes of police vehicles blocking the streets, long lines of people patiently waiting alongside a seemingly endless row of black chain-link fence, it's about as close to a warzone as I ever want to get.

Getting into D.C. itself actually wasn't too bad. With the federal and D.C. government closed, metro was pretty empty. Me and a bunch of lost, confused tourists. But after getting off at Metro Center, everything changed. Random volunteers in orange windbreakers stood at every corner, looking almost as lost as the tourists. The D.C. Sams (uniformed, on the street helpers paid by the city) were in full effect, leaning against the nearest building and trying as hard as possible to not look helpful. A few protestors stood around, waving signs like "Beat Back Bush" and "Don't Celebrate the New Police State". I walked the few blocks from the metro station to the street my work sits on, and made my usual turn.

"Hey...hey!" someone yelled at me.

I turned around and saw a police officer running towards me, his hand at his hip, just covering his gun. After he huffed and puffed his way to me, he said, "Just where do you think you're going?"

"I work down here. On this street, on this block."

"Oh, you do. And where do you work?"

I told him the name and address of where I work.

"Uh-huh. Do you have a badge?"

"No. We don't have i.d. badges where I work."

He looked at me skeptically. "Everyone who works in D.C. has an i.d. badge."

Now this is certainly true if you work for the government. But I don't, and our place is small enough that we really don't need i.d. badges. Which I told him. I then said, "Well, I have to get work. We're open today. Can I give you a number to call, or maybe you can walk me there?"

The officer stood there for about a full minute, contemplating his options. "Open your bag," he said.

"Excuse me?"

"I'll walk you to your office, but I need to look inside your bag."

So I opened my bag and showed him the books inside. He flipped through pages, I guess making sure I hadn't hollowed it out to carry something inside. He then opened my cd player, both the cd slot and the battery slot. He then patted me down and said, "Ok lets go."

I thought about making some sort of joke about cavity searches, but he didn't seem in the mood. We walked the half block to my office, and my co-workers were nice enough to tell the officer that yes, "he does indeed work here".

While I don't think I really give off that terrorist vibe, I guess I give off something because lots of other people have been strolling down the street the rest of the day. I've been jokingly accused of being a spy, a communist, and even David Spade but never a terrorist or assassin. Maybe I need to broaden my keyword search for jobs on to include "will kill for money".


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A little frozen quietude

Yesterday after my blog time I drove out to a park a little north of Warrenton, Virginia and did some much needed hiking. It's a nice, little travelled park with a series of meandering hiking trails that eventually hook up to the Appalachian trail. Yes, I know. Yesterday was the one of the coldest days we've had in awhile but the cold doesn't bother me if I dress right (meaning lots of layers) and come prepared. The winter's a good time to go, because you usually don't run into many other people. And actually, as long as I kept moving I was plenty warm.

It also gave me some much needed time to think. I don't know how other people are, but sometimes I need a little alone time to get my head straight. With what will probably be a stressful rest of the week, I needed to store up on some me time. The crisp air, the sharp sunlight, the partially frozen pond that you walk around, it was all very serene and a nice day to be out. A story I won't let go of yet has a lot to do with cold and freezing to death, so I got a lot of journal material that I can re-use in my story. Now I've got much better descriptions of my character dealing and feeling the pains of extreme cold.

The only people I met were two guys along the Appalachian trail. They're doing the whole trail from Maine down to Georgia, and were pretty nice guys. I wish both of them luck. I did the Virginia portion of the trail once, but I don't know if I could make the time commitment to do the whole trail.

After the serenity of the trail, I came home, fixed dinner and tried to watch the opener for American Idol since they started with the D.C. auditions. I just couldn't handle it; I got annoyed after about 10 minutes, turned it off and picked up Scar Tissue. Highly recomended if you like rock and roll bios. It's one of the better I've read in quite some time. It's very conversational, and has lots of good stories from funny to painful. I'll do a full-on review when I finish it in a few days, but I will say that reading it makes me glad I never really got into drugs. It also makes me miss being in a band.

Stay warm, everyone.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Ray Robinson

I went out to see Ray last night at the cheap theaters in Fairfax City (god bless second-run theaters).

Overall it's a pretty good movie, with an obviously great soundtrack. His drug use is used as a driving force for the movie. His first smoke of pot, his first taste of heroin, and his checking into rehab to get clean create a pretty powerful rhythm and theme for the story. If the movie was fiction instead of about a celebrity the movie would have ended there, but it strangely jumps forward 15 years to his being allowed to play in Georgia again (he was banned from playing in state after refusing to play in front of a segregated audience) and then a set of captions quickly summing up the last years of his life. Unfortunately, any impact made on me by the scenes of struggle in rehab were quickly erased by the tacked-on ending. It is a pretty good movie compared to films about other music stars, though. Details of musical brilliance and how he managed as a blind man, particularly in his early days, are very well done.

Jamie Fox is pretty good in the role, but the one who actually blew me away was C.J. Sanders, the little boy who played Ray in all the flashback scenes. Seeing this kid react when his little brother drowned and then watching him go blind and learn how to move through life without sight was amazing. Perhaps he had a lot of guidance and help from the director, but if the small scenes in this movie are any indication the kid has a lot of talent.

The cheap theater is also running Napoleon Dynamite; depending on my mood I may try to catch that later this week.


Monday, January 17, 2005

Be Careful Out There

Well here's a scary little story about a man who lost his job because of his blog. I've seen references to it a number of places now, so it's either true or a really good urban legend. The link takes you to the blog of s/f writer Charlie Stross, which is worth looking at from time to time anyway.


Catchin' Up

Last night I finished off my three reviews for the magazine and sent off a longer one to Rain Taxi. It's a good review; my only worry is that the book came out in November so it might not be recent enough for them. It definitely fits the mold of books they look at, though. We'll see what happens.

I also spent a little time looking around for more horror markets that might like a story of mine. None really jumped out at me for submission, but Penny Dreadful and Corpse Magazine score points on my weird site design scale.

I'll keep looking, and post if I find any that look particularly solid.


Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Functions Within Conjunctions

At long last I finished Conjunctions: 43. I already blogged about my lack of skill with poetry and my thoughts on Kelly Link's piece, so these are my thoughts on (most of) the rest of the issue.

T.M. McNally's "The Gateway" is probably the most instantly accessible. It's a somewhat circular story about a man and his wife Phoebe. The unnamed man was once a would be novelist who turned to writing screenplays for children's television and eventually left that for a career as a real estate agent. Phoebe is a painter who gave up her art to run a gallery. Much of the story revolves around their past relationships with famous people, and questioning how and why they came to be together. In the end the narrator agrees with his father that the best thing that happened to him was his wife. A very nice piece, and it hit on some thoughts I have been having in my own life lately.

Rick Moody's "She Forgot" is an interesting experiment in repetition and memory. This narrator's mother lives in a nursing home, and we see her memory deteriorate as the story progresses. Each segment is fairly short, running 1-10 sentences, and always starts with the line, "She forgot". The story brings up several interesting thoughts on memory and how it shapes our lives and relationships. Towards the end the narrator begins to question his own memory, wondering how much of what's in his head is real and how much is fabricated. The piece is also an excellent example of using a slightly experimental technique tied directly to the theme of the work.

Gilbert Sorrentino's "Head Arrangements" tells the story of a wife having an affair. The piece jumps around in time and point of view a lot, but it's an effective albeit unusual way to move this type of story around. In the end, you get a very full sense of the affair, the wife's reasons, and everyone's perspective on it. I've read a number of pieces by Sorrentino over the past year, and I find I like him more and more. I'll probably be adding him to my list of people to check out more deeply.

Two pieces I had great difficulty with: M.T. Anderson's "Nine Yelps From the Eisteddfod of Idiots" and "Just Because It Never Happened Doesn't Mean We're Still Alive" by Ben Marcus. Both hold a wonderful sense of language, but I'm hard pressed to say what they are about. There is probably some esoteric postmodern style I'm missing, and without knowing what they're working towards it's hard to interpret the pieces. I've had similar troubles with Ben Marcus before, most notably his collection The Age of Wire and String. Perhaps if I read a little more about the authors and go back to these peices, I'll understand them a bit more.

The issue closes with a translation of "A Certain Quanity of Conversations or, The Completely Altered Nightbook", a short Russian play written in the 1930's by Aleksandr Vvedensky. Although probably not the most intelligent way to describe it, I'd call it a blending of Seinfeld with Samuel Becket. Meaning, nothing really happens as far as plot but the author manages to take these situations and transform them into odd but witty dialogue that at times contain some hints of philosophical thought. The play is broken into several different segments, each one a conversation about or around a different topic. "A Conversation About Cards", for example, places some friends around a table setting up to play a round of cards. The characters (named the First, the Second, and the Third) banter back and forth on why they like cards, who else should be playing, and what else they could and should be doing besides playing cards. Needless to say, the segment ends before the cards ever get dealt. It's an interesting play, although I'm sure it works even better on stage than it does by reading it off the page.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the issue. The readings were diverse, and it challenged me in some ways I haven't been challenged in awhile. It's made me miss more experimental work. But, I'm afraid, duty calls in the form of the Anthony Kiedis bio, Scar Tissue.


Thursday, January 13, 2005

Those Who Can't Write Become Critics

Or so the saying goes.

Last night I attended the monthly meeting for the mag for which I review books. I came away with a nice little haul. The Comic Book Encyclopedia and Al Williamson: Hidden Lands should be good, informative fun for an old comic book geek like me. The Resurrected Man looks like solid classic SF by an Australian. Strangely, I'm hard pressed to think of anything I've read by an Australian. But I'm sure I'm just forgetting someone. The Anthony Kiedis bio Scar Tissue and the novel The Bones look fun, too.

After picking, all us "critics" went around the table to pontificate on what we liked and did not like for the next issue. Things we don't like are automatically not reviewed, with some limited exceptions made for a work by a normally well regarded author who churns out a piece of garbage. This is not unusual for magazines; in fact most mags won't accept freelance negative reviews.

Which got me thinking. What are the purpose of reviews? Michael Dirda, Washington Bookworld critic, once said he only reviews books he likes because he can't see taking up space just to slam something he didn't care for. Ok, I can understand that view. But I do think negative reviews serve a purpose.

Personally, I enjoy reading negative reviews. Often times they are the most revealing of the critics tastes and perspective, and I know I have more fun writing negative reviews than a luke-warm one. They can also serve as an interesting record for the artistic taste for the time. And, as an author of sorts, I hope to receive fair and inightful reviews, be they positive or negative. Reviews can be a chance for that author to improve on his/her mistakes the next time around.

But as I finally read through the most recent issue of Book World, I see it's filled with luke-warm reviews of all types of books. Am I off on this? Is there something wrong with simply stating a book is not good, and why? Maybe it's just me, but I just think a critic should say what they think. It can come off a little like a beginning critique group: "I like your characters, I'm just not sure who they are." Wishy-washy comments tell us nothing. Stand up and scream out your hatred to the world!

Ah well. When I create my own utopia....


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Where Have All the Scary Movies Gone?

With a day off, I made the half-hour drive down to Virginia's hottest tourist attraction, Potomac Mills Mall, to shop for some much needed black dress shoes. On the way I, quite by accident, heard the death of WHFS (possibly more on that in another post) and then quickly found my shoes in the first store I walked into. With some extra time on my hands, I decided to take in a matinee of White Noise.

Judged as a horror movie, it gets pretty low marks. The scare factor, and even the creepy factor, are pretty much non-existent. I like the basic idea of the story; EVP is an interesting subject area and being told in film instead of a novel makes perfect sense. But, like Lady Litblitz said earlier, it has some severe plot problems. Mostly it seemed to want to be two movies at the same time. It had this urge to be poetic in ways it dealt with the loss of a loved one, but added in elements of ghostie badness that just didn't work for me. If the script stuck more solidly to one side or the other, it might have worked. As it was, it's a floundering storyline unsure about which way to go. If you've seen it, I gave up on the plot once the woman goes balcony diving. That said, I did like the cinematography. There are some pretty amazing camera shots with reflections, nice angles, and some unique use of lighting. This was put to particulary good use in the beginning to highlight the depression of Michael Keaton's character.

It reminds me a little of another movie, The Mothman Prophecies. Like White Noise, it starts with the death of a loved one and moves into a paranormal story that a good number of people believe to be true. Unfortunately Hollywood couldn't resists turning both of these into cookie-cooker projects ('s been 18 minutes since someone died...time for a car crash). I did, however, like Mothman better. Perhaps because everything isn't tied with such a nice little bow, or maybe that it all supposedly happened right over in West Virginia. Someday I'll have to go Point Pleasant and see their statue in person.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Linked With Kelly

I must be in synch in some small with Kelly Link. Not only did I (at long last) find her collection, but the coffepot ghost link I posted on Saturday has some odd similarities to "Stone Animals", her contribution to Conjuntions 43. Basically it's a haunted house story. A family moves into an old house in the middle of nowhere, and ghostly things start happening. Tons of objects in the house are possessed: underwear, coffee pots, a television, a bar of soap. But most important is the ever-growing, seemingly non-ending supply of bunnies that just won't go away. It's a very funny and well written story, well done enough that I almost want to put Conjunctions 43 aside for her collection. But I'll wait. I know there are more nuggets to come with Conjunctions 43.

Today I'm playing phone tag with a woman from the National Portrait Gallery here in D.C. She left me a message at home on Friday regarding a job I applied for back in October. It doesn't feel right to me to call her from work, so I'll be running outside on a quick break every now and then to try to get ahold of her. This is one of the only times I actually wished I smoked so I'd have an excuse to run out of the office every hour or so.


Saturday, January 08, 2005

Loony Lovecraft

Here's an interesting write-up on horror/dark fantasy author H.P. Lovecraft and his supposed links to parnormal studies. I don't know how valid the article it, but it's interesting.

And if you like coffee with your haunted house, this nutty website is the place for you!


You're How Old?

I've blogged a lot about my birthday this week, and I'm not even sure why. The last couple of years I've really tried to make it as much a non-event as possible. This one feels different, like it matters somehow. I don't know why, but I have a feeling I'm looking at a lot of change over the next year.

As a plus, I also share my birthday with Elvis, David Bowie, Soupy Sales, Stephen Hawking, fantasy author Terry Brooks and about 8 people from my high school graduating class. Oddly, I feel strange connections to all these people. So I'm happy to have them as birthday buddies.

Here's what the good ol' Wahington Post has to say to me today:

TODAY'S BIRTHDAY (January 8). Commitments are made and kept, offering you a feeling of peace and security through the year. Flirting turns serious this month. Couples sneak away and renew interest in one another before the winter is over. Working at home brings extra money and a chance to invest in something exciting and lucrative in the spring. Love signs are Libra and Aries. Your lucky numbers are: 30, 1, 11, 24 and 39.

Well ok then.

After work today I'm heading down south to find a Waffle House or Crackerbarrel for dinner with a couple people, and then it's all over. Hope everyone has a good weekend.


Friday, January 07, 2005

Some Gentle Ego-Stroking

Tonight after work, with some Christmas money and a 10% off coupon burning a hole in my wallet, I made a stop at Best Buy. I went in with a list of about 10 cd's in my head to look for. Best Buy used to be a really good place to go for slightly offbeat stuff: industrial, indie, experimental jazz, classical, whatever. But now the selection is pared down so much I could only find two things off my mental list. The jazz section alone was cut down to about 1/4 of what it was. I guess it's ok, since I really have no business buying that many albums at once anyway.

So I ended up buying buying Nick Cave's Abattoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus and Godspeed You Black Emperor's f#a# and a pair of much needed headphones. Unless my ego's just out of control, the cashier started flirting with me. They had some special to get 10 free weeks of Entertainment Weekly or Sports Illustrated.

I picked Entertainment Weekly, and she said, "Good choice. That's what I would have picked."

She started scanning my music, and said, "Good choices. I like a guy who doesn't just buy the latest WHFS hits." She asked about Nick Cave, and tried to descrribe him in a sentence or two. When she got to the headphones she said, "Oh, these are great. I got the same ones for Christmas. I use them everyday when I'm studying for class." She then said, "Hope to see you again soon," and touched my arm. In a casual context this would have meant nothing, it just seemed like a really odd exchange in a cashier line.

Anyway, it was probably nothing. I may be wrong. I'm probably wrong. She was cute, in her early 20's and it felt nice despite the awkwardness of the situation. I don't get hit on that often anymore (although to be truthful when I did get hit on it was usually by women 20 years older than me or men looking for a pet to take home).

After Best Buy I continued my buying frenzy in Borders, where I bought Mike Watt's The Secondman's Middle Stand and Kelly Link's collection Stranger Things Happen. I wasn't expecting to find Link's book, but there it was on the shelf. It's been on my to-get list for awhile, so I was happy to see it. Other things caught my eye like The Outlaw Bible of Literature, The Best Horror and Fantasy of 2004 and the graphic novel Blankets, but I restrained myself.

After that, my birthday festivities really began. My friend Jim-bob Boy took me to Tiffany's Tavern in Old Town Alexandria. It's a fun little bar there on King Street, and features live Blue Grass every night. I'm not a huge bluegrass person, but it's fun from time to time. The band last night was pretty tight, and featured a great singer who's a dead ringer for Hank Williams, sr.


Lost in Suburbia

I finished Tom Perrotta's Little Children last night. It's billed as dark humor on the cover blurb, and while there are funny moments it's definitely not a ha-ha-funny kind of book. Mostly it's a kind of a suburban dystopia book, showing all sorts of things going wrong in this middle class life we all supposedly aspire to.

Although there are several points of view and any number of little side-stories, the main focus rests on Sarah, a lapsed feminist turned into a stay-at-home mom, and Todd (aka the Prom King), former college athelete and good looking guy turned into a stay at home dad. Both are listless, confused thirty-somethings unhappy with their station in life, but not sure which direction to follow. Todd's wife pushes him to take the bar to become a lawyer, while Sarah searches for the fellowship and intellectual challenges she once found in college. The two meet in a neighborhood park, with their kids in tow, and begin a wild affair that excites and enlivens both of them. It holds a lot of similarities to A.M. Homes or Tim O'Brien for me in that most of the humor lies in slightly exaggerated characterizations and situations. Sarah's husband, for example, is so deeply obsessed with an internet porn star dubbed "Slutty Kay" that he attends a convention held in her honor.

Perrotta has a real gift for characterization. Be it the confused and love-torn thoughts of Todd and Sarah, or the recently released child molester Ronnie living in their neigborhood, the author does an excellent job of bringing out the thoughts and desires of these characters onto the page. Even the children are well written, something not so easy to accomplish. It's also a quick read with a lot of emotional twist and turns, so it's easy to see why it's in development as a movie.

Next on my reading stack is issue 43 of Conjunctions. They usually have themes each issue, and the theme this time focuses on poetry. They asked big-name poets like John Ashberry to write a short essay on a young poet they like and include some work by the young poet. The 2nd half of the volume is fiction and seems unthemed. Looking forward to it, though, because it has fun people in it like Kelly Link, Ben Marcus and Gilbert Sorrentino (who really seems to be in about every lit mag I get now).


Thursday, January 06, 2005

Elmina's Kitchen

Last night Miss Anonymous L took me to Batimore's Center Stage to see the opening for their new play, Elmina's Kitchen.

The whole play occurs inside the space of a West-Indie take out and delivery restaurant in the Hackney ghettos of London. Delhi, the owner, named the eatery after his dead mother, whose portrait hangs in a promiment spot on the wall behind the counter. The set was perfect: faded paint on the walls, stools and chairs with the vinyl worn out in spots, a t.v. to the side constantly flashing. You could practically smell the curry and the greasy chicken. Ashley, Delhi's 19 year old son, helps with food deliveries when he's not taking classes at college.

The kitchen's primary customers are Baygee, an old timer who sells just a little of everything to anyone, and Digger, a yardie or gang banger who runs a protection racket in Hackney. When he's not eating or chatting up Delhi, Digger struts across the stage engaged in his various deals and transactions via cell phone.

Things begin to change when Delhi hires Anastasia, a willful spitfire of a woman, to help out in the restaurant. An undeniable attraction charges the air between Delhi and Anastasia, and she pushes and nudges him to make some changes in his life. Delhi cleans up the restraunt a bit, replacing the chairs and tableclots, hangs up a neon sign and even adds some unique items like a Plantain and Chicken Sandwich to the menu.

Amidst all the positive changes, the bad inevitably creeps in. Delhi's older brother dies a day before his release from prison. Clifton, Delhi's estranged father, arrives for the funeral and stirs up all levels of old hurt and anger for Delhi. Troubles with Anastasia begin when Delhi's lack of confidence keeps him from moving their relationship beyond friendship. And, as if that weren't enough, Ashley drops all ideas of school and falls under the wing of Digger, who uses Ashley to help muscle and terrorize the businesses in his neighborhood.

Despite some of the high-action moments, Elmina's Kitchen is first and foremost about Delhi's relationships: their development, their evolution and their ultimate disentegration. It is ultimately the disentegration of Delhi's relationship with his son that drives the climax, bringing out a final moment that I was not expecting but could not have been more perfect for this powerhouse of a play.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Death of an Artist

Will Eisner, patron saint of comic books and pioneer of the form we now call graphic novels, died on Monday. His title The Spirit is legendary, and his instructional books and teaching career helped shape more budding young artists and writers of comics than anyone can begin to guess. It's not hyperbole to state that no other single person helped to raise the bar of the artform quite so much as Will Eisner. The most honored award of the industry isn't named after him for nothing.

If you haven't read him, check him out (most libraries carry something by him nowadays). If you have, read him again. He's worth the time.


A Year in Review

Although not much of a believer in astrology, I admit to looking at my horoscope from time to time. Usually it only prompts a big, cartoony question mark to appear inside my mind, but every now and then something hits right on. Here's the horoscope prediction for the year listed on my birthday last year:

You are an awesome success machine. Your perseverance is legendary and has already brought you far from your beginnings. You won't be satisfied until you attain all of your goals. Do make sure to take some time for fun personal relationships as well as for rest to recharge your batteries. There are actual advantages to being well-rounded!

Yeah, well. Not a lot of match ups there. Especially that first sentence. I've had some success here and there, mostly with writing reviews. But not much with fiction writing, and none at all with a jobsearch that seems to be non-ending. I do make time for peronal stuff, and quite gladly use at least one day a week to "recharge". Basically this one read like a bunch of fortune cookies stuck together.

I'll be curious to see what the predictions are for 2005.


Monday, January 03, 2005

Up to the Great White North

I got my acceptance for the anthology today, in a nicely emailed acceptance letter in a MSWord file. The publishing house is based in Manitoba, Canada so not real likely I'll see it sitting around at the Borders on 14th Street here in D.C. But it'll be up on Amazon and all the rest of the online places. It'll probably be out sometime in April; I'm sure I'll blog about it again when I get the galleys and again when it comes out.

It's a nice opener for the year. I hope it means I have more good things coming my way. In the meantime, I have a cool ten dollars coming to me as payment. Oh, the ways I could spend that green portrait of Hamilton.

Last night I reworked my nordic horror piece. One complaint from the place that rejected it was the length, so I blended two scenes into one, trimming the story down from eighteen to twelve pages. Still trying to enhance some of the descriptons and bring the character out a bit more, but I'll probably have it ready to send out again by the end of the week.


Upcoming Events in D.C.

Here are some upcoming (mostly) fiction events over the next couple weeks. I'll post more if I find them. The Gish Jen reading looks particularly interesting.

Friday, January 7

7 P.M. Gish Jen reads from and signs her new novel, The Love Wife, as part of the literary series at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Ave. NW. Call 202-783-7370 or e-mail to RSVP.

7 P.M. Actor and playwright Ron McLarty reads from and signs his new novel, The Memory of Running, at Olsson's Books and Music-Penn Quarter, 418 Seventh St. NW, 202-638-7610.

Tuesday, January 11, 7 p.m.
Politics and Prose
5015 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Tel 202.364.1919
Susan Coll
Rockville Pike
(Simon & Schuster, $23)
Jane Kramer, an imaginative and witty forty-something wife with a quick-tempered husband and a teenage son named Goth, finds herself uprooted from a happy life in Manhattan for a rescue mission to save her in-laws' shabby and failing discount furniture store on Rockville Pike.

Friday, January 21, 7 p.m.
Politics and Prose
5015 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Tel 202.364.1919
Nani Power
The Sea of Tears
(Counterpoint, $25)
Powers has been acclaimed for the imaginative power and sensuality of her first two novels, Crawling at Night and The Good Remains. Her third is a rich tapestry of dream and desire. Her characters come from Iran, Iraq, South and North America, and even, possibly, Heaven.

Saturday, January 22, 1 p.m.
Politics and Prose
5015 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Tel 202.364.1919
t.p. Luce
Tha Bloc: Words, Photographs, and Baltimore City in Black, White, and Gray
(Obie Joe Media, $24.95)
This book of photos and poetry presents an intimate view of life in Baltimore. Luce composed dozen of poems about false perceptions and the harsh realities of life on his Baltimore block. He combines images and words to represent race, crime, work, poverty, and joy in a performance he calls a "photo-reading."

Saturday, January 22, 6 p.m.
Politics and Prose
5015 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Tel 202.364.1919
Jonathan Lowy
The Temple of Music
(Crown, $23.95)
Lowy has written an accomplished first novel about the Gilded Age, a time of vast disparities between poor workers, many of whom were immigrants, and wealthy tycoons. The characters will be familiar: Emma Goldman, William McKinley, and William Randolph Hearst.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Out of the Mouths of Babes

About the only thing I worry about in reviewing books is making a mistake, and someone writing a nasty letter about it. I have nothing to do with the review, but I found this in the letters to bookworld section of the Washington Post online:

A Series of Unfortunate Errors

I am a fourth-grade student who enjoys reading the "Series of Unfortunate Events" books by Lemony Snicket. I recently read your snippet about the new one, The Grim Grotto (Book World, Washington Is Also Reading, Dec. 12), where I found some errors. You wrote, "Ah, the poor Baudelaire twins. This 11th installment of Snicket's positively bleak and astonishingly droll series finds the twins clambering aboard a submarine, hoping its odd crew can help them in their quest to outwit the monstrous Count Olaf." There are two problems with this. One: There are three kids, not two, so they can't be twins. Two: They are all different ages. Sunny is a baby, Klaus is 13, and Violet is 14. The reader would only have to read the first chapter of the first book, The Bad Beginning, to know their ages. Just letting you know.


Annandale, Va.

You go, Ben from Annandale!


Saturday, January 01, 2005

Man, That River's Got Crazy Rhythm

I did finish the Kerouac book Windblown World yesterday. I'm not positive yet, but I don't think I'll be submitting a review for it. The mag I review for targets adult books for a teen audience, and I can't imagine a teen reading this. In fact, I can't imagine many adults reading this either.

Roughly 2/3 of the book is a status report of his writings, with some thoughts on writing, art and life peppered here and there. Probably of interest to writers and big fans of Kerouac, but I doubt anyone else would be interested in his word count or the one-sided discussions of the perfection of the common man.

The last third of the book is kind of a travel journal, covering his bus and hitchhiking adventures from NY City to California and back. His descriptions of the American landscape are quite beautiful, and there are some hints of the quasi-automatic style he'd develop in On the Road, but not a lot happens. Mostly just a lot of observations of the land and his friends, along with some general thoughts and pontifications. There are a few scattered moments showing a healthy obsession with women (he apparently had a strong attraction to lean thighs), although there are a few attractions to teenage girls that would definitely be taboo these days. But basically, it's what you'd expect from a journal. A well written journal, but still a journal. I'll probably send my editor a query about it, and see if they want me to bother with a review. I can probably spin it if I focus on the latter third. If they don't want it, I might look at sending it somewhere else. It's a good book, just not for everyone.

Today I started reading Tom Perrotta's Little Children. Since Perrotta wrote the novel the movie Election was based on, I'm expecting some wacky but smart character comedy. I could use a laugh or two after the drunky-drunkerton beatnik.


And So Today is the First Day of the Rest of...

For the first day of the year, it's really nice today. Sunny and 63 degrees according to my thermometer. I hope it's a sign for a good year to come, even if the nice weather will be taunting me all day today while I'm at work.

My New Year's Eve was pretty good. After work I ended up going to a party in Owings Mills, a suburb of Baltimore, Md. It was a theme party: New Years Eve around the world. Each half hour New Year's was celebrated by a change of cuisine and alcohol. Most of the people there were in there mid-twenties, but even so it was an odd mix. Most of the women were chatting about relationships, marriage and babies, while most of the guys were getting drunk and singing really loud to Neil Diamond. Kind of an odd mix of a college party and a dinner party. Since I drove, I didn't partake in the alchohol.

No word on the anthology yet. They say no news is good news, but in the world of literary submissions the opposite is more often the case. If I don't hear by the time I get home tonight, I'll send the guy a polite email gently asking if things have been delayed.

Now stop looking at the computer screen and get out there and enjoy the day.