Saturday, December 31, 2005

What Lasts

Image hosted by

My uncle Jon, 1949-2005

Image hosted by

Pepper, 1991-2005

So help me, Love, you and I,
Paper into pulp, and our words last
as ashes to cool the sun.
The pen lasts in stories by the fire,
the ink bubbles, the word is cremated
and spreads dumbly as in our lungs.

I wanted to speak it now. And how
the explosive sound of the lungs,
collapsing as they give back air --
we have had that energy, burning,
we have been at the throat of the world.
We have had a lifetime.

'What Lasts', Marvin Bell

Friday, December 30, 2005

Short But Sweet

Sugu made it into town this morning. He was only here for a few hours, but we had a good time. We visited my brother's gallery, where I took pictures of Sugu taking pictures of pictures:

Image hosted by

I gave him a little tour of downtown and all the new goodness going on down there. He got to meet some of the people that frequent the gallery, and we ended up having lunch at the Boardwalk. There wasn't much time, but we made the most of it.

Image hosted by

He gave me these very cool Star Wars Pepsi bottle caps that I've been wanting, and I'll have a picture of them in the next day or so (forgot to snap them with my brother's camera). Sugu is headed back to Japan on 1/4, and hopefully I'll be able to visit him there someday. After I win the lottery or something.

Image hosted by

Christmas In Indy

In which a disturbing puzzle emerges:

Amy and Co's dog Dharma appears to be possessed...

Image hosted by

...allowing Dharma to turn snow into stars:

Image hosted by

Dharma next commands Amy to dress her in bizzarre, ritualistic clothing:

Image hosted by

And little does Co know, he is her next victim...

Image hosted by

Happy Holidays to Amy Co & Dharma!

Exhibit T

Sugu takes over for this week's installment, in which he offers up for proof God exists (remember, Sugu is a card carrying atheist -- thus causing a horrific schism in the space-time continum with this very action) his own girlfriend, Tiffany:

Image hosted by

Sugu is done bragging now.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Holiday Blues

Well, the prospect of Sugu's visit has gone quickly from a welcome repreive in a wantonly shitty year to fair to middling, for reasons I don't care to get into. It bums me out because I'd been looking forward to it for months, especially since my uncle died, and I've just lost all patience with having the rug pulled out from under me. I should say this isn't anything Sugu has done. He's as bummed/pissed as I am. I hope it works out in the end (i.e. the next 48 hours) otherwise I'm going to be one sour Irish bloke come New Year's.

Matt Cheney suggests literary fiction for people who hate literary fiction.

In the hallways of MFA programs everywhere, the rebellion begins.

Against my better judgement, and all rational thought, I've completed the prologue of the third book in the sci-fi trilogy. Pray for me.

Monday, December 26, 2005

God Hangs Lights Out, Too

The Christmas Tree Star Cluster.

When you're a kid, Christmas is only about what you're going to get (or what you didn't get). This year was definitely about what you had lost. I always look back on this year as the year I lost my uncle, my dog, a cousin to mental illness, and intangible things: trust, confidence, hope at times; and then I think of the people in New Orleans, in Biloxi, in Bande Ache, where there's very little good to balance the bad. And there has been good this year. My brother opened his gallery, Waterloo seems to have woke from its long deep sleep, and I'm making tiny little steps of forward progress with my writing. I lost a ton of weight. I put down a lot of bad habits, for good, and picked up some good ones.

When I look back on 2006, will it be any better? I hope so.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

As you can see, the blog has a new address. I hope you all found it okay. I've been changing the title around for a while now, since 'the terminal optimist' just doesn't do it anymore, and I've settled on this.

So, without further ado, I wish everyone a big happy Christmas. It's going to rain, because that makes about as much sense as anything, so I'll be sloshing through the snow this time around. And I'll be warming myself by the heat of my computer, since the Republicans canceled heat.

I was listening to some Tom Petty yesterday, "Running Down A Dream" in particular, and it occured to me that the next time someone asks me why I wanted to be a writer, I'll just say "I'm running down a dream / working on a mystery..."

Peace, love, and all that.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Exhibit S

The etheral Cate Blanchett. Next week, Sugu takes over.


My aunt Charlene is in town for the holidays. She's doing a little browsing of for sale signs around town, nothing major, and looking forward to cooking goodies for Christmas dinner. No presents this year. I've been lobbying for this for a couple years, and this year, no one is in the mood, so it's just dinner and conversation.

I printed out the second book in the sci-fi trilogy today, for the first time. 670 pages weighs a lot. It constitutes a weapon, and possibly building material. It got me thinking about my output this year, which got me thinking about other writers' output. I suppose I fall somewhere between Joyce Carol Oates, who writes a novel every few months, and Marylene Robinson, who writes one every twenty years. in 2005, I wrote:

The second book in the sci-fi trilogy, 670 pages
8 short stories
I revised the Angel Book, substantially
and also the first book in the trilogy, modestly
and a partridge in a pear tree

After Christmas I'll do a year-end cap of my favorite books, and films, too.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bono Vox Populi

Bono didn't win the Nobel Peace Prize, but he is one of Time's Persons of the Year.

So is Darth Vader. This doesn't seem so ridiculous. Though the PT disappointed on a cinematic level, it did in the end cement the myth of Darth Vader in popular culture. The enduring success of Star Wars goes to how much these films exist outside themselves: the story and characters belong more to our society than they do the films that delivered them.

Still freezing out. I finished the short story I mentioned the other day. It ended up being 5,000 words (20 pages) and reads much faster than that, which I kind of like. Another deep-dish type of story. It also takes place in the same fictional town in Iowa that a number of my shorts do, including the Angel Book, so it shares a character from another story and does a little to expand the geography. I enjoy writing about this small, sleepy city where lots of strange things happen; I have ideas about writing a novel set in it, and I even have thoughts about expanding the moon rocks story into a novel, which everyone seems to think it should be.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Freedom Rings (It's the NSA, On Line 1)

People who would give up a little freedom for a little more security deserve neither. - Benjamin Franklin

John Spencer, dead at 58.

I'm working on a new short story. It just sort of came to me the way shorts do, which is fine, because I didn't feel like starting up the mountain again on anything major. And I've been wanting/saying that I'd like to write something other than prose for a while now, so maybe before I tackle the third book in the sci-fi trilogy, I will. A screenplay, or maybe a play; something different.

My aunt Charlene will be coming up to stay with us in Waterloo in the next few days. I think it's only for a week for right now, but she's thinking about moving back home to Waterloo. I go back and forth about staying/leaving, too. I had plans to leave before my uncle died, but now with all this opportunity here, with the prospect of bringing the kind of artistic community to Waterloo that I'd be leaving it for, I'm very conflicted. It's the only reason I would stay, and I go back and forth daily over whether it's enough. I would like to contribute here, do something constructive with my life and for this town, but I'd be risking continual exposure to the family BS that has all but driven me out of here.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

'It's Not An Adventure Story'

That's what the 'Jimmy' character in Peter Jackson's King Kong says in one of its many meta moments, and it's true. I got out to see Kong today, taking my chances with the cold and the local transit system, an adventure in its own right. There are SPOILERS in this, but you all know the story anyways... Kong isn't perfect, but it's definitely a visual masterpiece. The scenes at the end on the Empire State Building and of 1930's NYC especially are staggering. The Skull Island stuff, which was what I was looking forward to most, is where Peter Jackson lets his imagination run free. That's a good thing, because he's got an Olympic-caliber one; the brontosaurus train wreck is UNBELIEVABLE, as is the 3 on 1 Kong/V.Rex battle royale, but it all goes on too long. The movie does, too, a half hour really longer than it needs to be. That's odd, considering how much time is spent at the top setting up the characters. Once Kong shows up, it stops being a character piece (which is fine) and by the end, entire characters and arcs are dropped (Jimmy adds up to nothing) and you wonder why they bothered with them in the first place.

There were some spotty moments of underwhelming compositing, where you have live action people running in front of or around CGI stuff in broad daylight that looks pretty bad considering how amazing most of the rest of it is. Kong himself is a bigger achievement than Gollum, a real character. He may be the biggest achievement in effects ever, but I'd point more to Andy Serkis' performance than the CGI. The thing that kicked me in the gut is Kong has my dog's eyes. That old, cloudy brown, they're the same eyes. It really got me at the moment of Kong's death, when his eyes are really all we see of him.

He's spoiled by love, by human interaction the way humans spoil paradise (if you can call Skull Island paradise) and you're left to wonder what the film wants to say about that. Setting the film back in the 30's is an inspired choice, because that's really when the last time there was still mystery in the world. Stories of exploration and lost worlds are impossible in today's world, where we've taken all the romance and mystery out of our lives and replaced it with endless, mindless minutae that everyone knows without really knowing. The only lost worlds left are the ones we find in the cinema or on TV, but even then we commercialize them the way Denham does, squeeze all the life out of them before moving on to the next big thing.

Some are already comparing 'Kong' to 'Titanic' and while I was watching it, I certainly had the same feeling of being swept up in that old fashioned Hollywood grandeur as I did with 'Titanic.'

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Deep Dish Sci Fi

Deep dish sci-fi? Actually, that's what I'm going to call the kinds of stories I write. I've heard lots of names for stories that don't exactly fit into 'sci-fi' or 'fantasy' or anything else, ranging from 'slipstream' to 'batshit.' Yup, batshit. I like deep-dish. Lots of stuff in there. Gooey and all melts together.

New Kelly Link interview.

I didn't get to see 'Kong' today. I did get to shovel lots of heavy wet snow. I wasn't too bothered in the end; I had some exciting conversations about a downtown project I would love to see happen and be a part of. There's so much happening down there right now, every day you wake up and it's something new; possibility and opportunity are in the air, like the snow. Well. A much more likeable snow.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Buffy The Vampire Planet

Scientists have found a strange new object WAY out there beyond Pluto and nicknamed it 'Buffy.' If you'll remember, the 'tenth' planet that was recently discovered was nicknamed 'Xena' and its moon 'Gabrielle.' Clearly, a trend is emerging here. Actually, I was reading an article in Discovery magazine (I think it was) that identified as many as six Pluto like objects out there in no man's land. There could even be much bigger ones within in the Oort Cloud we can't see.

I shaved my head today. All by myself. Not down to the skin, as I'm sort of leaning towards more and more, but still, I don't recommend doing this without assistance.

My plan tomorrow was to treat myself to King Kong. Was, because the snow and rain and otherwise 'ugh' inducing weather we've been having is back, AGAIN. Not to mention the film is playing on one screen in Cedar Falls, and since it's apparently three hours long, is limited to about four shows a day. This will be interesting.

My brother's storefront these days:

Image hosted by


Spent the evening going over the PDF galley of the anthology "Jigsaw Nation", which my story "The Switch" appears in. I made a few minor corrections, nothing on the order of F. Scott Fitzgrald, who was rewriting "The Great Gatsby" at the printer. The story can always be better. As soon as I sent the Angel Book out, I had all these thoughts and ideas on how to improve it, how to make give this scene more clarity or that one more resonance. Nothing inspires like a deadline, except a reciept from the post office. Sigh.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

We Will Not Give In To Mondays

I talked to my friends Amy and Conan last night (the honeymooners). I interrupted their Sunday night movie to take a break from things, and I hope I wasn't too bothersome or scattered (I always get so scattered when I get on the phone, why I don't know). I've been pretty lonely the last couple weeks. It's so odd to be alone in grief when your entire family is hurting, but everyone withdraws into their own hurt, and it's been so cold and snowy, just snowed in. Since I'm absolutely broke, I'm not able to distract myself with any books or films (not that I could, easily, since our theater won't open now until May, maybe) or any of the usual ways I do.

Holidays, Mondays, they're always so blue anyways. I will make the effort to go see King Kong, treat myself maybe. The writing, I'm just tired. Too tired even to do that now, which must be a first, or sign of some disturbing vitamin deficency. I am excited about all things downtown, though. I have designs on doing a lit zine still, and some readings, and something else I'm cooking in the back of my head.


Scientists have discovered how cancer spreads.

New Aimee Bender at Nerve.

Pretty hard-core take on short story collections and their general purpose. The author seems to support them in general (I think). I love short story collections. Some of the best fiction I've read this year has been in collections, by Kelly Link, Aimee Bender, Maureen McHugh, M. John Harrison, the Chabon edited Best American edition.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The View From The River

The artists group that has taken shape here in Waterloo now has a name, the Metro Arts Guild. A lot of exciting things have already come of it (including the 10th Anniversary Main St. Waterloo poster contest), and I imagine plenty more will as time goes on. Waterloo continues to enjoy its resurgency, which now includes more development downtown at the river. I'll continue to make the progress downtown part of the new focus of the blog.

Oh, brother.

Ben pays homage to John Lennon, which I failed to do the other day, despite my great, enduring affection for him. I was tickled pink when earlier this year I wrote Yoko Ono for permission to use lyrics from "Imagine" at the top of the Angel Book, and she agreed (or her lawyer did, for her). I'm going to frame the response letter here eventually.

Matt Hanneman, AKA Lisa's husband, AKA Luckiest Bad Word In The World, now has a blog. Check it out.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Exhibit Q

Image hosted by

This is Wendy Hughes; I had a HUGE crush on her as a teenager, when I first saw her in the film this is taken from ("Careful, He Might Hear You"). She's an Austrailian actress who never really caught on here unfortunately, which is a shame, considering how extraordinary she is in talent and beauty.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

You're A Good Girl, Patty Hayes

So the sub-zero crap continues with impunity. You know it's cold when you step outside and in less than five seconds the inside of your nose freezes over. Ah, Iowa. I stood in Wal Mart today (because it's almost safer to stand still) and looked at a bunch of new DVD's that came out. I contemplated how wanting so many films are it seems lately, even good ones. I contemplated fiscal insolvency. And I contemplated girls who ride the kinds of bulls that don't throw you. If ever you are in the market for a girl, you should hope for one that isn't thrown by bull.

I don't know what to do with myself when I'm not writing. That much is obvious now. It all just wants to get out of me, regardless of how tired or bored I am. Like it has a deadline it has to meet or something. I was jotting down some notes for the third book in the sci-fi trilogy last night, when suddenly what was the broad strokes of a scene that was getting too big to keep in my head turned into what is probably the first chapter. And then I went back at it tonight.

It makes me kind of happy, actually, playing in my little sandbox again. I was thinking about the new King Kong movie, and one of the running gags in the trilogy is Kong references. Why Kong and not Star Wars I've wondered, but in each of the three books there's one explicit Kong homage and the third one features the best one, right at the top. For now, the third book is very very embryonic, but I like how it so far seems to lay down lots of foundation for what promises to be a fat book at the same time it moves with a ferocity I didn't expect. I'm not really hip to plunge into it right now (or anytime soon), so I'll see what comes of this first chapter and then see if I like it before doing any more.

Monday, December 05, 2005


Image hosted by

Amy and Conan sent me pics of their honeymoon in Mexico. It looks so warm, and fun, and warm... did I mention warm? Lucky.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Genre, Genre, Genre!

(after Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!)

I forgot to mention this blog is a year old, which makes it the longest kind of journal I've ever kept in my entire life.

I really like this post at the Mumpsimus about Alexander Irvine's book "The Narrows" (concidentally the name of a place both in my own Angel Book, and in Gotham City). It got me thinking about my own book (the Angel one, the dead lesbians) out there in some mail truck somewhere, making the journey to the big city. He talks about defining genre, and whether or not it's even possible, or necessary. The lead character in The Narrows is an Everyman, a character who isn't heroic but understandable, someone we all identify with, and so it's almost incidental the story involves the fantastic.

I wouldn't know how to categorize the Angel Book. It's not sci-fi or fantasy in any traditional sense. No space ships or ray guns or elves or dwarves. Since nearly all the characters are dead, and as a result possess abilities they didn't have in life, it involves the fantastic. But the lead character, Teresa, is someone I'd consider an Everyman. Everywoman. Everyperson. Something. She's a waitress, an adoptive parent with one year of college and lots of bills. A lot of the book takes place in the living world, where gas prices are high, where grief prohibits families from moving on or coming together; in the world of the dead, things are more uncommon, increasingly so, but I hope it's recognizable at least.

I prefer stories that resist categorization. Sometimes I think some people use genre as a dirty word, a way to dismiss a work without really having to judge it on its own merits. Genre has its purposes, most of which are self-evident, but sometimes you wish the whole idea would just die. And then maybe genre could come back as Everygenre, where everyone understands it, and no one really notices.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Exhibit P

It's Friday, and it's been too long, so on with the show:

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Kill Buffy

Somewhere out there was wondering how to make me happy. So they went, what if we took Willow and the Bride and mashed 'em together?

Apparently this is from an upcoming film spoof ala' Scary Movie. I'm going to see it just for this alone. And things must be getting somewhat back to normal, since I got another rejection letter for the zombie story today. You win and you lose. I also sent the angel book (dead lesbians) to an agent who requested it. I also managed to explain it (okay, to try and explain it) in two sentences or less, but I won't give that away here, because I'm paranoid like that.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Things Positive

I got into an XL T-shirt for the first time in my adult life yesterday. And it fit. Five months ago I was in a 3X (still am, most of the time, since I can't afford new clothes) and I ain't ever going back.

My brother and I are collaborating on an entry for the 10th anniversary of Main St. Waterloo (a local insitituion) that maybe I can explain better when it's finished. Plus another thing that's cool.

Sugu (I think I can say) is published! He will have details. Also, even better, he's coming to Waterloo at the new year.

There's a girl I like. I don't think she likes me at all, that way anyhow, but it doesn't bother me. It's nice to like someone who makes you feel good.

The new Superman trailer is the coolest thing I've seen in forever. They used the music! And Brando! It's perfect.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Jon Kitchen, 1949-2005

My uncle Jon in KC died last Wednesday morning, less than a few hours after I posted about our plans to bring him to Waterloo, and just a few hours after I last talked to him. Our last conversation was brief, but he told me he was proud of me. Jon was the closest thing to a father I had growing up. He was a big guy, big smile, big laugh, big spirit, and my brother and I used to climb all over him as kids, as if he were some walking jungle gym. Jon loved movies and books and comics (he got in on Spider-Man, X-Men, and the Fantastic Four from their first issues) and a lot of his enthusiasm for storytelling and heroes and adventure rubbed off on me. I think as a kid I always wanted to create something Jon and his wife Charlene would want to read or go see (they were on the news once back when "Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom" came out, standing in line) and I hope someday I still will.

He was a carpenter, worked in the same lumber yard as my grandfather in Waterloo for years until he became a kitchen designer for Home Depot and eventually moved to Kansas City. He loved football, LOVED the Hawkeyes. The Chiefs. He played football for East High in Waterloo and played Santa for Aaron and I one Chirstmas a long time ago. Jon was 56. He was too young. He had a lot more life left in him, and a lot more fight. I've gone back and forth in the week since being sad, and angry, and just bewildered at the speed of it all. I'll miss him a lot, and I just hope I can continue to make him proud of me.

Image hosted by

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Quick Update

Just a quick one: I've been in KC since last Thursday which is why I haven't been updating. My uncle is very sick. It's long and complicated but the important thing is today he started to come back around. I'm hoping and praying. We're going to take it one day at a time but I've got faith. We're hoping to transfer him up to Waterloo to continue his care here.

This has put me well off the NaNoWriMo project, obviously. Unfortunately I have to abandon the hope of getting it done by the end of the month anyways, because of my uncle, and because of another, more important writing situation has come up and I have to somehow do that at the same time as all this. So the updates will continue to be few in the coming days, but I plan on getting back to the Exhibits this weekend.

Oh, and I noticed Sugu's site (over on the side) is a year old now. This blog will be in about a week. Good lord.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Mountains Of Creation

Dig the new Hubble goodness.

I wish I had mountains of creation. I'm doing well enough on my Book In A Month, but I'm not feeling very inspired. I have a couple ideas I want to try out, but they don't seem to fit within the structure of the book. I have absolutely no idea what comes next (except for the end) and it's kind of hairy.

Not a lot to say. Everything is kind of in limbo now.

Heart Slivered With Ice

NaNoWriMo Update: 75 pages, just under 20,000 words.

A.L. Kennedy denounces a culture of 'de-fictionalization.' Check it out, and the Capote goodness on the front page of Maud's.

It's day to day it seems with my uncle, or at least the trying to figure out what's next. It's exhausting, worrying, feeling so helpless. I write to get my mind off it but that's proving to be just as tiring.

And I've watched ROTS just once since I bought it. For shame.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Writing, 11/6

NaNoWriMo Update: 55 pages, 13,000 words. A link to my author profile.

I see some people have already exceeded 20,000 words or more in the forums. Even if it's someone just writing whatever comes to mind, that's a lot of writing in one week. If I managed 12,000 a week, I'd just squeak in at the end of the month.

I like the story. I don't know where the hell it's going, but I like it. I always wanted to do a sort of noir detective-story meets Raiders of the Lost Ark, but in space, and that's kind of what this is. I'm using an old turkey of a narrative device in old detective fiction to hopefully unique means. We'll see, I guess.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Exhibit O

The lovely Natascha McElhone, who I first saw in "Ronin", one of those movies you stop and watch every time it comes on TV.

NaNoWriMo Update: 39 pages, just shy of 10,000 words.

Snowball Rolling Down Fourth St.

Image hosted by

One of the many cool things my brother is doing at his gallery is hosting events for underprivledged youths, to get them into art as an alternative to a lot of the other less than appealing choices we have here in Waterloo. He also hosted a gathering of local artists Thursday night, and about 40 people showed up to explore the idea of the artistic community in Waterloo. I was impressed just by the turnout, but I was really taken with the idea that some people have of Waterloo as a new haven for artists. The traditional places in larger cities where artists tended to cluster in the past have all evaporated due to gentrification, development, etc., and where do you go? Personally I've spent the last couple years of my life wanting to get out of here to some oasis of culture, and now I see there could be one here. The big theme at the gathering was that if there's going to be a culture in Waterloo we can all be proud of, we all have to do our part in making it happen. Otherwise, stop complaining, or leave. I plan to do my part.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

No Reason To Watch CNN Anymore

NANOWRIMO Day 3: 28 pages/7000 words

It's going pretty well (a quick check of the forum at the Nanowrimo site revealed some people are doing 5000 words a DAY) and I'm having fun with it. I've always worked best under deadlines. The more pressure I'm under to write, the better (or quicker, anyway) I think I do.

Aaron Brown is leaving CNN, because CNN doesn't want someone 'reporting at you' anymore.

'Hints' of the very first stars may have been detected recently.

Pluto has three moons, not one.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

9 Down, 164 To Go

So this will be the first of hopefully many updates on the progress of my Novel In A Month challenge. I wrote nine pages last night (early this morning) which was a great kick off for me. I sort of sprang into my sprint, I had so many ideas percolating since Mandy first turned me on to this.

Now I'd like to note the passing of Michael Piller, writer/producer of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. This is very sad. He was a huge inspiration to me when I was a teenager, doubting myself as a writer or artist. I learned a lot about writing from those shows, especially his (like it's not absurd there would be Shakespeare in space) and from his interviews. He loved writing and creating and I thank him for helping a kid realize great writing is great writing no matter where it takes place.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

From Maud: Literary spookiness.

Interesting discussion with Mike Allen about sci-fi poetry.

Dressing up for Halloween, Star Wars style.

And now, I'm off to buy ROTS on DVD at midnight.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Plunge

Image hosted by

So I'm going to go ahead and do it. My work habits with writing tend to favor me in this still slightly scary endeavor (I did write a 740 page novel in six months, which amounts to an average of about 123 pages a month, within range of 175), but I think the biggest challenge is writing a novella, which I haven't done before.

I'm glad Mandy clued me in to this. I've actually had the idea for this novella for quite a while. For a long time I've wanted to do something like The Maltese Falcon in space. But since this is me, that's just part of it. And this means setting the Angel Book aside for an entire month, which honestly doesn't bother me as much I thought it would. It went cold on me. I very a general sort of fatigue with writing in general and I kind of hope this challenge in November will recharge the batteries a little. Also, I'm going to collaborate with my brother and two other artists I met through his gallery on a multi-media project. I can't wait to do that, either.

I had lunch with Ben today, and I talked to my uncle in KC. He sounds good. I hope to hear from Sugu tonight, who celebrated his B-Day on the 26th. Happy B-Day!

The coolest car commercial ever.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Exhibit N

Scarlett Johanson, who embodies that old Hollywood glamour. And is only 20. Hmm.

He who smelt it, dealt it.

The Fantasy Novelist's Exam.

The worst lines ever from sci-fi/fantasy. These are laugh-out loud funny.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sox Clean

Cursed Teams 2, Curses, 0. Next year, it's the Cubs' turn.

From Maud: an interview with Dorothy Alison, where she talks about a lot of interesting stuff, including this little bit about the film they made of 'Bastard Out of Carolina':

"I hadn’t registered that they were going to do it well enough that it was going to feel to me and smell to me like my childhood — and make me want to go out in the yard and throw up."

I like this because I was thinking about books/films today. I've been thinking about this new story, maybe for the Novel In A Month thing, and I had two very distinct ideas of how to approach it. One is the novel way, which I like a lot. But it doesn't allow for the movie way, which I also like. This idea has as many fathers in films as it does in novels (actually some were books that became movies) and so I thought, what if I wrote both? A book and a screenplay of the same story. Different perspectives on the same tale. I haven't written a screenplay in years (except for the thing Sugu and I were doing and sort of shelved) so it might be fun.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Refund, Please

My blog is worth $564.54.
How much is your blog worth?

In other words, it's worth more than I am. Thanks to Ben for this (our blogs are worth exactly the same!).

Monday, October 24, 2005

Other Shoe Drops, Film At 11

The NY Times is reporting Vice President Cheney disclosed the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to his Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, who told a federal grand jury it was reporters that did.

Two things: 1) Oops and 2) WOW.

Rosa Parks has died.

A nice article about crafting language in sci-fi/fantasy over at SH.

The last few days it's been very difficult to write. I walk around with a knot in my stomach about what may or may not happen with my uncle. In times like these I write to give myself a breather, but it's been too hard to concentrate. I have ideas and and the desire to write, but it sort of fizzles as soon as I start, usually because the phone is ringing constantly, and your mind is elsewhere. I have been reading, Aimee Bender (she has a story called "Motherfucker" which is about, you guessed it, a mother fucker), Dorothy Alison, M. John Harrison... I've been reading some Dennis Lehane and Elmore Leonard to wet my appetitie for this idea I have for the novella. Leonard I've always loved, but Lehane is mostly new to me (his story "Until Gwen" is still swirling around in my head.)

It occured to me today, looking at my stack of books, that I read mostly women authors. When I read men, they're either writing about women (like Micheal Cunningham or say, Joss Whedon) or when they're writing about men, they're 'crime' writers, whether it's Lehane, Leonard, or even Tarantino.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Brad Lidge may be scarred for life now. Wow. This has to be the most ambivilent Series for me, ever. On one hand, I really want the Astros to win, because of Bags and Big. But on the other hand, the Sox haven't won since 1917 (fair, anyways) and it's Chicago, so... I end up rooting for both sides which probably makes the people around me wonder if I even know what's going on in the game.

Article from yesterday's paper about the downtown revival, and the 'Tour de Loo', which showed off all the new business down there, including my brother's shop. Features a pic of the gallery, too. I had hoped to write the original article on the gallery, but I couldn't, because Aaron is my brother. Sigh.

In one what has to be the coolest idea I've heard in a while, a new series of books has contemporary writers re-imagining old myths. This is one thing I would LOVE to be a part of.

And for what I really wanted to say: my uncle is still sick, but still pulling through, and I want to extend a big thanks to Sugu's brother Sajo who is going to give my uncle a ride to the hospital tomorrow for his blood check-ups. He really came through for us when we were all in a jam and I really, really appreciate it. Thanks, Sajo.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Exhibit M

Miranda Otto, who killed two ginormous elephants all by herself. For starters.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Write A Book Or Die

Jess Row referees Marcus Vs. Franzien and the larger realism vs. experimentalism debate over at Salon. This is a really good article and gets into the current state of literary affairs, so check it out. She says something very interesting:

'We need a vocabulary that can explain a novel like Edward P. Jones' The Known World, which at times feels deeply archaic and yet unfamiliar, rewarding the reader's expectations on one level and frustrating them on another.'

I think that's the problem in a nutshell; we don't have the vocabulary for explaining what's happening, or what may/may not be happening. The novel is not dead, but it may be lost in translation right now.

I was just reading some of Dorothy Alison's short story collection Trash this afternoon (it has probably my favorite short "River of Names" in it, as well as the incomprable "The Lesbian Appetite") when lo and behold I found this. (You'll have to scroll down a bit to find her.) So go vote. I mean, how can you go wrong with anal fisting?

And there's this, a selection of fake book covers. It made me think of my friend Mandy, who pointed out once that so many recent book covers featured shoes. And then I thought up this:

Image hosted by

And Mandy also told me about this November is National Novel Writing Month. Basically you have between 11/1 and 11/30 to write 50,000 words, which is 175 pages, or a novella. I'm writing the Angel Book now, but the idea is exciting, especially since I've had an idea for a novella length story in the back of my head for a while.

Shooting The Moon

The Hubble took an extreme close up of the moon, for reasons explained here.

Now this is a Series. I remember saying last year what enormous effect the Red Sox overcoming the 'curse' would have on the psychology of baseball -- there's no pro sport that relies on it more -- and look: we've got the White Sox in their first Series in 45 years, and the Astros in their first ever, after overcoming one of the worst suck-outs in the history of the game in Game 5 of the NLCS. If that had been the Cubs - well, we know what happened to the Cubs in that situation. But would it now? Are curses cursed? The Bambino spins in his grave.

And lastly, the new Powell's interview is Zadie Smith. There's a lady who rides the bus who looks kind of like her. But anyways, she had this to say about endings: 'My husband and I used to joke that if you get a novel in the post you should always check the last page. There's always a looking-out-to-sea scene at the end of a novel. If we see that at the end, we know we're not going to read the book. I don't want to read a book that ends with someone looking out to sea in that kind of contemplative manner.'

It made me laugh, because Sugu told me his sister does this, and then it made me cringe, because I realized this is essentially what happens at the end of the second book in the sci-fi trilogy. He isn't looking out to sea (it's disappearing before his eyes) but there's the faintest hint, so I literally dropped everything and revised it, because I hate those kind of endings too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Writing & Such

Somewhere in all this I did manage to do some writing since my last report (whenever that was). Not writing so much as polishing off. I'm into Chapter 13 now of the Angel Book, which is mostly knitting together stuff from the first draft to newer stuff, making it all synch up. I love how this book feels like the type of book you're either on with or off; there will be mountains of this someday at the clearnace table. $1.99, baby.

The American love affair with Brit fantasy.

Strange Horizons, based here in Iowa, is having their fall fund drive.

Some science with your fiction: Life. It's everywhere.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Good

My brother's gallery had its grand opening last Friday night. It went extremely well. About 400 people showed up, and there was wine, coffee, brownies, all of that stuff. There is lots of fantastic art and photography on display, including some of Aaron's. Ben came, and so did a lot of old friends. And it was great because it seemed all the artists in Waterloo came out of the Witness Protection program at the same time. "Is it safe to come out now?" The gallery is at the forefront of a artistic/cultural revival in downtown Waterloo, one that gets more steam every day and I'm glad my brother is part of that. He plans on doing a website soon, so I'll link to that when it's up.

I talked to a couple of people about 'zines -- I've had the idea of starting one for a while now, and I plan on discussing it more soon. I'd really like to be part of something that focuses on Iowa/the Midwest, and not just that, but the weird in all things. I sure won't have any trouble finding contributors for the first issue.

The Bad

My uncle John in KC is very sick again. His cancer returned (if it ever really left) and he's back in the hospital. It looked very bad until tonight, when after he got a lot of blood into him (the tumors are sucking up all his, I guess) he seems to have gotten a little better. There seems to be a lot of hope in this new drug that has worked wonders in these situations, and with chemo, there's optimism. The name of this blog was (is) "the terminal optimist" and that's where I come down most times. It hurts feeling so helpless, and of course there's the endless family bullshit, there like background radiation. Too bad it wasn't the chemo/healing kind.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Writing, 10/13

I did manage to get back on track with the Angel Book the past two days, and I clawed my way through Chapter 12, where I left off. I wrote around six pages of new material, and stitched it together with some existing stuff to fill a pretty big hole. I'll leave it sit over night and then see where we are in the morning. The trippy aspects of the book kick into overdrive at this point, and I suppose this where the book will lose some (and hook others), and I'm okay with that. It's a toss-up sort of book. Dead lesbians, remember.

The Fairy Review mentioned in the post below has got me thinking I want to try a shot at such a story. It's not too far what I'm doing anyway, but the idea of writing a short story expressly as a modern fairy tale excites me. I've had an idea lying around for something like this, so I may dig it out.

And Let There Be No Doubt

In possibly the coolest discovery of the week, astronomers have discovered that stars form NEAR black holes. I'm thinking this explains a great many things (like it's actually black holes that motivate galaxy formation).

You reap what you sew.

But the force is with us: Chewie's now an American.

Dig this: a new literary journal devoted entirely to contemporary fairy tales. I hear a bell ringing. And it has a new story by Aimee Bender.

Here I was yesterday complaining about not getting published (again) when there's so many more important things in the world. Sure, the money would be nice (since I don't have any of it) and so would the feeling I'm not just spinning my wheels, but it's nothing really in the scheme of things. My uncle in KC is sick again. It seems his cancer has returned, if it ever went away, but his doctors can't tell him because they prefer the month-on, month-off method. I don't know. You take the good with the bad. My brother has his grand opening tomorrow, and I'll have a report of that. I was there the other day as he made his first sale. Very cool.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Not Quite

Neil Gaiman next tackles the Eternals.

Speaking of which, once again, someone has just discovered that comics are not just for kids. How far behind is the 'leading edge' of the culture? 20 years.

I got about the worst kind of rejection letter you can get today, the one where they thought it was terrific, wonderful, genuine, but they didn't want it. This one sucked because I've gotten three of these in a row now, where I'm almost good enough to get published, but not quite. That seems the story of my life right now. Not quite. I appreciate the consideration, don't get me wrong, but even though this story is going right back out tomorrow, this one stung.

My brother opens his gallery tomorrow morning. Congrats and best of luck.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Grand Opening

My brother Aaron's gallery, Evan Kaiulani, has its grand opening on Friday. Come by and check it out if you can.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

God: "I'm Pissed"

Well, he must be. If you believe the likes of Franklin Graham (son of Billy), God has a list of wicked sinners and like New Orleans, like the tsunami, but not 9/11 ('cos Franklin ain't that fucking crazy) God has now rendered his judgement again. Is God checking his list twice? Is God the type of guy who doesn't get it right the first time? Seriously, if God was so pissed with the sin and immorality in the world (like Graham and his ilk say) then what the hell? Is his aim off? Does he like playing with his food before he kills it? Maybe he's just fucking with us. This God of many disasters just seems like a child throwing a fit, stomping his feet through the house and knocking all the china over. This isn't God. There's no sense to this.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Exhibit K

Enya, whose new album (FINALLY - it's only been five years) comes out 11/22.

Right In the Gut

I actually managed to get throught it at B&N the other day, but over at Maud's there's a nice condensation of the massive bitch-slap Ben Marcus excercises on Jonathan Franzien and all purveyors of 'narrative realism.' It's pretty funny, but if you got an hour, the real thing is interesting, too. In this month's Harper's.

Playing hooky from writing again tonight. Well. Mostly. I'm so far out of the Angel Book I'll probably have to read through it from the top before I move on.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

WANTED: Reflector Boardist

Beware prams.

The nameless dead.

Say what? Furthermore, when George Will spanks Bush, baby's been bad.

I helped my brother again at the shop today. It looks fantastic and is essentially done. Just a month ago it was another forgotten store front downtown and now it's part of this tidal wave of artistic revival in Waterloo. I think all he needs to do is hire someone to stand by the art with a reflector board all day, and he'll be set (still working out kinks with the lighting). I'm taking the night off from writing 1) because I'm worn out and 2) U2 is on Conan for the whole hour.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Grapes of Katrina's Wrath

Lalia Lalami (Moorish Girl) writes a great new essay about the absence of the poor in recent fiction over at Powell's. What she says is very true. I grew up poor in 'middle America' and that's mostly what I write about (sometimes, as we've discussed, there are dead lesbians and spaceships). This all kind of ties in with the new story I've been working on (AKA the hardest f'ing story I've ever written), which deals with these themes. But with a dash of weird.

Got my copy of Best American Short Stories 2005 the other day. I'm absolutely in love with Dennis Lehane's story "Until Gwen." It's like the most perfect stories; they go right into your memory, as evisceral as a smell or a sound.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Osama Wan?

'The Jedi philosophy does not lead to swashbuckling exploits but to Wounded Knee and Buchenwald, to young men flying airplanes into buildings.'

Uh. Um. Holy crap. Barn-burning essay on Star Wars. Read it. I think I'll have some more to say about it tomorrow, once I've soaked it in. Post reactions.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Zombie Lesbians Invade Mars

The Onion AV Club interviews Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean.

Audio interview with the mind-bending Aimee Bender.

Bruce Sterling on the legacy of JG Ballard.

Apparently, the Quills Awards, or the 'people's choice' of book awards, just isn't catching on.

In the YES!!! Dept.: The complete score to "Fellowship of the Ring", all 180 minutes of it, will be released in November. I assume TTT and ROTK will follow.

I finished the first draft of the new short story tonight. It stands at about 3000 words, though that might change a little. Some time here I'm going to get back to the Angel Book, and the dead lesbians. Hopefully.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Warrior Moon

More lesbians: The 10th planet, nicknamed "Xena", apparently has a moon. Yep, you guessed it. "Gabrielle." Hmm.

The 'Big Baby' Galaxy. My sci-fi trilogy probably takes place in a galaxy like this, a fat, developed galaxy that shouldn't exist so close to the Big Bang.

And NASA has taken a gigantic leap forward toward finding extra solar planets by reducing glare. The future's so bright...

Been working on a new short story the past couple days. Not the one I mentioned in a previous post, something brand new. I just started writing it late Friday night (or early Saturday morning) on a lark, and I think it's coming to something. It takes on an old sci-fi trope (reluctant to say which it is right now) but I hope from a different perspective, one you could only have after Katrina. It's going to be on the shorter side for me, which is fine; it wants to be blunt, quick.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Exhibit J

Juliette Binoche. She's the only actress I've ever seen in a film, besides Garbo, who made me consider converting on the spot.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

When Geeks Collide

Time Magazine's interview with both Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon, which for me and like a million other people, is so fucking cool it's beyond description. Both "Serenity" and "Mirror Mask" open tomorrow, and they talk about that, the gradual, inevitable triumph of sci-fi/fantasy in mainstream culture, proto-Buffy's (I think Kitty Pride was proto-everything for most of us kids in the 80's) and a whole lot more. Check it out.

Give A Darn! Vote For Harn!

G at The Antigeist talks about how a short story of Twain's destroyed the faith of her husband's father, a man who had been to that point a missionary. I thought about similar experiences in my own life, where a story or a book or a movie made me make such a hard left that would have been impossible otherwise. I've been thinking a lot lately about family and kids and all that, and I was when I read Dorothy Alison's "River Of Names." When I put it down, I was decided: no kids for me. Like the main character of that story, I don't know if I'm willing to take the risk, passing on things I have no control over.

I had a similar experience when I read "The Hours" in Dublin. I didn't go "I want to be a long suffering lesbian!", but I had this epiphany where I realized it was ok for men to write these kinds of books; that they could be written, and I could write them. Not as well as Michael Cunningham, but I could give it a shot. And so amongst other things, I'm writing a book about long suffering lesbians. But they're dead. Kinda. It's complicated.

I'm taking the night off from writing since I feel like I'm just treading water. I put down the Angel Book (the long suffering, dead lesbians) to polish off the second book in the trilogy, and then I put all that down to prepare my submissions to the lit journals, which was a bit like readying a mass mailing for the campaign last year. At least I'm not calling anybody this time. Good lord, wouldn't that be something? "Hello, this is Darby Harn, a volunteer for Darby Harn For Literary Greatness, and I would like to know: who are you reading this November?"

It's just lots of enevelopes, stamps, paper cuts, and this glue taste in your mouth that just won't go away. It wasn't that many, really. I mailed out five today, in addition to some e-subs, and I'll probably do five more next week, since I've yet to send out the Aran Islands story. And then it's months of waiting.

Anyways, I need to get back into the head of the Angel Book, but I'm not going to rush it. I've been taking it real slow anyhow, since June, and that's helped a lot. The main thing this time around is just making sure it's a load bearing structure. There's a lot going on, and previous attempts have all collapsed under the weight of its own seriousness. Got to pass inspection this time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ban This (I Dare Ya')

It's Banned Books Week, so do your part in keeping the Thought Police out of libraries and schools.

Space Invaders!

I've been on a Garbo binge lately, since TCM is playing all her old movies. The further you get away from her, the more impossible she seems, and yet the more you wish you were actually there. She had this effect on just about everyone.

Been revising more than writing the past week, prepping another round of submissions to magazines (a big one, since the university journals have opened now) and also the second book in the trilogy, which is now finished. 670 pages in the end. I need to get back to the Angel Book at some point (when was the last time I worked on that?) but I have a new idea for a short story. Actually, it's an old piece of writing that I found the other day, and like so many other writers, I dusted it off and said, "There's gold in them there hills!" Or something.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Exhibit I (WP)

Image hosted by

God's work, Irish style. I meant to put this up last night, but my aunt and uncle are in from KC. He seems to be doing better, but is having some backtrouble. Worked a lot in my brother's gallery putting together display stands and gluing carpet to the wall. Yeah, that's right.

Got the final rejection from a magazine I sent three stories too. A little disappointed since I thought the delay in hearing about this last story maybe meant something positive, but hey. Back on the horse.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More Saugatuk Pics

From Amy & Conan, and I had to share here:

Image hosted by

Going to the lake:

Image hosted by

Friday & Ilona:

Image hosted by

Conan knows where the beer is:

Image hosted by

They call these constellations: (Whitney, Friday, Ilona, Mandy, and Amy)

Image hosted by

We found the beer: (my IC roommate Andrew, me, and Co)

Image hosted by

My Valve Is Malfunctioning

In a surprise move Mandy would surely appreciate, Ignatius J. Reilly writes a letter to President Bush.

When you sit down to write in the morning (or at night, like me), do not do these things.

The new Powell's Bookcast with Aimee Bender.

I helped my brother some more with the gallery today, which looks like this, by the way:

Image hosted by

He got his big Wizard computerized mat cutter today, and along with my cousin Mickey, we also moved in a couple large desks and a file cabinet. It's coming along nice.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Lisa's Wedding

Image hosted by

This past weekend I was in Sagautuk, Michigan for my friend Lisa’s wedding. Sadly she was not marrying me (I’ll find a way to go on, somehow…) but a great guy named Matt. It was really clear to see at the service how much they love each other, how happy they are and will be. It was a perfect day for a wedding. Everything was fantastic, from the weather, Lisa looking gorgeous in her dress, and oh yeah, the open bar.

I’m so glad I was able to go. For a while I didn’t think I could, money being what it is, but my friend Mandy just moved back to Des Moines from Alaska/Portland/Etc. (there’s only seventeen states she hasn’t been to; we counted) and let me tag along with her for the long drive to Michigan. We had a lot of fun and I feel like I got to know her a lot better. It’s great you can know someone for years and feel like you’re meeting them for the first time. And even though Mandy hid off to the side to avoid the bouquet, it zeroed in on her as if laser guided.

Image hosted by

We picked up fellow IWP member and my Girl Friday (aka Erika) at the Grand Rapids airport (after a two hour delay, but Mandy and I found a nice brew pub, and a ginormous moon, after turning our noses up at $6 pints of Guinness) and finally we made it to Sagautuk and the lovely, the thinly walled, Ship N’ Shore Botel. Conan, Amy, Andrew, and his girlfriend Whitney were waiting for us, and the next morning, Ilona flew in from Paris. I figured she’d be exhausted, but she had the time of her life. She was brighter than I’ve ever seen her. She danced like it was going out of style, and even danced with me outside the tent, where I had to retreat after I’d gone deaf.

Image hosted by

We endured kamikaze bees (two bullseyed Mandy’s beers), and later, the most lewd, horrific, beyond-words piano singer in the entire western world. In the basement of a nightclub playing Britney, no less. He sung of porno tapes and Cheeto’s, two things that should never go together, but he did it, and we’re scarred for life. We also avoided paying $3 cover charge just for pizza, played pitch, went to the beach, and made prelimnary plans for the 10th Anniversary Reunion back in Ireland.

Image hosted by

It was a great, fast, tiring two days, but like every other day I’ve spent with these friends, I never wanted them to end. We weren't all there, but we were in hearts and minds. I suppose Friday would call our group The Parenthetical 11.

Monday, September 19, 2005

De Luge

Ben has a new 80's nostalgia blog, Pop Rocks, Coca-Cola, & You.

The history of floods in fiction. This is from Laila Lalami, who is also interviewed for the piece. You might remember I linked to her last week when she talked about the unnerving coincidence of having written of a diastrous flood prior to Katrina. i bring it up again because of this new article's examination of the Flood in fiction and myth, its role not only as a destructive force, but a cleansing one as well.

I mentioned also the flood that takes place in the second book of my big, epic trilogy type thing. The flood - it's not really a flood but more like a dam break - is the result of an attack on a city that recalls 9/11, a kick-them-while-they're-down cherry on top of the diaster that eventually, and this is saying too much, allows for the opportunity for things to change. For the better. What bothers me, and maybe it won't down the road some, is the odd, bizaare conjunction in the story between these two baffling tragedies that I never intended, but readers will almost certainly suspect I intended, since it will be years from now when/if the novel is ever published. I meant this story to confront the issues I had with 9/11, not Katrina, but maybe the opportunity, for me, is in the waiting; maybe I have the chance now to examine what connections there are between the two, what they reflect about this country and our attitudes toward the different cultures within it.

Jay McInerney was writing a book before 9/11 that also mirroed, perceptively, what happened, and abandoned it. He talks about that, and Naipaul's recent statements about the death of the novel. Yeah. Turns out the reality TV craze has been going since the 60's - in literature. Novels can't cope with the real world as good as non-fiction? A hundred years from now, historians will look back on this kind of thing and wonder what the hell these people were smoking.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Exhibit H

The original red head (amongst other things), Greta Garbo. She would have been 100 this month, and I tell you, there's only thing I like more than red heads. It's red heads that for some reason, wear men's clothes. Wait...

Off to Lisa's wedding in Michigan for the weekend. Ciao.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Straight Outta' Bellona

A lot of people are running around saying New Orleans was unpredictable, but we all know that's not true. What's even weirder is that 1) Samuel R. Delaney described such a disaster in his landmark book Dhalgren, and 2) I should have known that already. Sugu bought me a copy of this and had it signed by Mr. Delaney a few years back when he was in L.A. I read it, slow; it's as difficult as Joyce can be, but rewarding in its pecularity. I recently found another ominous foretelling by Delaney at the Goodwill: a long out of print book called "The Fall of the Towers."

Speaking of Joyce, nothing lasts forever.

Kim Stanely Robinson is writing a trilogy about a flooded America. The Republican President in his book is 'in a state of war with Nature.' Honestly, I'm surprised Bush hasn't declared war on the southern Atlantic, where all these hurricanes are coming from. I mean, do we need to see the WMD first? Fuck no!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Best American Tragedies, 2005

Katrina has further injured the already wounded space program. "We're not panicking yet," he says. Yet.

I said it before, I'll say it again: I do not want this man in charge of my country's security.

I've been looking forward to this year's edition of Best American Short Stories, not just because Michael Chabon edited it, but because I've known for a while that one of the stories in it belongs to Kelly Link. It's a stupendous achievement for her, and actually, it's in keeping with Chabon's lobbying of genre-legitimacy. He's been doing it for a couple years in the McSweeney's Thrilling Tales volumes, where he argues the value of good old fashioned story telling. Apparently in Best American, he goes even further, championing not just storytelling, but that sinful, lowest of literary enterprises: entertaining.

(Lifted from Moorish Girl):

Yet entertainment--as I define it, pleasure and all--remains the only sure means we have of bridging, or at least of feeling as if we have bridged, the gulf of consciousness that separates each of us from everybody else. The best response to those who would cheapen and exploit it is not to disparage or repudiate but to reclaim entertainment as a job fit for artists and for audiences, a two-way exchange of attention, experience, and the universal hunger for connection.

In the non-tragedy department: My brother set up his shingle up today. The sign for his gallery went up. It won't be long now; he's still looking at 10/1 or so.

Darth Blog

Blog names can be a pain. I've been considering a new one for a while, because The Terminal Optimist just doesn't seem to fit with the tenor of the blog. So I've narrowed it down to choices:

A) I Like Big Books & I Cannot Lie

B) The Morpheme Drip

Vote for yours now!

Remember how I said it took artists a while to figure out if they could write about 9/11? Not so with Katrina.

I wrote around ten pages tonight in the Angel Book, finishing Chapter 11 and bringing the total up to 294 pages. Even though this is nowhere near the end, there was a lot of talk about endings in this last scene. The book exists in a place where things never end, and where things can't; I think we all know what that's like, whether it's a bad job we can't get out of, or a relationship, or even traffic. For these characters, it's their entire existence, and some of them are tired of there being no beginning or end, no form to life or reason behind it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Writing, 9/13

I just got a rejection letter for one of my other stories, so that one will go back into circulation, too. I'm looking at next week to do it, since I'm getting ready to leave for my friend Lisa's wedding on Friday.

(EPIC TRILOGY ALERT) I've been plugging away at the second book in the trilogy over the weekends, revising it, and after I talked with Sugu some about it the other night, I found more trouble spots. Cutting those and all the junk so far, I've cut 55 pages out of the monster. I feel like it's on a diet. So, I'm sure to Sugu's shock, since he's printed it out already, what was 740 is now 685, and dropping. Even if I cut a page out a chapter the rest of the way, that will be around 20 more pages, and 665, 660, that sounds like a perfect length for this book.

Mainly the cuts have to do with exposition. I know Ben said he had this problem too in his story, and even though I never really cared for much explaining in these types of stories, somehow there's a lot of it. I think it's partly due to me just figuiring out what's going on as I go. The most important thing for me is that the world I'm creating in these books feels like it has a history, as opposed to dictating it to the reader. Even if I know all the history, the dates and names, most of it doesn't belong in the book.

I wrote a lot in the Angel Book tonight, Chapter 11, bringing it to 288 pages. It gets even more trippy from here on out, like a good (bad?) acid trip.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


The Eleventh of Never.

It seems impossible that it's been four years already, especially since it feels you continue to live in that day, whenever you think on it. Which is less and less than before, when we lived inside the loop of continuous crashes and collapses, but more often than you probably should. After it happened, there was a lot of discussion over the artistic response to the attack, as in should there be one. You wanted to write about it, but you felt wrong somehow doing it. You did anyway, and it was healing in its own small way, but it was just for you. That debate seems to be over. Next year there will be many films; there have been many books since, and for myself I found my way to write about it, in the second book of the sci-fi trilogy I finished back in May. And obviously it's not about the attack literally, which I simply couldn't do. I don't know if anyone ever can, as vividly and horrifically as we actually lived it. It is about loss, and hope, and the idea that when there is tragedy, there is opportunity. A chance for something better.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Exhibit G

Bow before your lord. Rachel Weisz, here playing a little Eve in the Garden.