Posted: 09/25/2014 in Uncategorized

Accidentally misspelled it “millennial$” and a giant iPhone in a rhinestone bedazzled case flew down, took my picture 500 times and played an 8-bit rendering of “Royals” before driving away in a smartcar
from Tumblr

Posted: 09/21/2014 in Uncategorized

If you haven’t heard from me in a while it’s because I’m busy getting over my newfound discomfort with opening my mouth at all.

Also exorcising transphobic people from my life is an A+ good thing but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the way the cast of my life has shrunk in the past year or so makes 7 months from 30 a lot more uncomfortable than it probably should be.

Full disclosure, since I got home from work I have done nothing but drink in my room and go to the bathroom once.
from Tumblr

Yesterday evening I was talking with the rest of the Terrible Trio (me, Peach and Pistol) about the bizarre behavior of aging parents. Naturally the subject of people becoming increasingly conservative as they get older entered the conversation and this idea popped up: people don’t get more conservative as they get older, they stay the same while the world passes them by.

I thought that had a lot of merit. When I think about people I’ve known a long time, who are now seniors or late middle age, all of them are as or less conservative, politically and socially, than they were 20-30 years ago. Sure, I’ve also known people who had mid- life freakouts and became fundies and whatnot, but for the most part they were skirting the edge to begin with. In fact, I find it very difficult to think of one person who over time has actually changed their views or behavior to be objectively more conservative. They just become entrenched in the views they already had.

This idea explains a lot to me. Why, for example, Hollywood (or at least the older folks running it) still expects people to be impressed by the token inclusion of “strong female characters” in stories, which of course was quite edgy several decades ago. It’s also a scary thought to me, in the way it implies that as we become chronologically older, we have to more and more actively work against our instincts to avoid stagnation. Especially because, if “stagnation” means settling into the rut of the habits you developed earlier in life, how do I know I’m not stagnating right now?

It’s no secret to anyone who follows me that my frustration with older generations can, uh, at times be, shall we say, considerable. But it is often outpaced by my exasperation with what I see as young people who act old. People who seem to have, in their early twenties or so, looked at themselves and thought, “Yeah, this’ll work,” and haven’t checked in since. Seeing no reason to ever reevaluate or change anything about themselves, they simply continue to morph into physically older facsimiles of their young selves.

The problem with that is that even if your early twenties were the prime of your life (in which case I’m fucked), nobody is perfect. If you pick a point in your life and decide that you won’t continue to self-criticize and grow after that, then you eliminate any possibility of remaining relevant, except to others who have done the same (c.f. why The Year’s Best Science Fiction has the same people in it every single year). Which… not that I can necessarily think of anything in particular wrong with that, but why? Who would choose to consciously do that to themselves? Unless it isn’t conscious because we don’t see it.

That’s one thing that scares me: not being old, but acting old and not knowing it. And not to brag, but I don’t see myself as being afraid of much. Marginally better would be to keep my had above water, and probably spending the rest of my life trying to drag my friends along with. Calling them out whenever they start pulling the “get off my lawn” crap, which some are already. And hopefully having someone to check me as well. Make sure the Terrible Trio stays terrible.

I wrote thIs on my phone so there’s probably at least one hilarious typo.

I probably act much different than I used to. Maybe I don’t.

I was really disappointed by an indie novel I tried to read, so I decided to engage in some good old fashioned shopleaving, because the book still looked fairly new. I planted it on the shelf in the corporate-ass bookstore and took, in its place, The Damned Highway: Fear and Loathing in Arkham by Keene and Mamatas. Figured what the hell, maybe it’s time to rekindle my love of Mythos. I used to be so into that shit, man. When I was a pup I picked up an H.P. Lovecraft book in Borders (I would say RIP but it honestly was not a very good bookstore) because I liked the cover, having never heard of the maniac before. It was destiny.

I think TDH:FaLiA was a pretty good choice and I don’t understand why more horror novels aren’t narrated in the voice of Hunter S. Thompson (RIP) but I was tripped up by a reference to Weird Tales (as in, the magazine) in the narrative. An homage for fans, of course, but it felt forced to me; I sincerely doubt Thompson in 1972 had ever read Weird Tales or even knew what it was, and not just because it hadn’t existed for a couple decades at that point. But it made me wonder: where the fuck is Weird Tales?

Here’s what I remember. I cut my teeth on Weird Tales during the Scithers/Schweitzer years, once I learned that the magazine that made Lovecraft famous was still around (though it had been through some strange times and gone away for a while in the middle). I learned about a lot of authors that way. Gene Wolfe and Thomas Ligotti come to mind. I lost interest later when the magazine started to get redundant. I remember someone (but I don’t remember who) commenting that it had been “tried-and-truing its way to the grave.” I mean, I’m not gonna tell you that it had always been great before that. They used to publish Tanith Lee a whole damn lot, so I’ve read a lot of her shit, and I could not tell you the plot of a single one of them to save my life. But the issues I picked up in like 2005 or 6 were like, damn.

But the fact that the work they published was formative for me is undeniable. My early, shitty writing was usually an attempt to write for Weird Tales. They were way more nostalgic than cutting-edge in those days, but they were good at what they did, for the most part. I’ve met Darrell Schweitzer a few times since then, and there are worse guys to go to for a conversation, for what that’s worth.

The magazine got rescued in 2007 with Ann Vandermeer coming in as editor. I wouldn’t like to judge whether Vandermeer was the best editor the magazine ever had (the other contender being, of course, Farnsworth Wright). What I can say is that she unquestionably had what both the magazine and the weird fiction genre needed, as an editor. I remember feeling like those issues of the magazine were actually relevant, in a “not just to me personally” way. I mean, it won awards and shit.

Then a couple years ago I remember hearing that Marvin Kaye had bought the magazine so that he could edit it himself. I was familiar with Kaye and had nothing particular bad to say about him, but this made me feel unpleasant. I felt it was a step in the wrong direction. That feeling solidified when I heard that he planned the first issue under his editorship was going to be Cthulhu-themed. That, along with my recollection of Kaye as something of a pulp-era sycophant, made it clear what was going on: he was planning to turn Weird Tales into an imitation of itself, which as Tigger (as in, the godfather of boylesque, not the stuffed toy who is most assuredly not the only one) will tell you is as good as an artistic death sentence. I went, eww yuck, and took my leave. I haven’t seen an issue of Weird Tales anywhere since.

Now, wondering what happened, I decided to do some research. It’s about as bad as I was concerned it would be. The magazine has reverted to its old design and appears to be publishing one whole issue a year, to fairly negative reviews (Locus apparently said that the content ranges “from mediocre to awful, to really awful”), and also that a bunch of people aren’t dealing with them anymore due to them doing something racist. The reason I haven’t seen them is because they lost newsstand distribution and have been selling online-only. Word on the street is that they aren’t doing too well. All I can say is that my work has never appeared in Weird Tales and it’s looking like that might not happen.

Whatever. I just want to ride my bicycle. Maybe I’ll spend some time trying to mine out the minority of Lovecraftian fiction that is actually good, or maybe I won’t.

Some kind of metaphor

Posted: 05/05/2013 in Uncategorized

One half of a duplex near my place contains a constantly barking dog. The other half contains a guy yelling at the dog to shut up. He’s yelling so loud you can hear him from the street. I haven’t been counting, but this has been going on for quite a long time. I don’t know what is on the guy’s mind. He can’t seriously expect the dog to shut up, especially if his disembodied screaming voice hasn’t affected any change already. All I can think is that his and the dog’s behavior are almost exactly the same, and they’re probably both extremely frustrated and/or scared, and they’re both taking it out on each other. A dog and a man wailing at each other, two broken animals wallowing in their own unsuccessful attempts to navigate their society. 

I get the feeling shit like this has been happening since the beginning of time.

Today is OSU commencement and I’ve tried to take 2 different pedicabs out on campus, one of which was broken when I took it, while the other was broken by the end. People giving me money to shuttle them around in a hilarious vehicle is clearly not happening today. So I’m spending my time trying to find a new day-job, because another thing that’s not happening today (or any day) is my current one jiving smoothly with my boylesque-dancing, bullshit-writing fairy-life.

That dog can’t possibly bark forever, no matter how scared he is.

Rust belt snakes

Posted: 04/27/2013 in Uncategorized

Thanks to a number of people, I am currently in Buffalo, NY rather than sitting in my room listening to the Gaslight Anthem cover of “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” on repeat. First time in this town and were it not for certain sentimental and logistical concerns, I would seriously consider just staying & sleeping on benches or whatever until I find a place to crash. The weather ain’t that bad, even if it still gets pretty cool at night.

I’m in a gay bar in Allentown where mainly some old guys are talking about apprehending their house cleaner cleaning house while naked, and making sure I’m not mouthing the words I’m writing as I write them. Before this, I came from Rust Belt Books where I had a chat with the lady at the register, bought this book and some tobacco seeds, and dropped off some Singing Snake booklets.

The Singing Snake Project is one of the things I’m up to these days. If you were at Travonna this past Thursday, you heard part of it. Basically, it’s a story that I accidentally wrote a bunch of different versions of. Very, very different versions, in some cases. Unable to pick a favorite because that’s dumb, I decided to release all the versions at various places/times in various formats. Beyond that, I decided to release them under a Creative Commons license & encourage people to create even more versions and distribute them even more places and times and formats.

Every time I try to type “formats” I accidentally type “formates” and have to go back.

But yeah, the singing snake. The thing is, part of the conceit of the project is that it’s all off-line, so you can’t actually read any of the versions here or anywhere on the internet. This is a literary experiment and I have no idea how it’ll turn out, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen Creative Commons used for something distributed exclusively off-line, so why the hell not. This is not to say that e-book versions will never exist, because it’s possible to distribute e-books without the aid of the internet, such as through dead drops. There’s one right across the border and I forgot my fucking passport. There’s also one in Dayton, OH for some reason I don’t fuckin’ know.

This is what I mean when I talk about being frustrated with all conventional knowledge about being a writer. Our whole goddamn industry is still trying to mimic the methods of content creation and distribution that worked in the 30’s. Even when we try to make use of new technology, usually it’s in the same ways. I think this is best termed “poopcrap.”

Anyway, if you want to be part of the project you can always contact me and hope that it yields coherent results.

I also bought some tobacco seeds. Because they have those at bookstores in Buffalo.

In other news I’m reasonably sure my story in Niteblade is coming out in June, and I’m no longer sure why I insist on having a full-time job for the insurance. I got the horrible unstoppable puke sickness a few weeks back & to call off without being fired I needed a fucking doctor’s note, which despite my insurance ran me up a $243 bill. There goes a week’s work.

I’m about to pass out. Shit, what kind of tiredness is this? Do I need coffee or whiskey? I’m in a gay bar, so let’s try whiskey and hope.

Rainbows and robot shit

Posted: 04/24/2013 in Uncategorized

What a lousy winter, despite all the ways it was wonderful. Well, should have been. I’ve heard that global climate change is supposed to basically turn Columbus into Seattle, and it’s well on the way as far as I can tell. Three months of stupid cold and almost constant precipitation, so that it’s gloomy even when the sun is out, and it still absolutely refuses to truly end. It’s yet another “last cold, rainy day of the season.” If the forecast is any way to judge, by the time we see the end it will be the point in Spring that is actually temporally closer to Summer than Winter.

Someone on facebook “invited [me] to try Who has crush [sic] on you” just now.

Anyway, you can tell someone is stagnating when they incessantly complain about things they can’t change (e.g. the weather) with not one word about things they can, so I’d better fucking stop it.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that I didn’t do a whole hell of a lot this winter–sold a single short story to Niteblade, watched my publisher drop the ball on any kind of marketing efforts for my book, and worked a day job in a shitty suburb–but I’ve been dragging my hilarious ass out of the pit where it’s been nestled to do some creating. Which is funny, because that’s more or less what I was doing all winter anyway with the Ooh-La-Las, so I guess now I’m stepping it up double-time. Life can’t be all rainbows and robot shit.

Well, it can be mostly rainbows and robot shit sometimes if you’re lucky.

I’m writing things to bring people closer together. I’m writing things that make me heavily frustrated with literally all conventional knowledge about how to be a writer. I’m writing things that cannot possibly serve any practical purpose. I’m writing things intended for purposes that can best be described as “shitting where I eat.” I want to show them to you soon.

I cannot construct a science fictional dystopia bleak and angsty enough to reflect the heartbreak I feel watching everyone around me disappear for silly reasons. Into a job. Into older relatives who demand care. Into nowhere for the sake of nowhere, just to get away from people. Shit was finally starting to get good, god damn it. I can only push back the cold so much by myself. People flake out on me, and suddenly winter is 5 months long.

But the good thing about that is that I won’t be writing any bleak and angsty science fictional dystopias anytime soon. In reality, I mostly write about talking animals.

I don’t know, man. Go find someone who is still in your life and tell them you love them. Even if you don’t actually love them. Because maybe you should.

This was last night. My dream, I mean.

Zombies, apocalypse, etc. The zombies had green, rotten skin and smelled like death, and they ate people, especially but not exclusively their brains. They didn’t moan much, or stumble around. They moved more or less like normal people, and they could talk and see and hear (and presumably taste, otherwise they probably wouldn’t be so hot for eating flesh)–but they were stupid: easy to fool, and not very good with deductive reasoning.

I was with a group of people and we had a hideout in a school cafeteria. It had big windows and a few doors, but we hung up curtains in front of the windows and doors that were printed to look like cinderblock walls. As long as you checked to make sure there were no zombies around when you went in or out, they would never know there was anything there. Dumbasses.

If you got close to the zombies (sometimes brave people would hang out just behind the curtains while they were on the other side) you could hear them talk to each other. They talked about cars and cell phone plans and TV shows and their kids and Call of Duty, even though they didn’t have any of those things–most of them had clothes, but that was about it. They were zombies.

There wasn’t much to do in the hideout besides not get eaten by zombies. We played cards a lot. I was nostalgic for living in a place that had a pool table. One guy had the idea to turn the place into a makeshift casino–thought we could use it to get more canned food or whatever. A lot of people were opposed, but he went ahead and did it anyway, and a lot more people from other hideouts started coming around. Inevitably, at least one of them fucked up and the zombies figured out how to get in. Shit got a lot more complicated from there. The dream went on a lot longer, but that’s the part that I felt like was more worth scrutiny. Like it had subtext. Subtext about people ruining something by doing something stupid and shortsighted, and letting the stupid in to feast.

I have been, like, off the planet for a long time. Let’s call it life events or chronic illness or some shit and move on.



Love Is Not Constantly Wondering if You Are Making the Biggest Mistake of Your Life by Anonymous is a very short novel. Practically a poem. It has been out for more than a year, and I found it via a review on Slate, via an ad on, I think, A Softer World. I tweeted the review because I was excited about the “choose your own adventure, but you can’t” gimmick, and I was the ~35th person to tweet it since it went up in May. So, some, but not all/many people are reading this book, as is the case for almost every single book ever published. It’s all meaningless.

Wait, hold on, I’m writing something that’s supposed to be coherent. Let me back up. LINCWiYAMtBMoYL–or, as I like to call it, “Link Why Am’t B’moil”–is a cool little book. It’s laid out in the format of the old Choose Your Own Adventure novels, such as Prisoner of the Ant PeopleWar with the Evil Power Master, and what sounds like it must have been the greatest YA novel ever written, You Are a Shark.

You are not a shark in Link Why Am’t B’moil (you are in fact a geeky guy in his 20’s), but other than that it’s pretty interesting. The artwork, cover, description, and choices at the ends of sections have to do with a plot revolving around crash-landing on an alien planet and being captured by ant warriors, but the actual story is about “your” long-term relationship with Anne, a hard-partying, irresponsible, alcoholic musician. Chapters are organized by date instead of the arbitrary numbers they used in those old pieces of crap. So, you’ll read something like “and the situation is really shitty, but its a situation we have chosen for ourselves: you choose to drink, and i choose to have problem with your drinking, and for us i don’t know if there is an alternative to this right now.” and then it will be followed by “If you agree to fight the other prisoner to the death, turn to October 24, 2003; If you refuse to duel for the Ant-Warriors’ amusement, turn to October 20, 2004.” Unlike the real CYOA books, Link Why Am’t B’moil (which I’m going to start calling LWAB) has only one ending, an underwhelming anticlimax which you move toward in a stumbling, random fashion but eventually reach no matter what, provided you can hold still for the hour or so that it takes to read the entire book.

The format and conceit is obvious and irresistible at the same time. You’re stuck in a co-dependent relationship and, while you’re given choices, you can’t make the ones that you really need to make. The choices you do make are essentially meaningless because, like any broken relationship, it’s going to end the way it inevitably was anyway. It’s hard to see your way out because of how the narrative throws you around from day to day, so that you never know exactly where you are or what is going on. This motherfucker found an unclaimed Stunt Anyone Can Only Pull Once and claimed it, and the result kept me entertained for a few days and gave me something to think about for a while after.

Make no mistake, with LWAB (which I’m going to start calling Lou Ab) the fun is in the form. The story itself is crafted with vivid emotional realism, but presented any other way it would be an unremarkable story that just gives off an icky having-to-watch-someone-else’s-relationship-fail vibe. But because it’s a story that hits so close to home for almost anyone, the choice to make it similar in structure and tone to a CYOA book adds an original spin to the reading experience. There are times when the writing breaks from this formula and drops the pretense of being anything other than a run-of-the-mill roman a clef, but you move between chapters so quick that it’s hardly noticeable.

In my opinion the existance of Lou Ab (which I think must be short for Louis Abner) is pretty heroic, and the nameless author is on my list of people who don’t have to pay. I recommend Louis Abner to anyone bored enough to read the kind of bullshit I engage in. I mean, it’s five goddamn dollars, people.


If there were a CYOA book about me, it would be called Master of Boylesque, which is what has been taking up a lot of my time recently. M. Shaw is also Serge Le Sinister of the Ooh-La-Las. We’ll be the only troop with a booth at Sexapalooza next weekend, if you’re in Columbus.

Found piece of paper with something in my handwriting that I don’t remember writing. Which happens sometimes.


There was an empty beer bottle sitting on the sidewalk. It rained and the bottle filled up with water. Someone walked by, picked it up and drank the water. Can you believe that? He was a CEO who owned 4 Lexuses and lived by a golf course. He drank it because he saw it and felt oddly aroused by the idea of getting herpes. He woke up the next day and he was an insect. He thought it was because of the beer bottle, but frankly once you’ve turned into a bug all bets are off on causality. He didn’t have herpes but he had spotted rocky mountain fever. He bit his wife and gave it to her. She died. It rained and she filled up with water. Bug man tried to drink it and drowned.


This was on the back of a business card for Steve Sikora, whose card claims he is an engineer at Allstrap Steel & Poly Strapping Systems, inc. I have no idea how this came to be in my possession. On the front someone (presumably Steve Sikora) has written “please true tire” in sharpie. You can’t true a tire. It’s made of rubber or some shit.