April 2015

In April, I again read just two books.

With Terry Pratchett’s passing in March, I decided to finally read all of the Discworld novels, as sort of my project for the year. Sadly, that’s completely do-able, now that it’s a finite number of books, the 41st and last out due out this fall. At the rate I’m reading, though, it’ll likely carry me over into 2016. Thus far, I’ve re-read The Colour of Magic and read for the first time The Light Fantastic. I liked both books, despite all the people say those are his weaker ones, and that you shouldn’t start there. That just means I have the really good ones still to look forward to. I started Equal Rites this morning, but that’s May, and will have to wait for next time.

I watched four movies.

First, the generically titled Animal, which I link to not to encourage you to watch it — don’t — but because it’s so generic a title I need to explain which movie it actually was. This was a terrible 2014 horror movie, only made enjoyable but watching (and mocking) it over Twitter with friends, chosen because it was looked so terrible.

Better movies for the month included the rather appropriately titled Blue Ruin, which starts with a strong, simple premise: what if you took one of those “man uses specialized skills to exact revenge” movies and took away the skills? It also included Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, which was odd — the only Martin Scorcese movie that was ever spun-off into a sitcom — and Furious Seven, which, honestly, was one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve ever seen. Pure ridiculousness on every level, but so much fun because of that.

I read thirty-four short stories, not including those I’m reading for Kaleidotrope or for my on-going writing workshop. Favorites include:

  • “All That We Carry, All That We Hold” by Damien Angelica Walters (Fantastic Stories of the Imagination)
  • “I am Graalnak of the Vroon Empire, Destroyer of Galaxies, Supreme Overlord of the Planet Earth. Ask Me Anything” by Laura Pearlman (Flash Fiction Online)
  • “Stay” by Daniel José Older (Fireside Fiction)
  • “When the Circus Lights Down” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny)
  • “Ishq” by Usman Malik (Nightmare)
  • Among the Thorns” by Veronica Schanoes (Tor.com)
  • “Come My Love and I’ll Tell You a Tale” by Sunny Moraine (Shimmer)
  • “Among the Sighs of the Violoncellos” by Daniel Ausema (Strange Horizons)
  • “The Sorcerer’s Unattainable Gardens” by A. Merc Rustad (Daily Science Fiction)
  • “Dr. Polingyouma’s Machine” by Emily Devenport (Uncanny)

And as always I listened to some music:

April was a pretty ordinary month, otherwise. In retrospect, from the tinged-with-sadness place I am right now at the very start of May, it was actually pretty damn good.

New fiction: “The Raven”

In happier news, my short story, “The Raven” was published this week in Lakeside Circus:

In a warehouse in Manhattan, there is a raven that can talk, and if you ask it a question, any question at all, it will tell you the answer, no matter how strange or impossible that might seem to be.

This is actually my first piece of published fiction since 2010 — that kind of is for lack of trying — and I’m really happy to be in the issue.

I hope you’ll check it out!

RIP, Tucker


[cross-posted to my Facebook wall]

My family’s dog, Tucker, passed away in the middle of the night. So yeah, I’ve had better days.

He’d just turned 12 at the end of March and had been struggling some for maybe the last year or so. His legs hurt him, he’d gone at least partially blind, and very recently struggled to breathe, coughing and hacking a lot thanks to a mass on his lungs. He was very much himself, though, a loving and friendly (if sometimes anxious and needy) dog, almost right up to the very end. I’d just seen him wagging his tail happily a few hours earlier.

But he’d been having a bad couple of nights and was clearly uncomfortable. My parents woke me up in the middle of the night to let me know he was really struggling. We went downstairs to be with him, but it was clear he was having trouble breathing and that there was nothing we could do but try and make him as comfortable as possible. He passed away a little before 5 am.

So yeah, this hasn’t been the Saturday I was expecting, or that I ever would have wanted. But he didn’t suffer much, and he had a long good life. We’ll miss Tucker — Mr. Dog, Old Mr. Brown, Taco — more than I can say, but we had more than 12 great years to know him.

March 2015

In March, I read two books. I finished reading Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer, and I started and finished reading Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie.

I watched five movies. The Man Who Would Be King and Star Trek: The Motion Picture — which I’d actually never seen before — weren’t great. But the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers was genuinely very creepy, like a ’70s political conspiracy mixed with a ’70s zombie movie. And Zardoz…god, Zardoz will fuck you up. I don’t regret watching it, but…it’s not something you can ever un-see.

The fifth was The Man Who Knew Too Much, which I’d actually forgotten until just now, as I was editing this post, that I’d seen. It’s decent Hitchcock, but not remarkable.

I read thirty-eight short stories in my continuing endeavor to read at least one a day. The best of them, I thought, were:

  • “Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon (Apex)
  • “We Are the Cloud” by Sam J. Miller (Lightspeed)
  • “Sickly Sweet” by Evan Dorman (Lakeside Circus)
  • “Sing Me Your Scars” by Damien Angelica Walters (Apex)
  • “Where Monsters Dance” by Merc Rustad (Inscription)
  • “The House in Winter” by Jessica Sirkin (Apex)
  • “Wild Things Got to Go Free” by Heather Clitheroe (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • “The Good Son” by Naomi Kritzer (Lightspeed)

I went to a meet-up of a local sci-fi club, where we watched a bunch of Star Trek in tribute to Leonard Nimoy — you know who was terrific? Leonard Nimoy — and I won a Spock glass. That (and the mint juleps) made me quite happy.

Oh, and I turned thirty-mumble-mumble-mumble. Thirty-eight. It was an okay birthday, far as those go, I guess.

Otherwise, it was a pretty ordinary March. More wintry than I would have liked — a snowstorm on the first day of spring — and a couple of other meetups unceremoniously canceled.

I’m still writing, still reading and editing for Kaleidotrope, still doing the unable-to-find-an-apartment-why-am-I-living-in-New-York thing.

And I listened to some music:

Onward to April, I guess.

February 2015

When I fell out of the habit of regularly blogging late last year, and then decided (kind of) to fall back into it, I wasn’t planning on that being only a once-a-month thing. And yet, maybe that’s what this blog is now: a recap, or re-evaluation, of the month. Twitter (and very occasionally, rarely) Facebook for my day-to-day life, and this for the “hey, that sure was a month” look back.

I honestly don’t know.

But okay, using last month’s post as a model, here’s that recap.

In February, I read just one book, Authority by Jeff VanderMeer. I’m most of the way through Acceptance, the third and final book in his “Southern Reach” trilogy. It’s been a weird ride, and although relatively short, the books have been taking me a little longer to get through than I’d expected.

In February, I saw only four movies. Two of these were this year’s biggest Oscar contenders, Boyhood and Birdman. I found both of them terrific…and both of them disappointing. They were kind of weird movies to attach so much Oscar-night passion around. Boyhood is technically more of a marvel, since there really hasn’t been another film made in this way before. But it’s equally more and less than this gimmick. The way that it was filmed sometimes revealing subtle story beats, unexpected moments, but it also often very little time for character development.

Not that Birdman fares terrifically well in this regard either. It’s a phenomenally well acted movie, and the direction is a great showcase for that acting. But I think it would be a mistake to think the film has anything to actually say about acting. It looks great, and everyone in is good, but it felt really hollow at its center.

Then again, the movie I saw between the two of those was Soylent Green, which was profoundly disappointing. (Spoiler warning: it may very well be people.) Yep, I spent my Valentine’s Day watching a crummy, badly dated Charlton Heston sci-fi movie. On the other hand, Edward G. Robinson — in his 101st and final film — is actually really good in it, so it wasn’t a total wash.

At least the last movie I saw in February was Big Hero 6, which is just a pure delight through and through.

In February, I read thirty-two short stories. I’m keeping to my one-a-day plan, only with the occasional panicked realization that a day is almost over and I haven’t read one yet. It’s been really good, and I’ve encountered some great fiction because of it. Here are some favorites:

In February, my parents were away for a few weeks, and I was house and dog-sitting for all that time. So I didn’t end up doing a lot of after-work activity.

I did finish my online writing course with Cat Rambo, getting a lot of really great and useful feedback on my second of two workshopped stories. (The feedback on the first story was good, too, but I’m a lot closer to revising and finishing the second.) We’re going to continue the group beyond the class, starting tomorrow, so we’ll see how that goes. I have a couple of flash pieces out for consideration right now, three pieces that are expected to appear sometime this year, and overall the writing is going okay. Maybe not gangbusters, but better than in years past.

In February, I went to another KGB Fantastic Fiction reading — there’s even photographic proof this time. I felt like I probably should, given that one of the readers, Mike Allen, recently accepted one of my stories for Mythic Delirium. (I was also a big fan of the other reader, Ben Loory’s, story collection.) So I had to do some schedule-maneuvering to make it happen, but it was definitely worth going.

In February, I went on campus twice, like I have to do three times each semester for work. I haven’t figured out which local school I’ll hit up next, but maybe I’ll wait until at least some of the snow has melted.

In February, I was in a car accident. It was minor, all things considered, and we both just lost side mirrors, but it wasn’t exactly fun. Because it was a collision, and the insurance had to be involved, it took a little longer to get the car fixed than it might have otherwise. But everything seems to have worked out. And while I also unexpectedly had to have a flat tire replaced on the car yesterday afternoon, that’s hopefully the most I’ll need to have fixed on it for a while.

In February, I again listened to some music:

And I think that was pretty much February.