September 2017

September was a pretty ordinary month. Some big goings-on at the office, but they’ve been going-on for several months. Mostly, I just read some books, read some short stories, saw some movies, and listened to some music.

The books

I read two: Zadie Smith’s NW and John Lanagan’s The Fisherman. I liked them both. I don’t have a whole lot more to say about either.

The stories

I’m not entirely sure how many I read in September. I have a record of twenty-six, but I’m pretty sure I missed a couple in my final tally. (I missed a couple of days too, though, so it wasn’t thirty.) Either way, these were my favorites:

  • “Seven Kinds of Baked Goods” by Maria Haskins (Luna Station Quarterly)
  • “You and Me and Mars” by Sandy Parsons (Luna Station Quarterly)
  • “Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand” by Fran Wilde (Uncanny)
  • “Evil Opposite” by Naomi Kritzer (F&SF)
  • “Still Tomorrow’s Going to Be Another Working Day” by Amy Griswold (F&SF)
  • “God-Ray” by Gregory Norman Bossert (Saturday Evening Post)
  • “The Lamentation of Their Women” by Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com)
  • “Angels of the Blockade” by Alex Acks (Tor.com)
  • “Crossing” by A.C. Wise (PodCastle)

The movies

I watched 18 of them in September:

  • Deep Red:

  • Horror of Dracula:

  • Personal Shopper:

  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:

  • American Graffiti:

  • The Omen:

  • It:

  • Night on Earth:

  • It Comes at Night:

  • Beat the Devil:

  • Camelot:

  • Giant:

  • The Hills Have Eyes:

  • The Big Sick:

  • Klute:

  • Babylon A.D.:

  • The Dark Crystal:

  • The Founder:

The music

May 2017

“He went to Paris, looking for answers to questions that bothered him so” – Jimmy Buffett

So yeah, in May, I went to Paris.

It was just for a couple of days, over a weekend, flying in Saturday morning and flying out on Monday. My parents had a hotel reservation that they couldn’t cancel but also couldn’t use, so I wound up using it in their place.

And I really did enjoy myself. I saw the Mona Lisa, went to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, caught sight of brand new President Emmanuel Macron’s inauguration, had some good meals, and took a bunch of pictures. I’d been a little worried my extremely limited French wouldn’t be enough to get by, but Paris is an incredibly cosmopolitan–or at least touristy–city, and everyone I spoke to was very courteous and willing to switch to English when my lame attempts at more than merci beaucoup didn’t pass.

Anyway, it’s definitely a city I’d like to return to. I saw the Arch, the Louvre, and the Musée d’Orsay–which might have been my favorite–but there’s a lot I didn’t get to see in two short days. I saw the Eiffel Tower only from a distance.

Other than that…? Well, at work, we’ve had a bunch of changes, with people leaving for new jobs (and/or cities), including my boss. It’s meant some added responsibilities for the rest of us, but it’s also meant just a general sense of oddness. Y’know, things change.

Except this cough. I’ve been trying to get that to change, trying to shake it, for weeks, and so far no real luck.

Anyway, it wasn’t all Parisian holidays and post-nasal drip ’round here, no sir. I also read read some short stories, some books, saw some movies,and heard some music. The usual order or things.

The stories

  • “The Ladder-Back Chair” by Barbara Krasnoff (Mythic Delirium)
  • “Sun, Moon, Dust” by Ursula Vernon (Uncanny)
  • “The Scholast in the Low Waters Kingdom” by Max Gladstone (Tor.com)
  • “Beetle-Cleaned Skulls” by J.E.Bates (Escape Pod)
  • Whatever Tower, However High” by Julia K. Patt (Escape Pod)
  • “Paradox” by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny)
  • Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time” by K.M. Sparza (Uncanny)
  • “James, In the Golden Sunlight of the Hereafter” by Adam-Troy Castro (Lightspeed)
  • “Rising Star” by Stephen Graham Jones (Uncanny)
  • “And Then There Were (N-One)” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny)
  • “The Stars That Fall” by Samantha Murray (Flash Fiction Online)
  • “Yosemite” by D.S. McNab (Escape Pod)
  • “Red Kelly Owns the Moon” by Shaenon K. Garrity (Escape Pod)
  • “Rings” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (F&SF)
  • “The History of the Invasion Told in Five Dogs” by Kelly Jennings (F&SF)
  • “But Only Because I Love You” by Molly Tanzer (Nightmare, reprint)

The books

I read three of them in May. Well, okay, technically I finished the last of them on June 1, but I’m gonna count it — and not just because the other two were maybe closer to novellas.

I really enjoyed The Sorrow Proper by Lindsey Drager, which is a meditation on books and libraries and love, with some very nice writing. I thought The Invisibility Cloak by Ge Fei was interesting. And Pyramids by Terry Pratchett…well, wasn’t my favorite Discworld book so far, but it had its moments.

The movies

I watched eleven of them in May, including three I watched on the plane back from Paris. (And am I ever glad we had to taxi for a little so I could watch how Jack Reacher 2 ends. Spoiler: badly.) Anyway, the movies I saw were:

  • A Boy and His Dog:

  • Paterson:

  • Moana:

  • La La Land:

  • Jack Reacher: Never Go Back:

  • Once Upon a Time in the West:

  • Alien: Covenant:

  • Get Out:

  • Joe Kidd:

  • Resident Evil: The Final Chapter:

  • The Emperor’s New Groove:

  • The music

    All of two songs, but I did listen to ’em.

    March 2017

    So March. That sure was some kind of a month, huh?

    If you want, you can skip ahead to the stories and books and movies and music I read, watched, and listened to this month. Otherwise…

    I turned forty at the end of last month, which I’m not entirely sure is a move I can heartily recommend. My birthday itself passed without particular incident, for good or bad, but this whole “being middle-aged” thing…I just don’t know about it. I also don’t know if anybody at forty is where they expected to be, but I sure as heck am not.


    Weirding me out even more, perhaps, is that I spent several days right before my birthday revisiting Penn State, after an absence of almost thirteen years.

    It was very strange being back, in some ways exactly as I remembered, and in many others not anything like what I remembered. When you find yourself asking someone, “Is this building new?” and they tell you, “Well, it was built about a decade ago,” you know you’ve been gone for a while. And in some ways, it was the things that hadn’t changed that weren’t strangest of all. (Like, seriously, the downtown movie theater I used to go to is now a Chipotle, but that hole-in-the-wall Chinese takeout place is still there? Well, it is a college town.)

    I also don’t know anybody in town anymore. My old boss, I found out recently, passed away this summer, and he had retired a few years before that at any rate. My friends when I left in 2004 were exclusively students, now graduated, which might have factored into my decision to leave. (I think I’m friends with one or two of them on Facebook still, but the same way I’m friends with most people on Facebook, in that we never talk there and I barely use Facebook.)

    I did have a very nice dinner my last night with a Twitter acquaintance, but I didn’t see anyone else I knew, and I didn’t have many old haunts to revisit. (The couple I did were either just weird or actively disappointing.)

    It was like wandering around in a place built on the bones of what was one time your home. Like revisiting a place that isn’t there anymore. I didn’t expect it to have stayed like a bug trapped in amber, unchanging…except maybe I did?

    It was a reasonably good trip, but an odd experience, and I recognized that I’m not nostalgic for there, but for then. And then isn’t there anymore.


    Another thing that happened in March is that my parents got a new dog.

    His name is Finn, and he’s a mix — we’re reasonably sure of Labrador retriever and Pharaoh hound. He’s also still very much a puppy, which is an adjustment, to say the least. He’s lovable, but also ridiculous a lot of the time and not terribly well trained yet. I’ve lost at least one pair of socks and a T-shirt to him, for instance, and the carpet has been christened too many times by his bladder.)


    And now, back to our regularly scheduled blogging. The books, stories, movies, and music I read, watched, and listened to last month.

    (I don’t know where Miss Saigon on Broadway fits into that, but I also went to see that with my parents. It wasn’t bad.)


    The stories

    I think I read thirty-one short stories in March, but I simply can’t remember one of them, so I’m going to keep the list at thirty. That’s very close to my regular one-every-day habit.

    Here are the ones I particularly liked:

    • “Daisy” by Eleanor Arnason (F&SF)
    • “The Lion” by Mari Ness (Daily Science Fiction)
    • “Two Ways of Living” by Robert Reed (Clarkesworld)
    • “The Toymaker’s Daughter” by Arundhati Hazra (F&SF)
    • “Crow Girl” by Lynette Mejia (Daily Science Fiction)
    • “The Ones Who Know Where They Are Going” by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s)
    • “Drift Right” by Wendy Wagner (Pseudopod)
    • “Attending Your Own Funeral: An Etiquette Guide” by Erika L. Satifka (Daily Science Fiction)
    • “Crown of Thorns” by Octavia Cade (Clarkesworld)
    • “Terra Nullius” by Hanuš Seiner (translated by Julie Nováková) (Strange Horizons)
    • “When First He Laid Eyes” by Rachael K. Jones (reprinted at Pseudopod)

    The books

    I read an unprecedented — well, in recent memory — four books in March. Three of them were rather short, and the fourth I listened to as an audio book on my long drive to and from Pennsylvania. But still, four books in a month isn’t half bad for my recent track record.

    They were The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, The Long Walk by Stephen King (read for my book club), and Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.

    That last is the one I listened to on my drive, and it was a good accompaniment to the road. I’m not overly familiar with Norse myths in general, but I enjoyed Gaiman’s amusing retellings.

    The King book, meanwhile, is exceptionally bleak, but it’s surprisingly effective for how very much it’s a first novel. (The version he published as Richard Bachmann is a little polished-up, but he started writing the book as an 18-year-old college freshman, which is kind of amazing.) It is not a fun book by any stretch, but it speaks to some very real fears. They’re maybe more a young man’s fears — did I mention I just turned forty? — but I really enjoyed the book club discussion we had about it. (I did not, however, love reading it on my library’s ebook app.)

    The other two books were…well, books. Classics, even, though I’m not sure I got a whole lot out of either one.


    The movies

    I watched 7 movies in March:

    • Girlfriend’s Day:

    • Sicario:

    • Logan:

    • The Taking of Pelham One Two Three:

    • Fences:

    • Society:

    • Solace:


    The music:

    October 2016

    cvo-7w_viaadzer

    And then October was behind us.

    I spent the better part of a week traveling, campus calling for work in Indianapolis. I visited Purdue (an hour’s drive away in West Lafayette), IUPUI, and the University of Indianapolis, talking with instructors on campus as I do. All I feel confident in saying about Indianapolis is that it’s a place. It seems like a nice enough place to return to and visit for the first time. But I saw practically none of it. I stayed a fifteen-minute drive from the airport and didn’t get a real sense of the city, or even of the schools I visited. It just was a place.

    But now it’s November, and all I have to do is write up my notes from that trip, which, if luck is with me, I’ll manage sometime before the end of the year.

    Other than that short trip, my October was relatively uneventful. As usual, I read some stories, read some books, watched some movies, and listened to some music.

    The stories

    I read thirty-three stories in October. A lot of those were horror, perhaps appropriately enough, and several were from Penguin’s American Supernatural Tales collection. I might have more to say about that collection when I actually finish it — I’m very close — but overall it’s kind of meh. Some good stories, some arguably classic, but a pretty mixed bag overall.

    Still, I read few others elsewhere that I liked:

    The books

    In October, I read two books: Slade House by David Mitchell and I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas.

    They’re both a little slight, but I much preferred the Mitchell book, which manages to invest you in some pretty unlikable characters…which may be one of the problems I had with Mamatas’ book. Maybe if I recognized the Lovecraftian crowd he’s directly parodying in the book, or was more widely read in Lovecraft himself, I would have enjoyed the book more. It has some nice touches, but I found it overall kind of disappointing.

    The movies

    I watched eight movies in October:

    • The Legend of Hell House:

    • The Darjeeling Limited:

    • Ghosts of Mars:

    • Shadow of a Doubt:

    • Sleeping With Other People:

    • Futureworld:

    • Out of Africa:

    • Lights Out:

    The music

    And I listened to some music. So there.

    May 2016

    26807601561_cac70aa1c5_k

    So what happened in May? Not a whole lot, but you know what? There’s not a whole lot that’s wrong with that.

    I read thirty-five short stories, saw eight movies, and I somehow managed to read four books — five, actually, if you count a four-issue graphic novel. (And ignore the fact that the others were very short novels.) I even listened to a little music.

    It wasn’t too bad. Even our team’s move into the lonely, dark downstairs office at work couldn’t put a damper on a pretty decent month.

    The stories:

    I read thirty-five short stories in May, beyond those I was still reading for Kaleidotrope. I figured I needed to make up for the three days I accidentally skipped in April. My personal favorites — and there were actually quite a lot of them — were as follows:

    • “The Men from Narrow Houses” by A.C. Wise (Liminal Stories)
    • “All the Colors You Thought Were Kings” by Arkady Martine (Shimmer)
    • “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” by Alyssa Wong (Uncanny)
    • “Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands” by Seanan McGuire (Uncanny)
    • “Three Points Masculine” by An Owomoyela (Lightspeed)
    • “.subroutine:all///end” by Rachael Acks (Shimmer)
    • “The Behemoth Beaches” by Maggie Slater (Apex)
    • “Deathlight” by Mari Ness (Lightspeed)
    • “The Jaws That Bite, The Claws That Catch” by Seanan McGuire (Lightspeed)
    • “The Sound of Salt and Sea” by Kat Howard (Uncanny)
    • “Left the Century to Sit Unmoved” by Sarah Pinsker (Strange Horizons)
    • “You Can’t See It ‘Til It’s Finished” by Joseph Allen Hill (Liminal Stories)
    • “The Right Sort of Monsters” by Kelly Sandoval (Strange Horizons)
    • “When She Was Five” by Fraser Ronald (Fantastic Stories of the Imagination)
    • “Team Invasion” by David Tallerma (Liminal Stories)
    • “The Signal Birds” by Octavia Cade (Liminal Stories)
    • “Suicide Bots” by Bentley A. Reese (Shimmer)
    • “Once I, Rose” by A. Merc Rustad (Daily Science Fiction)
    • “Furnace” by Livia Llewellyn (Weird Fiction Review — reprinted)
    • “Through Earth and Sky” by Gwendolyn Kiste (Bracken)
    • “Wednesday’s Story” by Wole Talabi (Lightspeed)
    • “The Blood That Pulses in the Veins of One” by JY Yang (Uncanny)

    Liminal Stories is definitely a new publication to watch, and I really like what they’re doing so far. But lots of my regular haunts had extremely good issues, Uncanny especially. Honestly, of the thirteen other short stories I read last month, only a couple of them are what I’d call duds. And we don’t talk about those.

    The books:

    I read five books, but with the possible exception of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, which has a lot of lovely things to say about a lot of things, I can’t claim to have really loved any of them.

    Doris Lessing’s The Fifth Child has its moments, as does Siri Hustvedt’s The Summer Without Men, but both are too slight and under-developed to really be satisfying. Hustvedt’s book maybe has more interesting things to say, ultimately —

    http://puppetwrangler.tumblr.com/post/145060196120/in-1559-columbus-discovered-the-clitoris-dulcedo

    — but that’s in part because it reads more like a patchwork of essays than a novel.

    Aaron Williams and Fiona Staples’ graphic novel — and that’s generous, given how sloppily it hangs together, but also given how incomplete it is — also has its moments. And Staples’ art, which I’ve enjoyed so much in Saga, is often stunning. But yeah, it’s kind of a malformed story that was obviously cut short after four issues by the publisher.

    But even that was better than Benjamin Black’s The Lemur, which was such a disappointing non-starter of a non-story. It’s less a whodunit than a whocaresit.

    The movies:

    • The Invitation

    • Captain America: Civil War

    • Hush:

    • The Five Deadly Venoms:

    • The Witch:

    • 1408:

    • X-Men: Apocalypse:

    • Marnie:

    The music:

    My monthly playlist was actually quite short in May, for whatever reason. Still, you’re free to listen to some of the songs I enjoyed listening to last month: