May 2015

I think it’s safe to say that May, whatever its pluses or minuses, got off to an unbelievably terrible start.

I don’t really want to talk about that, though. The wound’s not as raw, but we still miss Tucker an awful lot. My parents went away for two weeks in the middle of May, on a previously planned trip to Budapest. And while I’m glad for a lot of reasons that Tucker didn’t pass while they were gone, being on my lonesome without even the dog for company wasn’t always what I’d call terrific.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d still kill for an apartment of my own again — which, the more I search in New York, the more I think I’ll have to — but not a house. Not multiple stories with multiple noises and an overactive imagination. I made it a point to avoid horror movies while they were gone.

Anyway, in May, I read two books. Both of these were Terry Pratchett Discworld books, the third and fourth in the series: Equal Rites and Mort. You can definitely see him, and the series, evolving as they go. The first two books are indeed a little scattershot, funny but not always great novels. Equal Rites probably sacrifices some of the humor in favor of story and character development — it’s less jokey than the first two books, and not always successful at jokes when it tries — but Mort does a very good job of integrating them both.

Some passages I highlighted — first from Equal Rites:

A person ignorant of the possibility of failure can be a halfbrick in the path of the bicycle of history.

And the rest from Mort:

Tragic heroes always moan when the gods take an interest in them, but it’s the people the gods ignore who get the really tough deals.

History always has a few tricks up its frayed sleeve. It’s been around a long time.

When you step off a cliff, your life takes a very definite direction.

I’ll be moving on to Book 5 in the series, Sourcery, though I’m taking a short break to read the newest book in James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series, Nemesis Games. The timing of its release is something like a sign from the universe.

In May, I saw 13 movies. That seems like a lot in retrospect. They were, in the order I saw them:

  • The Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • The Orphanage
  • Village of the Damned
  • X: The Unknown
  • Babe: Pig in the City
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Magnificent Seven
  • The Puppet Masters
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • John Wick
  • Whiplash
  • Legendary Weapons of China
  • The Last Waltz

In the order I liked them? Well, I’m not sure I’d even rank Village or X, which are passable enough late ’50s sci-fi horror movies of a particular type. (TCM was airing a whole bunch of movies of that type that day.) And Puppet Masters isn’t great, and certainly wasn’t done any favors by my having seen the ’70s Body Snatchers just the month before. It’s not terrible, especially in its early going, but it’s a very forgettable ’90s movie. And The Orphanage is occasionally very scary — I watched it while the parents were still here — but also strangely sad and touching by the end.

I think the only movie on the list I didn’t like was…you’re expecting me to say TMNT, aren’t you? But that was surprisingly entertaining. Not good, per se, but ninety-nine cents surprisingly well spent. No, the movie I didn’t like was Whiplash…which kind of gave me whiplash. It’s a lot of watching J.K. Simmons be an asshole for two hours. And while there are few people better at that than Simmons, it’s not really a pleasant experience. It’s intense, certainly, but in service of what’s kind of a bullshit (if compelling) ideology.

It doesn’t help that I watched it right after watching John Wick, which was surprisingly awesome. In fact, most of the other movies on that list fall somewhere along the awesomeness spectrum. The second Avengers movie is not without its problems, certainly, but it’s a whole lot more fun than it has any right being, considering how much Marvel is just using it to set up the next movie, and the next movie, and the next…

I don’t know, it was a lot of movies. I’ve talked about some of them more than others over on Twitter.

In May, I read thirty-three short stories, which is down from my high but about average for the year. I haven’t skipped a day since January. And I’m barely scratching the surface of what’s out there. Favorites from the month include:

  • “Time Bomb Time” by C.C. Finlay (Lightspeed) [though maybe less for the story itself than the skill with which Finlay pulls it off]
  • “Remembery Day” by Sarah Pinsker (Apex)
  • “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury” by Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning)
  • “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” by Usman T. Malik (Qualia Nous)
  • “Elephants and Corpses” by Kameron Hurley (
  • “Sun’s East, Moon’s West” by Merrie Haskell (Lightspeed)
  • “Planet Lion” by Catherynne M. Valente (Uncanny)
  • “Ossuary” by Ian Muneshwar (Clarkesworld
  • “A Song for You” by Jennifer Marie Brissett (Terraform
  • “Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land” by Ruthanna Emrys (
  • “Two to Leave” by Yoon Ha Lee (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • “Hunting Monsters” by S.L. Huang (The Book Smugglers)

So yeah, a lot of really good stories in May.

Plus, a lot more music:

I’ve also started putting together weekly “Now Playing” playlists, which are the songs I quote from on Twitter, boring and annoying people with my frequent #nowplaying hashtag. I don’t know why I do it, but it’s produced two mixes so far.

Anyway, that in a roundabout way, was May 2015. Beyond that, I wrote some, had stories rejected — one in a record two hours! — and watched more than a healthy dose of Arrow. Hard to believe it’s already June!