Friday, January 31, 2014

Gray Daze

Damn, didn’t it snow just two days ago? We got a nice snowfall in Colorado last night; we got more this afternoon. At least the temperatures are reasonable, none of this single-digits and teens madness. It’s the end of January, better known as “the dead of winter” here in the Northern Hemisphere, so all is as it should be. I’ll be complaining about the heat soon enough. 

That said, I haven’t seen it snow this hard since I lived in Anchorage. We’ve been long overdue for a good dumping in Colorado Springs. I’d feel a lot better about it if I didn’t have to pick my daughter up after work. Or work a photo shoot all day tomorrow. 

With luck, that’s all canceled. Between the Great Purging of my closet and Act III of Grace Among the Dead, I’ve got too much to do. These are scenes I captured pointing and shooting the camera while driving northbound on I-25 into north Colorado Springs. This is before the next band came through that dropped another three to four inches on my neighborhood.





















































Of course, the prettiest sight for me is from the warmth of my living room, looking out the picture window.

So. Are you snowed in? Would you like a little apocalyptic adventure? With zombies? In a warm, summery setting? Have I got a book for you.

I’ll be re-posting the excerpts from Bleeding Kansas I ran earlier last year, so don’t panic if you’re a longtime reader (i.e., since last year) and see anything familiar on the blog.

It's the weekend. February Eve. Super Bowl weekend.  Our passage across that part of the year I call the Void continues. We'll all be complaining about the wildfires and heat before we know it. Trust me.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

BLEEDING KANSAS Kindle Re-Launch Is GO!

After a few weeks off the Kindle market Bleeding Kansas is back in black:



I note with bemused satisfaction that this is the book’s third cover, along with the original and the German-language version available from Luzifer-Verlag. What I especially like about this, though, is the text within has been digitally remastered from the original Word 2010 files, with most of the noise and hiss removed. The prickly observations Derek Grace made about his fellows in the first edition that so many found offensive are gone. A scene involving the death of a special needs child that readers also found distasteful was removed. 

In sanding down the edges, I believe I have a better story here. Derek Grace is still a man undergoing a rather catastrophic career change in a bad economy gone worse, but the bitterness that informed the author when the book was first written has since dissipated. The book moves a lot faster for the shed baggage.

That said, if you prefer a jaded antihero making running color commentary in a shamelessly cruel post-apocalyptic landscape, the original, unexpurgated story is still available, if only in paperback. For $11.98 USD ($8.99 paperback + $2.99 Kindle) you can compare and contrast the two narratives and make up your own mind what works better.

All arguments aside, I expect the $2.99 Kindle price point to do the deciding for most people. And I’m fine with that. Especially the “all arguments aside” part. 

Thanks to the good people at Severed PressBleeding Kansas is back and better than ever, from the front cover to the very last page. Now to get back to work finishing that long overdue sequel....

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Transitioning in the Void

“We begin again, constantly.” —Robert Fripp

Spring doesn’t start in my part of Colorado
until May. It’s all windstorms and cold snaps
until Memorial Day.

What a week. One month out from Christmas, the New Year no longer new, we begin again.

I like to think it all began (again) on Thursday, a morning of minor catastrophes. First off, the coffee maker went kaput. A Black & Decker I bought in August 2012, not even 18 months old. Just refused to work.

My son was being surly to his mother, which means I hear it from my wife. It had snowed overnight, leaving three inches to drive through in 16-degree Fahrenheit cold. No coffee to warm the insides.

Once Surly Boy was off at school (after a stern, “You don’t talk to your mother that way” from me) my wife went and got a Mr. Coffee. A little more expensive, but at least our last Mr. Coffee machine made it for five years. As luck would have it I didn’t have to go into work until noon. Everything worked out, if a little later and crankier than we all would have liked. Still, going into work was a relief.

It’s been a rough month for the blog. Especially as I’ve had nothing to talk about but work and how I’ve been looking forward to the end of the temp gig so I can get back to my writing. As of yesterday, that finally came to an end. Six weeks, through Christmas and New Year’s, all the way through the penultimate week of January. A lot later than I expected to work, for which I am grateful, because I shudder to think what our bank balance would look like if I wasn’t drawing checks every week.


So now I’m free. Free to hit the ground running.

Except I’m not. As always, I have to ease slowly into my groove. I’m taking my time as fast as I can, very conscious that we’re only 11 months away from next Christmas, and things need to be radically different already by summer.

Here’s to starting over. We begin again, constantly.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Grammar Nazis and Other Mindless Zombies

You may have seen this screenshot of a tweet: 




Zombies can help us with our grammar! Clickbait FTW!

Now why on earth does anyone need “to ID the passive voice?” Here’s another screenshot to explain that:


Click this to go to the original page. Lots of grammarly goodness there.



It’s something you concern yourself with as a writer, though not as much as some would think. I don’t sweat it, myself. Passive voice reads clunky so it filters out easily in my cycles of writing and editing. 

I’ve noticed a lot of wannabe Serious Critics get their panties in a wad over the passive voice, though, as if its use was some sort of mortal sin. Indeed, the admission of its usefulness in the above screenshot is so rare, it’s practically unique, which is why I chose it. No, seriously, use the passive voice once and these losers lose their minds. Your narrative is cursed.

While it’s good to know there are people out there who take such matters as grammar seriously (yes, someone’s got to do this), I can state as a longtime writer who has written for newspapers, zines, written a book, etc., that a lawyerly obsession with grammar does not get the most important thing of all done: finishing the piece. 

Before I leave this subject I have to note my amusement with the people I’ve seen in cyberbully mobs and/or very cliquish forums who will parse the comments of a dissenter for typos or grammatical errors. These people really belive they’re not only humiliating their target when they find a misplaced apostrophe, but winning the argument for no other reason than because they type more carefully.

Thank goodness such people are few. A society that tolerated the breath of enough such martinets would rightfully condemn itself to any number of excruciatingly painful apocalypses.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got an apocalypse of my own to finish. You grammar Nazis can tell me all about it after you’ve bought the book. Writers gotta write. Grammar Nazis gotta...well,  you get the picture.

Monday, January 20, 2014

For My Wife on Her Birthday

Lots of people have tried imitating The Beatles and for the most part they fail. They think it’s the harmonies, or the song structure. Or maybe both! They’re idiots, and in the course of attempting to write a mediocre Beatles song they fail at songwriting altogether.

Here, Lenny Kravitz shows he paid attention while the Beatles were playing. He captures the essence of the individual personalities of the band, from Paul McCartney’s alternately wandering and propulsive, always independently minded bass, to Ringo’s almost painfully slow attack on the drums. The surprise B-flat chord in the coda demands we sing along.

What seals the deal is Lenny Kravitz makes it all his. This isn’t a corny homage. This is a living, breathing statement of the kind John or George were wont to make. Except this is Lenny’s. Thus, “Let Love Rule” is the best Beatles song that isn’t a Beatles song. For that matter, it’s the only one I’m aware of.

My then future-wife had the cassette tape in her car when we first went out. It was my first exposure to Kravitz, and I was impressed with the rest of his debut album. His follow-up, Mama Said, was even better overall. Kravitz has managed a few stand-out moments since then, but “Let Love Rule” is an early cut on the Soundtrack of Us. You can’t beat the sentimental favorite:



Sunday, January 19, 2014

Happy 205th, Mr. Poe

Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe!
                                               —John Lennon, “I Am the Walrus”

According to a 1971 interview Lennon did with Rolling Stone magazine, Lennon wrote that line because he’d been taken aback by some harsh criticism he’d read of Poe. Seriously, who hates on Edgar Allan Poe? Moreover, why?

Edgar Allan Poe lived only 40 years, had a taste for liquid intoxicants and (really) young women. A regular 19th century Jerry Lee Lewis. Except our good Edgar not only established the genres of macabre fiction, Gothic horror, and the detective story, he codified the principles of the modern short story. 

One may complain of the early 19th century density of his prose, but in the short time Poe was writing he inspired the entire career of French writer Charles Baudelaire. Antipathy towards Poe is jealousy, plain and simple.

His death is a mystery, along with his decision to leave his biographical legacy to a man who hated him. Me, I remember reading an essay in an omnibus edition of Poe’s work, which described how he observed his cat learning how to work the thumb-latch door. I recognized that classic paradox observed in creative types, myself included: a fascination with process, even as we engage in deliberate Rimbaudian derangement of the senses.

Like a boss.
Edgar Allan Poe was more than crumbling houses of Usher, black cats and cannibals and haunted tombs. He was a man interested in things. The reason a lot of so-called writers fail is they’re focused on one or two things occupying the whole of their interest. The overclass of writers like Poe, then Twain, then Whitman, etc., embrace worlds of fascinations.

We do love that spooky stuff, though. Myself, especially. The haters can bother me when one of them writes something as sublimely messed-up as “The Tell-Tale Heart,” or “The Masque of the Red Death,” “The Cask of Amontillado.” Thanks for all the tales of mystery and imagination, and Happy Birthday, Mr. Poe! 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Night of the Living Dead Key Ring Tags

I’m cleaning my office, translating the clutter from the futon to the coffee table and back again—then back again. Much is culled in the course of said transfer. Some of this stuff gets dropped in the paper bag I’m carrying out to the recycling bin. A lot more is shredded. The rest gets put into their proper places, one by one.

I found a customer loyalty card I wanted to put on my key ring. I already had a lot of cards on my key ring; I would have to remove a few if I wanted a viable fit.

Imagine my chagrin when I found this:


Then, this:




























I found a couple more cards that were simply snapped in half. The one that really got me, though, was this:


It’s completely white on the other side. There’s no indication of what it once was.

I’ve been walking around with garbage in my pockets all this time, some seriously “sad refuse,” at that. Of course, based on the heft of the bags I’ve been hauling out, it’s safe to say I’ve been living in garbage. Well, Happy New Year, Charlie Brown. No time like the right now to get started on the spring cleaning. 

It’s more than a mere detailing, though. It’s a streamlining. We’re throwing off excess weight and preparing the starship for launch. HALLELUJAH, WE'RE FINALLY GETTING OFF OF THIS GOD-FORSAKEN ROCK!

Whatever pokes along the process, I think, as I haul another load to the trash.... 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Title Reveal for BOOK TWO of the SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER!

I really don’t want to do this. But I said I would do it on the Ides, and today’s the day—and there aren’t much of those Ides left, so here goes.

I’d wanted to wait until I was finished with the novel, at the very least finished with the temp job that’s been cramping my schedule. I wanted some hellacious fine digital art. I wanted to be done with that damned Mesquite font.

But this is the army I’m going to war with right now. Here, a few photos of my still-shaping-up desk, and then the reveal. If you’re sharp, you’ll see the title for the second book in the The Saga of the Dead Silencer in the first photo.


I came up with the title on New Year’s Eve and immediately printed up a title page so it would focus my thoughts as I finished the book. One can work a narrative without a title—obviously, as I’ve been doing it for so long—but it’s weird. Not a good weird, either. 

Yes, this desk is a mess.

The Gil Elvgren calendar on the right is a recent addition as of yesterday. My wife found it on sale for four bucks.

And here you have it. Why it took all the way until the very last day of 2013 to figure out a way to exploit Derek Grace’s name for a decent zombie fiction title is a mystery known only to the therapist I can no longer afford (but whose handwritten messages of encouragement still decorate the wall around my desk).

That’s right, apocalypse and gore fans: Coming Summer 2014: GRACE AMONG THE DEAD, Book 2 in The Saga of the Dead Silencer!

I must admit, that wasn’t so bad. I feel better already.


###

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Beware the Ides of January...

...for that means half of the first month of the New Year is already gone. At this point I’m willing to concede that the New Year is now simply “this year” and if you aren’t rollin’ on your 2014 plans by now, you’re running behind. Like me.

I didn’t expect the temp assignment I’ve been working since before Christmas to go on this long, but it has. I’ve got today off because the guy running the bookstore declared himself sick after a week and a half of a senior management woman coming up from Texas to “train” him. Much of this training consisted of morning panic attacks triggered by the slightest crisis, nonsensical orders barked by way of maintaining the appearance of control, etc. After a while, she would calm down, even laugh over the morning’s (very minor) stressors. Everyone else, however, was left exhausted. Too exhausted to do blog posts when they got home, for instance. And needing a day off once the Freak-Out in Chief left, for another.

The pathology of the modern American workplace and the poor, harried slaves who show up to make it happen is a subject to be mined for other posts. Suffice it to say I’m happy for this full weekday back in the only office that matters: mine. 


You’ve got to be willing get your hands dirty. Then dirty them!
Art Copyright © Matt Dixon
Go to www.mattdixon.co.uk
and buy his 2014 calendar!
Although I apparently wasn’t happy enough to hit the ground running once I got the call from the temp agency at 7:30 this morning. No, I wasted time goofing around the Internet. Reading about the latest school shooting, the beginning of the end for Net Neutrality, and some other things I’ve already forgotten about. I’ve 100 pages left of a book I’ve been reading and it’s due today. I should have been reading that, but there’s too much stuff on my office futon to sit and do that. 

And then there’s the book I’ve been writing, the one whose title I’d thought to reveal today. So much to do, where to begin? 

I’ll start with a shower. Then I’ll clear a space so I can sit somewhere. Then I’ll get back to finishing Chapter 21. I’ll outline some future blog posts, maybe even knock off a quickie by way of catching up, while I’m cooling my brains from the carnage I write about in the third act of...not yet. I still have to figure out how to do this announcement.

The main thing is to get started. And there’s no time for that like right now.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Random Observations on a Sunny Saturday

Who knew staying up until 1 a.m. drinking would be so much like work? It’s amazing how quickly one can fall out of conditioning.


How getting bombed feels. What it really looks like
is another matter entirely.
I suppose I should be grateful that three beers is the maximum for me over the course of an evening. Four is a regular bender. I’ve known alcoholics whose personalities flipped Jekyll to Hyde over after one sip of anything with the remotest molecule of methyl in it. If they were going to drink (and they had to), they might as well do it in a cage so they couldn’t go out and do that special kind of liquor-stupid stuff that attracts the attention of local law enforcement and other strangers.

God, what a terrible way to be! If I had to give up beer I swear I’d kill myself. That’s the extent of my disease. Here’s hoping it stays that way. Salud!
__________________________________________

I slept like the proper dead until 7:30 a.m. This would normally be the time I’m driving in to work. Here, it was the sun and the cats meowing at the bedroom door for their breakfast that got me up. That, and my swole to aching bladder.

I went back tossed and turned for another 90 minutes. Then I got up, showered and made my way to my 11 a.m. appointment at the tire place. Forty-five minutes and $446 later I drive out on tires that ride smooth as silk. I’ve got to find a good place to get an alignment.

They’re snow tires, not all-season, and the best deal I could get for my Jeep. I’ve probably guaranteed it will not snow again in Colorado Springs for the next three years. These tires supposedly wear quicker than all-season tires, but they do ride nice.
__________________________________________

I came home, did not eat brunch. I lay down on the bed for another two hours. Slept well for most of it.

Now I’m at my keyboard, warming up my hands for the next pass at Chapter 21 of—no, not yet. I’ll announce the title on the 15th. I like the idea of saving the announcement for the Ides of January.
__________________________________________

Ever notice how gas prices go down just before Christmas? It’s as if the oil barons are throwing the retail barons a bone by letting consumers have that much more money to spend.

Of course, that’s just conspiracy theorizing. We should accept the break in gas prices for the blessing it is and shop ‘til it hurts. So we do.
__________________________________________

I was coming back into my neighborhood after making the 18-mile round-trip to pick up my daughter from work, and I realized that, for once, I was happy to see that so many people had left their Christmas lights up. We’ve got a couple of decent yard displays, but even the lights in the windows show some haven’t even taken their trees down.

Now that I’m working like real people again I appreciate the reasoning behind it. As someone who feels like he’s missed out on most of the season while on the job, I’m even thankful for it. I’m even confident you’ll get it all squirreled back away in time for Groundhog Day, because everyone knows that Christmas lights on Groundhog’s Day is plain sad. Right?

Seriously, though, I love those lights right now. Way to go, neighbors. Also, belated thanks for the fireworks show this year.
__________________________________________

I almost want to lie back down. I feel like I’m catching up on entire weeks without proper rest. I’m going to force myself to take a short walk down the greenbelt instead.

Then I’ll nap again. Might as well get my rest while I can. Monday is another week. Once I’m done I can fall out of that conditioning and back into working all night. 

Like a caught fish dropped back into the water, I’m outta here, man. Back into the cool dark.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Couple of Days Off

It’s been a long, forced march since the day after New Year’s. Finally, I can enjoy a weekend—the second weekend of the year is actually my first. This play with numbers seems to be a trending them with me, given that my second novel is actually my third. What does it mean? Who cares; I’m tired.

Besides, the bigger news is I’m going in on Monday. I’d expected this job to be up on the 6th of the month. Given the delivery crisis with all carriers last month due to the weather, we’re getting late shipments, and they want their best guy to bust ‘em all down. I’ll give this through Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest. As badly as I want to apply my new 2014 discipline to finishing the second book in The Saga of the Dead Silencer, I can’t turn down the beer this money will buy me.

While we’re here, I might as well mention that Bleeding Kansas is now available only in paperback. Severed Press and I are revising, rebranding, and readying a kickass second edition. Same story, but built for speed, with far fewer adverbs and digressions. Also, a much more vibrant cover. This will make the original paperback here something of a collector’s item. (Emphasis on “something of.”) 


I’ve got to be ready by the time she finishes
Bleeding Kansas!
As for when this Kindle re-launch will happen, I’m thinking it will be shortly after I finish my title-to-be-announced second novel in the series. I’d like to do it that way, anyway; re-launch book #1 with the debut of book #2.

I have a title for book #2, by the way, and it’s a corker. It needs an accompanying graphic and copy before I inflict it upon the world. I’ll see what I can do this weekend. No promises. I do need to finish this thing soon, though. The entire novel. Right after I blow an entire week’s paycheck on new tires to replace the Kojak slicks on my Jeep...let’s pray that’s the only worldly nonsense getting in my way these next two days off.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

In-Between Days

So, right after I said I wouldn’t break the chain of daily blog posts, I did. I was tired after work, as usual, but I felt bad for my long-suffering wife and volunteered to pick my daughter up from her waitressing gig. 

I’d told my wife I only needed a little nap. My plan was to knock out a post while winding down from the 16-mile round-trip errand, and then go to bed for the night. Naturally, my wife ended up picking up my daughter, because my little nap lasted all night.

And it was just as well. When I come home, I’m wiped. Zapped. Knackered. Working around books may not seem like terribly dirty work, and it isn’t, but the fine dust from all those razored-open carboard boxes does get up one’s nose. I’m on my feet all day, hauling waste cardboard to the baler when I’m not hauling stacks of books to shelves. I have to take a shower after I get home to wash all this and the tension out of my system.

All I could think of to talk about was work, which I’d rather not do. First, for the obvious reasons, and second, because I’d bore everyone to tears, myself included. The overall direction of the blog may be a work in progress, but I’m sure the Campus Bookstore Chronicles isn’t it. That’s not to say a story won’t come up. But I miss my zombies. I work on the drafts in the morning before work sometimes, but not as much or for so long as I’d like.


Freedom is pretty like this.
Aside from working eight days straight since the day after New Year’s Day, I don’t have that much to complain about. Bills are getting paid. My wife gets up and makes breakfast for me. Dinner’s ready when I get home. So if drinking beer and nodding my head like a junkie to my music mix before turning in early for bed helps me decompress for the next round, then that’s what I need to do. It’s a good life if I don’t weaken.

My New Year will start a little late, but I’m counting on the capital raised by this contract gig to finance me for long enough before the books and the web site and the soon-to-be YouTube channel fulfill my 2014 resolution to never have to depend on these temp gigs to float me again. A little irony in one’s diet never hurt anyone.

Meanwhile, all I have for you is Kaley Cuoco in silver underwear, and The Kinks’ musical tribute to my wife. My wife gets up at oh-dark hundred to make me breakfast. This morning it was steak and eggs. I’m living the dream. I just have to hold up my end, meet my luck halfway—and hit the ground running when the contract is up.




Thursday, January 02, 2014

Welcome to the Void

It’s only the second day of the New Year, and already the year doesn’t feel so new. Especially if you’re going back in to work. In my case, I don’t even have a weekend to look forward to. I’ll likely be working all day Sunday hustling textbooks to university students who’ll need them by the next morning. 

The only thing that saved me from being swamped today is that most students don’t have their schedules yet. Which just means I’ll get slammed harder Saturday and Sunday. And I’ll have a host of bitter, angry, tired stragglers on Monday. Maybe Tuesday, if my contract gets extended. I doubt they’ll need me past this point. 

I refuse to submit to the Void. It’s my best term for that dead, empty period after the jumpin’ fourth quarter. Since Labor Day, really, when the Halloween stuff went on display in the stores. We were stoked for Halloween, stoked for Thanksgiving, and completely beside ourselves for Christmas, with one good raving drunk to send it off on New Year’s Eve.

Yet even New Year’s Day, that final holiday in the Happy Holidays Omnibus of Fun, seems a let down. Just the day you get over your hangover while taking in a bowl game. Or cleaning the office and the house, as my wife and I have been doing for over the last week.

And after that? Nothing. No songs, no joy, no anticipation of parties and gifts and food and hanging out. The Grammys, the Super Bowl, the Oscars? St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo? Please. It’s a wasteland straight on until Memorial Day, the USA’s official unofficial beginning of summer. A Void.

So here we are, exhausted, depressed—and even if well-rested and feeling more-or-less okay, it does seem more of an effort, doesn’t it? No wonder we drop those resolutions, and end up hating ourselves more for it.

So here’s today’s blog post. Tomorrow I’ll do that set of pushups and crunches I missed this morning on top of tomorrow morning’s set. 

I will not give in. I will not surrender. When this temp gig is up I’ll have a proper Twelfth Night celebration to send the season off properly. I’ll hoist high the Jolly Roger as my ship makes its way through the psychic horse latitudes that are January through May.

The anticipation built throughout the festive season is no longer blowing at our backs. But in a way, that’s fine. Without the distractions of the season, we work to bring our gifts to the next season. We will work to become stronger, smarter celebrants. The kind who are making a little more money than this time last year.

Here’s a great song about making the changes in the great grand lonesome of one’s own heart. It’s good for New Year’s or whenever you need to declare a break from What Was to Something Else. 



Wednesday, January 01, 2014

New Year’s Eve After-Action Report

I fell into bed before 2 a.m. and didn’t rise until 10. I would have stayed up later had it not been for the unholy vengeance my wife’s bacon-wrapped, cream cheese-stuffed jalapeno poppers wreaked upon my gut. To think I could have awoken later, and with a hangover—at risk of sounding like that idiot Pangloss in Voltaire’s Candide, intestinal cramps brought me the best of all possible worlds.
Last night’s stoneware snack spread, courtesy my vegan wife. Note the jalapeno poppers in the lower left. Yes, that bit of pink wrapped about them is bacon. Beyond the poppers are the stuffed mushrooms; beside them is a giant slab of garlic cheesy bread. It was just the two of us last night, and my wife whipped this all up in no time flat. This is why I can never marry again. My wife has ruined me for other women.



Two things of note from last night’s revels: I reluctantly turned on Old Dead Man’s New Year’s Suckin’ Eve with the New-ish Guy and His Has-Been Sidekicks at a quarter ‘til midnight so I could hear the countdown for the ball drop in Times Square as I stood outside. I’d feared a barrage of bad pop from the usual gang of cardboard celebs. As it happened the network ran commercial after commercial throughout those last 15 minutes, with maybe 30 seconds of “We’re still here waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square!” before cutting to another block of commercials. So that worked out.

The second item of note is how the people throughout my neighborhood in the unfashionable south end of Briargate in Colorado Springs went absolutely ballistic with the fireworks this year. Never mind the fire restrictions, there was some extreme pent-up emotion to be released here. Judging by the whoops and hollers I heard throughout the neighborhood, the mood was as joyful as it was joyfully defiant. 

It was a blessing to behold. Not only did all the more local pops and cracks and booms distract from the big show on Pikes Peak—bigger than ever this year, it turned out—I declined to sing “Auld Lang Syne” aloud as I did last year. It seemed much too solemn for the mood. 


Fireworks from the summit of Pikes Peak, as they more-or-less appeared from my back patio. There are better photos from where I found this one at www.kktv.com. Credit: David Warner. All other photos in this post are mine.

I wasn’t big on solemnity last night. Nor was I feeling frivolous; I was grateful for the exhaustion that drove me to bed just before 2 a.m. 

I awoke and went over my blog stats for the year. I went month by month, added the total for each quarter, then added up the quarter totals. The fourth quarter alone was astonishing, but consider the larger picture: at the beginning of 2013 I had 1,478 all time total views on this site. I ended the year with an all-time total of 15,762. The current numbers are still laughable by Web standards, but as I’ve said before, near-total obscurity beats total obscurity. If I could find a way to apply this same percentage of increase to this year’s starting number.....

So much to do, so little time. Ain’t it always the way? Tomorrow I go back into work for the rushed finale to my temp gig, where I’ll spend the entire weekend, Sunday included, hustling overpriced textbooks to returning college students. I’ll have to celebrate Twelfth Night and the end of the season late. Meanwhile, there are chores to attend to today. I’ve taken way too much time on this post as it is.

And I know, I know...I need to bring you guys some zombies. No argument there. We’re way overdue for an incursion.

My desk this late a.m., with coffee and mimosa. The rest of my office looks even worse—but better than it did a week ago. Making this space more inviting and productive is another work in progress, among many.


I promised my wife I’d take the boxes out to the shed today. She took down all the ornaments yesterday and the day before, leaving only the lights and tinsel up in honor of last night. She’s taking down the tree this evening. Note the scythe at right, left over from Halloween.
 

The box for my wife’s star present for Christmas 2013. Hard to believe that was a week ago today. As it happens, I can throw out the box. My wife really likes her present. The banana chips she’s made with this thing are a revelation.


Farewell to this festive seasonal doormat for another 11 months. After I run it through the wash with my beer-soaked chair mat from my office, that is. Happy 2014!