Sunday, March 30, 2014

Not Even as a Joke:

Those dead, soulless eyes that need half a jar of liner and kohl to make them “pop.” That flat, featureless, hatchet face. (She’ll be the stuff of witchy nightmares by age 40, if not earlier.) Finally — and this is the part that really puts me over the edge — that mouth of hers that hangs open idiotically when her face is at rest. The only thing between this sad parody of feminine pulchritude and Complete Catastrophic Aesthetic Failure is a huge banner tattoo across her chest. (And I can imagine the other mouth-breathers out there going, “Oooooh! She’d look so hawt with ink!”) 

Fortunately, Kristen Stewart as Wonder Woman isn’t happening, but the thought is so appalling, it makes for a hilarious troll post. Anything to blow up the pageviews, right? Yeah, I’m desperate. 

Incidentally, I love how Lynda Carter is throwing the horns R.J. Dio/Russian style to ward off the Evil lurking behind those dead, soulless eyes.

Okay, I’ll get back to work, now.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Rockin' Roy's Drive-By Reviews: Pacific Rim

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: I don’t do starred reviews. I either like a movie, or I don’t. I liked Pacific Rim. There. See how easy that was?

Once again, I am grateful to the good people of the Pikes Peak Library District for making last year’s blockbusters available so I can see what everyone was excited about until the next shiny thing came along. It’s one of those precious and rare Good Things in this benighted empire in decline ca. AD 2014.

Pacific Rim is director Guillermo del Toro’s love letter to the Japanese kaiju (lit. “Great Beast,” monster) movies that you either loved or didnt when you saw them on weekend afternoon television in the 1970s and 1980s. I can only imagine what younger people make of this. My inner 11-year-old was beside himself, but he’s weird.

As described in the trailer, Pacific Rim is set in the near future in which an undersea rift in the Pacific Ocean has opened to spew other-dimensional giant monsters that surface to terrorize and destroy cities along the Pacific Rim. Nations got together and started building what kaiju fans call “mechs,” giant mechanical battle machines that look like either the monster they’re fighting or, as is the case here, a more humanoid Transformer-type bot. Interestingly, they’re not called “mechs” here but jaegers (pr. YAY-gurr), which, as the opening card tells us, is German for “hunter.” This makes no sense because they don’t do any hunting. The techs at HQ know where the monsters are. 

Also, partway through, the nations of Earth decide the mechs, I mean jaegers, arent cost effective and decide to build a giant wall around the Pacific. (Yes, you read that correctly.) So the folks running the jaeger program have gone rogue. Or something. What it amounts to is they only have so many jaegers left to use because they dont have the funding to build more. There is another way they could have introduced the Declining Resources issue to add tension to the plot.

No matter. What matters is it takes two people to operate the left and right “brains” of these jaegers, hence the obligatory I Lost My Partner drama, which is amped up here by the need for such partners to be very compatible, or they won’t make a very good jaeger brain.

Like a lot of films these days, Pacific Rims narrative falls apart fast under reflection; it’s best to savor the residual excitement of all that crash-bang monster fighting you’re left with when the movie’s over, and forget the rest. Although not nearly as preposterous as much that goes on in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot, there is an antagonist whose antagonism makes no sense (and who takes his beating by the hero early on), and a general world-threat that’s supposed to be extinction-level threatening, but we never get to really see how. As near as I could tell, if you didn’t live anywhere near the Pacific Ocean, you didn’t have a problem.

I was impressed by the writing inasmuch as I expected the cliché  of “I won’t partner with a woman!” when the cute Japanese actress showed up. I got the impression the writers were trying hard to avoid overused tropes. But building up to a threat which doesn’t seem all that threatening, going on about a never-before-seen “Category 5” kaiju that we don’t see a lot of (at a point where mystery should be out the window; it’s the Final Boss, for God’s sake!)—I’m reminded I don’t see enough monsters for what’s supposed to be going on here. Also, while I understand the geographical necessity for an underwater battle (they have to take it to that undersea monster-spawner hole sometime), visually, it was hard to see what was going on.

Still, I had a good time. Pacific Rim works great if you like big monsters, big smashy-crashy, clang-bangy action, and CGI urban renewal projects. If not, then you know what to do.

State of the Apocalypse, Stardate Three Twenty-Seven Fourteen

WARNING: Potential SPOILERS as I’m posting photos of the galleys of my latest novel. Don’t look too closely; it should be all right....

It’s been over a month for this crap, since before the end of February. Over a month’s worth of climbing half-blind into bed with the curtains closed against the emergent dawn, thinking, “Okay, we didn’t make it tonight. But we’ve gotten so far! I’ll bet we finish this tomorrow while the sun is still up!

It’s been like a really hateful, art-house-ugly version of Groundhog Day here. Every day the same. Every day I think I’m almost done.

All right, then. Enough. What I’ve been doing all this time hasn’t been working so I’ve got to change it up. I wrote eight pages in one night—a new personal best—and had to throw out six. And I still wasn’t close to winding it up. I’d finished the final Boss Fight. I’m right there in the final chapter, winding up. But I’ve had a breakthrough in the last 48 hours or so.

My Big Idea was to print every one last of these 282 pages...

...expand the venue from my office to my wife’s drafting table...

...split the galleys into their three individual acts....

One major problem I’m having is evident in this photo. Act III, beginning with Chapter 21 on the right, is almost as long as Act II in the middle. Act II should be nearly twice as long as Acts I and III.

  ...then bust out the ruler, the reading glasses, the Sharpies, the sticky-notes. 

Get squinty with it! If nothing else, our smart quotes will be oriented correctly.

It’s not all that terribly backwards, now that I think about it. If those last chapters seem to have gone off the rails it’s because I’ve been writing this thing for so long I’ve forgotten most of  what I’ve written.

I’ve seen this happen in other zombie novels—and in at least one of the more popular and acclaimed series, at that—in which a character shows up that screams “I’m gonna be trouble down the road! Watch!” and you never see that character or plot thread again. 

I hesitate to get too judgmental about this because it’s so damned easy to do. I’ve done this on multiple occasions over the course of my first three books. On the other hand (and I know you’ve felt this way, too), if these people simply took time out to read their own shit once in a while they’d catch stuff like this!

Instead of waiting until I finish the entire book before proofing I’m taking on reading the narrative from page 1 to the end, one line at a time. I’ve already caught two such instances of Random Characters Who Promise To Be Trouble But Never Appear Again To Carry Out Their Threat.
It’s a lot like tightening boot laces, pulling up the slack one loop at a time. Except I have a lot of loops, and I’m cutting the excess string as I go, so it’s a really stupid metaphor. Never mind.

Progress is being made. Grace Among the Dead starts in deepest darkness, gets darker, and then some really weird shit happens. It’s chock full of zombie fighting action, lovingly depicted. My general rule is I can cut anything but a zombie fight. If I write anything more, it’s going to be a zombie fight. Zombies are my cowbell.

That’s right. This ain’t no Talking Dead TV show. Derek Grace swings his panga along the edges of the encroaching hordes while my heroine and fictional love of my life, Agnes Joan McIntire, is more like Red Sonja with PTSD and mad driving skills than that flaky Lori chick.

Violence, darkness, and loss. Romance and redemption. So many zombies, methane bombs, alpha eaters, and Original Flavor. I’ve got to get this out to the world! If that means quitting drinking and the weird hours by way of shocking my system, so be it. No sacrifice is too great for my Art!

I bring you this report now because the pageviews for this blog are in the digital toilet. Neglect is fatal; who knew? Fortunately, posting fresh Web content is an integral part of Operation Snap Out of Whatever This Bullshit Is and Get This Hellzapoppin’ Zombie Party a-Poppin’! 

Stay tuned, while I train myself how to do this all over again. I have a feeling letting the blog slide was a creative mistake. That part of the brain atrophied and took the rest with it.

Yeah, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I’m not entirely bullshitting on the concept of working one part of the brain to help another. This is the area behind my desk (photographed at an angle from the side of said desk) where, when a particularly bitchin’ song comes on my shuffle, I’ll jam along. Then I’ll write whatever flashes of insight come to me on the wipe board at upper right. Yes, I am using the music stand as a hat rack.

A close-up on the wipe board. The sticky notes are reminders of character details I need to insert and technical matters I need to research. The numbers at bottom are the page numbers for the chapters in Act III, which, at 102 pages, is in need of a serious trim.

If you’ve gotten this far, I have to plug my first book, the first in the Dead Silencer trilogy, Bleeding Kansas, starring the antihero zombie fans (at least some of the ones who write reviews) love to hate, Derek Samuel Grace. 

This is right at the start of the Dark Resurrection and everyone is being an asshole, so bear with our man as he begins his Antihero’s Journey. I will reward your patience with gunfire, explosions, spontaneous dismemberments in anger, and Rebecca, Queen of Hell. Then there’s this thing that happens with a fire truck and some duct tape. 

It’s dead, it’s all messed up, like these things are supposed to be. My Little Flesh-Eating Undead Pony this ain’t. Pangas are magic!


Friday, March 21, 2014

A Public Service Announcement—and Then Another Kind

Reading is fun-da-METAL. And mental. Also, very punk rock. Fun fact: Henry Rollins is the author of 15 books. 

As of today I’ll have 13 more to write to catch up to him.

Yes, today. This is it. While you're waiting, why not check out the first in the series?

Thanks again to HorrorHomework's Facebook page.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Your Weekly Cavalcade of Fussin’ and Complainin’: Week 11 Roundup!

Midway through Week 12. I know, I know....

The week started with most everyone in the USA setting their clocks forward an hour for Daylight Savings Time. Most everyone I knew bitched about it but I’m relieved to see it light outside again after 7 p.m. Things feel so much easier.

A blogger whose page I’ve been reading since the fin de siecle, when GeoCities ruled the Internet, succumbed to cancer. I was set to post a tribute when I learned he’d ripped off a friend of mine over an ad on his blog. My friend was promoting his book with a simple, no-frills banner ad. After two successful ad runs, the blogger took my friend’s money for a third, and thanked him for the “donation.”

It was severely out of character for the blogger in question. However, I have known my friend for going on 27 years and he has never lied to me. So I know this happened. I’m hoping the blogger’s chemotherapy was to blame. Chemo fucks with the mind and body, more than most people know.

Anyway, I didn’t feel comfortable doing the tribute, so I didn’t. Why mention it at all? Because I was reading that guy on the Internet for 15 years. Fifteen years. The man’s passing, for good or ill, reminds me of what a long, hard road it’s been from Clinton to Bush II to Obama. 

Fifteen years. If only for that, I had to say something. 

That whole Russia/Ukraine/Crimea thing? Do yourself a favor and read about the issue from somebody who believes history and culture matters, as opposed to the offended sensibilities of the Guradians of the Conventional Wisdom. 

Of course, it’s about money, and who’s making more of it. Our elites are envious of someone else’s success—the very thing they often accuse those not to the hedge fund-born of doing. As a line I came up with in Chapter 27 of Grace Among the Dead goes, “Irony, like the cockroaches, marches on despite the apocalypse.”


Enough with the suffering of millions of strangers on the other side of the globe. Let’s talk about me and the anguish I felt as sales for Bleeding Kansas stumbled when Amazon pulled my 5-star reviews. Turns out they did that to all their Kindle peeps, reviewing the reviews to make sure paid shills didn’t write them. 

It’s curious, because I’d read earlier in the week that they were going to zero in on the haters. I wonder if they’re going to do something about the hater who took the time to write a one star review for changing the cover on a book he already hated because, on his planet, a man can feed his family by mowing lawns or flipping burgers, so Derek Grace shouldn’t “whine” about being unemployed for so long.

Here’s the thing about people who say you can always flip burgers if you’re hurting for work: they’ve obviously never applied for such jobs in the last few years. 

I have. I’ll never forget the sight of that old man, ten years older than me (and I’m old), looking very professional in his shirt and tie. His face was set hard. That poor old warrior was hanging on by the last shred of his dignity among the molded plastic furniture of the Burger King that day of the speed interviews. 

And for all his seriousness, despite his professional manner, and perhaps because he “overqualified” on experience, he didn’t get called back, either. I know because I had someone on the inside putting in a word for me. It turns out no one was hired that day. No one. The dozen or so people who piled into that Burger King for interviews on that raw, snowy day, myself and that old man included, were wasting their time.

And get this: according to my source on the inside, they were really hurting for the help. It’s just that the managers of these area stores felt they could be that much more selective. And they didn’t care if all the wage slaves at those stores were overworked while they took their sweet time hiring.

It’s just as well, because here’s something else people seem to have trouble with, to wit: an eight-dollar-something an hour job will just cover your gas to and from work and maybe some groceries. Eight dollars-something an hour will most emphatically not cover your rent, mortgage, or utilities, etc. 

These are the same people who are fond of the expression, “Do the math.” Yet they fail the basic arithmetic that informs the lives of people adrift in a job market in which even the lowest of jobs (“Try doing something no one else wants to do!”) is in contention.

I’m honestly curious as to what shapes the reality of people who say things like, “You can always mow lawns or flip burgers”  How is it they don’t know people who were genuinely screwed over by this Second Great Depression, when the professional salaried job market has contracted by percentages not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s? 

I’ve met people who live in these bubbles, and I can’t help wondering if their latent Puritan view of a Just World Hypothesis doesn’t force them into denial. Or that they secretly fear that, by admitting the presence of the monster taking down people they know here and there, they will bring the monster to them.

The more bilious the denunciation of Derek Grace for his sins against the Holy Church of Knowing His Place, the more inclined I am to believe the latter.

Anyway, the 5-star reviews are back up. I got a 4-star review from a reader who, God love him, got Derek Grace. He even wanted to see Grace even edgier at the end! Now I feel terrible because Grace Among the Dead is going to be about Grace’s redemption from his bitterness—although shit’s gonna get serious fuckin’ dark at the start of the book, so there’s lots more to get redeemed from. 

One of the big things on my to-do list is to lighten up that first act. Two 3-star reviewers made a point of noting that they liked my writing overall, but they felt like they had no one to root for. They didn’t dig the misanthropy. Ironically, it was George A. Romero’s misanthropy and despair regarding the zeitgeist of the 1960s that inspired his film Night of the Living Dead, Patient Zero of the flesh-eating cadaver genre. 

It turns out those themes resonated far less with most people than the idea of flesh-eating cadavers, full stop. Folks expect hugs and the promise of humanity returned at the end, not two people escaping in a chopper with very little fuel, or the lone surviving hero getting shot and burned with the rest of the cannibal corpses. Apparently I was the only one moved by Romero’s final coffin-lid slams at the ends of his first two zombie movies. Lesson learned.

One more aside, and I’m done: most critics who dislike the characters in the book say they find themselves rooting for the zombies. Hell, in the last few Romero-directed zombie films, Romero tends to side with ‘em, too!

I’ve gone on for way too long. I’m not yet done with Grace Among the Dead and the few out there who love what I’ve done are being done a disservice by this rambling, for which I apologize.

I need to find a picture of an attractive female and get my basement-dwelling backside back to work.

She doesn’t look particularly fright — oh my God, WHAT HAPPENED TO HER HANDS?


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Goin’ Dark

I had hoped this would be the weekend I would finish writing Grace Among the Dead. Like I hoped last weekend was. Even the weekend before that. A week ago I posted to Facebook that I was within 48 hour hours. 

I know I look like either a liar or a fool but I really believed that, too. 

So here I am. Tuesday night, 11 March. Still pounding away. I’m at the Evil Mother’s Lair and our hero just rescued a bunch of pretty ladies. Derek still has to do the showdown with the Evil Mother Hisownself at the stables and the corral at the Monster Ranch. In fact, the working title for the chapter, which won’t be labeled in the book, is “Showdown at the Oh Shit! Corral.”

Anyway, that won’t happen tonight. Tomorrow? Dunno. No promises. No more projections or deadlines or anything. I will write until the writing is done. That’s all.

Here’s offering a virtual prayer to the painterly Blood Angel that my climax is satisfyingly brutal to all fans of the genre while setting us up for something even more insane: the third book. For now, I’m on page 244, and miles to go before I sleep. Miles to go before I sleep....
Don’t you just want to eat her up? She’s the official muse for the Final Grudge Match Boss Fight I’m currently writing for Grace Among the Dead. What could possibly go wrong?
Blood Angel. Art Copyright © 2014 by Matt Dixon. Order a signed print of this through the link.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Friedrich Nietzsche Is Still Blogging

(NOTE: Another post shared from my Facebook page. The finale to Grace Among the Dead is turning out to be more epic than I imagined it would be. I’ll check in when I can.)

The following passage contains Nietzsche’s infamous “God is dead” proclamation. Astute readers will note this news is announced in the form of a parable, which means those literalists out there tearing their hair out shriekng, “How can you say such a thing!” look stupid from the jump. (Protip: read what the madman is saying. Remember he is a madman. Remember we’re speaking in allegory here. The truly devout will take a lesson from this, even as the atheists cackle and nod. That’s the real beauty of this passage.) 

Me, I’m sharing this because I just realized the classic atheist retort to “I found Jesus!” “What, did He get lost again?” is at least as old as Nietzsche. This is how I like to do morning devotionals. Many thanks to the people running the Friedrich Nietzsche page. This went really well with my first cup of coffee.

The madman.— Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I seek God! I seek God!” — As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated? — Thus they yelled and laughed.

The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed him—you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.

“How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us—for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.”

Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than the most distant stars and yet they have done it themselves.”

It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: “What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?” 
                                                   — Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science

Church? It’s where you make it, baby.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Special Guest Blogger: Friedrich Nietzsche!

“The most spiritual men, as the strongest, find their happiness where others would find their destruction: in the labyrinth, in hardness against themselves and others, in experiments. Their joy is self-conquest: asceticism becomes in them nature, need, and instinct. Difficult tasks are a privilege to them; to play with burdens that crush others, a recreation. Knowledge—a form of asceticism. They are the most venerable kind of man: that does not preclude their being the most cheerful and the kindliest. ”

 ―Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ

I like that last part. This biggest badasses I ever knew were some of the kindest folk; a belligerent attitude was the sign of a weakling with something to prove.

Alas, I have much to conquer about myself. Overcoming my laziness in regards to doing my exercises and getting serious with my weight-loss is not something I find happiness in, for one thing.

Well, fuck it. It's time we got spiritual with it. Really spiritual, not that New Agey shit. 

Thanks for the good words, Fred. We'll have to have you back sometime.
Better get that spirituality thing going quick, fatty! I can see summer from here!


Early Promo Porn!

I’m walking multiple tightropes going in multiple directions as Grace Among the Dead blazes to a climax.

Lest I overheat the creative coils I take breaks from time to time. Today I thought I’d start with looking for a font for Grace Among the Dead. I still need a cover, I need a logline. I need a lot of stuff for the promotional blitz I’ve got to do for the book. No time like the present to get started.

I know digital design has its own peculiar rules but I wanted to hew as closely as possible to a classic font and design:

I tried importing this into Photoshop, then decided it would be easier if I built the file from the six-by-nine canvas on up. I’d start with the font, with each line of text a layer of its own. I could paste photo-realistic images into the background, and distress the lettering as is required of title logos on adventure novels in the second decade of the 21st century.

Goddamned Photoshop kept putting the “2” in “Dead Silencer 2” at the front, though. I clicked on the 3D button out of curiosity and crashed Photoshop altogether, losing everything. I’ll have to kick its ass later. I can’t piss away all day on this. I’m too damn close to the end and people are waiting on this!

By the way, the movie in my head that I’m writing down is intense as hell. Just so you know. I’m handling it like the explosive stuff it is. 

For—damn me to hell!—I’m in love with Agnes Joan McIntire. Although she and Derek Grace do have their comic moments, she’s no tired-ass Manic Pixie, no mere “foil.” Miss Agnes is a piss, shit, blood and guts woman who has paid her dues, and, yeah, it’s knocked a few things loose in heart and head. Then came the apocalypse, and watching her son turn before her very eyes. 

Agnes is a tough survivor who’s gonna make things happen as best she knows how. Like our hero, you have to wonder if they succeed at survival despite or because they’re so goddamned damaged.

Trust me, I can’t wait to see how it all ends, either!

Meanwhile, if you haven’t read Book 1 in the Saga of the Dead Silencer, Bleeding Kansas is there for you in Kindle and in paperback. Enjoy your Thursday. For me, it’s just another day closer...will this really be the end this time? I keep writing and writing. I’ll get there when I get there. Salud, and stay tuned.


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

A Bitch for a Placeholder

I’m struggling to finish...well, you know the drill. Meanwhile, here’s this thing I came across via Imgur. Yeah, we’re going to die on this rock. Parasitical “elites” are the same everywhere. Never mind saving the species or simply doing something incredible. If they can’t make money off of it, there’s no point. 

Real life-affirming, eh? Not ours, anyway. 

Well, then. Time to crack some cold ones and get on with my night.


Monday, March 03, 2014

Sweatin' My First Four-Star Review

I sneak over to Bleeding Kansas’ Amazon page and I’m horrified to see some color bled out of the fifth star:

Dear God, no! My first bad review!

Well, not really:

Actually, a four-star review is a healthy thing. A lot of e-books out there have a dozen or so five-star reviews and after a while you realize these are all people from the author’s writers group. Which no self-respecting author should have anything to do with, but that’s a rant for another day.

The main thing is Amazon Customer liked what he or she saw. I just need a million more people like this and all of my troubles will be over.

As of this writing there are still a few hours left in the Kindle sale. Meanwhile, you can have the head-exploding cover in your hands for all of $10.76. I’m talking the recently released paperback edition! Man, it’s a beaut:

Grace Among the Dead is thisclose to being finished. I’m shooting for a daylight finish, just to see what that’s like, as opposed to jumping up and down and screaming for joy at 4:30 in the flippin’ a.m. 

Wish me luck. 

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Last Call for Zombie Haul! An Epic Novel for the Price of an i-Song!

The Amazon Countdown sale is about counted out!

There are only 27 hours left in the sale for Bleeding Kansas. By Tuesday the Kindle price goes back up to $2.99, which still ain’t bad.

What blows me away, though, is learning that the old paperback edition, which featured Mean, Misanthropic Derek Grace, is no longer the only paperback out there. It turns out the New! Improved! Bleeding Kansas with the head-exploding cover, Derek Grace 2.0, and fewer dead special-needs children is also available in paperback. Since we didn’t redo any contracts for this I won’t get comp copies. Never mind, I’ll buy it. $10.76 is a flippin’ steal for a trade paperback. 

Heck, the cover is worth that much. I’m convinced my more conventional (as in “stupid 1970s and 1980s mentality”) cover hurt sales as much as anything. It’s dark, digital mayhem or forget about it. Lesson learned.

Overall, though, this is my favorite edition. Errors are corrected, along with some tics of tone and attitude I’ve since outgrown. Bleeding Kansas is less me screaming, “Bite me, cruel world!” and more properly—and nothing more than—a zombie apocalypse adventure story that moves like a bullet train of world-eating death.

Many thanks to the kind soul who donated $5.00 via PayPal with the noted purpose of financing the finish of Grace Among the Dead. It’s five less dollars that I have to worry about and I’m grateful for every cent of worry I can shed.

And with that, it’s back to work. I’m rather anxious to see how it all ends myself.

2014 Week 9 Roundup: Farewell to a Brief, Busy Month

Thoughts on the frozen first Sunday in March....

I don’t watch network TV evening news every night but when I do, without fail, the top story is always This Horrible Winter Weather. Is Venezuela even a country as far as these people are concerned? The effort one has to put in to get one bit of propaganda or another about that situation hardly seems worth it. Imagine, and entire country in turmoil—and all we can do is bitch about how cold it is on our national “news.”

Ukraine seems more agreeable for mention by the U.S. propaganda machine because it’s all white people, not rich white people looking to take stuff away from the poorer brown people. Also, it looks like the European Union oligarchs have seized power, which the U.S. approves, so let’s call it a heroic victory for the people. Or something. I laughed when President Obama said there would be “costs” for any Russian intervention. All a classic, ice-blooded Russian Tzar in a gray suit like Vladimir Putin hears is, “I double-dog dare you!” Assuming he even thinks about the blustering of an overextended, badly managed, degraded and depraved oligarchy like the U.S.A. Which, I’m willing to bet, he does. For all of one moment, before dismissing it with a chuckle. 

Anyway fuck the news this week. Just fuck it. I need to put myself on a media blackout diet. I’m rather leaning that way anyhow.
The view in my back yard this morning after a night of heavy, freezing fog. Obviously, I’ve got a lot of cleaning up to do as it gets warmer, so winter can take its sweet time as far as I’m concerned.

I feel compelled to say something about last night’s Saturday Night Live, which I could only tolerate in small doses before giving up altogether. I’d watched it because Jim Parsons was hosting, and I’m a fan of the character he plays on The Big Band Theory, the superintelligent, yet hilariously neurotic man-child Dr. (“I have two PhDs”) Sheldon (“I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested!”) Cooper.

It wasn’t just the awful writing, the impossible-to-sit-through sketches that went on for-fucking-ever. It was seeing the shockingly limited range of the actor playing the signature character of network TV’s number one rated comedy. Ironically, Parsons’ opening monologue featured a song called “I’m Not That Guy,” by which he meant he wasn’t Sheldon Cooper. Whatever guy he plays, however, has that same affected tone of voice and is absolutely impossible to imagine as heterosexual male. I expected much more, but this is a one-note actor.

The musical guest was Beck, and I was curious about his performance as his current album is supposed to be something of a sequel to his 2003 masterpiece Sea Change. (Kinda sad you have to go back 10 years for an echo of glories past, but hey, it was a great album.) His voice was goosed to ridiculous levels with reverb, in what I’m guessing was an attempt at a ‘60s retro sound, which Beck dabbles in from time to time. Whatever the case, I couldn’t sit all the way through it. The song was graceless and annoying, his performance flat.

Sea Change was written and performed in the aftermath of a bad breakup. Just as Dylan eventually succumbed to born-again Christianity in the wake of his breakup masterpiece, Blood on the Tracks, Beck fell into Scientology. I can’t help but wonder if that didn’t affect him somewhat. Anyway, Beck’s new material is awful. Forget it.

For all this bitchin’ and fussin’ the least I can do is put up a pretty
picture. Art by Bill Randall, 1959, courtesy of The Pin-up Files.
If Seth Meyers could be a little hard to take as the “Weekend Update” anchor, the new guy in after the hiatus is insufferable. Zero personality, not even an annoying one. Zero voice, zero projection, zero presence. It astounds me he even was considered for this job. Of course, his female co-host, who has been doing this for a year or so (and I still don’t remember her name) just smirks through it all like a poor man’s Tina Fey. And, yeah, fuck me, but Tina Fey is overrated.

What the hell. Saturday Night Live has been coasting on past glories for decades now. No sense in violating my Lincoln’s Birthday resolution carping further about it. Let it be declared that this show, while it had its moments, no longer has those moments, and it will never have those moments ever again. The cast is awful and the writing is worse. Saturday Night Live is now completely, utterly unwatchable.

I’m still getting over a two-pots-of-coffee marathon that kept me up from 7:30 a.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday morning. I clicked into my Outlook app for the first time in weeks and see where someone (I’m erring on the side of protecting their privacy) sent me a PayPal donation a week ago. Whoa!

Like Derek Grace towards the end of Grace Among the Dead I’m realizing people are pulling for me. It’s the least I can do to show up for work. 

Here’s hoping the first week of March is by turns productive, revelatory, inspiring and energizing. As long as we get out and meet it all halfway, I think we’re gonna be all right.


Saturday, March 01, 2014

In Like a Lion

That wasn’t so bad. February, that is. We began with a memorably weird Super Bowl and a thoroughly schooled Denver Broncos, observed the 50th anniversary of The Beatles selling a million guitars and changing the course of modern popular music, had a half-assed decent Valentine’s Day, maybe sold some German language audiobook rights (I need to follow up on that), and roared into the endgame of Grace Among the Dead. I may be behind on this last one, but I’m happy, because the thing is really blossoming into something special. Not short-bus special, either. It’s going to rock, and rock hard when it hits. The more I plug away at it, the more I’m convinced this is the one will break me big.

It should also goose sales for Bleeding Kansas, which have done quite nicely for the month of February, thank you very much. That 99-cent sale is getting me exposure. I like where it’s putting me in the Amazon Kindle rankings. 

March 2014 begins gray and cold in Colorado Springs, with freezing fog and the occasional snowflake. But the sun is blazing in my heart. I owe it to myself to keep giving it reasons to shine.