Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap-Day Monday Musings

What a month. I’m actually glad we got an extra day for February. I can’t articulate a rational reason for this—it’s just a day we’ve slapped an arbitrary number and name to—but I’m glad, and that’s a good emotion for a Monday.

Apropos of not much, I don’t recall there being a big deal about Leap Day four years ago when it last rolled around. What the hell. About time we exploited the occasion for a hashtag. I’ll accept any excuse for a party.

What a month, though. In Colorado Springs, we kicked it off with the kind of high-volume snowstorm no one’s seen around here since the same time in 2007. The road outside my house was slush for a week. 

Then the Broncos beat the odds and won a Super Bowl that surprised me by actually dialing back on the overall hype, despite this being its golden anniversary. It’s hard to believe that was three weeks ago. 

That the month quickly warmed up with many days in the 50s and 60sF helped a lot in this regard. It was an unnatural state of affairs for this area at this time of year, and I shudder to think what this means for the summer to come. Still, I was able to get out and walk and run in comfort, and that did a lot to help with the ol’ seasonal blues.

For some reason I couldn’t bring myself to do the taxes,. though. I set aside weekend after weekend until last Friday night, the last Friday of the month, when I could stand it no more. I could justify the procrastination inasmuch as working with TurboTax is a pain in the ass that takes twice as long to do for all the “Are you sure you don’t want to pay a pile of money for all these features an impecunious nobody like you would never need?” screens that slow the process.

Still, we needed that refund, and it turned out to be larger than I thought it would be. As I had to engage directly with the Colorado Department of Revenue’s breathtakingly cluttered and inelegant website, I saved the state taxes for Saturday. I knocked out my grown daughter’s federal and state taxes yesterday, and told her the fee for next year’s accounting services are going up from a 12-pack of beer to a case next year. We’re all getting too old for this shit.

With that out of the way, I’m free to do all the things I should have been doing all along, but haven’t quite worked up the nerve to do. 

The Wrong Kind of Dead is still in re-fit to accommodate the big scenes that will bring the novel to its climax and close. It’s a lot of work bringing this together with the other two books, and making it all work, especially as these are my first books, and I was a completely different writer for each one of the years I’ve devoted to those individual books. I consider myself a competent enough writer, but I’m still not sure that, after all these decades of bashing things out, I have an actual voice, a recognizable style.

There is no time to fuss over that, though. I’ve got to write and post this before the day is up in this hemisphere. And then there are the promotional podcasts and trailers to make.

Okay, I’ve talked myself into it.

Happy Leap Day, and Happy New Month! February was a the best so far for me in terms of blog visits, book sales, and Twitter impressions. Even my weight loss program, however halt and lame, is on track. I’m not quite over the top yet, though. March might be the month everything breaks big, if I can only meet it halfway.

Meet you at the summit.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Happy 99th Birthday, Anthony Burgess

25 February 1917 - 22 November 1993

I normally hold novels with gimmicky language in contempt, but Anthony Burgess made his Russian-inspired patois in A Clockwork Orange such jolly dark fun to read. God help me, there was a brief period in 1982 after I first read the book in which I’d actually talk like this to people. Like I said, it was a brief period. It was horrorshow in the more literal sense of the English portmanteau than a clever homophone for the Russian word for “good.”
From Weirdbook Magazine’s Facebook page. They’re on a hot streak with the memes and creepy art this week.

As someone who’s written a few disturbing scenes for novels, I love the legend about Anthony Burgess presumably staying drunk while writing the A Clockwork Orange because it was the only way he could handle the grim material. If it’s not true—who cares, print the legend!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that A Clockwork Orange is merely the most popular and well-known of Anthony Burgess’ varied and vast career, not only as a prolific novelist and critic, but as a composer. You can look it up. For another dark speculative fiction novel of Burgess’ that seems most prescient given our media’s obsession with certain fads and how those are used to control a population’s focus of attention, I recommend The Wanting Seed.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

REVEALED AT LAST! Where the Ideas Come From

Number 7 gave me explosive diarrhea!

Readers of Kurt Vonnegut recognize the drawing
and handwriting style immediately.
Like anyone familiar with history who spends too much time thinking by himself, I, too, nurture a healthy loathing for what Mark Twain referred to in his final, most misanthropic days as, “the Damned Human Race.” While such loathing inspires much of my SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER series, as it must inform any good post-apocalyptic drama, disgust with human civilization is not what drives my writing.

It took decades of writing all kinds of other crap until, somewhere while writing my first published novel, Bleeding Kansas, that I understood where my drive to make up stories comes from.

I did not get enough quality play time as child.

Like most children, I liked to play. Unlike most children, I didn’t enjoy the company of other children. I liked being surrounded by my toys, and directing the drama without interference. I built towns out of shoeboxes and used whatever was at hand—set ‘em up, knock ‘em down. The hero rises from the wreckage and boom! bam! pow! restores order to the universe.

I would use model spaceships, half-finished models of airplanes, rubber lizards and snakes, whatever it took to drive the narrative to a crescendo of madness only a hero with a will of steel and a heart of gold could hope to overcome. For me, the best representation of the creative process has always been the opening scene of the 1995 animated film Toy Story.

[EDIT: I had a video of that here. YouTube took it down. Oh, well. Go stream the film if you haven’t already.]

In a variation on the growth-through-struggle theme, once the conflict was resolved, my rebuilt city was always somehow better than ever. This part was especially important to me, not simply for the closure, but because I felt bad for what I put the imaginary characters in my stories through. It was my way of making it up to them.

Alas, I was not a complete freak. I did get lonely. Often, whether I wanted it or not, I would find myself among others who always had to do things this way or that, and while I went along to get along, it was never very satisfying. Not that I was a lot of fun, either. I’ve always been moved by George Orwell’s honesty in his essay “Why I Write,” that, being a lonely sort, he’d “...developed disagreeable mannerisms which made me unpopular throughout my school days.” That was me. Not even a complete freak, but close enough for government work.

As I was coming out of a particularly productive writing session, I flashed on something else other than the little boy in the middle of the floor, making gurgly explosive noises among the little army men and the giant lizard. I thought of my favorite Christmas memory, the one that gives me the warmest-fuzziest of feels.

I’m 12 years old, hunched over my desk in my room, the smells of turpentine and modeling glue stinging my nose. The radio plays the current hits of December 1973, while I make sense of this Pirates of the Caribbean model involving moving parts that I found under the tree this morning. In this case, I have to to be able to push a button and make a skeleton pirate with a sword cut a chain over a barrel so another skeleton can make good his escape from the giant octopus swamping their raft.

As with most cherished childhood things
I have no idea what happened to this.
Thanks to the turpentine I’ve been using for paint thinner, the raft looks like genuinely sun-bleached driftwood. I can’t believe I made simple white Polystyrene plastic look like this. The barrel looks like a fresher, different kind of wood—in short, like a wooden barrel, and I’m pleased with myself for recognizing the difference. The giant octopus is a hideous, fleshy and inflamed pink-red, and my skeletons are looking sharp for a couple of dead guys in rags. But will the skeleton’s sword come down to disconnect the plastic chain and save the day?

I remember sitting there astonished when it worked that first time. I remember the deep breath I took as I set it up. Surely it couldn’t work a second time. I have no talent for this, or so I’ve been told in one form or another all my life.

It was the happiest Christmas ever for me as a boy. I had given and received the best gift ever. That I could build something and make it work—as someone who heard all his childhood how “you got book-sense, but no common sense,” this was the epiphany of epiphanies. No adult ever encouraged me. I found this one out all on my lonesome.

And so it is when I work on a piece of writing. I’m getting the pieces painted just so. And when I push this tiny button here, a specific chain of events must follow, or I swear I’ll have a fit.

Things don’t always work to spec, of course. Sometimes you have to improvise. Adapt and overcome, as our friends in the U.S. Marines say.

The happiest place on Earth. In the corner of a small
room in a finished basement, somewhere in
crumbling north Colorado Springs.
But that’s the romance of the process. That’s what inspires me as much as anything. The very act of sitting down and building a world, creating a situation within that world, and making it work. To build a hero, flawed enough to recognize his face within ourselves, but with the steel will and heart of gold to go against the Evil and make things right—this little boy didn’t get to do it enough. There was never enough time. People and things got in the way, as they tend to do.

So here we are. One day I’ll grow up and give it up, I suppose. I expect I’ll be plenty old, and good and ready to die by then, and that’s just as well, too.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Pure Pop for Now People ca. A.D. 2016: Tame Impala’s “Disciples”

It’s past time I brought some music back to this blog.

My son performed a miracle this week. He introduced me to a tune written and recorded in the past couple of years that I cannot get enough of. Like the best of everything I encounter these days, Tame Impala’s “Disciples” has a retro feel. It’s easy to imagine discovering this on the radio in the mid-1970s while lazily turning the AM radio dial late at night, when you could get the good out-of-state stations with the DJs that played the really cool stuff those evil, unseen Powers That Be preferred you didn’t hear.

James was impressed by how much feeling was put into one minute and 48 seconds of music, as was I. “When I first heard this and it started fading out I screamed NO!” he said. “Don’t take this beautiful thing away!” Like Jimi Hendrix’s original “Little Wing,” much of this song’s power is in its dreamlike brevity. It’s there, and then it isn’t, leaving a sweet ache of a memory behind. 

I love the plaintive So much I want to tell you right at the fade. But, as with the friendship mourned in the lyrics, the song is done. Nothing left but the memory of a melody you wish had stuck around for one more verse.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

State of the Apocalypse, Halfway Through the Second Month

We’ve gone from being buried in snow to stretches of days with high temperatures in the 50s and 60sF (10-15C). With the occasional windstorm thrown in, spring appears to have arrived one month early to Colorado Springs. If the long-range forecasts are correct, the nose-numbing deep freeze stuff is behind us.

Aside from the benefit of lowered utility bills, our preternatural spring adds to the urgency of finishing The Wrong Kind of Dead. I’m coming up on the three year anniversary of that fateful e-mail I received from Severed Press and THE SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER had a publishing contract.It would be nice to be closer to finishing, if not done outright.

To that end, I’ve devised a plan to bring the entire series together tonally, applying all the lessons I’ve learned in the four years I’ve been banging away at my evolving saga. I’ll be fixing the rookie errors and polishing each book to read consistently with one another, as opposed to segments of a beginning novelist’s learning curve.

If it works, I’ll tell you all about it. Meanwhile....
The view from the picture window two weeks ago today. It’s all gone now. Which means I have to get out and rake the yard. Dammit.

FYI: The next installment I’m running from The Wrong Kind of Dead will be a chapter I’ve posted before. This post puts it in the continuity. In case anyone’s wondering, that is.

I’ll be posting only one chapter per week from here on out, as each of the chapters coming up has action and grue to hold us. Some of those chapters are so good I put them up on the blog immediately upon finishing them. So it’s not deja vu. I’m merely getting it all together.

If you haven’t read the first 70-something pages of my latest zombie apocalypse novel-in-progress, start here and follow the links at the bottom of the page to go chapter by chapter (or partial chapter by partial chapter, in the case of Chapter 5). And, of course, there are the first two books in the series available in Kindle and paperback. 

Just sayin’. I’ve got to get to work.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Overexposed Cats on the Internet

It gets cold in winter, too. Find your place in the sun!

I was coming up the stairs from my basement HQ on Sunday when, as my line of sight rose above the hall landing, I beheld the baleful stares of the Four Fluffies of the Apocalypse™. I backed slowly down the stairs—and grabbed my camera from my desk drawer before creeping back up.

Bless them, they were still staring. Bask in the cold glare of their judgment:
From left: Jack, Mick, Otis, and Puff instruct us all on how to properly appreciate a sunny day.

They don’t give a rip for who wins the Super Bowl, the primaries, the Powerball lottery, the Billboard charts, the Oscars, none of it. As the Great Bukowski observed, one look into a cat’s eyes tells you everything you need to know.

In this case, they’re telling me they are aware of my presence, with intention of following me into the kitchen where they will harass me without mercy until I sprinkle some token kibble into their bowls, just enough to ensure my escape back down the stairs with my coffee.

It is a pretty day, though, isn’t it?


Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Hot XXX Food Porn and What Happens Next

I never thought I’d see the day I’d write so much about football. It’s weird, because I didn’t care at all for sports when I was growing up, even when I played football in high school. My interest in college and pro ball is a mutation of my late middle age. Like a mental skin-tag.

All of this is to say how appalled I am to notice this, and I will cease and desist. Until next season, that is, or something catches my attention.

Hey, but we all like food, right? My wife makes a Super Bowl spread to beat the band. Check out these jalapeño poppers:

Behold crispy green longboats filled with molten cheesy goodness, standing by to transport us to a delirium of spicy-hot caloric overindulgence. My wife wrapped these in bacon for Super Bowl XLIV, and it seemed like overkill. That’s how good these things are.

My wife and I have agreed that if the Super Bowl becomes too intolerable, we’ll repurpose the occasion as Jalapeño Poppers Sunday, keep the food, and watch a movie. It makes for a good fallback plan should the match-up in any given year prove unacceptable.
Vegetarian nachos. What the hell, they work, and are darned photogenic, besides.

In other news, I managed to get the entire first act of my third zombie novel up before getting distracted by all this Super Bowl jazz. Cursory readings as I formatted the posts revealed the trimming I need to do, as well as the augmentation I’ll want to to write in lieu of reinforcing the starting and ending bases of my character arcs. 

What does this mean? Nothing, except I gotta get back to work. One of the reasons I put the chapters up was to see what they looked like in public. Now I know. It ain’t bad, but it damn sure can be better. So that’s what we’ll do.
Chicken wings and spring rolls. Oh, baby...oh puppymonkeybaby....

I have to consciously not use this trimming and augmentation as an excuse to avoid writing this chapter I’ve been dreading for over a year. It’s about to get really, really dark with The Wrong Kind of Dead’s Darkest Hour. That’s all I can say about it.

Meanwhile, cheers and thanks to all of my new Twitter friends, and especially to those of you snapping up the digital editions and even the occasional paperback of my first two books. Your very existence is inspirational—as in, I don’t want to piss you people off by slacking in the content department.

So. Let’s fast this foodbaby-bump off, and get down to business. Happy Mardi Gras. I’ll be in a state of indefinite Lent until I get this latest book finished.


Monday, February 08, 2016

Super Bowl 50 After-Action Report

Surprise, surprise, surprise....

I’ve never been so happy to be so wrong about so many things in my life.

For one, the Broncos were supposed to lose, at best by five points according to “Vegas oddsmakers,” whoever they are. A large part of the narrative pushed before the game was Old NFL versus Young and Vibrant NFL, with a not-so-subtle racial subtext between the quarterbacks. Whatever one’s feelings are on this, there is no denying the Peyton Manning, like all beloved elderly relatives, has had his good days and his bad. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers were the highest scoring team in the NFL during the 2015 season. They were young and hungry. It did not look good for Denver.

I don’t know if it’s Denver’s new head coach or John Elway from the front office dropping some fatherly advice on on Mr. Manning, but it’s notable that Manning held frame in this game much better than he has in past games—and especially in comparison to his 2014 Super Bowl appearance, when he visibly lost his composure with that first botched snap and never got it back.

That in itself was refreshing to see, but, as with the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, it was the defense that won the unwinnable game. It became apparent early on that the strategy was, “We can’t score against them, but they can’t score against us, either. Keep them on the offensive!” That said, the defense of both teams played offensively, with a critical slap of the ball from either quarterback’s hands defining the action of the game.

This made for a draggy first half that was boring to watch. The second half moved slightly faster. In the end, Denver’s defense outlasted, and apparently wore down Cam Newton and the Panthers’ offense.

So screw the oddsmakers, and screw the WWF-style Narrative pushed by the sportswriters. Football is a team sport. The quarterback may set the tone, but it’s the best-trained and best-organized team that takes advantage of all available opportunities and wins the game.

Another welcome surprise was the lack of nag spots. Last year, no less than seven public service-type spots intruded upon the festivities that are the Super Bowl’s commercial time. With all the gravitas of your fat busybody aunt telling everyone to stop making so much noise at your birthday party while forcibly including her bratty child in games in which she has no interest, we were primly instructed not to permit our sons to drown in bathtubs, not to tell people they throw #LikeAGirl, not to send mean texts to one another, not to beat our wives, etc.

“How can you stand to watch your little
championship football game when I died?”
Several websites I frequent indicated we had at least one “domestic violence is bad, mmm-kay” spot to look forward to last night among the puppymonkeybaby zaniness most people count on for entertainment when they’re not watching the game. I was furious with this, because the Super Bowl is a party. It’s supposed to be festive. It’s supposed to be fun. It’s a time to forget our workaday miseries and yell at the TV. That there are people out there who feel obliged to quash any and all fun people might be having, and oh-so-smugly in the name of “raising awareness” is something I’ve yet to accept calmly. 

Like Peyton Manning, however, I am working on keeping frame. 

Super Bowl 50 was a wake-up call in regards to how I allowed myself to get worked up over these spurious reports. It turned out there was only one nag spot in the entire four-hour ordeal, all the way out in the fourth quarter block, in which Colgate urged us to Think About the Poor Third World Children and not to run the water while brushing our teeth. At least it wasn’t overtly insulting.

Apparently, the Powers That Be who run the Super Bowl paid no attention to the HuffPo pieces last year that insisted we “crave” such attitude adjustments. Thus, we found ourselves treated to babies and puppies and puppymonkeybaby and Willem Dafoe as a cranky-hungry Marilyn Monroe, as the entertainment gods intended. As embarrassed as I am for letting my jimmies get so rustled over nothing, I’m grateful clear-eyed common sense prevailed. 

As a result, I’ve dropped some writers and sites from my regular rage reading. I should lose the hate, anyway. It consumes far too much energy, and it’s not the opposite of love, besides. 
From last year. Dear “socially aware” crusaders....

Overall, Super Bowl 50 turned out to be a shockingly low-key affair, especially in comparison to previous Super Bowls. There was no melodramatic narrative reading of the opposing teams’ season history by Old Rugged Guy actors and voice-over artists. There were no CGI cartoons with the loud NFL theme playing. Even that NFL fanfare, so prevalent during the normal season, seemed muted when we did hear it during the Super Bowl. 

The graphics with the miniature players jostling each other over team and player stats were shelved. When the camera was on the field, that’s just what you saw. When stats or player info were shown at the bottom of the screen, they were done tastefully and unobtrusively.

I had no idea the people running this greatest and gaudiest of American circuses were capable of such mature understatement.

With so much of the usual ticky-tacky trimmed away, I felt like I was watching an actual championship ball game, as opposed to a gaudy Vegas laser-light show with bits of football wedged in among the funny commercials. I had been contemplating making this my last Super Bowl, as it seemed the NFL was falling to the Anti-Fun scolds in the culture wars, and I was tired of all the useless bombast that came with the games. 

Much could have been made of the Glorious History of Our Glorious People’s NFL, but they didn’t. That in itself was astonishing. I understand there was some controversy with the half-time entertainment, the choice of costumes, and so forth. All I noticed in the brief period I saw of that one-named diva chick they’d brought back was she’d put on the pounds—although, to be fair, those supposed Black Panther costumes made all the women who wore them look fat. I’m not sure. I was refilling my snack bowl before going back downstairs.

I noted yesterday that the Super Bowl halftime show has been ceded to “the womenfolk.” For clarification, I meant no disrespect to respectable womenfolk by that. I was thinking instead of the “basic” types for whom entertainment sites are their main news source, the kind who find awards shows relevant and exciting. 

Honestly, Coldplay, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars? All self-respecting humans are out of the room doing something else while crap like this is on. It’s the halftime show. It hardly bears mention.
I’ve read more than a few breathless twinks declaring this to be the best part of Super Bowl 50. It seems everyone loses their minds around Beyoncé. What the hell. As long as the basics were entertained and kept out of the grownup talk, it’s all good.

The overall experience wasn’t perfect. The straightforward, low-key vibe unraveled quickly as Peyton Manning left the field in the fourth quarter. I was frustrated that the camera stayed on him, and we never got to see the last play of that game. The segue with the sportscasters throwing the ball to Stephen Colbert and his crappy late-night show was puke-tastic, and I didn’t click out of there fast enough. 

To be fair, they’ve never found a way to properly close the Super Bowl. When it’s over, it’s over, and we all change channels to escape the dull horror that must follow an event that’s been pumped up all day long. Like Christmas, so much is put into the anticipation of the day. Then it comes, and then it’s over, and you’re left wondering if it ever happened at all.

It’s a cultural thing with us, I suppose. We can’t bring ourselves to say goodbye, so we just leave it.

Football is so damn weird in February to begin with. As for the burning questions of the current soap opera—will Peyton Manning play one more season? Will Cam Newton get over losing? Will Denver and Carolina even have teams worthy of the playoffs next year? I can’t be fussed. We’re done with football until Labor Day, six full months and a spell of weeks away.

It’s good to live in the winning team’s country. That much is for sure, even as the glow rapidly fades, and the crushing ordinariness of everyday life grinds us through Valentines Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and Drinko de Mayo ‘til summer, and the next Season of Celebration.

Might as well write a book while I’m waiting.


Sunday, February 07, 2016

Super Bowl Sunday Comin’ Down

In which we observe 50 years of eating greasy food, drinkin’ and hollerin’ with friends and family at the TV

For God’s sake, don’t let the derps get you down
this time, Peyton. Stay focused.
Today, the NFL championship game celebrates a half-century of imposed tradition on the American scene. It’s been a lumpy gravy of a history, with years of bad matchups in which the outcome was all but predetermined. At least the Powers That Be fixed that, although it looks as if we might see the ghost of that concept as old, creaky Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos is sacrificed to the youth and energy of the Carolina Panthers tonight. If the Broncos win, it will be considered quite the upset, especially with the WWF-style narrative being sold of Old versus Young, etc.

Aside from the usual annoyance of having a narrative foisted upon us, we face an egregious breach in Super Bowl tradition. Despite 30 seconds of commercial time costing five million dollars this year, we can expect to see more Eat Your Vegetables, You Degenerate Football-Watching Man-Child nag spots in the fabled Super Bowl commercial breaks. These “let’s use this festive time as an opportunity to contemplate depressing irrelevancies” segments were widely mocked and derided when these turds were dropped in America’s punchbowl last year, yet some faceless gang of neo-Puritan buzzkills insists we “need” the issues of domestic violence, etc., brought to our attention in between plays—and during a time that, for 48 years anyway, was used to entertain the people at the party who aren’t all that much into the game.

At first I was angry and ready to swear of the Super Bowl forever after watching tonight’s landmark game, but I realized a new tradition is likely being born along with the pre-chewed Anti-Fun poison pills slipped into the commercials: people are simply going to go back to using commercial breaks as bathroom breaks, or as an opportunity to go outside for a smoke and talk loudly about the game. In a twisted way, it works out for the best, because it’s never a bad thing to get away from the television—especially when it’s puking prissy-pantsed propaganda into your bean dip. 

As for the good stuff, the outrageously funny commercials, the warm fuzzies with the puppies and horses and beer, the spectacular movie trailers—people will watch those Greatest Hits later on their phones as the 21st century digital gods intended. With the halftime show already surrendered to the womenfolk—all the better to keep them preoccupied while you talk about the game with your fellows—those nag spots insisting on “starting a conversation” will do just that. Except people will be conversing about what they want, away from the nags on the TV. 

And, God have mercy on us all, someone will laugh. Someone will laugh, loudly, and at something oh-so-dreadfully “problematic” the Anti-Fun Inquisition has forbidden us to laugh at. The thought of these prigs seething and squealing in frustration at this makes me smile. After all, it’s not merely our freedom that these cultural terrorists hate us for. It’s our very capacity for joy.

So here’s wishing everyone on all sides good food, fellowship, and loud, inappropriate laughter. As for me, GO BRONCOS. Aside from my usual inclination towards favoring the underdogs, between the White Christmases and legal marijuana, Colorado has earned this Carolina boy’s loyalty.
How can I not love this state?


Saturday, February 06, 2016

Whatever Happened to Glenn Frey?

Some of that “observational Tourettes” I mentioned in the logline... part of a series of random thoughts I’m having on this 37th day of a not so New Year

Being the cranky adolescent malcontent I was in the 1970s at the peak of The Eagles’ popularity, I was naturally averse to the band and their music. The Eagles were among the favorites of the normies, the jocks, and all those happy people I hated because I wasn’t. Then, as now, my attitude didn’t mean beans. The Eagles were huge. Hotel California, anyone? Love it or hate it, you couldn’t get away from it if you tried, and I know. I know.

My attitude, however irrelevant, evolved over time. I really liked the songs on The Long Run. (My personal favorite, “The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks” spoke to the malcontent who currently occupies my psychic basement and won’t move out.) I was further impressed when Don Henley came out and said, “The Eagles are a ‘70s band” upon the group’s dissolution in 1979. As I’ve often said, I have utmost respect for people who call it quits and go out when they’re on top, or at least still relevant. Sure, The Eagles got back together in the mid-1990s and cashed in big-time, but so what. No one forced all those people to buy tickets. That they sold a lot of tickets speaks to the point of all this. 

Despite my aversion to country music and the early 1970s “country rock” scene that even The Eagles sought to distance themselves from mid-career/mid-decade, I would come to appreciate Desperado for its loving attention to musicianship. The Eagles, like their contemporaries Fleetwood Mac, were often derided for being “overproduced,” but the ugly, not-so-subliminal subtext of that always was, “How dare these pretty people prettier than I am make it look so darn easy as they play complex guitar and sing exquisite harmonies on these brilliant songs they wrote all by themselves? It makes my shittily written, performed, and produced shit sound shittier by comparison, and by God I am all the more real for being a shitty shit creator!”

The punk ethos especially resented the successful, and The Eagles were wildly successful. Their Greatest Hits album was once number one, and is likely still somewhere in the Top Ten for all-time biggest sellers.

It’s not like it’s all punk rockers writing on the Web, though. So where are all the breathless eulogies for Glenn Frey? He was one-half of the brain trust of one of the biggest bands of all time, at least for the entirety of the 1970s. Where are all the End of an Era ruminations regarding what’s gone, and what we’re left with?

There are plenty of people my age and older who write for Web sites, so you can’t peg this one on Those Stupid, Entitled, Fuck Them I Hate Them Millennials™. (As the father of two grown Millennials, do NOT get me started on that horseshit meme.)

Honestly, I’m not what you’d call a fan of The Eagles. As much as I appreciate who they were and what they accomplished, none of their songs are in rotation on my music player. But it is weird how Frey got swept under the cultural rug like he was no more memorable than the drummer from Mott the Hoople.

The world is a curious place circa A.D. 2016.


Thursday, February 04, 2016

More Faces of February

The sunshine after the storm, the snow-smothered aftermath

This is late morning on the day after Groundhog Day. This is the difference full sunshine makes. It’s too cold, and there’s too much snow for the sun to make an immediate difference in melting all this, though.

I took this photo of America’s Mountain™ (Pikes Peak, you philistines) from my bedroom window.

I had to take the Jeep out on some errands. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this much snow. We’ve been in Colorado nine years as of today, and they’d had a snowstorm like this a few days before we arrived that made the neighborhood roads look like this. That’s the last time I saw the roads this way.

 This is the first time I’ve seen a buried vehicle, though, and I lived for three years in Anchorage.

There’s a story here. A very short story. We’ll let the photo do the talking.

Here’s hoping you’re having a better time of it. For my part, it’s at least pretty out here.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Faces of February beheld in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado, late Imbolc 2016

The second of February is best known as Groundhog Day in the U.S., but it is also a “cross quarter” marker on the Pagan calendar, representing the midway point between major observances. Christmas (Yule) was six weeks ago, and we’re still six weeks out from the Spring Equinox (Ostara). Naturally optimistic people would look at Imbolc, adopted by the Catholics as “Candlemas,” as a celebration of making it halfway out of the worst of winter.

Here in 2016 on the north side of Colorado Springs, we got heavy snow, so much so that we were glad to see the clouds begin to break in time for sunset. The larger photos were marred by a streak in my picture window, but the cropped versions still retain something of that gorgeously pale light in the sky.

I’m barely competent as a photographer, but these faces of February can’t help making me look good. Keep in mind these views are from a south-facing picture window in a tiny house in a crumbling neighborhood we have to leave sometime, probably this year.

As for leaving Colorado...I don’t know. The winters are much too long for my taste (it doesn’t really warm up here until the U.S. secular culture’s start of summer, Memorial Day), but to go where you barely get a winter, and the heat and rain are unrelenting...yeah, I don’t know about moving back to my native South anymore. I miss my people. I wonder, though, if I’m going to see enough of them throughout the year to justify living in such an ungodly climate.

For now, I will continue to work towards the conclusion of the SAGA of the DEAD SILENCER while prepping the house for sale—which, in my case, means throwing out all the stuff I’ve got in boxes I’m keeping for the dumbest of sentimental reasons. There’s so much to do, I’m grateful I’ve got six more weeks of winter ahead.

Hell, they’ll be gone before I know it.


Monday, February 01, 2016

Happy New Month!

One month ago, we brought in January with fireworks. Now, we think, “Oh, it’s February already. Can’t wait for this winter to be over.” 

Me, I’m working towards the day when I can bring in every month with fireworks and sparkling wine. As for today, I’m watching the snow pile up in my basement window well and plotting a battle between a cleverer-than-most zombie horde and battle armor, with Apache attack ‘copters thrown in for corspe-‘splodin’ flavor.

For the love of God, someone please buy my books so I can afford more presentable pajama bottoms.

Let’s see what happens. Tonight, it’s between me and Chapter 31. Let’s see who walks out the other end of it all.