December 24, 2002

Quickly, quickly:

Rolled into P-burg two days ago and have already bounced from Rockport to the in-laws', where I now sit (no Internet at my mom's. Eep) preparing to do Xmas Eve-y stuff.

A couple of hours back, I finished my annual reread of Hogfather, which was very nice and lifted my floundering spirits a bit. This year's been wretched for December depression. I'm not sure why. I NEVER get the holiday blues. Not like this.

Maybe it's Spyder's voodoo curse. Like a bad mojo grenade. I shudder to think.

Nng. I better go be sociable. I have lots of people to write and no time to write them in. Feh. Bloody holidays.

But Stacy and I go see T2T tonight, and that will be very very good. I need a break from my vacation already. How fucking sad is that?

December 22, 2002

Okay. The time that my watch says it is can't possibly be right. That would mean I slept until ... gaaaaaah.

I write this from Jeff Miller's cozy flat in historic Morgantown, midway through my Appalachian holiday odyssey. It's chilly here in the town of my alma mater, and pale and wintery up there in the sky. Which is only right. Wooch. Happy Solstice.

I showed up much later than I'd planned on last night, which is the pitfall of packing at the last minute and playing a kind of Tetris with the bags of presents in the trunk of the car. But it was a pretty good trip, and I got to listen to Nature and Organisation while going through Cumberland (Michael Cashmore = fuckin' genius) and even managed to stay up waaaaay too late doing four years' worth of catching-up. Aiya.

Now matters of food must be attended to, and the commencing of the last leg of the quest. Back in a bit, hopefully.

December 18, 2002

Oh, yeah, and The Last Dark Art #3 went up today, only a month behind. Whoohoo!

So - Xmas shopping very nearly done. Week about to start the downslope. Weather not acting up for a week now. Things are pretty good.

I've been so fucking out of it ... I owe lots of people letters and phone calls and whatnot, and I spent all weekend not able to make myself do anything. Gaaaaaah. Think I got a bit of the holiday blues this year, for the first time in memory. Dunno why.

I depart for P-burg on Saturday, with a possible stopover in Morgantown that night for a long-overdue reunion with Jeff Miller ("the other Jeff, the vegan one"). Stacy will be in Texas, of all godsforsaken places, attending her friend Rachel's nice upscale Jewish wedding, and won't make it to WV until Sunday, so I get to make my odyssey to Appalachia almost as drawn-out as I like. This looks to be a nice change of pace from the rush-madly-home holiday trip of previous years, and I look forward to't. Been making sure I have lots of tunes for the road; why my office ever let me near a computer with a CD burner in it is beyond me, but waste not, want not.

Plus, At Nearly 29, I Discover I'm a Lesbian

Had a long drawn-out heart-to-heart with Martha A. on Friday night, wherein I confessed all sorts of odd things about my sense of self that I'm only recently coming to terms with, including how strongly female-identified I feel very much of the time, which is not an easy thing to say out loud, though Martha's one of a handful of people I can talk about that with and there's not even a hint of judgment. And she told me after I'd rabbitted on about it for some while that she sometimes thinks of me as a woman, which is one of the nicest things I can imagine hearing after putting my heart on the plate like that, even if she was just making it up. Erm.

Anyway, once it was out there, it sort of explained a lot. Lynx told me about ten years ago that it's obvious I actually like women (as opposed to the sense most guys mean that, which translates as "I like to fuck women"). That really meant a lot, and it's maybe become even more true as I've discovered how little I connect with men, even most of the ones I'm close to. (There are exceptions. Andy for one. Jeff Miller for another.) My real soulmates tend to be female, and somehow that's where my deep self resonates, like that's what it recognizes. Or so it seems to make sense to me.

So there you have it. Underneath it all, I'm a chick. There are worse fates.

(Which is probably also why I recoil so strongly when Stacy explains some marginally undesirable behavior on my part as "Well, you're a guy," which is the kind of thing that causes my inner c*nt to bristle with indignation. Oh, gods, that's a dreadful image. But nonetheless.)

Oh, and Martha also gave an enthusiatic thumbs-up to the sex scenes in A Thousand Thrones ("You can tell it's not just porn because there's all this lesbian drama"), which was sort of the acid test to see if I've actually done my job, and I felt unconscionably proud. So there you go.

Something too much of this, as Hamlet the Dane said once when he was about to go too far. Le sigh. Nothing to be done.

Hrm. I suppose I'll go burn some more CDs now (The Highbury Working seems appropriately Solsticey, somehow) and await the arrival of my Nature and Organisation disc, which I ordered ages ago when it was out of stock, but I'm told should show up any time. Mmmmmm. Cashmore guitar.

Oh, yeah, and get some work done too. Feh.

December 11, 2002

The second week of December has little to recommend it. It's neither close enough to Christmas to be really exciting nor soon enough on the heels of Thanksgiving to sustain the warm turkey-flavored glow, and besides, there's no LoTR movie opening this week. It's just gray and cold and, as of this morning, covered in a layer of ice from the freezing rain.


Last weekend was full of much holiday shopping, which was good, and fruitful; only a few left to take care of now. Discovered that the Montgomery Mall has a Hot Topic, which is a fine thing indeed, although when I finally picked up my longed-for "Not All Who Wander Are Lost" sticker and brought it home, I found I'd at long last run out of room on my guitar case. Very sad. It had to go on my comics box, which is not quite so appropo, but what can you do.

Also managed to see Treasure Planet on Sunday, mostly with my mouth open and making small noises, and thinking "Aha - this is why Spyder's seen it like forty-five times now." A fine offering from the Mouse, and a great concept well-executed. Highly recommended. And not just because the cat-chick space captain has Emma Thompson's voice, though that doesn't hurt things at all, at all.

Not much else in the offing this week. Martha A.'s coming over on Friday (other Martha's out of town, and we get second pick, which is pretty nice). No writing has been done. It's been that kind of month so far.

Not looking forward to braving the icy wastes in Wheaton tonight. Damned weather. Feh. Bollocks.

I need a drink.

December 05, 2002

Ai ya! SNOW!

The Fimbulwinter, which seemed to pass us by this year, has returned in earnest, with a vengeance. It is white as anything outside. Very Solsticy. Really a very lovely day out there, once you get past the cold and the hazardous driving/walking/standing around conditions.

I am, somehow, at work (though let us make the distinction right off between "at work" and "actually working"), drinking mint hot chocolate and listening to a few of the shitload of Porcupine Tree CDs Tony burned me over the weekend, anticipating that this will be a short day if the University has any damn sense - not that the latter is anything to bank on.

I should very much like to be home, bundled up in something warmish and comfy, perhaps having a pipe. It seems the thing to do.

Got a lovely package from Spyder yesterday, in the form of a way supercool Jenny Haniver poster with the lyrics to "Cocteau, Goya, Blake" on it. It made my week; many warm fuzzies. As I said to Stacy, I am very lucky to have such wonderful friends.

Some of whom I owe letters to, I think. It's that sort of time, in any case.

Speaking of time, have I really just blown my first hour on nothing but slack? It seems so. Well, alright. Sweet.

December 03, 2002

Safely returned from PA late late Saturday (or early early Sunday - did you know 114 intersects with 15 at a really convenient place south of Harrisburg? I sure didn't, but if I had, I sure as fuck wouldn't have driven all over Creation looking for a sign marked "Gettysburg" for as long as I did, nor had to prop open my eyes with toothpicks for the last hour or so of the drive home. Live and learn, though).

Ah, family. Families, as Jed Walker says in The Wake, "do both - they rock and they suck." Yup. It was about 90% good, though, and we sure ate a lot. And spent an appropriate amount of time fawning over, and loving on, and bonding with, Babby Nicholas, who is about as cute as should be allowable by moral law. There are many photographs now, which if I'm smart I should not allow out into the world, lest it become known that I'm some kinda poufy sensitive guy who likes kids and stuff.

Oh - wait. Never mind.

Also got a sort of Christmas advance, first in the form of some grandmaternal spending money, which got mostly blown the next day at the Encounter's big Black Friday sale, where I got a shitpile of cool gaming & comics stuff. And second from my mom, who took me and Tony to Dave Phillips' music store, where we both left with new twangy things. Tony got a mandolin, which I promptly moved in on when we got back to the house and tried not to get too much drool on. And I got a Martin Backpacker, such as I've been lusting over for, oh, three years or so now, and am very, very happy. I will never travel without a guitar now ever again. Ever ever.

And the DC NaNo "Thank God It's Over" party is on Friday, where I'll go and see if anyone remembers me from a month and a half back. Whoohoo!

November 29, 2002

I fucking did it.

50,129 words, one day under the wire. I'd do a little dance if it weren't oh-God-thirty in the fucking morning.

Holy shit.

Now I must go and bask in the purple goodness of my "Winner" bar.


November 26, 2002

Hump day of the short T-day week, and none too soon, either. I am feeling mighty goofy these days. All them words'll do that to a feller.

Not to mention probably still being in the red as far as sleeping-to-waking-hours ratios go, not that I'd change a thing in that regard.

This week's writing going slower than I'd like. Feh. Probably have to do work on it over Thanksgiving, but so it goes. Now I'm just anxious to close in on the ending just to see if Greg's got my number as much as he believes he does. I do it all for the fans, you know.

Hoping to do some recording on the weekend, even if just a bit of noodling around and trying to be Coil. My between-writing meditation the last couple of days has been to go and play lots of the cover tunes I know, or am learning; to that end, I printed out the lyrics to Current 93's "They Returned to Their Earth," which is a really lovely song, though whether or not I'd ever subject an audience to all six and a half minutes of surreal Tibet imagery without some nice backing violin or something is iffy. (But tempting nonetheless - some of those lines are really killer, even if I have no friggin' idea what old David is going on about, as with most C93. And I get a real kick out of an ambiguous opening line like "When serpents come/ They cover the Christ thorn.") And I'm in the process of learning "Pavanne," which makes me a happy bear indeed. Also for some reason got the urge to add some more Morrissey tunes to my repertoire, as if it's all not depressing enough, though when I looked up "Will Never Marry" and "My Love Life" I got that sinking feeling that came when I found out that the verses of Counting Crows' "Round Here" are in G - just G, no changes, and if you can't play that shimmery little arpeggio then it all sounds like aaaaass - they're like that, kinda. I'm probably being told, somehow, that happily married people have no damn business covering the Moz.

Gah. Morrissey songs. It must be November. Very nearly not, though. How utterly distressing. Now I'll have to go play "Everyday Is Like Sunday" anyway.

November 25, 2002

I Go, I hCome Back Again

Tired. Sore. Loopy. God knows, probably malnourished too.

I had a lovely weekend.

New York is, somehow, less intimidating in person. There's an awful lot of it, though. It's not the kind of place I now could have a go at alone. Considering the labyrinthine routes one takes just getting into the damn subway station, I can see myself quickly giving in to a gibbering disorientation very quickly. But anyway.

Busses are a really fine way of getting places if you're not wealthy or in a terrible hurry; they're about as comfortable as anything can be that has lots of people packed into a small space moving very fast. However, and this is critical: PEE BEFOREHAND. Do not be reassured that the Greyhound has a little bathroom in the back. If you're anything like me, trying to relax the requisite muscles while simultaneously hanging on for dear life as the vehicle pitches like a ship in a gale is well-nigh impossible. Yeah, I know you can just sit down, but at that point the loss to your dignity is just as bad as the motion problem, or has the same effect at any rate, at least if you're as neurotic as I am about such indelicacies. So it goes.


Spyder is about as cool as a person should be allowed to be, which isn't exactly surprising, but is very nice nonetheless. I wound up having one of those days where you walk around having to remind yourself that you actually haven't known who you're hanging out with for years and years. Easily already one of my favorite people, and fun in that easy way that I value highly in a friend; we spent all day doing ... not much of anything except going to cafes and comic book stores and walking the streets of the city, and I had such an amazingly good time that the day just flew. All of which more or less goes to show that my theory that smart, talented tough-chick artists are not a thing my life can have too much of has not been disproven.

(And while I'm on a roll counting my blessings, a side note is due my lovely wife, not just for being a smart cool tough chick herself, but also for being the kind of person who doesn't blink at the thought of me gallivanting around a city many miles away with another one. And for being the sort of spouse who, when I come home and she asks me, "Is she cute?" I get to say "Yes," and there are no Consequences. I mention this mostly because the memory is still all too vivid, despite the intervening years, of previous circumstances with an ex who shall be protected by anonymity, wherein there would have been a number of Consequences, one of which probably would have been my never ever going to New York alone in the first place. And that would've been the reasonable part. Ah, something too much of this. In any case, thank you, sweetheart. Being trusted is a beautiful and loving thing, and don't think I value it lightly.)

I got back on the bus at Port Authority last night at 11, realizing that about twenty-four hours had gone by bookended by bus stations and that I'd been awake for most of them. I listened to the last handful of tracks on Disc Alpha of All Dolled Up Like Christ and promptly fell asleep (and let me tell you, "Lucifer Over London" is damned surreal as lullabies go, and not for the faint of heart), waking up just in time to arrive at Union Station a handful of hours later. I came home at almost exactly four, to the reassuring sight of Matt's enormous shoes under the coffee table - Stacy's always happier to not have to sleep in the apartment alone - and my body, which I had pummeled into submission all day by making it walk more than it had in a very, very long time, scored a final and decisive victory. I slept long and well.

And I later saw the other side of 41K on the novel. Making it a kind of banner couple of days all around.

Three-day week up ahead, which always makes Sundays feel less depressing somehow. On the other hand, it's nearly Thanksgiving already, and that just feels wrong. Somewhere in there, I had a November. I'm going to have to request some written reports of it afterwards, just to find out what the hell happened.

November 21, 2002

MS Word tells me I busted through 39K a little while back. It very nearly makes the back pain and the bruises on the forehead feel worth it.

So - Part Two is done. Onto Part Three.

It's odd - sometime back in September or October while I was contemplating this project and doing outlines and such, I had that clever idea of using King Crimson songs for the part-titles, and went through all my Crim CDs looking for ones that seemed to suggest the kind of story I wanted to tell, and framed my (very vague) outline that way. And the part-titles stayed, but the plot has become very different than the one I kinda-sorta first had in mind. And I think the changes have been for the better. Weird, what certain things end up saying to you the longer you hang around them. Thanks, Mr. Fripp!

Anywhoo, I've had some moments in this I'm very proud of. I look forward to seeing the shape of it when all's over. (Going to be a LOT bigger than 50K, though. I wonder if, at close-to-40, I'm even halfway to the end.)

I think one of the benefits of a project like this (and there are many) is the way you end up surprising yoursefl by letting go as much as you can. It's a feeling I've had with my work before, and one of the things I like best about writing, but never this frequently on the same project.

Some of my surprising moments have been tertiary characters I grew to be very unexpectedly fond of. I really, really like Fra Myron, who's in all of two brief scenes, and he just eats up the scenery in both of them - entirely deadpan, with a truly great bit-part actor's complete professionalism. He really knew exactly what he was there for, and he did it consummately well - every time he'd dictate one of his lines to me, I'd get a big old grin on my face out of it.

And I loved discovering last night that Jenny Haniver's idea of a soppy romantic goodbye is "Goddammit, you come back to me, Branleigh, or I'll never fucking forgive you, do you hear?"

And it ain't over yet. I'm just over 20% from the finish line still. The last mad rush commences.

Twenty-four hours from now, or a smidge less, I'll be on my way to be on my way to NYC - "on the road that goes to the road," as my sainted grandfather says. Prepare the coffee I.V.

But first - network training tomorrow. Soon I shall be a guru too. And as my geek factor increaseth, so may my fortunes. Given a sufficient amount of caffeine and scones, anyway.

And before that, a few more words for the night, and bed. Mmmmm - bed. Wooch.

It's a hard life, all this Art, but one does what one must.

November 20, 2002

At some point last night, after typing out a trio of scene-break asterisks, I stopped to look up a name, and found myself ten minutes later asleep at my desk.

Somehow, this makes me feel like a Real Writer now. I couldn't tell you why.

Mostly, I think it means I should lay off the after-work Yuenglings until, say, December. If I just kept enough cold soft drinks around, this kind of thing would NEVER happen.


Looking forward to NY on Saturday (though, as Stacy pointed out, it's a "day trip" thay actually spans three days, counting my insane hours to and from), and stocked up on emergency gear last night at the Tar-jay - hate to be caught dead halfway to Port Authority with dead batteries in my CD player, you know. Food and sleep I can do without, and probably shelter, but without my White Willow I might just spontaneously combust.

Especially looking forward to a visit to the famous Jim Hanley's, which acclaimed ubercool game-writer Gareth-Michael Skarka says very nice things about in his weblog of late; Spydey old girl, it seems you've got your foot in the door at the best. Wooch, indeed!

I learned a coupla days ago that I get to go to a big training session on Friday, which is in Silver Spring and thus closer to home, and that I don't have to go in to work afterwards. Huzzah! Which means that my Friday will officially end at 1, and I can go right home and catch up on my word count.

Sleep, I mean. Of course I meant sleep. Gaaaaah.

The Last Dark Art looks like a late-runner this month - of course, I just learned this morning that I was scheduled to run this week, and not next week like I'd convinced myself. But those guys at RPGnet are very nice, and are letting me get my shit together on this ("the New York Times this ain't," quoth Aeon). I guess if anyone understands geek-time, it's such as they.

Current word count: Um, 34 and a bit
Current mood: Hungry. Lean Pockets beckon.
Current soundtrack: Cocteau Twins, "Sea, Swallow Me"

At the halfway mark, a damn good week all 'round.

November 18, 2002

The Seven Seals are Revealed at the End of Time as Pages and Pages of Vaguely Coherent Prose

Sometime in the bleary quiet darkness of the witching hour last night, I reached 32k.

I might make it. Probably. Maybe. Gaaaah.

I have, more or less, a week and a half. This is factoring in Thanksgiving, and my trip to New York, and random unscheduled slacking. It may be close. But my hopes are high.

... The Drunkprose, the Shitprose, the Pornprose, the Caffeineprose, the Deafprose, the Angstprose and the OhSoSoprose

I had to fight with it a bit, for a while there, especially on Saturday. But some good developments found their way into the text, and I'm liking the shape the story is taking. And at least one thing is going to happen to Jenny Haniver this time around that I had no idea was coming when I started. It's a capricious art.

"And all shall be well. Or not."

I'm told that if I don't try and publish it when I'm done, such efforts will be made without my consent. Gaaaah. Somehow, at the thought of trucking my big old manuscript around, the words "Look out, Charles de Lint" spectacularly failed to cross my mind. But we shall see.

In other news: saw Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Friday, following a big ol' eating orgy at Fuddrucker's ("Most Amusingly Named Restaurant for People Whose Sense of Humor Didn't Make it Much Past Thirteen") and some odd-and-end shopping in Rockville. Went into Tower and they were playing the new Porcupine Tree, which made me feel all gooey inside. (Oh yes, it shall be mine.) And the movie was damn fine too; good old Ken Branagh was kind enough to only eat up the scenery he was supposed to, and the Basilisk was truly, truly kickass. And I sat there in my big scarf among all those excited young people and felt very wizardy indeed.

The extremely-limited-edition CD-single of "One of Those Nights" made its way safely to NYC, and no one freaked the hell out any further about my following it up there at the end of this week, and so I am content. I get to spend the next few days, in between mad rushes of hammering out pages and pages of Gothy urban fantasy, deciding what handful of items are most necessary to have on my person for a day in the Even Bigger City, and forcing them all into my trusty shoulder-bag, and wishing like hell I had a Martin Backpacker. Le sigh. People talk about traveling light like it's some kind of virtue, and I just don't get it at all, at all.

I've been promised the Best Pizza in New York. If I'm not mistaken, I may have already had the Best Pizza Formerly in New York, Now in West Virginia; I'm excited to see how they measure up. If it's served up by a guy who doesn't know any English beyond "Two slice cheese," it should be pretty damn good indeed.

November 15, 2002

Updated the novel blog last night.

Damn thing's like a Fantasybits Easter-egg hunt. Wooch. So far, I think Vishal's got the best of the in-joke references, though Maija's is pretty damn cool too, if I say so m'self. Literary nods to all my friends!

Rereading the NC-17 stuff revealed it to be marginally more tasteful than I recall it while in the middle of it, which is a side effect, I suppose, of working all pumped up on pooftah coffee late at night. Despite my nervousness, it's really much less Penthouse Letters-ish than my uberselfconscious brain remembers it being, and I only used the c-word once. Still wouldn't send it to my in-laws, though. And heaven knows it may be that much further I need to claw my way up from potential-scary-dude status in the eyes of poor Spyder's mum. Aieee! Perhaps I should send someone more respectable-seeming up to New York next weekend in my place.

Oh, and I broke 25k last night too. Feel the halfway-mark love.

Stacy and Caren and I are off to the Regal Rockville tonight for Harry Potter goodness. Caren shall be converted, oh yes. See what she gets for just showing up for Ken Branagh. Not that that's a bad reason.

The last three days have had "Pavanne" going through my head like nothing else. And Harmony Central doesn't have the chords in their archive. Damn your eyes, Linda Thompson, and that no-good ex of yours too. Gaaaaah. Pavanne, Pavanne, Pavanne.

Oh, wait, Tori's "Icicle" just came up on Winamp. So now I get to think about that all day too. Eep. It's like the universe wishes me to get no actual work done today. Thanks.

Still, who am I to argue?

November 14, 2002


Despite the general hell of Week Two, and the banging-head-on-desk frustration of having fallen somewhat behind of schedule, a couple of breakthroughs:

1). As of Saturday, Part One ended. This is good. Part Two is in full swing now. This is even better. The tale barrels on.

2). As of last night, 23k. Not where I wanted to be, but there's a weekend coming up, ripe with glorious possibility. I may make it yet.

3). Likewise as of last night, my first ever semi-quasi-hot girl-on-girl love scene, which I knew was coming up long ago and was very nervous about, and which has gone pretty well all considered. Good thing, too - I followed those two home two nights ago and spent most of the intervening time (real time, not theirs, which was probably more like half an hour or so) going "Oh, for fuck's sake, get it on already."

And my sensitive-guy guilt at this last is surprisingly low considering how long I've put off doing this sort of thing in a piece of fiction (one I've actually written down, anyway). I think I stopped worrying about how un-PC it might be about the time I quit trying to please anyone except "the kind of people who like to read the kind of thing I like to write." Take that, neurotic hangup! Besides, Uncle Neil never shied away from doing, f'rinstance, mind-spinningly steamy m/m erotic interludes, and he doesn't even like boys. So there.

Haven't posted to the other journal since the weekend, which I must rectify tonight, soon as my nervously- afterglowing couple shut the fuck up and I can wrap the scene. So it goes.

And by the end of the weekend: monsters. Fuckin' cool.

November 07, 2002

Broke 14,000 last night - not bad, if not quite where I'd like to be. Gearing up to put the wraps on the first act.

So far, it's been pretty good. I reread what I've set down already, and it feels only marginally worse than the stuff I do all the time, which might be either good or bad. I'm suspecting I'll have to see the shape of the whole thing before I can really make a judgment on it.

Last night also had a run of housecleaning in anticipation of this weekend's visit from my in-laws, which I find I'm getting a surprising number of warm fuzzies about. I think this is just a good time of year to have company. Plus, I suppose, writing gives me a terribly convenient out for anything that doesn't sound like fun, and needing a break from it likewise for anything that does. Bwa hahahahaha. Maybe I can squeeze in taking Kyle to the comic book store.

It only remains to find some compelling way to convince Stacy's mom that she doesn't want to read my novel, really, trust me. Considering that within about the first five hundred words, Jenny smokes marijuana, thinks about her ex-girlfriend, and does something occult (not to mention that the first thing she says is "Fuck," six times), I stand to lose quite a bit of my nice-guy credibility on the son-in-law front.

And now I must do responsible things to fund my eating habit, and console myself while away from my novel by writing NaNoWriMo haiku.

Slacked off my quota;
I'll do much better tonight.
Hey, The West Wing's on.


November 04, 2002

As of the close of day three, words: 10,313. Cups of hazelnut coffee: Too damn many. Incoherencies: Countless. Sleep: Not enough.

Ai ya. I had a weekend in there, somewhere.

Progress is good, and the truth is I'm fairly happy with what's been tumbling out so far, even with indulging in a bit of the forbidden Regarding Phase. I dunno if it's art or not, but it's fun.

And I seem to have broken, for the time being, the Mary Sue problem with Jenny. I realized that, up until this point, she's only really been seen around people she's dazzling, or staring down, or outwitting, or charming the pants off of. And this time around we're getting a perspective on her, at least some of the time, from some people who think she's a big pain in the ass.

Oh, and I'm putting up the WIP here, which at this first-draft stage feels a lot like doing a public read-through of Hamlet in my underwear. So it goes.

Another election day tomorrow (didn't we just have one of these damn things?), which means the days of running the gauntlet of pamphlets and baby-shaking at the Metro in the morning are about done once again, thank the gods. Today at least brought the boyish charm of Chris Van Hollen, who gets my vote - he is, by all accounts, a genuinely good guy, and supports a lot of the right good-guy stuff (and he gets the endorsement of NOW, which was the real clincher for me). I'll be in his corner come tomorrow, even though his family snapshots are a little creepy, and look like Chris Van Hollen and his Vat-Grown Clones.

Must get to work. Diversity training today. Dammit, I am the diversity around this place.

November 01, 2002

The first 1073 words rolled out last night at midnight, putting me at something like 2% done. Whee!

And off to a good start - I've already saddled Jenny with a broken heart, insomnia, and an ominously cryptic card reading. The hooks are out.

Nonetheless, I'm considering, come the first of December, smuggling myself aboard a plane to Dubai, where I shall find Vishal and smite him thusly: THUSLY. He's already at twice my output, and probably twice my quality. I'm thinking of this, privately, as the Battle of the Big Coats.

Before midnight struck last night, I spent a lovely Hallows evening relaxing in the last hours of the Bright Season, smoking cloves and feeling all warm and pagan. Set out my first "dumb supper" to honor the dead: an empty chair, some water and whisky, a bit of bread and tobacco. The idea is to invite the departed spirits in and lay out the things you'd give a guest to make them feel at home, though in my case they'd've had to be content to hang out with me while I lay on the couch with my copy of GURPS Horror and watched the Courage the Cowardly Dog marathon. But the candles were lit nonetheless, and I hope anyone who showed up had a good time.

(And let me here send out my thoughts for all those now in the Western Lands: Uncle Tim and Aunt Joan, Marty Herson, Vishal's mom, Grandpa Layman, Grandma Mackes and Minerva and Ernest, Ben Morningstar, the victims of the Mad Sniper, the immortal, inimitable Richard Harris, and, not least by any stretch, dear sweet Skeeter. May you all find rest now, and all those I haven't named too. For you, at this season, I offer the words of Death himself, from Terry Pratchett's Reaper Man:

"Lord, we know there is no good order except that which we create. . . There is no hope but us. There is no mercy but us. There is no justice. There is just us. All things that are, are ours. But we must care. For if we do not care, we do not exist. If we do not exist, there is nothing but blind oblivion. . . . Lord, will you grant me just a little time? For the proper balance of things. To return what was given. For the sake of prisoners and the flight of birds.

"Lord, what can the harvest hope for, if not for the care of the reaper man?"

And so may it be.)

And at the last hour before midnight, I did my annual rereading of Thomas Ligotti's "The Dreaming in Nortown," a fine October tale for a fine cold night. And all was well.

October 31, 2002

Happy Samhain to all and sundry - a cold and blustery sort of day around these parts. Autumn, it seems, put in its two weeks and got the hell out of town. At least it stopped raining, and we're getting good leaves.

Midnight kicks off my work on A THOUSAND THRONES for NaNoWriMo (well, the work proper, as opposed to the fussing and outlining and note-taking and assorted stuff I've been doing for the last three weeks) and I think I got the fear. Gaaaah! No to mention that I just learned yesterday about the phenomenon (most common to fanfic, but not unknown in your regular sort of original fic too) of Mary Sue-ism, and shuddered as I found that Jenny Haniver is probably herself some variety of Mary Sue. Gaaah, again - suddenly I feel all lame. It's like I never knew what a hack I really was until now.

Too late now, though. Motherfucker.

(I console myself with the knowledge I must be doing something right, as I got a whole bunch of really kickass Jenny drawings from Maija yesterday. Her vision is eerily similar enough to Spyder's that I'm wondering now if they secretly have design meetings at some undisclosed rendezvous point. Greenland, perhaps.)

Got some really good recording done in PA over the weekend, including an new-and-improved version of "Master van Rijn" that we more or less kept laying tracks on until we ran out of instruments. Very cool. Fear the whistle.

And Tony got a new bass, and now I have to have one too. Bastard. Thanks a lot, big brother.

October 24, 2002

Heading up to Allentown tomorrow night - back into the studio to record "Athena, Send Owls" and, um, the other one. It'll be a long drive after an exhausting week, but nothing a fat cigar and a Current 93 compilation tape can't fix.

Stacy still recovering from a fight with the washing machine on Sunday, which had us in the emergency room for several hours while she got shot up with painkillers and they stitched her toenail back on. It was even funny after a while. As of today she's not limping quite as bad, and I've stopped waiting for her to say "Yeth, marthter" all the time. And the wound doesn't look quite so much like Pinhead's been at it as it did two days ago. So that's one crisis down.

And yesterday, part two of The Last Dark Art went online.

Did some vague outlining for the NaNovel last night. A week from midnight tonight, I'll be there, all ready to stare at the blank screen and curse at myself. Wooch. The lengths I go to.

October 16, 2002

Tired. Deep down tired, weary-tired. I don't know what's up with that.

Not much writing getting done this week - Stacy's got the computer till she finishes her class project. Which is just as well, since I'm feeling especially dry of words this week, though I have two columns yet to write for (be the last thing I have time for in November, so better get next month's done now) and some assorted bits to polish before tackling the NaNovel. I was hoping to get THE RESIDENTS #1 done this month, but I dunno. We'll see.

Otherwise, just tired. Don't much feel like being at work. Feh.

Perhaps more coffee's the answer.

October 03, 2002

Some nutjob shot up my town this morning. Maybe you heard.

Five seemingly random deaths. The first guy was killed right outside the grocery store where we shop, not a quarter of a mile away from where we sleep. Another person was killed in Aspen Hill, only a couple of miles up the road. As I write this, no word has come that they're any closer to catching this joyriding psychopath than at ten this morning.

I don't like the way this makes me afraid to go home. I don't like the way it makes me afraid to go anywhere. I don't like the feeling of running a catalogue of the contents of my refrigerator in my head, just making sure I don't have to stop anywhere for food on the way home.

I don't like being worried about picking my wife up at the Metro after her class tonight, or asking her to wait in front of the station instead of the parking lot.

I don't like the way this makes me think about my own mortality, or what would happen if this were the last day of my life, about how much I've left unfinished. I don't like facing how terribly fragile life is, and how random and unpoetic death can be.

I'm so damn fucking tired of bad news. I feel like my heart is breaking from it.

Anyway, I hope all are safe out there in the big, awful world. If I could get a wish today, it would be that everyone love each other just a little bit extra tonight. We could all use it.


October 02, 2002

Last Saturday was spent at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, where I did not, sadly, go in costume, as all my pseudo-period clothing is either in need of cleaning or not finished. Just as well, since on two different occasions young women came up to me and started conversations about Neil Gaiman based on my Sandman t-shirt - appropriately enough, since every time I'm at a Ren faire all I can think of all day is Hob Gadling saying "You should spray 'em all with shit as they come through the gates." Tee hee.

High point of the day, and worth at least the price of admission, was seeing the Mediaeval Baebes. They'd done a couple of weekends at the MD faire, and this was their last show of the season; they played to a packed house. (We had to sit all the way up front on the ground. Heartbreaking.) The Baebes are at least as awesome in person as on their CD, and they did "Gaudete" (the first song of theirs I'd ever heard), so I really felt at that moment like a fulfilled person. And I sat there with the sun glaring in my eyes, both feet taking turns falling asleep, a crick in my neck from looking up and my arse covered with wet mulch, and so did not care.

THE VASTY DEEP hit just over 9000 words last night. It's a start. If I can do five times that in half the time, I'll be ready for NaNoWriMo.

September 26, 2002

Wooch. I'm giddy as a schoolgirl. The first installment of my column "The Last Dark Art" was accepted at RPGnet, and is up even now. Hurrah! See, Mom, I tried to tell you all those D&D books were gonna lead to something.

Anyway, it's here.

Over the weekend, as well as getting that written, I managed a thousand-odd words or so of THE VASTY DEEP, and kicked around a scene in THE RESIDENTS that's giving me trouble. Two rather different stories in the same milieu, giving me different kinds of grief. The good news is that I now have actual appearances by several characters who have just been cool ideas up until now.

Finished Burroughs' THE WESTERN LANDS sometime Friday. Fastest I've ever read one of his - obviously this was just the right time. It's given me a very new tack on the approach I might end up taking to NaNoWriMo, too, which is encouraging. Some new territory for me.

This week much better than last week. And boy am I glad.

September 19, 2002

More of the Week that Went All Wrong:

"O Gertrude, when sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions." And that's how it went in Parkersburg this week. Stacy's family dog, after a long life and several years of failing health, was put to sleep at around 7:30 last night. A terribly hard decision, and harder to go through with for everyone, but she'd finally come to the point where her pain was just too overwhelming to let her keep struggling with it. I'm very sad too. Skeeter was a bright little soul and a special dog who brought a lot of light into the lives of her family. The place isn't going to be the same without her. But she had a very good life while she was here - and if there's a Happy Hunting Ground for wonderful little doggies, it has just become a better place with her coming to it.

Sigh. It's been a fucked-up couple of days. Stacy just got in a little while ago and is trying to find out what's happening with her class tonight. I suspect I'll be going home and writing, which I haven't quite been able to bring myself to do for a couple of days. I need to. There's much to be done.

On a brighter note, Spyder's blog today ( has a very fun picture she did as a collaboration with some other artist dude, and features a rather wary-looking Jenny Haniver face-to-face with a guy who looks a bit like a renegade extra from Phil Foglio's GIRL GENIUS. And who also, to my warped sensibilities, looks enough like an incarnation of Berengar Moran that I more than half suspect he's saying, "Pull my finger."

September 17, 2002

So - wife outta town. House all to myself.

Do I head right from work to Big Planet Comics for my monthly fix at a 10% subscriber discount? Do I go home and light a huge malodorous cigar, put on HELLRAISER and watch it naked on a bed of porn, eating General Tso's Chicken with my fingers? Do I fill up five glasses of Kool-Aid and leave them sitting around without coasters, cranking the Current 93?

No. I stay late at work and image purchase orders, because I am a big, lame dumbass.

And this partially because I know I'd just go home and turn on Cooking 911 or the Disney Channel and sit watching with my lip quivering, holding Rabbie the Bear and feeling all lonely.

So it's official. I am truly and deeply 'whipped.

But I'm leaving now. I have been as useful as I can manage being today. Time to get the slack on. And perhaps I shall stop somewhere interesting after all.
Coffee kicking in now. It's about damn time.

Doing the bachelor thing for the next couple of days. Stacy left for Parkersburg this morning. We got a call before work yesterday that her grandfather had died in the middle of the night. He'd been sick for a long time, and passed back and forth between hospitals and nursing homes (some real horror stories there), and this was only a matter of time. Which doesn't make it less hard for the family, but the time may come that everyone will be comforted by knowing it's at least a mercy to have it all be over, and his suffering done.

From the very brief times I met him, and from everything I heard, he was a difficult, temperamental, irascible, stubborn old patriarch; he will, of course, be much missed. May he have safe passage into the Western Lands, and be at peace.

But I'm staying here while Stacy takes her three days' bereavement leave, holding down the household, making sure the laundry gets done and the squirrels don't invade. I'd enjoy the sudden wealth of personal space much more if it weren't for such an unhappy reason. I sure don't envy her the next couple of days, by any means.

We did, though, have a very nice vacation in Philly over the weekend. Philly rocks. I'm glad to be seeing so much of it this year.

More later, and hopefully happier too.

September 12, 2002

Last lunch of the week - tomorrow at this hour we'll be barrelling down the last stretch of road to Philly, if not fully arrived and jumping up and down on the queen-size. South Street - prepare yourself.

So last weekend was pretty damn good. SPXpo '02 was lovely, if packed - I look forward to seeing where they put it next year when it moves up to Bal'more. Somewhere roomy, one hopes. Anyway, I got to meet Eddie Campbell (very nice guy, in spite of his skill in drawing disembowelled prostitutes) and got close enough to Frank Miller I coulda hit him with a spitwad, though I opted to not do the standing-in-line thing to meet him; without a copy of DARK KNIGHT RETURNS or similar in my possession, it woulda just felt lame. I dig manage to get Keith Knight's new collection (he was as nice and funny as I remember him being two years ago, and sporting one of his "I'd Rather Be Masturbating" t-shirts) as well as Alan Moore's spoken-word CD and a weird collection called THE OVERLORDS OF GLEE that was just exactly my kind of bizarre and surreal. Not as much free stuff found its way home with me as last time around, but I wasn't really making an effort.

Jim's Big Ego was, of course, kickass, even in a one-set show. A sellout crowd turned up at Iota, presumably for Roger Cline & the Peacemakers, but I suspect one or two at least walked away new-minted JBE fans. Didn't get as much chance this time around to schmooze with the band like the nerdy fanboy I am, and I missed the Napkin Poetry you get with a full show, but it was pretty cool.

We met up with Patrick and Bernice (stress on the first syllable, rhymes with "furnace") outside their hotel before heading to Iota, where we got to count them and Caren among the new converts to Egomania. First, though, we had a very nice dinner at the club's annexed restaurant - highly recommended, by the way, if you're ever in Arlington; it's like bar food, only really really good. And we spent almost all of Sunday hanging out with them, which was as much fun as I've had in quite some time. We took a couple of hours to hit the flea market in Georgetown (you wouldn't think such a thing as an upscale flea market was possible until going to this one - I'll keep it in mind if I ever need a lot of secondhand silver, though) and wound up having a big pasta dinner back at the apartment. Pat & Bernice are good people in every meaningful way, and good fun to be around too. Kind of hard to believe they've been married for fourteen years when neither of them looks like they would've been legal to marry that long ago. It gives one much hope.

Half a day to go till Long Weekend #2. Hooray!

September 11, 2002

A short post for now - I'll recount the weekend's events at some later time, when time is what I have.

Spent a portion of the last two days doing my part for the Save FARSCAPE effort, trying to pull the best show on television up from the brink of cancellation. It's felt pretty good so far to have been part of such a loyal community of fans making a difference, even if that difference is only getting the network to sit up and pay attention.

Otherwise, it feels very weird today - a year ago I was home sick, watching horror after horror on the TV and hoping my friends and my wife were going to get out of the city. Now it all seems very strange, both far-off and like it was just last week. What a fucked-up year.

But writing goes well anyway. I'm considering, with some nervousness, signing up for NaNoWriMo this year. As if all this creativity business didn't make me nuts enough.

Anyway, sending out my love to all my friends near and far. Peace to all of you. Let's hope it all gets better from here.

September 06, 2002

Winning line from the Friday night cartoons this evening:

"Ah devoted mah life to peanuts, and now the little goobers are wreakin' havoc!" - George Washington Carver on TIME SQUAD

So tonight has all the charged stillness of a calm before the storm, and rightly so. Tomorrow we spring out of bed, do our last-minute cleaning, and pop over the hill to the Small Press Expo, where I get to walk around with my mouth hanging open for several hours and be a dribbling fanboy at all the cool people who do cool things in the world of alternative comics, and hopefully make it out with Keith Knight's new book and assorted goodies. And then we rest up in the time remaining before heading down to Iota and Jim's Big Ego, where I get to be a dribbling fanboy at them (again). Squeeee!

All of which is much more exciting than what I did last Saturday morning, which was get up and grind all my Pumpkin Spice coffee like a big pooftah.

So no Jeffrey this weekend after all - he is caught up in family obligations, and broke besides. This puts the onus of getting my friends stupid fucked-up back on me. Of course, I don't have the touch of genius that elevates it to art-form level when Jeff does it, but someone's got to take up the slack while he's going to and fro in the world and walking up and down in it. Though the truth is that there's never a lot of arm-twisting to that. "Hey Matt - c'mere. Crazy Uncle Dan's got somethin' for ya." I must remember to take pictures.

But for now, I am inexplicably tired. Wound up taking a nap for a good deal of the evening, and not doing anything either creative or productive, both of which were on the agenda (in addition to massive ripe handfuls of slack, which is not at all the same thing as wandering off and falling over on your futon for two hours). Meanwhile, Stacy tears through Anne McCaffrey novels like a gamer devouring full-sized bags of Doritos, and I look at where the bookmark has come to rest in PERDIDO STREET STATION for at least the last three weeks and am much ashamed.

A week from tonight we'll be in Philly, ourselves walking up and down on South Street and pondering how many cheesesteaks from Jim's a person can eat and still live with himself, mingling with all the lovely freaks in the rosy neon glow. Life is good. Maybe I'll see if I can almost get turned away from the Liberty Bell again for looking like an anarchist. Fun fun! And if we run out of cool things to look at downtown, there's always popping over and listening to the lemurs whoop at each other at the Zoo.

September 04, 2002

Quickly, quickly.

Not yet awake, really - up too late last night on a Writing High, then plagued with digestive unpleasantness in the wee hours. Coffee and Pop-Tart slowly working their alchemical goodness on me. Keeping fingers crossed the slow day it looks to be will indeed come to pass.

Weekend full of fun initials - SPXpo, and JBE, and hopefully becoming MIA by the end of it just to get over the DTs. Jeff arrives sometime in the next few days, to temporarily reclaim his post as Corruptor of All (and thus usurping me from it for a little while). And Pat and Bernice are supposed to be getting in sometime Saturday - huzzah! Life is good.

I've been remiss in my correspondence lately. I owe Spyder a letter. I owe Maya a long-overdue missive of some kind, or at least a progress report. Heaven knows I need to write Andrew. So much love to spread around, so little time.

Speaking of which - back to the Machine. More later.

August 30, 2002

One hour and counting till the three-day weekend, which I doubt will be filled with backyard barbecuing and am very sure will be filled with slack, slack, slack. Whiling away the last stretch of the week proper listening to Liz Fraser singing about . . . um, whatever it is that she infuses with such sweetly melodic ambiguity. And, from time to time, actually doing work.

Not a bad week, all things considered, in the rosy glow of hindsight and it being good and over. Bloody tired, though. I need a Guinness. Though at this point I'd settle for . . . well, just about anything dark and bitter and made from grain. A loaf of pumpernickel comes to mind.

Obviously, I've been doing Responsible Things for too long and my brain has turned to crab paste.

No FARSCAPE tonight, nor on subsequent Fridays for some time to come, from what the ads say. AAAAAAAAAH! AAAAAAAAAAAAAH!! This is not good. I require reruns. Dammit, Sci-Fi Channel, you're really starting to piss me off now. Since when did the 'Scapers become not cool enough to provide a weekly fix to? Ach. Feh.

I shall just have to console myself with an extra helping of cartoons. So there.

Wheee! Twenty minutes and I walk away from all this paper. Huzzah! Quality Control that, motherfucker.

August 29, 2002

Staying late at work, second night in a row. Gaah. One of those weeks, as it turned out.

Looking back over my last few posts, it was distressing to see how much I talk about work lately and not fun things. Not so much fun on the internal landscape these several days. Not much writing getting done either, which I suspect is far from coincidence.

I need a vacation.

Meanwhile, I sit here next to Disturbing Land and clock up the OT, watching all the pretty little invoices scroll down the screen to Release Heaven. Jesus God, there are lots of them.

Scan scan scan scan scan scan scan.

Outside is chilly and rainish and early Autumn-like. I so wish I had an overcoat today. I could truly be Byronic and melancholy for the walk home that way. Right now I'm just another sad fat slacker with a bad ponytail; with the Coat, I could unleash my special Goth powers. But no such foresight this morning.

Oooh, there went the last batch. Back on my head, then.

* * *

There we go. Almost done now. Not so bad after all.

Aaaah. Tomorrow's Friday. Boy, am I glad, too.

Three days of relaxation! Whatever shall I do with myself? Not get up early, Heaven knows.

Tired now. Going home.

August 26, 2002

Woohoo! Just got my brand-new business cards, with my actual current title on 'em. And this time they say "Dan" and not that damn name only God and my mom call me. If they said "Document Imaging Specialist - Super Genius" they'd actually be perfect.

Still got my phone number wrong, though. Which is just as well - the day something like that doesn't get bolluxed up in some creative way is the day they come in and find me keeled over into my Lean Pockets. And, hey, less dumbass phone calls for me.

Odd what you get excited about in this line of work. (And Spyder, let this be an object lesson to you - you were right. Stay the hell away from cubicles. Even if it means learning to draw women with boobs that look like dollar-store rubber balls so you can work for Image Comics; for gods' sake, you don't wanna end up like me.)

And no, gentle readers, today isn't near as bad as I anticipated, for all that I didn't manage to get started with my real actual official job till about the halfway mark. Not the Mondayest Monday I've ever endured, certainly.

Back to't, then.
A truly lovely weekend celebrating Stacy's birthday (today she turned, ah, twenty-nine and a bit). Some very dodgy steaks notwithstanding, we had a wonderfully quiet and romantic evening at home, with lemon cake and what in a Victorian novel would be a number of asterisks. Ahem.

Last night was what might be thought of as the celebration proper, going out to the Brickskeller with Matt and Caren and the Marthas ("Oh my god - there are no straight people at this table") and having what I don't doubt was way too much fun for way too long. Their Buffalo Burger is every bit as good as I remember (BUFFAALLLOOOOO!), and good with Guinness, as though anything isn't. (I do have to wonder what it says about me that I go into a place where I can get any beer in the world and order a Guinness. Hmmm.) The high point of the evening, though, was when Matt discreetly pointed out to me that our waitress had a barbell in her right nipple - so, of course, next time she comes back I'm looking to confirm this, and I hear her ask me if I want a refill on my Coke just in time to realize I've been totally busted staring at her tits. Wonder if she goes through that a lot, or if I just came off as being a pervert of an especially high caliber.

Would that Jeff had been there. Well, on the other hand - perhaps not.

So now I'm winding down the weekend, having just watched MISSION HILL and savoring that "Dan, this was very nearly your life" feeling that comes with each episode, indulging myself in a pipe and what might be thought of as a poor man's White Russian (no vodka, so not so much "virgin" as "only gives blowjobs"). Wondering what all my far-flung friends are up to tonight, hoping they're all safe in their beds. Oidche mhear, my darlings. Murphy watch over you all.

Me, I'm headed for the couch, to spend my last waking half-hour or so tonight in rapt contemplation of AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE and the bottom of a glass. Oh, I hope tomorrow will be more fun than I think it will. 'Cause I have a bad feeling it's gonna be one of those NO EXIT kinda Mondays. Gaaahh.

Well, whatever. They all have to end sometime.

August 22, 2002

The Littlest Gallucci, Nicholas Pheilshifter, made his grand entrance at 7:18 this morning in Rochester, NY, weighing in at 7 lbs 15 oz, in blatant violation of the Law of Wednesday Births governing the male progeny of our line.

And there was much rejoicing.

Welcome to the Big Room, Nick. I hope you like it here.

August 20, 2002

Thought for the day: "At least it's not goddamn Monday anymore."

I'm . . . weary. Not tired as such, or depressed, or stressed out. Just weary. In need of a Guinness and a big fat Te Amo and something frou-frou with chocolate and hazelnut in it. Would love to just go home, put on THUNDER PERFECT MIND, read something cool and diverting. And perhaps I shall, in a few brief hours.

Seems the stars are right for a SANDMAN revisitation, as I've been reading 'em all out of order again for like two weeks now. Saving SEASON OF MISTS for the fall, though. And, oddly enough, it has been inspiring rather than discouraging to my own little comics-writing endeavor. So, thanks, Neil.

Roight. Speaking of things whose time has come, it's off to Headology for me. Here we go, out to brave the heat.

August 16, 2002

Ai ya! HUGE fucking day of Document Imaging today - those invoice processors were busy little goddamn beavers yesterday. Nonetheless, I have all but conquered it now, and still had time for some stuffa-you-face at the Employee Appreciation Picnic. So now I'm full AND tired. AND sick of looking at invoices.

Scan, scan. Scan, scan.

The good news is that I made some real, genuine headway on the script last night. It's good stuff so far, and more or less working. I hope the trend continues.

So glad it's Friday. Not a long week, as these things go, but I'm ready for the end of it, and some Farscape and slacking. And maybe, while I'm at it, something spicy and Chinese.

In the home stretch now, though.

August 15, 2002

Last night went pretty well, actually, as far as getting the updates on my website taken care of; there's some fine new stuff in there, though the fiction desperately needs some new blood yet. We'll see how it goes over the next coupla days, as I have this script still hanging over me and whatnot. It's been more of a challenge to think in that way than I initially foresaw.

Bizarre office picnic-thing coming up tomorrow, which is going to end up being a show-up-for-the-food type of deal if the last two years were any indicator. August is a stupid, crappy time to hold an outdoor event - I imagine I won't be the only one walking around in a bit of a wilt, one pink lemonade away from utter heat-death, hoping I don't have to do something brutal and colorful to the Good Humor man for running out of Neopolitan bars. We'll see. As far as Employee Appreciation Days go, some part of me feels the whole thing would be better accomplished with a tall Honey Brown and a Borders gift card, but that's probably just me.

On the other hand, I could get lucky and win some marvelous toy they're giving away. I mean, hell, I scored with the Master Shake Air Freshener - maybe I'm on a roll.

August 14, 2002

Spent a fun couple of hours at a poetry reading last night, making that my first in about four years - which feels very weird, to have gone so long without saying those words in front of strangers. But my work was met with much praise and good feeling, and that's something. I feel . . . capable again.

And now I need to finish some stuff before next month, so I can keep in the ring. Inspiration's a mixed blessing.

Tonight, I think, my project will be the Updating of the Website, which is so long overdue that I can't remember who gets tied up. But there's a handful of items whose time has come to get thrown out into the great churning Yetzirah of the 'net, I think. And then the project will be the Writing of the Damn Comic Script, or likely the Staring at the Screen For Hours Like a Moron. Erm. It's a tough gig, this being brilliant.

And meanwhile, we're all waiting for my cousin Rifka's baby, due . . . well, anytime now. I've been trying since December to figure out what this will make me, with no real success, as I'm not familiar enough with the Ranks of Cousinage to know how to place this poor kid, or if he's removed, or what. With some sense of presumptuousness, I shall think of myself as an Uncle, and let it go at that until corrected.

Ah, young Nicholas, what an odd bunch of people you'll soon find yourself among, trying to figure out how the hell to get along with us. You have my sympathy, lad.

August 02, 2002

Wooch. What a se'ennight it's been.

I have indeed survived another year of general peace-love-and-debauchery out on Birdsong Hill, which wrapped as of last Sunday, and was very good. I now have the year to recover, and prepare my repertoire for Swampstock X. Yowza. Three hundred and fifty-odd days to find out if I have what it takes to be part of an acoustic prog duo, if I get off my ass and write the damn songs. Time, that bastard, will tell.

On the other hand, Tuesday marked Today is the First Day of the Rest of My Keeping My Big Mouth Shut From Now On. It seems I'm a piss-poor matchmaker after all. Oh, well - the whole thing spiralled entirely out of its intended shape rather quickly, I'm afraid, from a simple potential hook-up for the weekend to something that involved Emotions and whatnot. Lot of strange intensity. What the fuck was I thinking, anyway?

In happier news, it was very very cool to hook up with Patrick and Bernice after all this time (like, upwards of a decade - Ai ya, do I feel old) and find that I actually did turn into the kind of person that gets to hang around with cool people. Of course, I promptly got home and lost the bit of paper that had all their contact info on it (having placed it very carefully in some safe place that I'm damned if I can recall now) - so, Pat & Bernie, if you're reading this, call me or drop a line. We have much yet to discuss.

I'm working my way through SILVERLOCK these days, simply because it seems like one of those books I ought to have read, and it's pretty good so far. At just under halfway through, it's not quite the world-shattering revelatory give-this-to-all-your-friends experience Niven and Pournelle and so forth speak of in their introductions, but then they had to get by in a world without SANDMAN, which seems to be filling many of the same needs for the current generation.

Haven't done any writing myself for waaaay too long. Hope to remedy that on the weekend.

July 25, 2002

Wild blue yonder, here we come.

I stand now at a mere fraction of an hour away from being On The Road, ready for Swampstockin'. And I'm not even taking near the insane amount of stuff I'm usually inclined to, though Stacy might disagree. (The klong yaw's always an awkward fit. It's hard to travel light with a good-sized klong yaw.) And I'm doing the World Premiers of two, not one but two, brand-new songs. Well, sort of new anyway. Newly completed, like.

I wonder if, as we approach the WV border, I'll be able to not think of Rose's line from GOOD INTENTIONS: "Don'cha see, John? It's you what makes 'em bad."

Anyway, it's off and away with me to the Land of Summer's Twilight. Back in four to the mundane world.

July 23, 2002

Happy, happy! We are on for the all-weekend Swampstock, after only a little wrangling. That's two, count 'em, two four-day weeks on the heels of each other. Whatever shall I do with myself? Otter dance of exultation and joy!

But no Tony this year. Bummer bummer bummer. He says he will definitely absolutely make next year, for the 10th anniversary. He'd better. It won't be the same without those groovy prog licks on "Master van Rijn." Profound sigh. Otter dance of melancholy and resignation.

AND I get to deal with this whole pimping situation, which there's just no way I seem to be able to come off looking good in. I don't think that angle occured to me back when it seemed like a good idea to introduce single friends to each other. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for chemistry anyway, or at least alchemy. Who knows - maybe a furry hat with ostrich feathers will turn out to be my thing.

During some fit of literary masochism, seeing as I just don't have enough books I'm about halfway through, I started PERDIDO STREET STATION the other night, and I'll tell you what - that China Mieville is one twisted dude. I think it was the bizarre eroticization of the bug-headed chick that tipped me off. Damn fine book so far, though. I needed a break from wanking the hell all over NOBILIS anyway.

Er, back to work now.

July 11, 2002

A moment of contemplative vainglory, imagining myself in a future as a famous author, and having it be revealed that once I wrote an instruction manual for the document imaging system for the George Washington University. Chaos ensues as mad fans pursue the elusive monograph, which may or may not still be extant. A dubious copy sells for upwards of $100 on the internet. Soon enough it becomes part of the general legendry surrounding me, with much debate over whether or not the manual is apocryphal, and I, secluded in my cabin in Massachusetts, carefully avoiding either confirming or denying the rumors in interviews. The mystery will be unsolved even with my passing.

Well, come on. Wouldn't we all go nuts to hear that Neil Gaiman in his youth wrote, say, a programming textbook? Wouldn't copies suddenly appear on Ebay and be fought furiously over? Stranger things have happened.

A fellow can dream.

July 10, 2002

Last night, despite rainy dreariness and some marginally dodgy sesame chicken from Wok Gourmet, proved fairly productive; I got in a few hours of work on the Ligottiesque story suggested by the recent TLO discourse, and pondered the future of Jenny Haniver, Orwn Dvarra and a handful of like creations. All was well. I find it's quite useful to have the thumbnail-size version of the Jenny Haniver portrait Spyder did for me (which even at that scale has personality in spades) staring up at me from below the monitor with that sardonic look in her eye, the panatella at the corner of her mouth trailing blue smoke, looking as if she's about to say, "Okay, genius, time to put down the iced chai and start typing." Brilliant. Thanks, Spyder.

Solitude helps. Or at least it allows me to play Current 93 with no fear of offense. THUNDER PERFECT MIND is every bit as good an album as they say. Boy, was I grooving on "Hitler as Kalki" for the trippy stuff last night.

All this while Stacy is off learning the fine art of editing, which I think she's better at than she gives herself credit for. Bit of a double-edged sword though. I don't think I can hand her something I've written ever again without feeling like I'm eight and showing off my first Tolkien pastiche. "Oooh, Johnny, very nice. And do you think you'd like to become a writer someday?" Gaaahh.

And now the frelling AC's on the fritz again. Any more of this and it really will be funny. In a desperate, black-humor, defeated-by-inanimate-objects Ionesco kind of way.

I do enjoy having the place to myself once a week. Last weekend was very therapeutic, having lots of me-space for a few days. Got to watch odd movies, read CORALINE and NOBILIS and the new LUCIFER, and discover a recipe for Beef in Oyster Sauce (which could be summed up as, "Cut up some beef and vegetables. Cook the beef and stir-fry it with the vegetables. Open a bottle of oyster sauce and pour it all over that motherfucker." Pragmatic folk, the Chinese).

But I hear tell I very nearly got a visit from my brother, and that would've been good too. I'm easy to please. Especially when it's for someone for whom "straightening up" means "make sure there's at least one clean glass and try and remember to shove the porn under the couch." So dammit, Tony, next time just show up.

Which reminds me, I need to practice "Ziggy Stardust" for Swampstock in a couple of weeks. A bit sad about probably having an abbreviated stay this year, but duty calls, so what the fuck. That's a day or two I can spend getting in some quality slack this fall.

That's all I got for now. More as I think of it.

July 09, 2002


I've been reminded recently that I haven't exactly been keeping up with this lately. (I haven't kept up with my haiku journal, either, if that makes any difference.) Fair enough. I suppose six months (!!) is quite enough of a hiatus, or sabbatical, for anyone.

So I managed to shake the funk afflicting my writing that hung around all winter, and produced a handful of stories I'm fairly proud of. Nothing up on the site yet, but, hell, there's only so much time in the day.

Not much else to add here, except that I'm back. The public may now rejoice.

January 02, 2002

I have, indeed, survived the winter holidays, not without a slight case of the blues resulting from the end of my ten-day vacation from having to think much about anything important. I could relate all that happened in that time, but it risks being tedious. Suffice to say I helped to make sure the sun would come back, and had a lovely Christmas with family and friends, and a rollicking good New Year's Eve, and saw LORD OF THE RINGS three times. I couldn't have asked for better.

I did get the rather odd (but good) experience of running into my high-school ex-girlfriend in a Chinese restaurant in Parkersburg, WV just before returning home, and only a handful of hours after thinking, "Gosh, I wonder what Becky's up to these days." She's doing quite well, as it turns out, having graduated law school and gotten married (and now a fellow member of the Hyphenate Club, I was pleased to see). And she seems happy, which has been a back-of-my-mind concern for a while, though she was certainly on the way there by the time she threw my bachelor party nearly four (!!) years ago. So we exchanged all the important info and I got a very nice, very touching email from her telling me how much she's always valued my friendship, which made my morning. We had such a strange, angsty relationship when we were teenagers, not that most people don't. I'm terribly glad to see that she's become even more the kind of person I want to hang around with than ever, and I'm glad we're in touch now. Sometimes people don't take up their right place in your life until you quit trying to be in love with them. So it goes.

And I'm back in the grind of things now, trying to get my mind right for getting some writing done, which I don't quite feel up for yet. I'm still . . . drained a bit from this post-holiday melancholy, and the brutal cold, and fending off what seems to be a sinus headache with copious and varied pain medicine. AND figuring out why I can't seem to turn off the closed-captioning on my new DVD player. Oh, the frustrations of these miraculous toys!