December 31, 2003

Last Chance to Evacuate

Little over an hour left of '03 now. I've spent the evening hanging out with my lovely wife and Caren, getting pleasantly buzzed, having a laid-back New Year's Eve. Laid-back is good.

A little melancholy, a little relieved. So it goes.

Still, pretty good year.

Much love to you all.

December 29, 2003

Twenty-Nine, Thirty, Thirty-One

Three days left of '03. Weird.

Good Christmas. Especially good post-Christmas get-together out on the Hill with Jeff and Matt and Patrick and Bernice. Much wine was drunk, and certain plans were made.

It was nice coming home to our own house, but everything there is to do is more than a little overwhelming. It still feels like home-in-progress. Frustrating sort of limbo, being half moved in. I just want to unpack and be effing done with it.

On top of this (or possibly because of it), the post-holiday blahs have set in early. This is a phenomenon so consistent that I wonder if there shouldn't be some way of actively honoring it rather than just enduring it. I think a lot of predictable depression and melancholy might be weathered better by not pretending it isn't going to happen.

Anyway, that's how it stands in the year's denoument. At least the days get longer from here.

December 23, 2003

The Grey Havens

Well, I'm off for three days to WV, where the missus and I will be visiting family and doing the Xmas cheer thing. Happy holidays to all and sundry.

Updates on the weekend, when I return. Till then - slán. Tip back a cup of something warm and lovely in the meantime, and here's hoping you get lots of presents.
Dan v. Inner Critic, Part XIX

Just as my courage begins to be steeled, this. Dammit.


December 22, 2003

Come the New Sun

Happy Solstice to all and sundry - sources disagree whether it was last night or tonight, but in any case, lighting a candle or two in honor of Sol Invictus can't hurt.

Patrick writes more on this over at newly-bloggified Thing in a Jar. Go forth and comment.

For my own thoughts on this, I wrote up a midwinter blessing three years ago that pretty much sums it all up for me:

The long night is almost here. As each of us prepares for our personal celebrations of the winter holidays, let me send all of you my thoughts and blessings - a bit of cheer to keep with you at the winter's darkest hour.

Remember that, whatever holiday we honor, sacred or secular, festive or ceremonious, we also gather together to keep light in the darkness, reminding us that day and warmth and light return, and that death and bleak winter are necessary for the turning of the Wheel. Remember this in the colors of the season:

Remember it in deep red, color of blood and wine, for the sharing of life and joy and hearth with your best-loved, and the ties of hearts' blood and shared cups binding you together; and for the fire of vitality coursing in you and around you, even at the darkest of times.

Remember it in green, color of life and the earth, for the tenacity of evergreen trees in the cold winter, for the promise of summer's return in its time, and for the web of life that ties us all to each other and the world.

Remember it in silver and gold, for the richness of lives filled with good things, material and otherwise; and for light, sun's gold and moon's silver and the million glittering stars, honoring that which both lights your path and awakens you to the vastness and glory of creation.

And remember it in white, the pure white of new snow and winter skies; the white of blank canvases for new beginnings in a new year; of transcendence and spirit and intangible things; and of the pure light of the returning sun, about to be reborn and ascend, full of cleansing and possibility.

To all of you, my love and best wishes. May the coming year bring you richness and joy, and may you be merry and in good company always. You are in my thoughts.

If I don't get another chance to say so, happy holidays to you all, and my love. Keep the fires lit tonight.

December 17, 2003

I am the Middle Finger of Sauron

To all of you who have already seen (or are now playing hooky in order to see) Return of the King on opening day, I have only this to say:

You suck. You suck. You suck.

That is all.

December 16, 2003

Last Night on Maudlin Street

Well, now it's done. We moved the last of our stuff out of the old apartment last night and said our goodbyes to our old home. It was a bit sad - that place was ours for five years, and it's hard to let it go and move on, even though our new home is quite wonderful. Farewells are hard, better place or no.

Weirdly, it looked much smaller without all our stuff in it. Partly I attribute this to Stacy's superior natural sense of feng shui, though I also suspect our presence had something to do with it. I don't know if that makes any sense or not.

Anyway, it's done now. Our last few hours in our last (let's hope) apartment. Turned in the keys at the office on the way home. I hope it's as good to its next owners as it was to us.

Stacy's not feeling so well today, and came home halfway through the day. We've both been tired and stressed, adjusting to a new sleep schedule and a long commute; I'm not surprised something nasty took the opportunity when her defenses were down. Send some good energy her way.

And, finally, a small development: Thing in a Jar now has a cover page. Just a logo so far, but I'm all about setting the stage for style over substance. (Indeed, why stop now?)

December 14, 2003

"A Place Not Found on Any Map"

So - we are now moved into the new place, as of yesterday (moved as in "almost all our stuff is now here," not as in "unpacked and living like normal people," but so it goes).

Friday night it felt like it was never going to happen; last night it felt like it was hardly real. We are now residents of Edgewood, in our own house - too weird for words. But it already feels like home, even surrounded by boxes. I think this place wanted to be taken care of, and it's welcoming us in.

Our cable got installed this morning (Hooray!), allowing me to have an opportunity to blog and whatnot, and fueling the fires of procrastination for our unpacking efforts. I'm okay with that, though. It's Sunday, we're home, all is well.


December 11, 2003

Under Deconstruction

Those of you who have been checking in on Tony's blog may have seen that there's some coolness in the works, in the form of the up-and-coming website Patrick's been kicking off for the three of us to do projects and weirdness and whatnot on. The fun will commence at as soon as we all get some time to devote to it.

(Credit for that name goes, ultimately, to Spyder, her with the disturbing craft projects and all, whose reaction to our newly-christened domain was "I love you people.")

There's nothing there yet but a line of virtual bumblebee tape, but Watch This Space for updates. And expect a great deal of loopy strangeness coming from that quarter in the months ahead.

December 10, 2003

Black Tape on a Blue Girl

I noted with some wide-eyed shock that yesterday's new Suicide Girl was a Porcupine Tree fan from Long Island with blue-streaked hair who goes by Angel.

Dammit, Spyder, if you can't keep these people inside your head... well, I'm not going to be held responsible for the consequences, is all I'm sayin'.

I post this in the full understanding that I have totally busted myself. "What were you up doing last night, sweetie?" "Um, packing boxes..."
Suffer a Sea-Change

I feel about nine times better today than two days ago. Some emergency therapy helped, as did the support of all you good folks. Thank you; it means the world.

I think a lot of it has to do with this week of transition - the big change and all the hundred things that have to get done for it to happen on schedule. In a few days all that will be over, though.

I went up to the new place Monday night and felt so good about walking in (even empty, it seemed to welcome me home) that a whole lot of my anxiety dissipated. Plus, it's hard to feel too sad standing under a clear cold December sky on the night of a bright full moon. I think something wanted to let me know that it was All Going to Be Okay.

And even before that, I was driving up listening to The Highbury Working and "The Angel Highbury" came on just as the lights of Baltimore appeared on the horizon, which I took for some sort of Sign. Listened to the Tallis Scholars sing "Spem in alium" on the way home (very possibly the most beautiful piece of music written by anyone, ever) and felt very much that all shall be well.

Of course, what I really want to be doing is writing, the withdrawal from which is affecting me in some very odd ways. But I suppose I'd rather suffer separation anxiety from my novel than be sick of looking at the damn thing, which sort of happened last year. Does this make me a Real Writer now? Seems a bit of a mixed blessing. But I guess I knew that already.

December 08, 2003

Down Here

Black mood continues apace. It's getting hard to tell if it has to do with something real, something imaginary, something real but minor that I've inflated to tragic proportions, or just the fucking weather. But in any case, I've been bleakly unhappy for nearly a week now, and see no end in sight.

Also really did something unpleasant to my back this weekend, for that extra dose of crappiage. "Throbbing" is not always a good word, you know.

Whine whine whine bitch grumble moan.


Even though high
I am blue
blue as sky
cobalt hue
and if the sun falls
I fall too
to the sea
seeking you

and if extinguished I'd be happier
than alone on fire and free
would you then stay
down here
with me

And that's about it. Off to sulk in private now. Aren't I a beacon of light? Thanks, I'll be here all week.

December 04, 2003

The Hook

This has not been a good week, for a variety of reasons, none of which I'll bother you folks with. The upshot has been a two-day cloud of despair that's been hanging over me and, among other things, resurfacing all my doubts and fears about the worth of my work.

Well, no, that's not it. My work is something I feel pretty good about, by and large. My doubts have to do with the suspicion that I am exactly the right combination of neurotic and stubborn to assure that I will never be much more than a talented amateur. Part of me is okay with this. The other part is taking the opportunity to indulge in a bit of self-loathing over what a hugely messed-up dork I am.

(Other people talk about "fear of rejection" in such a way that I always think we mean different things by it, because it seems they mean "it's difficult and hurts my feelings" and I mean "it fills me with soul-crushing, panic-attack-inducing phobic terror." Nothing has ever, ever made this better for me, especially not the notion that, hey, you just have to learn to deal.)

None of which is anyone's problem but mine. Just venting. My apologies. Normal service will resume as soon as we figure out what the fuck that means.

December 02, 2003

Blues of the New Bards

Sometime today, if it hasn't happened already, the link to the right that reads "Dan on MP3" will cease to function.

This is because (note absence of link) is undergoing what in the world of business might be termed a "reorg," which when I went through it meant they fired your ass and made you reapply for your own job. This isn't far afield of that. Which means that, for the nonce, I am a folksinger without an online home. I can't imagine I'll want to go back to when it becomes whatever strange beast it will in its new incarnation; this is only the last and most dramatic of several changes made over the last few years that turned what used to be a great artist-friendly site for exposure and community into something that someone apparently hopes will make them wealthy in a hurry.

It's a damn shame, too, since for me was the means by which I got the single best fan letter I may ever hope to recieve, from Tom Ligotti, in response to my song "Good Tom-Go-Lightly" (which was written about him, and about which he said, among other things, that "it's clear you understand your subject in a way most others never will"; I still get that out and look at it from time to time when I'm having a day of Doubting the Work). I can't imagine I'm the only one to have made a connection like that, which was a reward more real and priceless than any amount of cash I could hope to make from doing what I do. It's very sad that the kind of folks who want to turn online music services (and the artists who contribute to them) into money machines will never, ever get this.

When the insanity of getting into the new house is done with, I'll probably be looking into signing up on, which others have spoken highly of. I actually tried to do this a couple of months ago, and the site thought I already had, which might only mean that my future self is going to come back in time any minute now and give me the password. In any case, I'll update as it happens.

And this will hopefully coincide, too, with some new developments in the way of cool musical projects (which is what you call it when you're two or three guys with computers, because it's hard to think of that as a "band"). But no more of this just yet. As the Crims say - "we'll let you know."
What? No Asian Spice?

It's that time again over at Andy's blog - another list has been posted of proposed candle scents to horrify and amuse. This one may even be better than the last time.

I think Urinal Cake has potential, myself.

November 30, 2003

Whoohoo! Huzzah!

I did it, again. 50,381 words, right under the wire. That's two for two.

If you'd asked me two weeks ago, I'd've had my doubts.

Oh, man. I am one tired novelist now. G'night, all.

November 25, 2003

Sleep Has His House

Went to settlement today for the house in Edgewood. We are now Homeowners. Damn.

It wasn't really scary, even. Just weird to think how fast all this happened - three and a half weeks from "Hey, this one looks nice" to "Sign your name, here are the keys."

We're in the process of packing now, which is almost as much fun as I remember from the last time we did it. We officially move on the 13th, and bid apartment life farewell, one hopes, forever.

Thanks to all you folks who sent your good wishes and congratulations. We're incredibly happy about this - it's a new chapter in our lives, and one we're more than ready to start. And 11/25 is hereby proclaimed House Day.

...Have Pity On the Dead

On a sadder note, Caren's aunt passed away last night after a long battle with cancer. Any love and good wishes sent her way would be much appreciated, I'm sure.

Two and a half years ago, my own aunt and uncle (my mom's two siblings) passed into the Western Lands within six months of each other, and are still missed. It's never easy to say goodbye, no matter what; one of the things about grief is that you never get over it, you just learn to live with it. But you also learn that death is only hard on the living. I don't pretend to have any answers about what happens After, even to comfort myself in loss, but I can say that even feeling that absence gets easier with time. And you come to celebrate life all the more for knowing that it is, inevitably, terminal.

Have pity on the dead
Pray for the dead
Sleep has his house
Sleep has his house
Overwhelm me
Overwhelm me
Sleep has his house
Sleep has his house

Safe journey, Aunt Fran. You will be remembered.

November 23, 2003

Neil Knows

This just posted today in Neil Gaiman's journal, as if just for us struggling final-week NaNoers:

Sometimes lousy writing days are lousy writing days because you're still figuring something out, and you're not quite ready to let yourself know what it is. And sometimes they’re just days when your head doesn’t want to do the thing where anything worthwhile ever seems to make it out of your fingertips.

Wooch. Word.

Off now to see which sort of day I'm about to have.

November 21, 2003

Me and Ray and the Big Red Guy

At long last, the trailer for the upcoming Hellboy movie is now online.

Cue Dorkgasm.

I found out about this when Spyder both sent the link and called last night, sounding like she'd just been laid. (And in fact, after I'd sat and watched it with her on the line, one of us said "I need a cigarette," but damned if I can remember which of us it was. We are at times the Geek with Two Heads to a frightening extent, la mia sorella and I.) I think it was decided somewhere in there that I'll probably be trekking up to New York for that premier in the spring - it was, after all, partially a mutual love of Mignola that brought about that particular meeting of the minds a year and a half ago over email, when I got my first unsolicited fan art for a Jenny Haniver story I posted on Fantasybits along with a complimentary note that there was something a bit Hellboy-like about my tale, to which I responded that that probably wasn't a coincidence, and one of the Great Correspondences followed soon after.

And even now, as I sweat and labor over Jenny's exploits in the current NaNovel, I take inspiration from Mike Mignola's wonderful creation - especially in the knowledge that you can write a hero who's a big indefuckingstructible Mary Sue and, if you play your cards right, make him (or her) so much fun that nobody gives a damn.

All of which reminds me that I really need to put "One of Those Nights" online sometime, considering it also references a couple of other folks in our leetal community (not to mention John Constantine, Nobilis, Neil Gaiman, and Tom Ligotti, among others, and uses both "synchronicities" and "pugilist" in the lyrics - I really need to do an annotated version if I expect anyone at all to keep up). Not on, though, which is "restructuring" again or some such nonsense soon - maybe IUMA, despite it having seemed to have eaten Tony's page there of late.

Back to the grindstone now - I got pages to go before I sleep.

November 20, 2003

Blogonomicon, Revised and Expanded

Catching up with the rest of us exhibitionists, my big brother Tony now has a blog, which has now been added to the Blogroll at right as well. Whoohoo and huzzah! Hopefully he'll get him some comments one of these days and properly integrate into our online circle o' love.

Also, that same worthy list now has updated its links to reflect the move of Vishal's Restart Twice (now, I should think, misnamed by several steps) to its new home, with camblog-enhanced fun. (I note that the Mumbai train station, at least from the angle there, looks disconcertingly like the MARC train platform right here in Union Station - something I'll be seeing all too much of in the near future - proving that the further abroad you go, the more familiar stuff starts to get. Or something.)

And, as a final update, those of you who, like me, were a bit concerned about the radio silence coming from Andy's direction of late - fear not. I spoke with him last night, and he's alive and well (and hard at work NaNoing), and promises a return to the Blogosphere shortly.

In the meantime, Dork Tower gives us this strange intersection of cosmic spheres. Come to thing of it, that Mr. Kovalic does look awfully sharp in his publicity photos....

November 18, 2003

The Magus at Half a Century

Today is the 50th birthday of Alan Moore, comics revolutionary, magician, musician, writer par excellence, snake-worshipper, and all-around genius. Drink his health in a blood-red cup, and let a chorus of scorpions rise to do him homage; we are lucky, here in Malkuth, to have had him among us. Long may the Mystery have him remain.

Now, there are those who praise Watchmen, and rightly so. And From Hell is a work of towering, staggering dark brilliance; and I have bright hopes for a future where young women (and men) have grown up on the hermetically-charged wonder that is Promethea. And this is not to mention the debt we owe him for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, or the revival of Swamp Thing, or John Constantine. But V for Vendetta was the one that I can really say changed my life and the way I think.

"Anarchy wears two faces, both creator and destroyer. Thus destroyers topple empires; make a canvas of clean rubble where creators can then build a better world. Rubble, once achieved, makes further ruins' means irrelevant. Away with our explosives, then! Away with our destroyers! They have no place within our better world. But let us raise a toast to all our bombers, all our bastards, most unlovely and most unforgivable. Let's drink their health... then meet with them no more."
- V for Vendetta, p. 222

Happy birthday, Alan. My thanks, and many happy returns.

November 17, 2003

"And like this insubstantial pageant faded..."

The Tempest wrapped yesterday, after a fine three-weekend run, having reached its peak of greatness right at the end. Which is as it should be.

I'm sad it's over; it's hard to let it go after all this time. It was a milestone for me. But I got very, very lucky with this one. I had a talented cast who worked hard, and they made me proud. (A crew, too, who were consummate professionals, and who deserve as much applause.) I'll miss them; I'll miss seeing the work they accomplished here. I hope they stay in touch.

At strike yesterday, they presented me with Propero's staff (I was sure Brenden, who put all kinds of love and hard work into making it look properly magickal, was going to quietly adopt it) and a facsimile edition of the First Folio (which is difficult to read without getting flashes of Good Omens, unsurprisingly). I was truly, truly touched. Good people all around.

The Vasty Deep remains somewhat behind schedule, if not as grievously so as before. I broke 18,000 last night what with staying up too late (cue Nils Frykdahl) and at least I'm actually at a place where I think I can make it now. More erotica helped. Kind of nice to know, at least for my poor suffering heroine's sake, that it doesn't turn November but Jenny gets laid. All for the word count, baby, yeah!

Also, take Maija's advice and go watch the teaser trailer for the next Harry Potter movie. It's delicious. It looks like a Ted Naifeh comic come to life, and has Gary Oldman in the Sirius Black role, resembling nothing so much as a Songs from the Wood-era Ian Anderson. Hurrah!

November 13, 2003

"Looks like meat's back on the menu, boys"

Alex sent us this article yesterday, about the apology being given by the villagers of Nabutautau, Fiji to the descendants of the Reverend Thomas Baker for their own ancestors having clubbed and eaten him back when that sort of thing went on more often. They're hoping this will lift what they see as a curse of bad fortunes plaguing the community ever since. I suppose they feel that eating missionaries registers a bit higher on the Evil Meter than just eating your neighbors in the normal run of things, or else all of Fiji would be having "Sorry we boiled your great-great-granddad" parties all over the place, and time for little else.

(I don't know, though - I feel a bit let down by the whole event. Part of me feels like, if there was any poetry in the universe, they'd have gathered all those folks into the village, started to feel the effects of a few rounds of klava, looked around, and said, "Oh, what the hell, for old times' sake. Break out the forks, lads.")

We were in Suva too briefly to go see the Rev. Baker's boot in the Fiji Museum (apparently the only thing left uneaten; waste not, want not), but since we heard that particular nugget of island history I've been wanting to do a Jenny Haniver story set in Fiji, using that incident - one of the few recorded cases of white men being victims of cannibalism, by the way - as the seed idea. I may play with that after The Vasty Deep goes through a rewrite or two.

Speaking of which, since I'm not posting the WIP online this year (first-publication rights, y'know), if you're one of my loyal readers and want to get a load of this travesty while it's still happening, let me know. I won't vouch for the quality of either the plot or the prose, but it does have monsters, and magicians-in-big-coats, so that's good. And I just dropped in the first weird supernatural sex scene last night, right before 10k. Hooray!

November 12, 2003

His Dork Materials

So I took Quiddity (the new laptop) out for a spin last night at the local Starbucks for an hour or so, and it was most excellent; I sat down with my novel-in-progress and a Venti Caramel Macchiato, and left with several hundred new words and about 10,000 Nerd Points. This is the life.

Battery's a bit wonky so far, and not lasting as long as perhaps it ought, but I'm firing it back up at home even as I write this. We'll see how it goes tonight. (Joy!)

In an entirely different subject, I neglected to give the big thumbs-up to Caren yesterday, who's been doing her part lately to make the world safe for unicorns. Whoohoo! Yeah, Miss Mita! You go, girl!

November 11, 2003

Acquire Treasure, Level Up

Last night I got my early Christmas ("and birthday and probably anniversary") present from my lovely wife: a truly kickass laptop, arrived, let's hope, in time to save my floundering NaNovel. (I stand at a woeful, if ominous, 6066 words.) I have the best sweetie evar.

Of course, I spent much of last night putting toys on it rather than writing, slobbering all over myself at the thought of having a portable CD burner.

Do I qualify for the Ubergeek Prestige Class now?

It's now a little over a month until we move. That's just weird. Exciting, too - I'm ready to be in our own place, and feeling suprisingly un-nostalgic about our apartment. It was a cozy little place to live, but five years is long enough.

And last but not least, a belated happy birthday (yesterday) to Neil Gaiman, now 43. Dream on, dreamer. Omnia mutantes...

November 03, 2003

My Life as Little, Big

Those of you who have followed Stacy's blog for the last couple of months may know that we've been in the market for a house. Amid the chaos of the past weekend, we looked at one and made an offer, and found out today that it got accepted.

If all goes well with inspections and such, we'll be living in Edgewood, just north of Baltimore, by Christmas. It's beautiful.

Special thanks to my mom, who went with Stacy on Saturday's house-hunting expedition and helped with the first look at that sucker, and to Spyder, who was good enough to sit through the brain-numbing process of paperwork with us in the role of, apparently, our good-luck charm.

Huzzah! Huzzah!

October 29, 2003

"The baseless fabric of this vision..."

Okay, so my projected schedule was a little off. I'm commencing with the wigging-out now.

It's been one of those tech weeks. I'm still missing costumes and pieces of costumes. We have tonight off, and one rehearsal left, and my poor actors are crawling towards the end of their patience. Me too.

Oh, please, please, you gods of artifice, don't let my play look like ass.

I was good, though. I didn't lose my shit, I didn't come home and get drunk and listen to the Smiths, I didn't take it out on random pedestrians. I understand that this sort of thing happens, and that it's better for it to happen now than, say, tomorrow. So I retain at least a workable grasp on my sanity.

On the other hand, as my Faithful Assistant Peter pointed out, this is probably why Orson Welles was all fucked up.

Sigh. In a couple of days the question will be moot, and I'll be surrounded by my adoring and lovely friends, and I can set this puppy free to be whatever gem or disaster it's destined to become. At which point cue the drinking, either celebratory or obliterating, and seeing the new year in with a proper pagan hurrah, not to mention at some point sneaking in hammering out about 3000 or so words of The Vasty Deep. "And all shall be well, or not."

Elephant head.

Elephant head.

I worship a god with an elephant head.

I think I feel better already.

October 28, 2003

"Gotta go with 'Fuck it,' Bob"

Patrick, apparently furthering some dark Romany plot to get me to spit Seattle's Best coffee all over GWU's fine computers, sent me this this morning. Proceed with caution.

October 27, 2003

Two delightful items arrived in the mail on Saturday. One was my copy of Sandman: Endless Nights come home safe from NYC, which is as lovely as promised. I read the first three stories last night during a thunderstorm. That was pretty cool.

The other was Current 93's Emblems: The Menstrual Years, which I'd decided a couple of months ago that my collection was incomplete without, right about the same time it became unfrickin'available everywhere. (Strangefortune say they have it, but they lie.) I finally managed to track down a used copy, for a bit more than I'd hoped to pay for it, and it is now mine. It's lovely as well. I've been listening to it at work this morning, thinking how having a version of "They Return To Their Earth" that doesn't have a weird skip in the middle from whoever posted it on Audiogalaxy is worth the wait.

After rehearsal Saturday (a wet tech that went about a hundred times smoother than I had any hope it would), I was off to the Jim's Big Ego CD-release show and picked up They're Everywhere!, the brand-new album, and you should too. It's got great stuff on it, lots of which we Egomaniacs have been waiting to have on an actual CD for the last three years or so. Plus the cover art was done by Jim's Uncle Carmine (as I told Jim, I wish I had an Uncle Carmine - I feel inadequately Italian, somehow) in the style he used to do when the Infantino name meant comics.

The Tempest opens in four frickin' days. That's unreal. I alternate between perfect Zen calm and moments of panicked wigging-out on this. It hasn't even quite sunk in yet. I'll be fun on Thursday night, I bet.

October 23, 2003

Nine days to go; Inner critic goes apeshit

Been following, and occasionally throwing my two-bits'-worth into the void of, an interesting discussion on Making Light about fantasy genre cliches. It seems to be turning into the sort of thing I should tune out so close to November 1 (much like "The Well-Tempered Plot Device," which is one of the most snobbishly nasty things ever written on genre fiction - so much so that I won't link it here, so Google it your damn self if you're curious), but I'm a masochist, so what the fuck.

Sick since Monday night. Good old stress and change in weather. I have so far managed to avoid throwing hellish tantrums at my actors for not knowing their lines (and truth be told, the improvement between Tuesday and Wednesday rehearsals was both vast and encouraging), so that's alright. But I have been loopy and out of it. More so than usual, perhaps. As an upside, giving notes like "Prospero, hang onto your staff while you're being disrobed" is even funnier than it normally is.

Thankfully, I did get my half-day off on the 31st to attend to all the out-of-town peeps drifting in for Opening Night. So if you're one of those folk, I'll have from noon-thirty or so on to coordinate hooking up. Huzzah!

Oh, and the latest Last Dark Art is now up.

They have reached
The blue gates of death
They are at
The blue gates of death
They shall go through
The blue gates of death

Don't mind me. I'm not even here.

October 20, 2003

Wherein Shakespeare and I Immanentize the muthafuckin Eschaton

So it's not enough that during production of The Tempest the area has been plagued by Hurricane Isabel and at least two other nights of insane storms; I just ticked off the list in my head and realized that opening night will bring together in my fair city:
my mom and Swampi
Patrick and Bernice
and Jeff McCrady and his assorted minions
...on Hallofuckingween.

I tell you, the resulting psychic shockwave of this convergence is bound to have repercussions. If sunken R'lyeh rises out of the Pacific and Great Cthulhu wakes from his slumber to stride across the waves and start eating Los Angeles, I will not be in the least surprised.

And in the case of L.A., not all that sad.

Stacy and I were alloting bedspace tonight for that weekend. I said, "Well, Spyder won't be a problem. We can put her on a shelf, or pull out the sweater drawer."

I am so goin' to hell.

October 17, 2003

A long awaited update to Full Fathom Five has just gone up.

Exhausted. Stressed. But happy. The Tempest and NaNoWriMo both start in two weeks. Fortunately, I'll be able to more or less let go of the one as I dive right into the other.


October 07, 2003

Living in a transdimensional phone box... Like ya do...

Courtesy of Patrick, check this out.

Running jumping fighting Daleks.

It seems to me that the only reason not to do this would be for fear of geeks spontaneously combusting with joy. So I'll be eagerly awaiting more news.

Maybe Spyder can ask him herself when she sees him tomorrow night, the lucky wee beeotch.

October 02, 2003

"Don'tcha see, John? It's you what makes 'em bad"

Frank Beaton in Las Vegas City Life tells it like it is about comics, Hollywood, and Constantine. Give 'em hell, Frank!

The Watchmen movie's starting to sound pretty good, innit?
As you value your sanity, do not go here.

... Dammit, you went anyway, didn't you? After I told you. You get what you deserve.

October 01, 2003

It's October 1. And, like a moron, I've signed up again.

Anyone who donates me a functioning laptop by November 1 gets written into the novel.

September 30, 2003

Weirdness abounds. Someone nicked the plates from our car yesterday while it sat in the parking garage. I didn't learn this until I staggered home from rehearsal last night; Stacy had to deal with this nonsense from the get-go of coming off the Metro. (She stayed home today as well to get our new plates and so forth form the DMV. I hear it went alright, and we're more or less fine now, if a bit frustrated.)

Stacy says the car is cursed. I don't know. We've certainly had more than our share of car-related troubles in the last couple of years: rear-ended twice (one of which put her in surgery), a break-in, numerous trips to the shop, lots of parking-lot dents and scrapes, and now this. Still, for the most part, lots of this stuff wasn't nearly as bad as it could've been. We got broken into, but lost nothing of great value; we had to have repair work done, but discovered it before taking a road trip; we had our license plates stolen, but not the car itself. With the exception of Stacy's back injury (which was very serious indeed), most of what we've endured has been inconveniences, not disasters.

Am I a Polyanna for trying to make the best of all this? Maybe, maybe. It would be a fair accusation, I suppose. But I don't see the value in underlining the negativity of it all either. Two years ago, having our car broken into was an afterthought to a year that had already brought losing two members of my family, then enduring the accident and my wife's surgery, and finally September 11. I think I've got a good picture of what a real tragedy is, and this ain't it.

Robert Fulghum has an essay in one of his books about this. It's the one where he says that life is lumpy - but a lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat, and a lump in a breast are three different orders of magnitude. It's good to be aware of which one you're coping with.

(None of which is to say that it isn't a big pain in the ass to stand in line at the DMV on a Tuesday morning because some miscreant got a wild hair. Which is something that I didn't, admittedly, have to do today. I love you, sweetie.)

Anyway, I suppose the point of all this is that I still feel like life is good today, and that I've been blessed with good fortune. For all the reasons I have to be happy, I can endure an inconvenience or two. So it goes. So it goes.

(Nonetheless, if anyone out there has a good way of de-jinxing a car, let me know...)

September 27, 2003

"Desire's a terrible thing, but I rely on mine"

It's Recommendations Night here on the Danblog - I've been listening to the Sundays, who I became a fan of eleven or twelve years ago by way of Andy, and thinking about how so much of the stuff in our lives we get from exposure to by our friends. (Also, tangentially, it made me contemplate the implications of being nostalgic about the music of the early '90s. At some point I must have gotten over learning that Harriett Wheeler was already married, but I don't recall when. I wonder what my 17-year-old self would make of that?) In any case, here are a few recent discoveries of mine:

First off, a heads-up to all my gamer peeps - Eden Studios has made their excellently cool Witchcraft RPG available as a free download, so go get it. It's spooky and Gothy and loads of fun - imagine putting Hellblazer and The Craft and Clive Barker and Lovecraft monsters in a big blender with a dash of Foucault's Pendulum and a Changelings soundtrack. Yeah, that kind of kewl. And there's even a way you can play using Tarot cards, for that extra dose of occult-nifty. And now there's no excuse not to have it. Bright Blessings, indeed.

In musical (but equally spooky) realms, Live at St. Olave's - recorded from the Current 93/Antony and the Johnsons 2002 London concert, which I picked up last weekend at Kim's in NY - is pretty good, if all too short. It's my first real exposure to Antony and the Johnsons, who do some weird and lovely stuff to judge by this; their second of three tracks on this CD is a musical rendition of Poe's "The Lake" that is certainly both of those things. Antony has a really gorgeous voice - angelically so - and the songs on here reward repeat listenings. C93 also do three tracks here, one of which is a truly incredible short version of "Sleep Has His House" that takes my breath away every time I hear it, and a performance of "Walking Like Shadow" that has some exquisite and gorgeous guitar work from the uber-talented Michael Cashmore. It's more of an EP than an album proper, and falls maybe more towards the "get this if you're a completist" end of the C93 canon, but I've no regrets in giving one a home. If you liked the melancholy, contemplative turn Tibet's taken the Current in the last few years (Soft Black Stars, Sleep Has His House) you won't either.

On the comics front, I've become a big fan of Carla Speed McNeil's Finder of late. Genre-wise, it's a kind of folkloric SF - imagine a bastard child of Joan Vinge's The Snow Queen and Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, set in a weird future of domed cities and insular ruling clans. Through this landscape wanders Jaeger, sin-eater and Finder (a kind of tracker-cum-detective), who's a bit like a bishounen Wolverine; he has amazing powers of healing and sensory acuity, and a good dose of angst by way of his conflicting obligations and a troubled past. The first two volumes deal with Jaeger's connections to a divided and disfunctional family who share part of that past in various ways, and the hard decisions he makes about what his duty to them is. Great stuff - intricate and interesting world-building, solid characterizations, and art that just gets better as it goes (and a great example of what can be done using a fairly simple style in black and white, which I imagine might be inspiring to one or two of you out there; yes, Maija, I'm winking at you).

I've managed to consume quite a bit of slack of late on Making Light, the weblog of Teresa Nielsen Hayden, who (along with her husband Patrick) edits at Tor Books and does other fine things besides. There is much good stuff to be found here, both onsite and as a goldmine of fascinating links, and the little community that springs up in the comments is a fascinating bunch of folks. (And speaking of which, I should also wave here to Space Waitress, who was nicer to me than I deserved when I derailed a recent thread with some Shakespeare-pastiche doggerel, and who also has a site well worth visiting.)

And, finally, if you haven't found your way over to gaze in wonder at iLevel, our own Vishal's fascinatingly quirky camblog - you really ought. With the same sense of slightly askew whimsy he brings to his Savant stories, Vishal opens the camera eye on the small, sometimes disorderly details of commonplace things so that they seem like the artifacts of some alien world. It's found-object art of the sort only truly weird minds can produce, and I love it. It's both reassuring and unnerving to know there are folk like this on my friends-and-relations list, which is of course exactly as I would have it.

September 23, 2003

Autumn is officially here today. It sort of feels it. Happy Equinox.

And speaking of the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, the big news is that while we were in NYC last weekend, Spyder and I went to see Neil Gaiman's talk at New York is Book Country and got to meet the mop-headed dreamer himself at the signing afterwards. He is absolutely as nice as everyone says - very warm, very genuine, very kind to his adoring legions of fans. He drew a Morpheus in silver pen on the endpaper of my first-edition hardcover of Season of Mists (carrying which earned some appreciative looks from my fellow geeks) and shook my hand when I mentioned I was directing The Tempest. And I didn't even make too much of an idiot of myself right then. So that was alright.

It's really cool as hell to go to that sort of thing with Spyder, who as a Jim Hanley's Universe employee is plugged into the NY comics scene enough to be recognized by folks at such events, making me feel much less like a random dork (not that Gaiman fans don't know their own anyway; before the reading, I was waiting outside the Equitable Center and got asked by a stranger "Where are we going?" and when I looked confused he said, "Okay, you're wearing a Sandman shirt and smoking a clove. Where are we going?"). Spyder, for her part, is an excellent partner for doing geeky things with, and maintains an almost zenlike balance of enthusiasm and calm, which I guess is one of the things you learn when you attend on Mike Mignola for four hours. Still, my hat's off.

Saturday night was a big slumber party at the Marthas', who put their big bottle of Fijian rum to good use almost immediately for a round of I Never (and I got to tell the usual round of embarassing stories about myself, some of which I'd almost managed to block from memory, hurrah). We do miss the Marthas something terrible. But it was really excellent to spend good quality time with them, if only for a couple of days. More often, more often - NYC's not that far, and family's family, after all.

Back home, Isabel has left us without air conditioning or hot water (but with electricity and cable, and got us out of work for two days, which is a pretty fair trade-off) for what looks like the rest of the week, so it's weenie-shrinking cold showers for the next few days. I almost envy Matt's T&D excursion into West Virginia this week. Almost.

Rehearsals progress apace, though I'm all too aware that Full Fathom Five badly needs an update, not to mention I have a Last Dark Art long overdue. So it goes. For now, I ride out the whirlwind. I'll catch up when I get a chance to grab hold of something.

September 12, 2003

There is a wait so long (so long so long)
You'll never wait so long...

Wasn't I just making wiseass cracks about this, it having been the "when pigs fly" event of alternative rock for the last dozen years? "Now I will believe that there are unicorns."

September 11, 2003

Nothing more to say today than this.

September 08, 2003

Moce Fiji

Back in La-la Land now, where I write this at an internet station in LAX and we await our flight out at 10 tonight. I slept for much of the 11-hour Air New Zealand flight in, but we managed to score a direct flight back, so the wait's worth it. Huzzah!

It was tough leaving, but it's good to be almost home.

Report, Mr. Sulu

So, Fiji. Fiji is a delight. Our room faced the ocean, which we could hear crashing nearly at our door at high tide. At low tide, we could walk out nearly to the edge of the reef (the ground underfoot was sand and mud and shelss and crushed coral) and see the wondrous miniature wolrds in the tidepools: turquoise fish like little jewels, sea urchins in crevasses, electric-blue starfish. There was some kind of bizarre black sea-slug or worm that was everywhere; they looked like machine hoses jutting out from under the rocks, groping slowly around their shallow pools. And in the deep places, brilliant coral was everywhere, branches and clusters and knotted brains.

The Fijians are great people - a touch conservative, but warm and friendly almost to a fault. Even the con-men are nice enough to strike up more or less genuine conversations before they try to filch you. The population is about 53% native Fijian (a racial blend of Melanesian and Polynesian), 40% Indian, and the rest "other" (mostly Australians, New Zealanders and Chinese), with a few pockets of racial tension but more harmony than you might expect.

Everywhere you see the sulu, the skirt that's the national garment (unisex, though men favor a version with pockets and a beltlike strap - I bought one, naturally, and wore it to happy hour). Every city has handicraft stalls selling local wares made by the villagers - baskets, beads, penadants, and the ubiquitous war clubs and cannibal forks. (I didn't leave with a club, alas, but we made off with quite a few forks and other neat things.) And Fijian beer, both Fiji Bitter and the lighter Fiji Gold, is quite excellent. I could go on at some length about the food (and the best calamari I have ever, ever had), but I risk tedium already, so I'll stop.

Got just a touch homesick by the end of it all, wishing for my big fearsome cosmopolitan city. So it goes. We're almost there now, and happy to be so.

I'm sure I'll be missing the sea all too soon (and spending days on our villa porch, smoking Silk Cut like my literary heroes John Constantine and Bridget Jones), but for now - it's nice having home in sight.

September 01, 2003

Bula all and sundry from lovely Nadi, Fiji, where I write this from the Cyber Net Space Cafe. It's wonderful here.

Our resort is right on the beach, where we watched the sun set over the ocean last night before falling asleep (bloody jetlag). It's winter here, which means it's warm but dry, and cool at night and in the morning. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Too much to tell all at once, so I'll write a more detailed account when it's all over.

In the Hills, the Cities

Los Angeles is not a city. Los Angeles is a veritable world, like Faerie. It's hard to appreciate how huge it is until you fly into it and see it coruscating beneath you, consuming the horizon in every direction. L.A. is vast, it contains multitudes.

I was ultimately underwhelmed, though. Something about the culture of California puts me off. I think L.A. and I are at odds in philosophy. It's a fine place to visit, but... well, you know.

It was actually quite a relief to come from there to a place where the people are about as real as can be imagined. Fiji is a jewel, and full of exactly the sort of kind and open people you'd hope would be there. You should go.

That's all for now. More later.

August 29, 2003


Er. Um.

Leaving shortly for L.A. Lot of flying very soon.

September will find me in a whole other hemisphere. Not wrapping my head around that very well.

So, anyway, this is zai jian for a little while. I may post from the other side of the world if I get a chance.

Meanwhile, take care of yourselves back in the real world. I'll be on a beach in cannibal country, doing lots of nothin'. My love to you all.


August 28, 2003

Courtesy of Patrick, a joke with a somewhat narrow audience: He recounts that he was driving to DC and listening to Bob Marley, Jackson Browne, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, and Tool, and found himself afterwards with an overwhelming urge to roll a fattie and write a 20-minute song in 11/8 time about how magic isn't as good as it was in the old days.


Anyway, it's been a pretty good week. Had a sort of impromptu party last night with Caren and Patrick over, and we all watched the sobering Bowling for Columbine (one of Stacy's birthday presents) and sent out for pizza. I had this idea that I'd be inspired to get some packing done during all this, but it didn't happen. Big surprise.

Tomorrow night I'll be in Los Angeles. Too weird.

Tonight's just getting our affairs in order and getting ready to take off. It's sort of disorienting to realize that I have one more night to sleep in my bed and then be hurtling off to parts unknown for a while. "If I take one more step, it'll be the farthest away from home I've ever been." I hear ya, Sam.

In the meantime, get a load of this wonderful new slack toy: the Zombie Infection Simulation. It's best viewed with the zombies set to green, I find. See how long that last pocket of resistance can hold out! Braaaaaain!

August 25, 2003

First and foremost: Happy birthday, Mrs. L-K! Everyone go give her some loooooove.

Secundus: Got The Tempest mostly cast this weekend. I'm down a couple of people with last-minute conflicts, but so it goes. We have our first meeting as an actual cast on Tuesday. (I had some folks who hadn't quite written down all their conflicts, which I'd more or less expected. I also had some cases of "Oh, I'm waiting to hear from other auditions, can I think about it and get back to you," which I hadn't; the idea of trying out for a production you're not sure you want to be working on is so alien to me that I don't even have a frame of reference for it. And these were big parts, too, not the friggin' Boatswain. On the other hand, there was also a lot of very encouraging enthusiasm from folks accepting roles, including one or two who seemed almost awestruck at being cast, so that's alright. Not that anyone should be surprised at the part they got offered - I was lucky enough to have a whole crew of really fine actors at my auditions, and a lot of tough decisions to make.)

Tertiarily, Patrick's in town this week, and I think we're all going out tonight for a birthday dinner somewhere of my lovely wife's choosing. Hooray! Sweetie, I promise to try not to spend the whole evening talking about prog and Mage: the Ascencion and Alan Moore. It's your birthday, after all.

Lastly, in four days I'm headed for the other side of the effing world. The reality of this has begun to sink in. By Friday, I fully expect to be a complete mess. But looking forward to that good island food all the same.

August 22, 2003

I tossed a whole bunch of my stories into the Gender Genie this morning, and it diagnosed me, across the board, as female. I find this to be a source of great comfort.

Aside from the obvious reasons for this (i.e., as recounted here), I have to wonder what's at work here (assuming you can place any stock at all in an algorithm designed to detect your gender, which you can't). Thinking of the influences on my writing, there are at least as many men as women who I could think of as having a direct impact on my voice and style. The implications of all this I leave to folks more hung up about it than myself.

But it's interesting to consider this in light of an issue Steven Brust brought up in his weblog months ago (no permalinks there, so you'll have to scroll down to the entry for 1/30/03) about role models for women, or whoever, in literature. I think I see his point here - and I couldn't agree more with his statements about the supposed differences between men and women - I also disagree that because you it's possible to identify with a person of the "other" gender that it isn't a good thing to have role models who are like you. Especially for women, especially in light of how narrow the popular consciousness is about what it means to be female and what's allowable within that idea. The sad truth is that, without artists making an effort to challenge those ridiculous notions, nothing will change. I'd love to live in a world where all things were equal and everyone had enough heroes to go around. But that's not how things are.

There's a wonderful bit in the last section of Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman where Moore is talking in correspondence with Dave Sim about the purpose of art, and he makes the point that art doesn't reflect the world as it is - it attempts to "imprint" the world and cause reality to reflect it. I'd have to agree (and it's very interesting to read that correspondence in light of the arrogant, moralistic, misogynistic ideas with which Sim approaches his art on the one hand, and Moore's dynamic, magickal, radical philosophy on the other). So I choose to create art for the world the way I hope it would be, and part of that means being responsible about what kind of role models inhabit my fiction. I think the world could use more Jenny Hanivers. Nothing would make me happier than to know my work encouraged one or two to come to the surface.

So there you go: I write like a girl, and proud of it. And I didn't bother correcting the Genie when it thought so too. Just doing my part to ensure the Universe holds on to one or two ambiguities...

August 21, 2003

I noted with some delight that the current issue of Lucifer (the conclusion of the "Naglfar" storyline) is titled "Full Fathom Five." Synchronicity is a lovely thing, though I imagine being on the same wavelength as Mike Carey is sort of a double-edged sword.

Eight days from now, I'll be on a plane to L.A., and thence to Fiji, for my first honest-to-God vacation in too damn long, and my first trip out of the country ever (assuming Canada doesn't count). I think Stacy's feeling more conscious of the countdown than I am, but it's pretty bloody exciting in any case. Sadly, the war club I want is too long for my suitcase... I may have to make do with a nice set of Long Pig forks, or else set myself up as an importer of "works of art." As if I needed something new with which to hurt myself anyway.

Speaking of my lovely wife, her birthday's coming up Monday, which of course means that we have to start celebrating on Friday. (It's in the rules, you know. A birthday adjacent to a weekend requires partying for the entire duration of that weekend. Especially if you have to wait until Monday for the actual event.) So we're doing happy hour at the Brickskeller after work tomorrow, and whatever else seems like fun afterwards. I haven't asked her how old she's going to be this year. I'm kinda hoping it's 29 again, so I can catch up.

Tempest callbacks are tonight. Which means I will have a cast soon, and then all this will be... real. It's nearly too much to contemplate.

August 18, 2003

Holding Tempest auditions tonight, a handful of hours from now. I write at length about this over at Full Fathom Five. Of course, in the meanwhile, I'm more or less useless, but so it goes.

I made my monthly sojourn out to Big Planet Comics on Saturday, and picked up the first volume of Alan Moore's Promethea along with my monthly pulls. Wound up not being able to put it down last night. Wooch. Yeah, it's as good as you've heard. It's the kind of story I want to be telling. Moore continues to inspire and delight.

Also finally got to see Pirates of the Caribbean on Saturday, which may be the perfect pirate flick - a good solid supernatural swashbuckler with Johnny Depp at his flamboyant best. (The only drawback, as Spyder pointed out, is that it makes you want to try and end sentences with "...savvy?" all the time.) And the night before, Stacy and I caught the second Tomb Raider - I liked it at least as much as the first, and maybe a little more, if only 'cause it has Djimon Hounsou doing the big amiable African guy role he's so good at. A fine weekend for movies in the gratuitously pulpy vein, which is pretty much exactly what I needed.

Matt's been hard at work these last few days building his new site, and everyone should go sign up there, or at least go for the link to the updated Swampstock photos. Shiny! It reminds me that I too must do a new site soon. One of these days.

And on Friday, I signed up for a subscription at Suicide Girls, because I'm always bitching and moaning about how bad so much porn is, and this is exactly what's called for as a corrective. So I'm more than happy for my six bucks a month to go to support erotica that's actually empowering, and gives the models creative control, and treats them as real people - because if that sort of thing doesn't get support from folks who believe in it, it'll go away, and I'll have no one but myself to blame. So I took the chance to put my money where my mouth is. Or whatever physionomical region best applies.

Plus, it has HOT HOT GOTH CHICKS. All hail this age, for giving me the opportunity to satisfy my feminist principles and my inner fifteen-year-old simultaneously. "Oh, brave new world..."

August 14, 2003

Me Too, Al

A reminder to my loyal readers: if nothing else, you can count on this space to bring you a perspective that's fair and balanced.

Spread the meme, lads and lasses. Spread the meme.

The Long Shadows Fall

And good thoughts go out tonight, of course, to our NYC peeps, and all others making it through the long dark of the night; I've been there, and I know exactly how much fun it is. Careful with those candles, everyone, and let me know when you can that you're okay.

What a sucky way to wrap up the week. Hang in there.

August 11, 2003

"...on the thin ice of a new day"

I was a writing fiend yesterday, to the point of being cranky when I had to stop and eat and stuff. I fussed with a number of small projects, but the crowning achievement was three whole pages of a new draft for The Residents #1, where I finally, finally feel okay working in the medium. It's feeling... natural, at long fucking last. (It helps, mind, that I now sort of know where the story is headed. But anyway.)

And today, there's a whole new post at Full Fathom Five, for the first time in weeks. Just in time for tomorrow's production meeting! Hooray!

August 10, 2003

As I write this, the Marthas are nearly in New York City. They left at about 8:30 this morning after crashing here for the night. (Best move EVAR getting them out of their place yesterday, incidentally - I think there were about a dozen pairs of hands involved there off and on for the couple of hours it took to clean out their former apartment. A sad day, but exciting too.)

I was at my Nobilis session for most of last night, and got home just in time for the pajama party to break up, but I did drag my sorry ass out of bed to see our favorite feelgood lesbian couple on the road. It's a bittersweet sending-off, but as I've said before, having more reasons to go to NYC ain't exactly all bad.

Today's a quiet laundry day in these parts, and hopefully some writing will be done too. I'll let you know.

August 08, 2003

Okay, first things first: Today I became a, er, numbered-something-or-other cousin again, as John Mitchell made his grand entrance to the family. He's a couple weeks ahead of schedule, which sets a kind of new precedent for the Gallucci line. Welcome, Jack! I'm afraid we can't help you be normal, but we can sure show you a good time. Meanwhile, here's hoping your first few hours in the Big Room have been happy ones.

So I not only got to go to my first Jethro Tull concert last night, I got to go, apparently, on Ian Anderson's birthday, for that extra level of fanboy coolness. And I gotta say - it was even better than I'd hoped for. I figured, hey, these guys are all respectable middle-aged gentlemen now, they'll be putting on a nice serene little show that fondly recalls when they were wild rockers... Um, no. Ian is still a crazy skinny demon flautist who stands on one leg and bounces all over the stage and likes to make wee-wee jokes and do that phallic thing with his flute. These guys are all having the time of their lives, and I think seeing them made me really appreciate, even more than when I was a teenager and catching hell from my metalhead friends for grooving to a folk-rock band, what consummate musicians and entertainers they are. So not only do they still give good show, but they played stuff I figured they'd've gotten sick of years since - all of "Aqualung," all of "Locomotive Breath" (in a truly kickass encore) and lots and lots of the early tunes like "Living in the Past" and "Fat Man." And they did one of my personal all-time favorite Tull songs - "Hunting Girl" - which alone would've been worth the concert for me (though it was an odd and amusing moment when I and the serene-looking middle-aged woman sitting beside me cheered for that one at the same time). Interestingly, I sat and read the lyrics to that today over at the excellent site, and I don't think I ever realized before what a really dirty song it is...

In other news, I'm now on the map, and that's pretty cool. (Just hover over the Wheaton station button and you'll see me on the list that pops up, with a link that'll take you right, um, here.) Many thanks to Maureen for including me there, and for putting together a really cool site. (And her blog is also worth checking out.)

And lastly, I finished the stories I was working on the other night, and posted 'em to the List, as some of ye have already seen. I feel pretty good about an opener like this:

The sky was dark overhead, but off the end of the pier, the water was even darker. My hands were tied behind my back with plastic cords. Altmann looked down at me and smiled, thinly.

“Well,” he said. “It comes to this at last, old girl. You and me and the deep cold sea. Ahaha.” His hands were folded in front of him as he said this, slender and pale; the signet ring of his Lodge showed on the left middle finger, heavy and gleaming. He had a dark tailored suit and a little pointed goatee. I think it’s some kind of membership requirement.

“And your squad of goons, of course.” I gave him my sweetest smile. With my hair falling in my eyes and plastered to my face, I doubt it had quite the effect I would’ve liked, but you work with what’s at hand.

Rest assured it goes on to show Jenny at her wiseass and resourceful best...

August 07, 2003

Aah! AAAAAH! There's a microphone in my eye!

Click on the "Main" button of the same page to see more.

(Thanks to Matt for putting these up, and for weeding out the really incriminating ones.)

August 05, 2003

And as if there weren't enough reasons to hate Texas already, now we have this.

Which is exactly why I'm a member, and you should be, too.
Spent last night writing, polishing up "Him" (the working title of the story I mentioned a couple days ago) and starting right into a new one, for the momentous occasion of the 250th topic on Fantasybits. I think I'm about halfway through it, and it's great fun so far. If all goes well, I shall post it tonight.

Readers may note that progress on "The Pagurus Game" pretty much dropped off as of May - it's been a thorn in my side, but I continue to pick at it, slowly, slowly. Hopefully, soon I will have better things to say on that front; a nice dialogue scene got done on Friday night, and I'm starting to feel like I can move ahead with it. We shall see.

Back in the mundane world, Spyder got back from her upstate vacation last night, and was pretty bouncy on IM. I think the unicorns are a bit warier around her than they were two weeks ago; I'm still waiting on the full story there, but it promises to be properly juicy. Ah, nineteen. I'd miss that age if it hadn't been such an embarassing time for me.

"Another Teatime, Another Day Older"

And speaking of my misspent youth, I'm going Thursday night to see Jethro Tull at Wolftrap, which I can safely say is something I've been waiting fifteen years to do. This was a surprise present from my wife, in one of those I-knew-you-loved-me-but-I-didn't-know-you-loved-me-that-much moments. I don't even care that they do "Aqualung" and "Locomotive Breath" and all the old faves in a big medley these days - this is Ian fucking Anderson, hero of my teenage years, wild pagan god of prog.

And the Marthas are making the big move to NYC this weekend. They'll be missed in these parts, for certain, but you can only complain so much about having more people to go visit in New York. Make waves, sweetie darlings, make waves, and know that the city's fairer for your being there.

August 03, 2003

Two weeks from tomorrow, I hold auditions for The Tempest. That is just... unbelievable.

A pretty low-key weekend around here - Stacy is still under the weather, and has been watching bad movies for something like four days straight, which has about the effect you'd imagine. I've been on the recover (not 100%, but I can see it without a telescope) and got out of the house briefly yesterday and today. And Matt's staying with us while he finds a new place to live, making him the most fun person in the household at the moment. Under other circumstances, we'd've been kicking back rounds of Coronas all weekend in that spontaneous-new-roommate-party spirit, but the flesh has already filed an objection. So - feh.

I note that Vishal, newly returned from monsoon country, has linked me on his blog page, so props to him. Everything that helps me on the way to international acclaim is more than welcome. (And if I get there first, V, you can count on a big thumbs-up cover blurb for that erotic novel, just on principle.)

Speaking of acclaim, the July issue of Locus (the graphic novels issue, with Alan Moore looking his usual spooky self on the cover) has an article co-authored by Spyder's boss, which is pretty cool. It's still on newsstands, I think, and worth having anyway; check it out, and goo over the Sandman: Endless Nights preview art like I did.

And if you're an ilyAIMY fan, as you should be, there's some interesting news from them - they're going on the road come September, on an impromptu musical odyssey-cum-pilgrimage. Anyone who knows about good spots to play grungy, ferocious folk music in various parts of the country should go to their site and send 'em an email. It's a wonderful, brave thing Rob and Heather are doing, and any support they can get would be much appreciated, I'm sure.

Nothing so exciting from me, but I did manage to finish a Jenny Haniver story this weekend that I've been picking at for like a year, and I'm now polishing it up for submission to the FB list. Hooray!

And so closes the weekend. Can't say I'm ready for the week to start, but that's how it goes. More as it comes up.

July 31, 2003

We have returned, more or less intact, from another weekend on Birdsong Hill - more or less, save for the weird sickness that hit me on the way home Monday, and which I passed to Stacy as of last night. No fun, no fun. So it goes.

Otherwise, SSX was a blast. We had a lot of first-timers this year (among them a whole passel o' babbies, including wee Nicholas, who dispensed bumpies with glee and bonded with Eli), and a couple of Events - not least of which was Tony's reunion with Patrick and Bernice after more than a decade, which was wicked cool. (After five minutes of intense geeky tech-talk between Tony and Patrick, Bernice turned to me and said, "Oh my God - it's the Thing with Two Heads again.") As for me, I smoked many pipes, and drank copious amounts of Troeg's Nut-Brown Ale, and made myself terribly popular with a bottle of 12-year-old Jameson. And had, needless to say, a grand time.

To my delight, among the new arrivals was my leetal cousin Dylan (now 23, and towering over me like a juggernaut), who spent some time in amazement that he'd never come out before - "My childhood would've been completely different!" I note that he has also inherited the quick and acerbic wit for which his father was known, though why I should be surprised by that I don't know. (Dylan managed to get me with a zinger that may just have trumped even Jeff McCrady at his best - he turned to me Saturday evening and said, "Is is true we were held up for forty-five minutes today while you were looking for your sunglasses? It's a good thing Stacy caught you before you tried to find your trenchcoat, 'cause God knows we might've had to rescue Morpheus while we were out." And he was such a sweet kid, once upon a time.)

Music was quite good this year, with some new faces onstage. I got to do a, well, ahem, appropo version of "Lucy and I" on Friday, and Tony and Patrick and I and some other assorted folks did a big jam Saturday that was excellent fun. And I had the honor of having a talented kid named Nick come up to me and say, "I'm looking for the guy who wrote 'Lord Vlad,'" and getting to grin wickedly and say, "That'd be me."

Oh, and I turned Patrick on to Exalted, which gave me that "My work is done" feeling for the weekend.

Spent much of the rest of the week laid up and feeling like crap, though I'm much better now, thankyouverymuch. Matt, on the other hand, is much improved after a long weekend on the Hill; you can read all about the fun he had last week over at his blog, where he puts it ever so much better than I could. And speaking of blogs, if you're wondering where the hell Stacy's went, we don't know either, but there's an all-new one at

I hold Tempest auditions in a couple of weeks. Wooch. That's both exciting and terrifying. And for those of you following the Full Fathom Five blog - I'll have a new entry soon, darlings, and announce it here when I do.

In the meantime, there's a new Last Dark Art that went up Monday, and had actually generated some discussion. Huzzah! (And it occurs to me that I never announced the last one's going up, but it did, and you can go read it too, here.)

And that's all for now, gentles. Back in a few.

July 25, 2003


In a handful of hours, we're off to the hills for Swampstock X. Huzzah! I'll be back Monday with an after-action report.

Meantime, Spyder is off on adventures of her own in the upstate NY wilderness, on which the best of luck is wished her. Wink, nudge, say n'more. May you level up often, mia sorella, and never fail a fortitude save. And you can read that on whatever level you like.

If you're going to SSX, I'll see you there. If not, I'll be thinking of you and wishing you could've made it. When I'm not trying to remember where the hell a barred C minor is after four or five Honey Browns, anyway.

Safe journey to all and sundry, and back in a few.

July 22, 2003

Update: Stacy just talked to Matt, and he's going home. Hooray!

Keep the good thoughts going his way, though. As per The Princess Bride: "He's had a hard day."
We got a call at work this morning from Matt, who's in the hospital. He has what seems to be a hereditary condition that makes his heart go bugfuck every so often, which is as serious as you'd imagine. He's on a drug that they hope will get him regulated by this afternoon - otherwise they'll have to do some kind of mad-scientist procedure involving stopping his heart and restarting it with electric shock. Stacy and I, in the meantime, are doing our best not to worry. (When I talked to him this morning, he seemed okay, but tired - he hadn't slept all night from the uppers they gave him. He's keeping a healthy sense of humor about all this, and so I am too - but we're still worried.)

If you pray, think of Matt sometime today. If you do magic, now's a good time. Otherwise, any good thoughts and energy you send his way sure can't hurt.

July 21, 2003

Saturday morning, we got up bright and early (i.e., 9ish) to go to Circuit City and get a slick new CD player put in the car. It's shiny and has bright lights and is wonderful. It was a little weird pulling all of our cassettes out of the glove compartment, and realizing that the age of the mix tape is pretty much over now. Sigh. This will be one of those points of nostalgia before we know it - I'll turn around one of these days and a "Remember the 90s" bullet list will be making the rounds of the 'Net, with "You had a mix tape with the Sundays on it," and I will know it's nearly time to die. Indeed, the mix CD is a wonderful thing, and a miracle of the modern age, but it ain't the same when you can do it in like 20 minutes instead of needing an entire afternoon. This is the kind of thing Bill Gibson forgot to warn us about.

For further nostalgia fun, bravo game designer Bruce Baugh, who's doing the new edition of Gamma World, has an entry at Rock Scissors Blog about the era when the first version of that game was making the rounds, and it's thought-provoking reading. Let's see... in 1981, I was seven, living in the basement of an unfinished house in the wilds of WV, with no floor, no indoor bathroom and only a wood-burning stove for heat; my favorite songs on the radio were "Games Without Frontiers" and "The Legend of Wooley Swamp." Star Wars was not yet a trilogy, King Crimson hadn't had their first reunion, and one of my dearest friends was not even a gleam in the milkman's eye (or the suitable Rio equivalent). How's that for sobering?

Anyway, I also spent a portion of Saturday afternoon in the CDepot in College Park, which is a dangerous place for a guy like me to go. I left with some excellent finds - Lisa Germano, Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil - and lighter quite a bit of money, though certainly not poorer.

Speaking of music, tonight I'll be up past my bedtime seeing Porcupine Tree at the 9:30 Club, and no doubt fighting Gravity Eyelids of my own for the drive home. I expect it to be worth it.

And the rest of the week shall be spent preparing for Swampstock X, for which I depart Friday Morning mit mine brudder and Matt. I spent way, way too much time yesterday burning CDs for the trip, because you never know what you'll need to hear on that lonely, interminable stretch down 50 during the last leg. Come to think of it, you never know what might be a good idea to inflict on the hardcore Swampstockers in the middle of the damn night. (Track One: "Sleep Has His House." Track Two: "Sleep Is Wrong.")

In the meantime, I shall be determinedly unfazed by work and mudane things. As far as I'm concerned, my vacation is as good as begun. Whoohoo!

July 17, 2003

Aaaaah! Aaaaaaaah! Holy living fuck!

July 14, 2003

A slightly exhausting week last week, but worthwhile. SGM was just as awesome a second time, and very interesting to see in the tiny standing-room-only backstage of the Black Cat as compared to the great big proscenium stage at the War Memorial. They are, if anything, more disturbing when confronted intimately, but also more rewarding in some ways; you get to see up close how freakin' good they are. And I got the chance afterwards, as I hadn't gotten at NEARfest, to tell Carla Kihlstedt how impressed by her I was, and that she'd inspired me to get out my violin again after all these years; at which she smiled, and said, "Good." And that made my night.

I was also impressed by Koshari, SGM's opening act. They sort of remind me of what Jefferson Airplane might have sounded like if they'd been alternative-Britpop. Good solid songwriting, compelling tunes, and a nice sensibility for ambience in there among the wicked guitar and massive bass. They sound good on MP3, too; go check 'em out.

And Todd Burge played at the frigging Kennedy Center. That was plenty weird, and not just in the musical one-eighty from seeing Nils Frykdahl in his blood-red cowl groaning "Sleeeep is wroooong" the night previous. Seeing Todd playing somewhere other than, say, the Rusty Nail or Bogart's is just enough cognitive dissonance to unhinge me but good. Great show, though, and it was good to see Todd again. (If you watch the archived performance, you can catch him talking to me. That was cool.) And he played "Pickin' a Lock," which was worth showing up for all by itself as far as I'm concerned.

Nobilis commenced on Saturday and was excellent fun. We're down to business with this now, politicking with other Powers, running errands for the Imperator, getting ourselves into wondrous strange trouble. And I had a rather interesting arc this time around, going from being all pleased with myself at the start for cozying up to the Viscountess of Joviality, to stepping into court politics and diplomacy (very Swordspoint), to using, at the end of our session, a Word of Command that drained all my miracles and left me horribly wounded as part of a bargain with the Domina of Purity. I hope my Brothers Caelestis have some idea how they're going to bring the amphisbaena home, because I sure the fuck don't.

Saturday night wrapped with Stacy and I going out to see League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which was... okay, but left me wishing they'd put together a plot that I didn't have to turn my brain off quite so much for. Great cast, great visuals, wild action, and a script that seems to have gone through one Hollywood rewrite too many. Even so, it's fun to watch Sean Connery do his thing for two hours. Catch it on the big screen, but see a matinee.

And tonight brings a new post to Full Fathom Five. Crack open the Director's head and see what's inside!

July 07, 2003

"When I grow up, I'm never going to sleep"

Back from Allentown (again, this time for my grandmother's eightieth birthday celebration) on Saturday night, and enjoying some much-needed slacking these last two evenings. It's been rare enough, despite all the fun I've been having.

I set up a new blog today, devoted entirely to Tempest stuff; it's at for those curious about my thought processes in approaching this project. I'm thinking of it as a kind of informal thesis.

This week is action-packed. Wednesday night I go to The Black Cat for Sleepytime Gorilla Museum (whoohoo! Sleep Is Wrong!) and no doubt much strangeness; that's twice in two weeks to come face-to-face with the Donkey-Headed Adversary, and I'm not going to speculate what effect that's likely to have on a sensitive psyche. For less overtly scary fun, Thursday Stacy and I are going to see fellow Ohio Valley folksinger Todd Burge play at the Kennedy Center, and I get to alleviate some of my guilt at not having been to a Burge show in some three and a half years. (Aiya!) It's a free show, all you DC folk, and Todd is pretty damn good, so come on out at 6 PM if you can make it; he's the kind of singer-songwriter who can pen a line like "I never thought I'd wear a silk tie/ My eyes are buggin' out like when bugs die" and make it work.

And that's all, until Nobilis part II on Saturday. So much good stuff to do!

July 01, 2003

Whoa! I got linked by Anglagard, re: my NEARfest report. Thanks, guys!
After-Action Report: NEARfest '03


Longer version: NEARfest rocks on toast. Two days of prog, ten bands, thousands of CDs with art calculated to produce the "Oooo, shiny!" response in the Yes-and-Crimson set, a breathtaking Roger Dean gallery, and more fat guys with ponytails than you can count. There's nothing quite like it for putting a feller into moog-solo and mellotron overload.

First off, though: Trenton sucks. If I hit you with the suckage of Trenton, you would die. There is very nearly nowhere to eat, and certainly nowhere that isn't vaguely distressing to be in, and you're inclined to inspect whatever they give you. And on the weekend that town is day-ud. Not so good when you unleash a coupla thousand goofy-looking art-rock fans into it for forty-five minutes at a stretch, and besides, walking five minutes from the War Memorial in any direction is so depressing you want to just sit down and give up. Perhaps there is some intriguing nightlife there in some other section of town, well-hidden from view, but until that's unveiled I hereby renounce any impulse I had to refrain from gratuitous Jersey-bashing. Garden State, is it? There's a reason why people laugh when you say that, you know.

Tony and I missed the first act on Saturday - late start getting out of Allentown - so I have no idea if High Wheel was any good or not. The program sums them up as "German heavy symphonic prog," which certainly has possibilities in either direction, but I'll assume they were at least passably good. Didn't hear folks talking about them all weekend, but that's the peril of opening; you never hear about Birdsongs of the Mesozoic from the '01 show either, so there you go.

We did arrive in time for Alamaailman Vasarat, a sextet from Finland who do a sort of instrumental Prog Noir - no guitars, but organ, drums, sax, trombone, and two cellos (and it never occured to me before that you could run a cello through a distortion box; the results are quite awesome). These guys were great. Supposedly the name means "hammers of the underworld," but I'll have to have Maija confirm that one.

Tunnels was perfectly good, but not my thing. A little too atonal-jazz-noodling for my taste - lots of riffing odd stuff up and down the MIDI-Vibes, which loses me after the first thirty seconds or so. Fortunately, I have some awareness of how trained you have to be to sound like you're just goofing off like that, or my assessment would probably be more cynical. As it is, I can nod appreciatively and hold out for the next act.

Which was The Flower Kings. Oh, my. The Flower Kings rawk. Here's what I love about this genre - these guys played for an hour and a half and their set was, like, five songs. They're certainly planted firmly in the epic-length crunchy symphonic-rock school of progressive music, but they have made that very much their own. I think one of the things I tend to like about European prog especially (the Flower Kings are from Sweden) is that they're influenced by more stuff than just Yes and Genesis and bring that musical syncretism into their work; they're not stuck in-genre, they're just playing what they like. That said, this stuff soars and wails with the best of 'em, but even if you don't know Marillion from Kansas, if you're not moved by the end of "Stardust We Are" and singing it in the shower for two days - well, there may be no hope for you.

Headliner for Saturday night was Magma. Not bad, if a bit on the avant-side (French, y'know). Sort of what would happen if there was a Manhattan Transfer rock opera. Dunno if it was headliner material for me, but it was interesting enough, and you can certainly sit and groove to it for two hours.

Sunday morning brought the pleasant (if that's the word I'm looking for) surprise of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, who have made an awful lot of new fans now, myself enthusiastically among them. They're a sort of apocalyptic industrial nightmare goth prog, which manages to push just about all of my aesthetic buttons at once. Go see them, just for the costumes. I wish I looked that good in a dress and hightops, I'll tell you that.

And then there was Glass Hammer. While I was slightly disappointed they didn't do any of their Middle-Earth stuff, the live performance of their album Lex Rex is tough to complain about. You want classic epic keyboard prog in the fashion of Yes and so forth, look no further. Sure, it's entirely over-the-top, but this is not a genre that has ever been known to stop once it's made its point anyway. And the women doing their backup vocals were hella-cute. (An aside: You can learn almost everything you need to know about prog fans by observing the two reactions engendered in them by putting three attractive women onstage. The first is perhaps best summed up as "Whoa, boobs!" The second, even more unfortunate, is "Yeah, but they couldn't dance in 7/8 time." I kid you not, gentle readers, though I deeply wish I did.)

Oh, and during the Glass Hammer set, Rich Williams of Kansas ambled out onstage to play a song with them. Just, y'know, 'cause he thought it'd be fun. I'd give a kidney to have been there for that conversation, just to hear what the GH guys said after they got done crapping themselves. There's your lesson for the day, kids: if you're an art-rock musician, learn you some Kansas songs, because you never know.

I don't know what it is about tall, skinny German guys and prog, but Kraan was pretty damn good. They were lots of fun, and obviously had a blast doing what they were doing. Danceable and catchy and unpretentious, and very much a breath of fresh air.

Nonetheless, out of all the new finds for me this year, it's Anglagard that more or less owns my soul now. Instrumental Swedish vituoso symphonic stuff with flutes and whatnot. And three mellotrons. Three! I didn't know you could do that without blowing something up. They are awesome. Once again, it's the European bands that really get me; two years ago, it was White Willow, and now it's these guys, for much the same reasons. (Well, okay, then it was at least partially out of falling deeply in love with Sylvia Erichsen, but you get the idea. Not that Anna Holmgren ain't easy on the eyes herself, but assume I'm speaking of lofty aesthetics here.) Go thou forth, and buy Anglagard albums. That is all.

And then, playing fashionably late, the Sunday-night headliner came in the form of the venerable and esteemed Camel. Worth the wait, I'd say. Very much like classic Genesis - immensely listenable, smart but not oh-so-clever, and frequently very beautiful and sweet. Sadly, this is their farewell tour; catch 'em if you can.

And there you have it. I was pretty good, and didn't buy everything that looked in the least bit cool (which is why I'm not still in Jersey, saying "That's twenty for just the blowjob, and nothing up the bum, please"). Besides the obligatory Angalgard and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum CDs, I also got a single from a local band called The Red Masque, which is certainly the right thing to listen to if you want your musical boundaries stretched forcibly wider - but at almost 40 minutes, it's the best four bucks you'll spend, and you really should just for the chance to hear Lynette Shelley sing. She is pretty damn amazing. I also recommend playing it, if you can, while you drive down a dark road in the middle of the night; that was our first exposure, and oh, wow. (I also had the reaction, "If she's not a Current 93 fan, she should be," but, then, I would.)

And that was NEARfest. Woot! Final analysis: "It's even worth going to Trenton." How's that for a t-shirt slogan?

June 27, 2003

Off to NEARfest

In a couple of hours, I'll be on the road to Allentown, and thence to Trenton for NEARfest '03. Woot! I return Monday afternoon sometime, no doubt aweary and all progged up.

Too long since I've made this drive. It's one I enjoy. Except for the last time I went solo, in October, when it was raining like a motherfucker most of the way (though even then, rolling into Harrisburg in the rain, seeing the lights over the hill while "Bloodstreamruns" played on the stereo, was pretty cool in its own right).

And that's the week, kids. I'll file a report on my return.

June 25, 2003

New look for the blog as of today, and a new feature: Comments. Uh-oh.

Talked to the realtor last night, which was weird and scary but exciting too. Underlined, for me, how very not good I am about dealing with change, even changes I want; being a homeowner will be a Very Good thing, but all the factors of uncertainty about the process make me bloody nervous. Can't quite help myself; I suppose it's a natural reaction. And anything that involves my credit report fills me with anxious guilt anyway, so this just really piles on the hell for me. So it goes. I keep telling myself that it'll all be over, one way or another, before all that long - this fall at the latest if we can't break our lease. And possibly much, much sooner if we can.

Also brought home the fabulous new computer (with printer) on Saturday and got it up and running, and it rawks. We can now do miraculous things like print out stuff at home, and make CDs. Spent about an hour and a half last night putting all my King Crimson albums on one disc, and trying to figure out what felt weird about the whole thing until I realized it was because I wasn't getting that nagging vague sense of guilt from doing it at work. Odd what one gets used to.

Oh, and on a related subject - I'm goin' to NEARFest this year. Whoohoo! (Gods bless my brother and his connections in the Lehigh Valley community of musicians.) I was a bit bummed I missed it last year, but no one really fabulous was playing (except for Steve Hackett); this year's got Glass Hammer and the Flower Kings, and I am fuckin' psyched. I'd do a happy dance, but prog fans don't do that.

And speaking of music, last week brought us the Coolest Gift in Questionable Taste I think we've ever gotten, courtesy of Stacy's friend and classmate Sean Ryan. It's a CD of songs about fire in honor of our brush with disaster, and includes such indispensibles as "Burning Down the House" and "Burning for You." It's nice that the whole thing is nearly funny now. Burn, motherfucker, burn.