December 31, 2005

A Cup of Kindness

It's the last afternoon of a year I'm not exactly sorry to see the end of. But I'm looking forward with high hopes to the next one.

Yesterday was a year since PaPa died, something which has certainly cast a long shadow over my life ever since. I probably miss him every day, a little bit; not who he was at the end of his life, but who he was as I remember him. I don't wish he'd kept on continuing, as tired and broken as he was, but I often wish that what he used to be was still here. Which I suppose it sort of is, because that's what remains of him more than anything else in art and memory. If there is something that endures the body - and I don't think I can quite bring myself to believe there isn't, somehow - I hope it's the best of what we are, those things we remember with most fondness. That's what I miss about him, and the only wish I'd make is that he hadn't released all that into the Mystery so long ago. I wish he'd been happier, at the end.

Likewise, this year, as hard as it's been, is one I want to remember not for its hardships but for the fruit it bore, which wound up being bountiful in many ways. And when I look back on it, there are a lot of very bright lights in the shadows of 2005, for which I have to thank the love and good company of my friends and family. You were there for me when I needed you; I hope I can do the same in turn. And I hope for happiness for myself as well, as a gift to me and to the people who love me. I intend to choose it as much as I can, come what may. If I have anything like a resolution for the New Year, that would be it.

And the best of this past year has given me a lot to be happy about; I have a novel well in the works (which I encourage you all to continue hounding me to finish), with further projects waiting in the wings; a growing body of work with OVO, the creation of which continues to be a source of wonder and joy; and not least of all, friendships that have only gotten better and closer, which is always preferable to the alternative. (Not to mention there are now some lights at the end of the tunnel concerning finances and all that vulgar stuff.)

So Happy New Year, everyone; I trust that it will be, for all of us. Take care of each other, both here at the end and in the new beginning. And I'll see you all in January.

December 21, 2005

Ring, Solstice Bells

Happy Yule, everyone! Light a candle, down some wassail, and hail the returning day; remember that it only gets better from here.

Me, I'm having some spiked nog, and then off to bed for my annual reread of Hogfather. And after tomorrow, a brief but much-needed holiday vacation will commence.

Meanwhile, Bono Dies Natalis Solis Invictis!

December 07, 2005

Show and Tale

By popular demand, new stuff is up at Otherwood now, with more to come sometime around the weekend. Go thou forth and read, my minions.

Most of you who can make it probably know this by now, but we've got another show at The Cup on Saturday; and once again, there's a lovely poster in .pdf format if you want one.

Not much to add to that, save that you should also go (if you haven't already) and visit the redesigned now-with-more-brooding Big Tony blog; and from thence check out the excellent new tunage he's been working on. (If we ever manage to all get in the same city at the same time again, the world may never be the same.)

November 30, 2005

High on a Downer, Again

I can't even say how much I appreciate the emails, phone calls and comments you guys have sent my way over the last couple of days. If I haven't responded to yours, I will; I've been pushing forward to hit 50K (which I did), since I knew giving up this close wasn't something I could live with, black mood or no.

It comes and goes, but I'm doing a little better - still broke, still stressed, still worried about things falling apart, but I'm clawing my way up. One of the worst things about when the bad chemicals kick in and I don't have a chance to do any kind of countermeasure is that horrible, horrible loss of perspective that comes with utter hopelessness. (And that's quite literally what it is - the sudden loss of all hope, or almost all. The possibility of things improving, when you're where even down looks up, seems like an absurdity.)

The disruption of my stable little world at work was a big blow. I'd been sticking around because my boss had plans to promote me, and the knowledge that that wasn't going to happen was a little too much shock and horror at the end of a bad year. Now it looks like I might get a little improvement there anyway, which helps a little in my not being full of must-get-outnow panic. I still feel very uncomfortable working for a system that would do what it did to him (and his worst fault seems to be not performing miracles with minimal resources, which describes forfuckssake everywhere I've ever worked); I don't like that feeling of having to wonder who the axe is being sharpened for next. But I at least feel like I can get by for a little while until something that's really right comes along. Not good, but tolerable. So it goes.

Anyway, I'm not what I'd call fine, but I can see it from here without a telescope. I'm really sorry about falling apart like this; I hate being a burden on the people that I care about, and I know how hard it can be to live with me. I don't ever want to feel like I've taken more from my friends than I've given back, and I don't want the price of loving me to be a cheering-up session two or three times a year. So thank you; I don't deserve it, but I don't know what I'd do without it.

November 28, 2005


Note to New Readers: I'm leaving this one up for archival purposes, and as a reminder that living with my Condition occasionally makes me irrational and strange; but it's not, um, representative of my normal posting habits. I swear I'm a Serious Blogger, really, and not some angsty 13-year-old with a LiveJournal. ;) -DLK

I'm three thousand odd words from goal and having the hardest time I've ever had getting there.

I can't remember the last time I was this depressed. It feels like I've been so far down for so long I don't even know how to get back there from here. Which is why I can't sleep now, though I'm so tired I barely feel alive.

It's been a truly dreadful year in many ways. I keep wondering where it was I made the fatal error that's put me here, and I've now lost count of the number of breakdowns I've had today while thinking about it. I'm looking at being a month behind on my mortgage for the foreseeable future, my job just took a turn for the abyssmal (the best manager I've ever worked for just became a victim of beaurocracy in a really ugly way), and I look at my prospects and start to think I've turned into a particularly useless waste of space.

I'm sorry, everyone. I'm sorry I didn't turn out to be a better person; I'm sorry about whatever chance it was I blew that made it so hard for me to get my act together now. I'm sorry I have this awful disease that I can't afford to treat that makes it so difficult to be close to me. I'm sorry I can't get Christmas presents for the people I love.

I'm sorry about all this. I told Stacy, when I hit what felt like bottom tonight, that I'm so tired of this stupid world. I'm sorry I'm not making it any better. It feels like it broke me at last.

November 24, 2005

Bird by Bird

Happy Thanksgiving to all and sundry; and today, a feast of words, with a fresh new update on Otherwood. (Some of you have already noted that the previous section went up unannounced over the weekend, but in case you hadn't, there's that too.)

My word count's more than doubled since my last recounting it here, which still puts me in crunch for the next week, but so it goes. I'm off to improve upon that right now.

In the meantime, much bounty and good wishes to all of you, near and far; and I'll raise a glass to you by and by. Cheers!

November 12, 2005

Clothed All in Green-O

Part 2 is now on the novel site, as I charge into the weekend proper with 16,526 words down. Footnotes to come as I get further along in the text itself. (There's more written now than is currently posted, but I figured that was a good stopping point.)

And y'all who have been so kind and supportive about the work so far: I point out, once again, that comments are enabled over there. Humor a neurotic writer and set it down for the sake of posterity.

And with that, I'm back to't.

November 06, 2005

Have Wood, Need Sheep

Day six, and I stand at a respectable 10,445 words, so that's a week well spent.

This means there is now text up at the Otherwood site, in all its imperfect glory, for your perusal and commentary, should you be so inclined. It's been a lot of fun so far, and more so because I had a couple of surprise volunteers for the cast this time around. (As I remarked to Stacy a couple of days ago, it may be a relief to some of you to learn that I actually can write a genuine girly-girl; of course, I could only make it work by making her a guy, so that's probably a draw.)

In other creative news, I neglected to mention last time that the Music link in my sidebar yonder will now take you to an actual webpage, where you can read me nattering on about the various downloadable songs and stuff. Huzzah for navel-gazing wank.

Speaking of which, back to the fappery now in progress. Onward!

October 31, 2005

Begin, Begin

A couple of odds and ends, before I get down to the business of strapping the Stratocaster to the chimp tomorrow and have no headspace for anything else:

First, just as OVO steps down from a first public exhibition, Big Tony (our absent and missed fourth) tells me we also have our first public release, on the Looper's Delight 3 compilation, which I think I mentioned we'd been up entirely too late putting together back in June. (Also known as Kreepy Walking Trees, Take 1.) Too cool.

Second, for those of you who want to follow along as I unleash this year's assault on literature onto the unsuspecting world, the work-in-progress will be posted in installments here. No actual content there yet, of course, but just you wait.

Thirdly, of course, to all my companions in Craft: Happy New Year. And to all the departed, crowded close at the thinning of the veil, peace and restfulness and safe journey to you, wherever the Mystery may take you Onwards. Requiem aeternam dona eis, Munde, neve lux somnum pertubet eorum.

And so to bed, and gather my wits and strength for November. Aum Shri Ganeshaya Namah. See you on the other side.

October 21, 2005

The Minstrel in the Coffeehouse

For those of you I've failed to announce this to already, some good news: I have an upcoming gig, a week from tonight - Friday the 28th - at The Cup (where I've been an intermittent performer at Uncle John's open mic these past months). Huzzah!

And he called the band down to the stage: Along with my usual solo folkery, that night will premier some brand-new material from OVO (or, well, the three-quarters of us who have had the opportunity to all be in the same room together over the last few months), who will join me onstage at some point to assist in throwing paint at the canvas. We promise not to read aloud in Enochian so close to All Hallows, but all other bets are off. (Insert your fannish in-joke about "showy Gypsy stuff" here.)

And he looked at all the friends he'd made: On adjacent planes of cool, I'm honored and humbled that ilyAIMY will be playing the opening set that night. Heather and rob are real musician's musicians, and they actually do this stuff for a living, so headlining for them is probably better than I deserve; I'm starting to understand how Steven Wilson must feel lately having to follow Fripp every night. Those of you in attendance who I somehow haven't inflicted "Hands" on in the last couple of years are in for a treat.

Be there or be square as we give the big wheel of the year a nudge into Winter. And remember that tipping musicians is good for your karma.

UPDATE: Download a poster for Friday's show!

October 19, 2005

"This is a tribute..."

Department of horrible revelations, item #7214: I realized the other day that Fish-era Marillion (which I'd only just recently been trying to describe) sounds exactly like Tenacious D without the irony.

I think this may even trump the time when I had Porcupine Tree playing in the car, and sometime during the long instrumental in "Russia On Ice" Stacy turned to me and said, "You know this is porno music, right?"

October 13, 2005


MACLEANE: Still swinging both ways, Rochester?
ROCHESTER: Jamie, I swing every way.

- Plunkett & Macleane

Happy belated National Coming Out Day, all - which was officially two days ago, I know. QST, natch.

October 05, 2005

Mother Hold the Laptop Steady While I Vacuum the Cat

All too soon it's going to be that month again.

Brief notes of an outlining nature, now I have the better part of October to obsess about it: I'm back to writing Jenny this year. Last year's effort was interesting enough, but I didn't carry quite the burning love for it of previous years, so I think that's a lesson learned. I'm considering a story from relatively late in the saga, when Jenny's been settled and married a while, and how she deals with the inevitable weirdness with that perspective; but that's just first thoughts, and I may yet change my mind.

Also, I'm doing this one as a present to myself. I have no agenda for this, no thought of selling it; I may even post it online as I go, and first publication rights be damned. I want to get back to how much fun my first effort at this was, and what a grand time I had cavorting around my universe with my characters. That's what I want to do - a novel I'm not stressing over what kind of commercial chances it has. Too much of my headspace the last couple of years has been given to worrying about that ephemeral hypothetical, and I've lost sight of the reason I do all this in the first place. So there.

Fear not, though, you happy few who have given me joy by being Jenny's fans these last years; I've also been chipping away at a Second First Draft of The Vasty Deep, which I do hope to turn into a more polished - and finished! - work in the next year. Consider that an early heads-up for beta readers.

There's also, sometime on the horizon, the story commissioned by Niels, which has direction now; I'm still deciding whether I want to make it an Eldritch-cosmos story or not, but otherwise the wheels are in motion for that too. Watch this space!

October 02, 2005

Blog of the Plague Year

Pardon my recent silence, as I've been holed up for a week now with (of all damn things) an early case of the flu. It's better now, if not gone, and I've got a heavy-duty decongestant rendering me more or less functional; otherwise, it's been a week of heavy fluids, daytime TV, and waiting for it to pass.

(Sadly, this points up the sucky aspect of contract work, i.e., the not having insurance or paid sick days part. The cold star of Austerity continues to shine over me into autumn; so it goes.)

I seem to have been sick a lot this year, more so than normal. Stress and depression undoubtedly contributing factors, in these days of instability. Nothing to be done about that, but I look forward to not waking up feeling drained and full of ick every couple of months.

September 19, 2005

No Young Bloke Can Carpe Diem Like a Pirate in His Heyday

Mayhap ye been ashore some savage island these last years, or else ye be some poor sod of a landlubber; if so, we'll not keel-haul ye for not knowin' what day this be.

Avast, me hearties! Yo ho!

ADDENDARRRR: More o' this theme may be sighted if ye sail here.

To know by what name ye be called under the Code, see it writ here. (Or upon this parchment, or this.)

And this lot o' swag be the makin's of a fine sack o' plunder.

Swill rum and swagger, me lads!

September 12, 2005

The Sound of Half a Hand Wanking

It's so inevitable that it should probably be a Law of Fandom, and Murphy knows, maybe it is: At least once in every calendar year, any sufficiently large group of fen will find a reason to have a discussion in which Stephen Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant gets a thorough kicking.

(Equally inevitable is the mention of this essay as some kind of supporting documentation - as excruciatingly nasty a piece of snobbery as you're likely to encounter in genre crit.)

I know I should just look away when this happens, but all that vitriol and eye-rolling is like a three-car pileup: you swear you'll avert your eyes, and then you can't help needing to see just how horrible it all is.

Okay, so, it's like this. I kinda get what the criticism is all about. I can see the things that might make Lord Foul's Bane and it sequels not to everyone's taste: the wordy, dense, occasionally tortured prose; the morbidity; the infuriating, completely unsympathetic non-hero. I don't know for sure that these count as "flaws," but I can certainly understand why they might be off-putting.

Nonetheless, my reaction to the gleeful pile-on that inevitably happens is: Oh, for fuck's sake. No matter how articulate you are about it, after a very short while it boils down to a lot of Comic Book Guys sitting around going "Worst trilogy ever."

Michael Suileabhain-Wilson identifies, with terrifying accuracy, the Five Geek Social Fallacies; to which list I've long thought should be added the primary geek psychological fallacy, which is "My tastes, especially my dislikes, are personal virtues." Hell, I've been prone to this one too - I think most of us are to one degree or other. It's especially hard to be at all on the fringes of society and not at least partially define yourself by what you don't like (or read, watch, listen to, play, fuck, eat), and it's easy to imagine that this elevates you somehow above the benighted masses who don't have your refined tastes.

But you know what? A bunch of people who seem to have nothing better to talk about than how much they hate something is just... unpleasant. There are a few cases where I'd agree that excessive vitriol can be appropriate: actual hate literature, say, or artless Premillenial Dispensationalist godporn (same thing). I'm unconvinced that the Covenant books fall into such a category.

Am I being oversensitive? Of course I am. I freely admit that I have an excessive desire to see everyone playing nice, and that I think it's a shame (and, y'know, unbecoming) when people indulge in sneering rather than choosing to shrug and say "de gustibus." And I do take it a little personally, though I know I shouldn't, that this kind of conversation sends me a clear signal that there are things I can't admit to and still be in the club with the Cool Kids. (Why I'm not used to that by now I don't know.)

Mostly, though, it's just this: eleven years ago, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever blew me away. I'm not an undiscerning reader, and I wasn't then either. Donaldson made me root for a protagonist I couldn't admire; he made me fall in love with the Land, with all its richness and strangeness and shadowed, fragile hope; and he changed the way I thought about fantasy and what it was capable of and how it could do it. I don't really believe all that was merely a lack of taste, intelligence or maturity on my part.

It's probably too much to ask that niceness be restored to the discourse of fandom. I'm sure it's silly and naive of me to wish for it. But I'm tired enough of half-apologizing for things that I like, that I don't actually think call for an apology or embarassment on my part, that I'm tempted to design a new t-shirt, suitable for congoing: If you can't think of anything nice to say, go on and fuck yourself.

September 08, 2005

...Beggarman, Thief

"The reason the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

"Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars....

"But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while a poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet."

- Terry Pratchett, Men At Arms

Also, what he said; and the followup.

September 06, 2005

Storming the Reality Studio

I try not to engage in reflexive television-bashing, tempting though I admit it sometimes is. When I was a wee theatre undergrad a decade ago, there was a popular t-shirt that read Theatre is Life; Film is Art; Television is Furniture, and I suppose I thought it was sort of clever then; now I mostly think it's nasty triumphalist snobbery, about half a sneer away from "Your Favorite Band Sucks," and equally undeserving of the nodding gravitas that's usually accorded it by the more-aloof-than-thou. And while it's undeniable that Sturgeon's Law holds sway in the land of the Great Glass Teat as much as everywhere else, when one stops to consider that the same soil brought forth the fruit of Buffy and Farscape and The West Wing and Gilmore Girls and... well, I could go on, but it becomes clear that the medium itself is not the problem.

(And besides, all the tut-tutting that often goes on about TV, and what it's doing to the collective intelligence, attention span, imagination, what-have-you of our culture, sounds awfully familiar to me; it's the same dumb crap that gets trotted out every so often about comics, and it's dead wrong there, and there's a good argument to be made that it's completely off the mark about the so-called Idiot Box too. But anyway.)

Nonetheless, I'll be the first in line to say that "Reality TV" is an oxymoron, and that the current fashion for it in network programming is troubling on many levels. Which is why this cartoon by Ampersand made my morning. Hell, I'd tune in to see that; it may even be better than my idea of having the hosts of What Not To Wear thrown amongst punks and hippies and taunted about their clothes until they cry.

September 04, 2005

Don't Try to Revive Me

I've been alternately avoiding and following with sick fascination news of the post-Katrina apocalypse down south, and trying not to think too hard about a city I've had a great love for these last two years - one of the jewels of our Republic - becoming a hideous toxic lake while the Gummint apparently does its hell-bent best to raise the suffering and misery and death to truly Biblical proportions.

But I will say that if this doesn't make you ill with outrage, you're not paying sufficient attention. In which case, I suggest at least checking in with the coverage at Making Light, where the Nielsen Haydens and company have been relentlessly, unblinkingly keeping abreast of the atrocities; start, say, here, and read on through. Follow the links until your capacity for being appalled is reached; rinse, repeat.

If you had any lingering doubts that the current American regime is both grossly incompetent and actually evil - consider those scales fallen.

August 26, 2005

The Further Fall of Darth Rosenberg

I do try to limit my snark these days, but I have to wonder if this is going to be worth a half-hour out of my week just to see new material from Ally Hannigan.

Not that we her die-hard sycophantic fans aren't happy to see she's getting work, and all. Nor to suggest that the sitcom is a format without potential for a kind of Art. But one gets the very strong impression that, having seen the incredible things she's capable of, watching her in this is going to be something like listening to Adrian Belew play a coffee jingle.

August 07, 2005


One does try to leaven optimism with caution, but I'm all aflutter with the possibility that this may be what we've all been waiting for - an Alan Moore-inspired movie that doesn't suck.

August 03, 2005

A Penitent Man...

Back from Swampstock XII two days ago, and back to work today, alas. No vacation is ever sufficient.

And the winner of the "Commission-a-Story" auction item is (drumroll) Niels "Kraut Bastard" von Deuten, who walked with it for the bargain price of $5 (and also snagged the missus' Willie Warmer to boot, and let us make no further connexions there). I assume I'll be getting the details on what I'll be working on sometime after he's finished the moving-in process in the next week or so. I'll post updates here when that happens.

In the meantime, I have songs to write.

July 26, 2005

Follow Me Down to the Valley Below

Thanks to all who sent their regards during this latest Dark Night of the Soul. I have been making a long slow recovery over the past week, and getting the love and support of my friends-and-relations has made a difference. I think one of these days soon it will be time for me to talk at length here about my lifelong Death Cage Grudge Match with depression, and share some of my thoughts on living with an incurable emotional disorder; but it is not this day, as King Elessar says.

Of course, my mood is helped considerably with the imminent onset of Swampstock XII, for which we depart tomorrow night, and it's hard indeed to work up much gloominess when you're preparing to fill the station wagon with beer and lesbians so you can spend three days getting 'faced in the woods. To those of you who aren't able to make it this year: You will be missed and in our hearts, at least until the second or third round of Fuck-Me Punch kicks in. To those of you who still haven't done one of these after twelve years (yeah, I'm lookin' at you, Arizona), let this serve as yet another reminder of what you've been missing out on all this time.

Being poorer than normal this year, I wasn't able to put together my first choice for a silent auction item (a follow-up to last year's handbound book), so I'm seeing this as a sign I need to take the next twelve months and really do it right for SS XIII. This year, though, I'm doing something a little different. The item I'll be auctioning off this weekend will be the following:

Commission a Story!

The winner of this auction item will have the unique opportunity to commission a fantasy short story by Dan Layman-Kennedy. You can be responsible for the birth of a work of Art!

The rules are as follows:

1. The winner may select three (3) elements to be included in the story, keeping in mind that I’ll work them in however I best see fit. I promise to make these elements central, or at least important, to the story, meaning I won’t cheat and use them as wallpaper while I write about something else.

2. I reserve the right to reject elements that I find tasteless, politically offensive, or too silly to be workable. If I do find it necessary to reject an idea, you’ll have the opportunity to select an alternate. (Choosing wisely the first time, however, is highly recommended.)

3. The winner, on the other hand, receives no such guarantee regarding their own sensibilities. Keep in mind that the author is a feminist pagan bisexual with anarchist sympathies and a taste for the grotesque. Therefore, caveat emptor.

4. The elements to be included must be settled on, and agreed to by me, no later than September 1, 2005. Earlier is better, though. (If you do need that time to decide, the best way to contact me post-Swampstock is by email:

5. I’m a genre writer. If three things you thought would be perfect in a work of gritty realism, poignant coming-of-age, or chick lit end up gracing an urban fantasy tale full of octopus monsters – don’t say you weren’t warned.

6. The winner agrees not to select elements that will obviously railroad the work into suggesting or infringing upon anyone else’s established intellectual property. (The author agrees likewise.) Stealing is wrong. Hello.

7. The finished work will be no less than 3500 words. Probably longer, since I’m prone to verbosity, but you’re guaranteed at least that much. It’s also guaranteed to be a prose story – I promise not to do a bait-and-switch and write a song or an epic poem instead.

8. The story will be completed no later than one calendar year from purchase at the auction (i.e., by July 31, 2006). Hope for sooner, but don’t count on it; the Muse, like a lover, gets temperamental when rushed.

9. The winner will receive one (1) handbound pamphlet copy of the finished work, signed by me. If you don’t know if or when you’ll see me in person in the next year, I’ll be happy to send it to you by mail. This will, however, mean not making your address impossible to track down; please plan accordingly before you bid.

10. I will, of course, retain all copyright and other authorial rights and priveleges as regards the finished work, including the right to revise, submit, sell, distribute or otherwise use as I see fit.

11. Lastly, if this item ends up going for an especially high final price at auction, I’ll throw in something extra and cool to go with the finished product. Bid large and see what happens.

We'll see how that goes. I'll announce the winner here when I return.

And, with that, I'm off to pack. Obviously, I'll be dropping off the map for a couple of days as of tomorrow night, so attempts to reach me via the normal means will meet with little success. (I'll probably be more than usually susceptible to astral projections, though, so that's worth a shot if you're desperate.)

See you back here in August.

July 18, 2005

...And I Think I'm Going Nowhere

Insomnia and a really, truly dreadful case of depression have been ganging up on me for... well, at least a week now, judging by my Roller Coaster of Sick since last Monday, but in particular for the last couple of days. I'm a bit of a wreck physically and mentally (okay, more than a bit, but whatever). I know it's mostly just bad chemicals and will pass, but, damn, I wish it'd get on with it.

I do beg your pardon, devoted readers. I try not to indulge in Poor Poor Pitiful Me here if I can help it, but I'm hoping sending a little of this awfulness out into the void will help me be rid of it, or at least some of it, sooner. Fingers crossed, anyway.

I'll let you know.

July 09, 2005

Dammit, Jesus, Quit Jogging My Arm

Via vassilissa, on the latest Open Thread on Making Light: "With You Always," a series of utterly sincere and unintentionally funny drawings of Jesus Christ backseat-driving at assorted professions.

They defy description, so go see for yourself. I particularly like the shot of the Savior of Mankind apparently offering up a small child to a clown, and the "Just get us to Reno and everything will be okay" scenario with the truck driver on page two.

UPDATE, slightly belated: Quoth Spyder, in comments, "It's like a game of 'add the caption'!" - and, of course, someone else thought so too. Courtesy Alex Cohen, in the same ML thread.

June 27, 2005

Mmmm, Detritus

In case you haven't seen yet, there's a new batch of Bockhorst Fields Candle Scents over at Andy's blog, and a startling visual.

Any chance there's still Sackcloth & Ashes in stock?

June 20, 2005

Record Time

Many of you have this news already, but it can use an official announcement: I've been working the last couple of weeks, as an Archival Assistant at Maryland State Archives doing quality control on land records. It's a good, if somewhat unexciting, job, though I must say being hired for actually having an applicable skill has been quite a bonus.

And I must say "unexciting" cuts both ways; I'm really just as glad to be doing something quiet and repetitive where I get left the hell alone for eight hours. It's been worth the early-morning hike to Annapolis, which I was pleased to discover takes not all that much longer than driving into Baltimore, at least during the dawn hours.

In less banal news, a reassembled OVO just spent the weekend - inspired not a little by the time-bending Fripp soundscapes show we attended Friday - making odd noises in Tony's attic and recording them. I look forward to hearing what shape it takes when it manifests properly, but the rough mix sounded pretty damn cool, even after we sobered up. Hooray! More of this sort of thing to come, let's hope.

May 26, 2005

I've Been Here and I've Been There and I've Been In Between

Okay, so I think that's a long enough hiatus for anyone.

It's been an odd couple of months, though I won't exhaustively detail the ins and outs just yet; more fragments, perhaps, as I (promise, really) do more updates. Suffice to say that life continues to be good despite the odd stumble, and I think it's a measure of something profound or other that in a year about which I must sigh and say, "So far, not in the top five," I'm reminded how very lucky I am.

On the subject of setbacks, I was in yesterday for my last day at the job I'd done since December, which I'd been waiting since March or so for the other shoe to drop on, so no big tragedy. I will miss the nice people I worked with; the work itself, not so much, which is why I didn't make it the start of a New Career Path inna first place. No word yet from the Agency on a new assignment, but I continue to pursue promising leads. (Yes, those of you who have been following the Missus' posts of late: this means we are both, at the moment, out of work. We trust this is a fleeting development, and revel in the meantime in being able to stay up late on a school night.) Anyway, I had a good final half-week of training my replacement, imparting the weight of five months' worth of file-management wisdom in an impressively short span. And I was good, and did not once refer to her as "My young apprentice" in a spooky Ian McDiarmid voice.

I've also been attending, since March, the Tuesday night open mic at Huckleberry's, the local independent caffeine clinic, and got some good reaction out of my quirky originals before it got so popular that getting a slot on the lineup only happens on a Critical Success. ("The place is so crowded, nobody goes there anymore.") I've also met fellow tuneslinger and offbeat-music-fan Bob Parrott that way, who has been especially kind to me about my work (he calls "One of Those Nights" my first breakout radio hit), and was cool enough to invite me to play at his solo show a couple of weeks back. (Bass on Sublime's "What I Got," and recorder on "Ruby Tuesday." Tony Levin and Ian Anderson are not in fear for their careers.) As a result of our weekly meetups, Bob's now got me plunged headfirst into reading Tom Robbins, an experience I was long overdue for anyway, though I must now plot whether an intro to Ligotti or Pratchett is the more suitably addictive revenge.

And, as Big Tony relates, I am now the proud owner of PaPa's station wagon, something that turned out to be a bigger bag of mixed feelings than I anticipated. It's a huge potential boon for our working lives to have two cars now, but there's still something very sad about having that car in my driveway and having it not mean that my grandparents are here. In a way, it was the last bit of laying him to rest for me. Weird and a little hard. It's almost a sense of... responsibility.

Anyway, this weekend's our big Memorial Day/Hurrah, We're Unemployed party, with a nice gathering of our out-of-town circle converging on Chez L-K (and at least a dropin, hopefully, on Balticon), so I suppose I should go wash dishes or something. Which is not to say that I will, mind, just that I'm aware of duty even as I shirk it. The deep ethical implications are left as an excercise for the reader.

March 15, 2005

Cue Chumbawamba

Checking in to say I've been having a three-month epic battle with seasonal depression, aggravated by stress of various kinds, which is why I've been less than great about updates for a while. I won't say I'm okay, because it comes and goes, and it's been scarier lately than I remember it being in a long time, if ever. But I'm getting by.

Someday, I will have a job I like enough to stick around for and get benefits, and then I will have therapy and possibly medication. In the meantime, television, chocolate, and the occasional reread of Weaveworld will have to make do.

On the other hand, I'm pretty excited about this.

February 23, 2005

Small, Favored

Huzzah! Spyder is 21 today! It is now perfectly legal to tempt her with pooftah fruity rum drinks, if that sort of thing's your bag.

And may I say that it's been a privelege, these last two and a half years, to have such a smart, talented, funny, all-around wicked cool person not only surface most fatefully into my life, but turn out to be so much on my wavelength that I think of her as the sister I never knew I had.

Welcome to your seat at the official Grownups' Table, mia sorella. Don't worry - you still don't have to act like one.

February 19, 2005

I Still Ate'nt Dead

It's been a weird couple of weeks and I'm more or less well, though I'm still feeling the lingering effects of the bug I had a week ago, plus seasonal depression, but that's how it works sometimes. In any case, I haven't felt like I've had anything interesting to say for a while. This may be nobody's fault but mine.

I turned down a full-time position at my current place of employment last week, mostly because spending the next year as a file clerk was less appealing than I'd thought at first. ("I don't blame you," said the supervisor to whom I broke the news. "It's a terrible job and you're completely overqualified for it.") I'm still there as a temp, at least for a little while, but the search for satisfying employment continues, as does figuring out what the hell I want to be when I grow up. Aside from "brilliant and famous," that is.

Sadly, the creative well's bit a bit dry of late too, and the several projects I felt all fired up about in recent memory have completely failed to capture my attention. I know, I know - if I was really serious I'd be working on them anyway. Don't remind me.

And, uh, that's all I got these days. I'm sure I'll have much more interesting things to post in the near future. No, really, I promise.

January 20, 2005

Fire to Endure

Well, it's been three weeks now since my grandfather departed the world, and since I last wrote here; I think twenty-one days is probably sufficient time to gather myself and share a little.

It's been hard. The nature of loss is that it finds odd moments to remind you, when you've gotten around to thinking you're okay and acting like you're living a normal life again. But I'm mostly okay these days. I miss him terribly, which is the selfishness of the living for you. He was not happy in his last months (at least), enduring the dual onslaughts of his body's betrayals and living in a nursing home; he was ready to go. I'm glad he's not suffering any more. And I think that, hey, fourscore and one is a pretty good run of it, all told. (And Death, in her top-hat, smiles and says, "You got what everyone gets. You got a lifetime.") Nonetheless, selfishly, irrationally, I wish I'd had more time just knowing he was around. The part of me that kept up a silly hope that he'd find some spark of the person he'd been ten years ago is frustrated that now he'll never have the chance.


His ashes have been interred in one of his own pots, which is as grand and fitting as can be hoped for. I had the honor of bringing him home one last time, two weeks ago Saturday, after the memorial service in Allentown. It was also my great privelege to deliver his eulogy, which ran as follows:

"Thank you all for coming.

"First off, I must beg your indulgence. I know that many of you knew my grandfather as Ray or Raymond or possibly Mr. Gallucci. None of those names feel right to me. All my life, to me he's been PaPa - my brother's mispronunciation of 'Grandpa' when he was just learning to talk. It's stuck these last forty years, and if that's the name that first comes to me to call him, bear with me.

"(I also apologize if I'm echoing other things said here by family and friends. We shared, obviously, many of the same experiences, and didn't bother to make sure we weren't repeating each other. Today of all days, anything worth saying about him is worth saying more than once.)

"I have the honor of delivering this eulogy this in part because, as you might have noticed, there are no services being given by clergy today. I'm afraid PaPa's sympathies for the religious impulse were somewhat limited. (That is, believe me, putting it mildly.) He was, all his life - even through his involvement with the Unitarian church - a skeptic and a rationalist, as zealous in his atheism as any convert to a faith. To be entirely honest, it wasn't one of his kinder qualities; he was rarely hesitant to express his lack of patience with anything he saw as nonsense. A universe full of nothing more miraculous than the dance of elements and forces, circling each other in the measureless void, was quite wondrous enough for him. I myself am largely agnostic, though a great believer in the value of beauteous and meaningful nonsense, so my own sympathies are somewhat divided. Nonetheless, I won't do him the disrespect of referring to God or heaven or souls in what follows, the truth of all of which you may decide for yourselves, and which he certainly now knows better than any of us here.

"I will, however, point out that this underlines one of the delightful paradoxes in his character - the rational atheist who spent most of his life as an artist, engaged with numinal forces that science and reason have yet to quantify. To create Art is to invoke Mystery, as the first people to paint images on a cave wall knew, and those first artists were indistinguishable from priests and magicians. My grandfather's materials were the same as those of a paleolithic shaman - earth and pigment, water and fire - and the magic he conjured out of them of a similar kind.

"And, like a shaman, he seemed to only partly live in the world the rest of us did. His eccentricities - and they were, believe me, numerous - were almost all the result of the worldly things he couldn't bother to be concerned with: appearance, possessions, frivolities. It was enough that his clothes were comfortable, that a car was a serviceable conveyance, that he had enough money to live simply on. The things that were truly important to him were abstractions: Color and form. Perfection of composition. Beauty. Language. Family. Dignity. Justice.

"Even his own creations, which never awakened the joy and awe in him they did in almost everyone else, ceased to hold his interest once they were completed. A finished pot or a mosaic was just a thing, an object. A work-in-progress was sacred; woe betide the person who upset a tray of mugs before firing, before they had the chance to become complete. But break a finished piece? 'It's just mud,' he'd say, as if unable to understand why anyone would be upset by it. In a way, he may have suffered some of the disillusionment artists are prone to once they're intimate with the messy, dirty processes of creation. Some of the magic is inevitably lost once you know how the trick's done; the pot looks different to the man who spends all day up to his elbows in the stuff of its materials.

"Which is certainly not to say he was immune to wonder. He called clay 'the poetry of the earth' (and in his hands it was), though he may have given too much credit to the medium and too little to the maker in that. He sought the same poetry elsewhere as well, in music and literature and the works of the other artists he admired. About ten years ago, he decided to reread all of Shakespeare's plays (a passion we shared, and talked about too little). He remarked to me that the thought had occurred to him, over one particularly poignant bit of verse, that he knew all the words in that sentence - why couldn't he have put them together like that? The spark of genius - Shakespeare, Mozart, Rembrandt - fascinated him, maybe in part because he felt like it eluded him.

"The rest of us knew better, of course. Look at any of his works - his pottery, his paintings, his mosaics - and his incredible gifts are apparent. Many of them are abstracts, studies in pure shape and color, but even his more representational work is infused with a vision that was uniquely and brilliantly his. Once you come to know it, there's no mistaking his art for anyone else's, though the sheer amount of it is astounding: dozens of mosaics and paintings and sculptures, probably thousands of pieces of pottery. Again and again he returned to the forms that obsessed him - circles, rectangles, branches, strata - and yet his revisitations of those themes never feel stale or tired. It was part of his particular gift to reinvent without repeating himself, and that is a thing wondrous rare. Though he never quite articulated the reasons he finally ceased creating, now many years since, it may be that he felt he'd come to the end of his explorations and wanted to stop before his interest soured.

"We can forgive him for being too close to what he did to see it as it truly was. It's hard enough for me, growing up surrounded by his work, to reconcile its genius with the man who was my grandfather, just plain PaPa with his silly charm and disheveled clothes, his uncut hair and his pungent cigars. The man who made sure his grandchildren got to go to the zoo at least once a summer, who could effortlessly eat a quart of ice cream at a sitting, who cut open his shoes with a razor because they fit better that way - this person has a hard time existing in the same space as the maker of the mosaic that hangs over my fireplace. I saw many, many of his pieces as works-in-progress, saw him bent over them for hours on end, and I still can't quite fit those two personae together in my head. But it's a credit to him as both artist and man that, in my memory at least, he occupies both roles in equal measure. And it's one of the wonders of the universe that a finished pot can be a work of sublime beauty and also be… just mud. It may do that mystery honor enough to recognize the paradox and live with both truths at once.

"There is never enough time. If the human condition has an overriding theme, that may be it. The fact that we get death as part of the bargain of living ensures that time is something that is always in insufficient supply. I wish I had more now, to tell you everything about the PaPa I knew, his quirks and his brilliance and his flaws all together. And I know that everything I can recall is just a fragment of the person he was. In the time to come, I hope to know more, from those of you who saw other fragments, other facets. One of the means by which we cope with our shortage of time is the way we spend our lives at least as much in story and memory as in the living moments; it's a tragedy of our species, but also a gift. It means that Ray Gallucci will endure in all his facets for as long as our memories of him remain, as long as there are stories of him to tell, and for as long as the works he shaped out of mud and poetry may last. Flesh, after all, is also just mud, wet earth given shape by steady turning on an implacable wheel. And when this fragile vessel breaks beyond repair, we can still take joy in the poetry that lingers afterwards.

"That is why we are here today: to take joy in what lingers after a person departs the world. The rites of the dead are not for the dead, who are past caring. Our rites are for us, to say farewell, to know that we are not alone in our grief, to somehow find a way to accommodate our unbearable loss; to learn, with each other, to cope with the fact that there is now a hole in the world the size and shape of someone we dearly loved.

"His body is ash now, unmade by the same fire by which he turned clay into Art; there's a poetry, too, in that completion, a circle made whole. It's a dignified end, and dignity was something he treasured, one of the things he kept for himself until the very last. It's a comfort to me to think of him released into the Universe like that, his energies returned into Creation: no better than earth, but also no less than a sun. That was how he lived, too; may we all be inspired to do the same.

"I close my thoughts today with two pieces of verse, both of which say things I wish I had thought of first ('I know all those words') about loss and mortality and the honoring of the departed. The first is Walt Whitman, from "Song of Myself":

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?
They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the
end to arrest it,
And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

"The second is a prayer, of sorts, written by another unbeliever. This is from the Requiem Mass by Kurt Vonnegut, a fellow Unitarian and, like my grandfather, a pacifist veteran of the Second World War. It's a corrective to irrational, judgmental theology, a petition to the Universe itself to take pity on the dead and give them rest; I like to think PaPa might have approved.

Chrone, eleison.
Stoechia, eleisate.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Munde,
Neve lux somnum pertubet eorum.

"Time, have mercy upon us;
Elements, have mercy upon us;
Rest eternal grant them, O Cosmos,
And let not light disturb their sleep.

"Thank you for listening."

So life, inexorably and absurdly, goes on. I like my new job, even if it's a bit of a demotion and not quite where I saw myself at this point in my life; so it goes. We've had our first snow of the winter this week, with more on the way, and Baltimore is lovely with white. I'm going to be thirty-one on Tuesday. I hope to be able to write again soon, an impulse I haven't felt able to tap into for a little while now.

Mostly I'm just getting through the days. There are worse fates.

Thanks, everyone, for your support and love these last weeks. It's meant the world and helped more than you know. And thanks, too, for your patience while I dropped off the earth for a while. I promise I'll be in touch properly and more often in the time to come.