A nice evening

31 August 2008 | 6 Comments

Thanks to our friend Craig for a lovely evening at Black Bottle last night. I’ve been wanting a night out in the city in a place like this, casual and utterly urban. It was noisy and crowded, so it was hard to talk but the energy of it was like fizz in the air. I liked that our table was near the window, the street so close and so full of other lives passing by while we lived our lives inside with small plates of yummy food, with brandy and orange juice, with grownup conversation. I always say thank you to people who refill my water glass or bring me food, and it was nice that last night it mattered to them that I did, nice to exchange those smiles and be more real to each other for a second or two. And then it was nice to say goodbye to the noise and the rush and the sometimes-overwhelming buzz of other humans close by, to get into our little car and drive home under a slate-blue sky full of clouds that had turned nearly navy blue in some mad trick of atmospherics. To sit by the fire with tea and toast with jam and only each other, in the quiet.

Poetry for cats

30 August 2008 | 2 Comments

Here’s a little literary fun for a holiday weekend. This is from Poetry for Cats: Tthe Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse, by Henry Beard. It’s a lovely, clever collection of poems, ostensibly written by famous poets’ cats, which is brilliant both as hommage and as a study of feline psychology.

Here’s a taste. Enjoy.

To A Vase
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Cat


How do I break thee? Let me count the ways.
I break thee if thou art at any height
My paw can reach, when, smarting from some slight,
I sulk, or have one of my crazy days.
I break thee with an accidental graze
Or twitch of tail, if I should take a fright.
I break thee out of pure and simple spite
The way I broke the jar of mayonnaise.
I break thee if a bug upon thee sits.
I break thee if I’m in a playful mood,
And then I wrestle with the shiny bits.
I break thee if I do not like my food.
And if someone thy shards together fits,
I’ll break thee once again when thou art glued.


– from Poetry for Cats by Henry Beard

Friday pint

29 August 2008 | 3 Comments

Every Friday I transfer posts here from the Virtual Pint archives.

The usual servings today, and something special — another novel excerpt. Enjoy

  • When story goes wrong (October 2002) — Steel Breeze in Solitaire, or why sometimes people just fuck story up.
  • Early thoughts about translations (November 2002) — Beginning to understand that language is worldview, and worldview changes how we experience story. It’s the early seeds of this discussion.
  • Accidental (November 2002) — More on Steel Breeze and the role of accident in life. This post refers in a sideways manner to Hollow, the other novel I was working on at the time, and that I talked about recently. It seems unbearably coy to dance around it, so here you go.


Happy birthday, Chuck

28 August 2008 | 3 Comments

I’ve known my friend Chuck Munro for more than 25 years. We met at the University of South Florida Theatre Department, where we were both taking acting degrees. We worked together in classes, and acted together in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Helena and Demetrius, and I had the fun of being in the chorus of Jesus Christ Superstar when Chuck played Judas Iscariot. Chuck was handsome and talented (a great actor and singer). He had a beautiful smile. He attended to people in the oldest sense of the word — when Chuck turned his attention fully toward you, you felt as if you were his only priority for that moment. And he had a reserved charm, a sense of something held back behind that killer smile. We all fell in love with him.

He was one of my two close friends in college (I’ll be talking about the other one in a couple of weeks…) At that point in my life I had taken reserve to a new art form, but Chuck was someone I could always talk to. He was comfortable to be with. He made me feel smart and interesting and safe being myself, even when my self was really weird.

And he introduced me to the music of U2. For that alone he stands among the awesome people in my pantheon (grin).

When Chuck moved to Chicago, he lived for a time with me and my roommate until he found a place of his own. And with that place, a life of his own. I left Chicago in 1987 and we’ve never lived close to each other since. He came to my wedding, and I went to his, but really we are the kind of friends who speak maybe once a year — and it’s always as if we just talked yesterday. Our friendship doesn’t seem to operate on linear time. When I was in Chicago last year we met up — only briefly, because life is so damn busy — and I cried to leave him because he is still that special, still handsome and smart, a charming, questing soul with a killer smile and compassion in his heart for everyone.

Happy birthday, Chuck. I love you.

Chuck 2008
Chuck 2008
Chuck & Kelley 1983
Chuck & Kelley 1983

Link change for Mad Rush vid

27 August 2008 | Comments Off

There is a new YouTube link for Karina’s Mad Rush vid for “Strings”. Karina has added a title at the beginning and credits at the end and re-uploaded the vid. I have fixed the link in the original post, but wanted to make sure people knew about the change.

I’m going to be spreading the word about the vid because I think it’s an absolutely awesome idea for generating online buzz for fiction, and a cool and intensely personal way for people to interact with stories they love. I’m totally jazzed about it.

Thanks again, Karina!

The faster I go, the behinder I get

27 August 2008 | 9 Comments

I have posts…hmm, what are these posts doing? Are they simmering like stew? Are they building themselves up in my brain like coral on a reef? Are they brewing like tea? There are so many metaphors for the black-box backbrain process of writing, of bringing ideas together to the point where words may give them shape.

But I’m not there yet. I would be, except that I hate hate hate hate Windows! have experienced three hours a few technical difficulties this morning. And I have places to go and things to do, and the posts that are… mulching, fermenting, gestating: whatever they’re doing, they’re not done. And I really need to be finishing up the Humans At Work website because I want it ready for beta testing before I go off next week to sit for eight hours on uncomfortable chairs with some mind-numbing talk show blasting from a corner TV waiting for my turn to be rejected for jury duty.

Sometimes life is all about the details. I can handle details, but it’s not always a fun experience. My parents are both great at managing details. Why did I not get these cheerful give-me-a-list-and-stand-back genes? Because the universe needs a good laugh every once in a while, and today it’s my turn to pop out of the little box wearing a funny nose and waving my arms back and forth. And probably not getting as much done as I would like. Ah well…I’ve said before that I don’t believe in fate or god, but I can’t resist this quote:

I was put on this earth to accomplish a number of things. Right now I am so far behind that I will never die. – Who knows who said this, but it’s true

However, do not feel sorry for me. I have become quite good at rewarding myself for entering the ninth circle of hell detail zone, and so one of the things on my list today is this.

Enjoy your day, whatever you’re doing!

Mad Rush for Strings

26 August 2008 | 4 Comments

When I first wrote about vidding, I said:

I wish there were a way to respond like this to a novel or short story. Imagine. Wow. If someone did something like this in response to my work, I would cry like a baby and count myself blessed. – from my post “Vid it

And today comes this from Karina Melendez — her response to my story “Strings”.

The words are taken (a bit randomly) from…”€œStrings”€. The music is by Philip Glass. The beautiful footage belongs to Patricia Rozema and Aaron Platt. – Karina Melendez, describing the origins of “Mad Rush“.

And so I’m crying and I’m blessed. I’m overwhelmed by this beautiful gift. It’s just astonishing.

Because apart from the incredible personal meaning this has for me, I stand in awe of what she’s done for fiction. It would never have occurred to me to use words in this way, and I think it’s fucking brilliant. This is not a “video of the story” — it’s a response that uses the story I wrote to show the story that she feels. This is not the story of “Strings,” it’s the heart of “Strings” — what music means, how it feels, what it does. And how what we keep inside us will always find a way out.

Watch it, please, please. And please go let Karina know what you think.

Saying thank you doesn’t seem like enough, somehow. And so I thought that along with my thanks, I would offer the story itself. Here is “Strings”. It’s one of my best. I hope you enjoy it.


26 August 2008 | 2 Comments

Daryl Gregory was at Clarion in 1988. At the workshop, he wrote a story about drag-racing demons, and I knew then that he was one of the good ones, someone who would go out and blow a hole through SF. He’s been publishing great stories for years, and getting a lot of well-deserved attention.

And I’m totally thrilled that today he publishes his first novel, Pandemonium. The book is already getting great reviews (Publisher’s Weekly, Locus, The Agony Column). And hey, the first taste is free — you can read the first chapter here.

Congratulations, Daryl! I’m excited for you. Go celebrate, man. I’ll be here reading the book.

Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory
Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory

Kinda I want to

25 August 2008 | 6 Comments

It’s late August, and change is in the air. Autumn is close, the grey wind, the orange and red leaves, the wine, the fire. They are our days of rebirth, Nicola’s and mine. Autumn is for us the real beginning of our year, and like all beginnings I wish it would hurry up slowly…. I’m eager for the electricity and the fizz, and at the same time I never want to let go of these sleepy days, the heat and the smell of cut grass and the meandering afternoons that slide slowly into soft nights.

But autumn’s coming. I can feel it.

So here’s an autumn song. For those who’ve been following the music I’ve posted here recently, and who aren’t familiar with Nine Inch Nails (waving at parents), just let me say — this isn’t U2, and it’s not Traffic. This is the raw part of the landscape, the wilder side of where I live musically.

I played this song constantly when I was writing “Dangerous Space.” If you like that story then perhaps you’ll imagine that you are Mars in your studio, where you have always been safe until Duncan Black came into your life. And it’s 2 AM and Noir is there, sweating and grinning and juiced on music. Everyone’s doors are open. No one’s going home. Johnny says Let’s do this fucking song and they look at each other in the way you’ve come to know and then they do, they play. And Duncan sings. And you watch him, and you listen, and you put your hands on this music and lay it down.

When I went looking for the song, I found something unexpected — an X-Files Mulder/Krycek slash vid. I’ve written before about my interest in vidding, and I think the vid in that previous post (“Defying Gravity”) is gorgeous — seriously, go see it if you haven’t, it’s exciting and expansive and full of the particular joy of being completely oneself, even when that’s a scary thing to be or to have others see about you. Today’s vid is more…autumnal. All about longing, the unspoken conversations, the impulse to begin… Perfect for the song and the season.

There are no bad words or nudity in any of this, so perhaps it’s safe for work. Although I wouldn’t call it safe in any way, myself. And that’s autumn for you.

Calling all U2 fans

24 August 2008 | Comments Off

@U2, the U2 fan website that I write for, is sponsoring the first-ever academic conference about U2. “U2,The Hype and the Feedback: A conference exploring the music, work and influence of U2″ will happen May 13 – 15, 2009 in New York. Special guests include esteemed music writers Anthony DeCurtis and Steve Turner, award-winning religion writer Cathleen Falsani, Jim Henke of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Matt McGee, who is my boss from @U2 (hey, Fearless Leader!) and the author of the forthcoming book U2: A Diary.

The conference is hosted by Cedarville University and is the brainchild — and long labor — of Scott Calhoun, an @U2 staff writer and a professor at Cedarville.

Many of the @U2 staff are involved in some aspect of the conference. I’m a member of the panel reviewing submission papers for the programming tracks, and I’m looking forward to this new light shining on the music and band I love. What will the academics say about U2? Should be interesting…

If you’re a U2 fan, or you know someone who is, please let them know about the conference. You don’t have to be an academic to attend — you just gotta love U2!

And just to show how serious U2 can be, here’s a clip from Rattle and Hum (1987) that includes a kickass version of “Desire”… and a very funny interview with a very stoned band.

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