Riding the Scree

The rocks are tumbling all around me.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


...and 2 right feet... and an extra pair of ears sliding around on her second head. Yep, for those who don't yet know... we're pregnant. 11 weeks and 2 days...

which looks something like this...

I'm so excited I could wet my pants. Nisha might also wet her pants, but for different reasons. Also, she's been really sick, so be extra nice to her if you see her.

Whenever I'm Down...

...I visit Boy On A Stick & Slither. It's both the most optimistic and most pessimistic humor site I've ever found. It's very observant and insightful, and there's something sweet and resilient and cynical about it that puts BOASAS in it's own sepcial category. Great great stuff. Here are a few samples...


This week's blatant, and self-serving, plug is for SideShow Labs. They specialize in web design, interactive and identity work... and have recently added print services to their list of goodies for sale. And, yes, I am part of this new print arm of the biz. So I am biased. But check out the site anyway. And if you happen to need some sort of design work... drop a line.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Concise Prose. Enough Said.

My blatant plug for the week is a lit site called Verbsap. Everyone should check them out, and not just because the editor Laurie Seidler has agreed to run my story "Quality of Life" in their Summer issue. They specialize in minimalist/concise stuff. My favorite!
I could ramble on about their content and my love of minimalism for hours, but that would be ironic at best

Thursday, February 22, 2007


I'm a finalist in Opium Magazine's Shya Scanlon Seven-Line* Short Story Contest! They've whitled it down from over 120 entries to 13 of us, listed here. The winner(s?) will be announced February 26. Worse case scenario, I've got another online publication credit to my name. Best case, I win $1,000 and get printed on actual paper!!!
I've had a good couple of months writing-wise (see links to recent pubs on my sidebar). Not trying to brag or nothin, just happy (and relieved) that after more than 20 years of honing my writing, I can finally give it away for free!

Ah, shit.

*note: not 7 sentences, 7 lines. kinda tricky making it come out "write." ellohell!

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Fox News Channel Weary of Credibilty

Tired of being known for fair and balanced reporting, as well as highly dignified commentary, The Fox News Channel has recently launched a sophomoric retort to Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

The Half Hour News Hour (sigh), "a giant stinking turd of an excuse for politcal satire" according to Comedy Central, seeks do to the Left what The Daily Show does to the Right. A sneak peek of the first episode skewers Barack Obama for having "Hussein" as a middle name, for being popular, and for having the hilarious initials "B.O." They also use Obama's recent admission of cocaine use in his youth as the springboard for a Marion Barry joke! Delivered poorly and really really dated! If they wanted to be as edgy and honest as the Daily Show, they'd have used our current Commander-In-Chief's history of substance abuse as the punchline. Because, for all its liberal bias, The Daily Show doesn't pull punches when the Dems do stupid shit... they're not anti-Republican as much as they're anti-stupid out-of-touch ridiculously hypocritical political discourse. THHNH sacrifices both humor and insight for the sake of towing the party line.
Oh sure, THHNH may very likely do well among its pre-existing Fox constituency, because it says the same sorts of things that Sean Hannity says, just in the guise of an uncharismatic version of SNL's Weekend Update. But if you want really well-done biting political satire, you'll have to stick with the pros at The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

If you want news, on the other hand, you should.... well, you probably should avoid Fox in either case.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Atheism In Science Fiction

Science fiction is an existential metaphor that allows us to explore the human condition. Isaac Asimov once said, "Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinded critics and philosophers of today, but the core of science fiction, its essence, has become crucial to our salvation, if we are to be saved at all."
-from the 200th episode of Stargate SG-1

Found an interesting article about religion (or the lack thereof) in science fiction, especially the subgenre of hard science fiction at Science Fiction Observer. It's far from comprehensive, but not a bad springboard for further thought and discussion.

A few general observations of mine (I'm sure I'll elaborate at later dates):

Battlestar Galactica
, for example, combines hard sci-fi with mythic religious overtones (and something darn close to Zionism even).

Stargate SG-1 explains ancient myth and religion as derived from alien encounters, and does as much as it can to debunk "false gods" but also admits that there's a higher plane of existence, a means of spiritual ascendence (though they tragically make it appear to be a product of evolution, which is a little goofy).

And, despite five TV series and 10 movies... despite showing and hinting at religious and mythic beliefs in many alien cultures, never once was there a Christmas Episode of Star Trek. What's up with that? I guess Baby Jesus lost WWIII.

And then there's sci-fi and religion's most infamous merging...

Don't get me started.

Which Sci-Fi/Fantasy Character Are You?

Try this personality test! I'm Galadriel, an Elf Queen in Tolkien's Middle Earth. Not exactly Han Solo, but waay better than a hobbit!

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?


Poetry is a lot like religion. One of those things that can be wonderful in theory, but in practice... well, even the most well-meaning folks can make some pretty awful things happen.

That being said, I've stumbled accross a literary website that features mostly poetry and experimental prose that I really enjoy. They call themselves Unpleasant Event Schedule. I'm not saying I love everything in the archives, but the whole site has a nice feel to it.... from the uncluttered pages to the totally rad stock images stolen from the long-defunct Dynamite magazine (see a lovely sample below). I like it. If you happen to dig poetry or experimental short fiction, check it out. Even if for no other reason than to find out where the name comes from.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Yeah, yeah... I watched American Idol

Randy's put the weight back on, Paula remains drunk and/or on pills, Simon's not being rude (but...). And Seacrest seems a little more distant than usual. He's doing the scene, but still thinking about the fluffer, if you know what I mean.

We DVRed four hours and watched them all in a row, and we'll keep watching all damn season until I'm all emotionally invested and getting weepy about the backstory clips (how DARE they put a crack baby on this season!)

I'm just lashing out, because I know if I ever tried out (I could pass for 28! I could!), I'd be one of those "special friendship" guys after some semi-retarded guy decides I look approachable and I don't want to obviously distance myself from him/it while the cameras are rolling. And the judges would tell us not to be down about it, but singing wasn't really our thing, and we'd be understanding ('cause we're used to disappointment and not ever winning or feeling like we belong) and we'd walk off, patting each other's shoulders and maybe stumbling a little, tripping over a patch of nothing on the sidewalk. He'd pick his butt and I'd bang my hip on a fire hydrant. And I don't even like the guy that much, this special friend I met while on this once-in-a-lifetime audition. And he keeps calling me for WEEKS afterwards, and one time shows up at my house, because he took the wrong bus and ended up in North Carolina instead of the Goodwill Store next to his Nana's neighbor's house. Jesus dude, every time I see you, every time you call, it just reminds me of the way those stupid jerk judges treated me! Like I wasn't even human!

Fuck you, Simon! I AM special, and you ARE just jealous. I AM a good singer- a great singer, and I won't give up on my dream, not now! Not ever! So why don't you just go back to England, cause I don't hear you singing any number one single song!

.... or maybe they'd just take me if I pretended I was a GI. They're doing well this season.


I don't subscribe to Creationism in any way other than a highly metaphorical mythical way. I think there's a definite value in recognizing creation stories, and I have yet to find a creation story that I'm not fascinated by. But there are also pitfalls built into any creation story. These are the stories that define us, these are the stories we enact as we go about our bidness.

The thing is this: I don't feel like any of these stories is mine.

I don't feel like my great great great.... etc. grandparents were actually in a place called Eden and kicked out and denied entry by an angel with a flaming sword. Nor do I feel rabidly protective of evolution (I see great apes and chimps as intelligent, social and somehow my kindred- but this isn't contingent us having a common ancestry, it's more an expression of empathy for my fellow earthlings). I'm not saying the science is bad or inacurate, it just doesn't tell me everything I need to know about who/what/why/when/where I am, not any more than the first chapter of Genesis does.

Daniel Quinn has some interesting thoughts on the the way we enact our stories, and the 19-20th century American philosophical movement called Pragmatism had a very consequence-based way of looking at belief. They argued that what is ultimately true is what contributes the most good over the longest time. The critical difference between the two is that Quinn seems to look for what benefits the community (in a very broad sense) over the individual and William James (to name a particular pragmatist) looked more at the benefit of the individual over the community. Of course, James is coming from a Christian POV, Quinn is not (and in Christianity the single greatest thing you can do is save yourself!).

Anyway. I've digruss. My friend David recently posted about Creationism vs. Evolution and it got me thinking. I find it fascinating that in modern American discourse those are the 2 only options. Of course there's Intelligent Design... but that's just Creationism sans Bible. Removing the disputable recorded details doesn't validate it. It's like saying someone died on a cross to absolve our sins, but it wasn't Jesus, that's crazy! (And not all our design is all that intelligent, why would squids get eyes without blind spots, while we have to hallucinate the contents of a big hole where our nerves and blood vessels connect).

The problem is that we've created this enormo schizm between religion and science, while treating these two (and only these 2) as the possible literal, objective, indisputable truths. Or at least those who define the conflicts of our culture have created this dispute. I honestly think most people just phone in these sort of questions. They're centrists. They're not gonna stop eating pork after reading Deuteronomy, but their not measuring the beaks of swallows in their backyards either.

Honestly, it's all sort of the same. These are just stories. Yes, even science. Stories of a certain language, for a certain purpose, with a certain type of wisdom. These are just models, folks, ideas. Thoughts. Some are repeatable, some are quantifiable. A human life, however, is not. So these science stories ain't gonna cover it all. We need more stories. And because we're actually acting out the ones we've been told longest, the ones that mean the most, the sneakiest ones that we might not even know we're hearing anymmore... we need to make sure they're good ones. Because our creation stories aren't really about how WE have been created, but about what we are in the process of creating.

And that ain't no lie.

The End Is Slightly More Nigh

The Doomsday Clock has been moved up 2 minutes. We are now at five minutes to midnight... where midnight means nuclear war and where minutes are somewhat arbitrary and meaningless and move back and forth like we're knee-deep in a Star-Trekish temporal anomaly.

This higgledy-piggledy up is expressed in the chart below.

I've decided to devise a Doomsday Calendar system, where February 17, 1992 is the Final Day Of Our Meaningless Existence. (Relatively sure this was one of the projected doomsdates of the Seventh Day Adventists. It is also my sister's birthday).

In my system, we are now at May 4, 2019, having shot right past D-Day. But at the drop of the geo-political hat, we could slingshot back in time to August 1, 1988, merely a few years away from total nuclear annihilation. Then forward to September 20, 1990, then back to April 8, 1963. Next thing you know, North Korea wags a 20-kiloton warhead at us and we're there, February 12, 1992. 5 Days. Just a work-week away from total mutual assured destruction. (Which is no longer necessarily mutual, assured, nor is the destruction likely total.)

It could happen. Keep your noses clean, kids. Jesus is on his way and he looooves new-ku-ler radiation.

Keeps him nice 'n sterile.

NONREQUIRED... but certainly recommended

For my birthday last year, Stephanie gave me a copy of the 2004 edition of The Best American Nonrequired Reading. Since then, I've picked up the 2003 edition and now the 2006 edition. I'm hooked. There's great fiction, essays, news, fake news, blog excerpts, and all kinds of great stuff in it- even the full text of the Iraqi constitution. Stuff that you'll never come across in a classroom or stuffy literary quarterly, but absolutely compelling, funny, fascinating, and all over the map. From big name publications like Rolling Stone and the New Yorker, to broadcasts from This American Life and The Daily Show, to small quality websites like Hobart. Highly varied, it's just damn good reading.

Since its creation five years ago, the Nonrequired series has been edited by Dave Eggers, whose literary debut, a novelized memoir called "A Heartbreaking Tale of Staggering Genius" earned him enough dough to start McSweeney's (a quarterly journal as well as a hilarious website), and a number of philanthropic pursuits (including 828 Valencia, a writing lab for youth). It was also a finalist for the Pulitzer!

His latest book, "What is the What" is also amazing, but for so many reasons that I'll have to make it a separate future post.

Also, the intro this year is by Matt Groening of Simpsons, Futurama and Life In Hell fame. Past intros have been written by Viggo Mortenson (The King of Gondor himself!) and some other great folks.

If you're looking for a great read and don't mind a pretty random selection, pick up or check out one of these volumes today!

In Memorium: Warm As Yellow

Sad news. He finally stopped eating completely and was already underweight, so we decided it was time to put Yellow Dog to sleep, instead of letting him starve to death.

He wandered up to Nisha in a parking lot about 5 years ago and has been with us ever since. We were at least his 2nd home, or so it would seem- somebody went to a lot of trouble trying to mend a badly broken leg (and possibly some spinal trauma) several years before we found him.

The leg has never worked great since we've known him, but he didn't let it slow him down until near the end. He was an enthusiastic pup, even at his ripe old age. Bowling us over and slurping at us. A very sweet boy, despite his sad history.

I think he can be summed up perfectly in the first verse of a Mazzy Star song called, fittingly, Bright As Yellow:

And you live life with
your arms reached out
eye to eye when speaking
Enter rooms with great joy, shouts
Happy to be meeting
And bright bright
Bright as Yellow
Warm as Yellow

He is missed.

But not by the kitties.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Reunion Tour!

Yes, it's happening. Former supergroup (long since rendered non-super by the dual kryptonites of time and taste) Genesis is reforming in its most commercially-successful incarnation, fronted by Phil Collins, with Tony Banks on keyboards and Mike Rutherford (of And The Mechanics fame) on bass/guitars. This was the creative trio that gave us the semi-classic (or at least kitschy) hits like That's All, Throwing It All Away, No Reply At All... and others, without "all" in the titles like Land of Confusion, Invisible Touch, and the painful-to-sing-along-with I Can't Dance.

Now. I have in my possesion pretty much everything this band has every mass-released. Even (or especially) the unwieldy prog stuff and over-string-arrangemented first release from 1969 "From Genesis To Revelation" (which had no artist title and got bumped into religious bins at record stores and has only sold half-decently in retrospect. I have owned posters, kept typed-up sheets of their lyrics (before such things were available online, when you had to pry them from the song pause-by-pause), even wrote a story once about the existential mysteries contained in the title of and words to "Abacab" (turns out those are just the chords they use in the song, duh). Thought it was genius.

Hell, this blog is named after one of their freaking songs!

So, now I should be elated that they're regrouping. But, yes, you do detact a hint of bitterness in my tone.

The limey bastards will only be touring in Europe.

So. I'm a little peeved. But it's probably for the best. This lineup is not really my favorite anyway. They were much more interesting before Peter Gabriel then Steve Hacket left the band. So I probably would've been disappointed.

Yup. Disappointed. And wouldn't at all have wept hysterically like a teenage girl when the Beatles landed in the States that first time. Especially if they played their 20-minute art-rock masterpiece "Suppers Ready." Would not have wept at all. Especially right at the end, when the guitar wails along to the imagery of a solitary angel crying loudly as a distorted, horrific, blood-soaked yet strangely beautiful version of Revelation comes to a close.

I'm gonna go listen to The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway now. And anybody who says a guy pretending to have split personality disorder while wearing waaay too heavy stage makeup and playing the oboe isn't cool... well, they can just... pretty much... be in agreement with the rest of world.

Not including Europe.


We owe you more than a couple of Wendy's value meals.

(but that's all yer gettin)

Gotta give a shout out to my handy (and strikingly handsome) father and our good friend (and Serious Juggler) David Morrison (check out Dave's link- it's around here somewhere).

Dey busted dey buttz a few weekends ago helping us install Pergo brand laminate flooring. And it looks great! ...And, even more importantly, the living room no longer smells of feces, urine, dander, vomit, and old furballs (we've had a rough few years).

It was relatively simple (except for around doorways, corners, inside closets, and beneath the fridge. So I'll give it a thumbs up - but watch the video first. And keep in mind that the video doesn't cover certain areas (like doorways, corners, inside closets and beneath heavy kitchen appliances.
So, needless to say, any and all help was needed and very much appreciated. Thanks again!

Now next weekend we're installing rubber prosthetics on all the dogs' feet, because the clicking noise IS DRIVING ME CRAZY!


Yellow Dog Lives!

Meet yellow dog. (If you haven't already.) If he looks skinny, it's cause he's not completely well. He's got something systemic or metabolic going on and a vet told us back in September that he'd probably be dead in minutes (or days at least). But he's still here. Still limping and sliding around on our (lovely new) laminate floors. So, stick yer thumb up yer butt, silly vet. We're keeping him alive and happy on love (and three separate prescriptions and hand feedings)!
Anyway. I know this might not be interesting or newsworthy, but I thought I'd post something and immortalize him while he's still around. He's a very good boy.

And yes his real name is yellow dog.

But he answers mostly to EllieLellowBum.

And he gets so excited when we cook him chicken that his teeth rattle rapidly together and his face sounds like a woodpecker. It's very cute. Seriously.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Science Versus The Vampire

Florida physics professor Costas Efthimiou mathematically disproves vampires.

Take this Goth Dorks!

Efthimiou's debunking logic: On Jan 1, 1600, the human population was 536,870,911. If the first vampire came into existence that day and bit one person a month, there would have been two vampires by Feb. 1, 1600. A month later there would have been four, and so on. In just two-and-a-half years the original human population would all have become vampires with nobody left to feed on.

A blurb on The Onion remarks, "This news will likely hit The Count the hardest. Destroyed by the very numbers he loves."


Too Boldy Gay...

There is apparently a society of (primarily) women who are totally into Kirk & Spock as gay lovers, even marrying (it's legal in the future).

I swear I wasn't looking for this stuff, just my usual starship schematics (which is somehow more embarrassing), but it's hard to look away. Click the title above to follow the link to a websight with all sorts of romantic fiction, poetry, and art. Don't worry, it's all-ages and pretty tasteful.

It's almost not funny, it's so sincere.


Why, Satanic Minions, Why!?!?!

Imagine letting your cute little black kitty out for the night.

Now imagine seeing a little piece of twig stuck in the fur of her tail.

Now imagine realizing that the twig is actually her spine protuding from her tail.

Yes, Willis (aka Willow, Mammal, Ma'am, and now No-Tail McSawherspine) had the skin and fur mysteriously stripped from the tip third of her little kitty tail. Left exposed were three actual segments of bloody white cat bone. Pretty gross.

So anyway, queasily on the way to the vet, we're like "It's Close To Halloween! A Black Cat! There Are Tales (no pun intended) Of Devil-Worshippers Mutilating Black Cats On All-Hallows Eve! Even Bans On Black Cat Adoptions Around Oct. 31st! Could It Have Been Satanists? A Cult? Teenagers In Black Ill-Fitting Clothes and Elaborate Poorly-Researched-But-Possibly-Celtic Tattoos? Yes! It Must Have Been The Satanists Or Those Under Their Sway!"

But. Apparently, this is normalish. The vet said cat's tails were similar to lizard tales (except they don't pop completely off and they don't regenerate... okay, not so lizard-like after all). Have no idea what happened or exactly when, but apparently Willis got hung up on something or pinched in a doorway or airlock or something and yanked herself right out from under her tailskin.

Since the skin wasn't gonna grow back, and to get rid of potentially infected areas and stuff, they AMPUTATED almost two-thirds of her already stubby tail! Very sad. But she's seemingly unbothered by the experience (give or take the car trip to the vet and a pathetic case of unblinking post-anesthesia wobblies and not being able to go outside).

Anyway. She gets her stitches out in a couple of days and her hair is growing back (see pics of her bald nub and arm- where they had to run an IV during surgery). So all's well that ends well.

But still. If it was The Satanists (and you know who you are), I'm sending you guys a bill. Stupid jerks.

Perry Tales

Ever wanted to see a fan sight of Journey's front man Steve Perry?

Me neither, but...

"If you are offended by fan fiction, any characterization of Steve or role playing, then this site is NOT for you."

Enough said.

Well. Not quite. Be sure to check out the sole bit of fan poetry entitled "Where were you?" It treats the emergence of Perry-era Journey as one of those defining Kennedy-getting-shot moments in history.

An overstatement?

You be the judge.