Sunday, December 28, 2014


This is one of the most remarkable voices I have ever encountered.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

New Thing!

The fine folks over at Flash Frontier have seen fit to publish a story of mine in their current issue, available here. It is a view from another character in the Mark Hamilton story that may or may not be coming to a desktop near you at some point between now and the heat death of the universe.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Not a thing, but kind of a thing.

Not exactly a book contract, but something. Random House has added a quote from this review of mine to their publicity materials for Steve Almond's "Against Football".

Monday, December 01, 2014

Under Review

A new book review of mine is available for perusal here.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Airports and "Airport"

The mighty force that is Matt Potter's "Pure Slush" has seen fit to publish a story of mine, "Airport", which can be found here by clicking on "The Latest". It is an extension/side story of my Mark Hamilton stories that are featured in the "2014" books, which can also be found on the site, or wherever fine calendrical fiction can be found.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

2014 and all that

Pure Slush's 2014 story cycle, like the year itself, draws to a close, and as these 31 tales tumble to violent and sad and hopeful finishes, I renew my call to the readers of This Blog, if you are a fan of good writing, or if you just like dates, to give the stories a try. The ebooks are only $5 apiece, and you can do worse things with 5 minutes than read a short story.

And, not for nothing, this lady is killing it. If you love brilliant writing, check her out.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Things and stuff

Matt Potter, who is fair and just and nice to old people, has seen fit to publish a story of mine, "One Eleven", on Pure Slush here . (Once there, click on "The Latest")

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Once More, From The Top...

So This Blog, as Charlie Pierce so elegantly puts it, is one year older as of yesterday, Eastern Time (Australians, you're on your own). Pure Slush's 2014 series rolls on, one of several places This Blog's work will be found in the days to come, and NaNoWriMo starts in 12 days.

On this anniversary of my emergence into this vale of tears, it moves me to reflect. Facebook is either
a contagion upon the world's thinking people, or the very greatest thing since breathable air. (Your mileage may vary. Australians, again, are on their own.)

But one thing it has done today is remind me that, for good or ill, many people have touched my life and, in turn, been touched by me. (Hopefully positively, and mostly appropriately.) More than 50
people stopped to wish me well-
friends, colleagues, former colleagues, relatives, internet friends, more people than I really have any right to claim. It's nice to be seen.

Now then, everybody sing!

"Yesterday it was my birthday-
I've hung one more year on the line-
I should be depressed-
My life's a mess-
But I'm having a good time."

-Paul Simon

Monday, September 15, 2014

Songs Of Innocence

The immortal Garon Cockrell, king of the Britons, defeater of the Saxons, sovereign of all England, has generously agreed to festoon his site with a record review of the new U2 album authored by This Blog, which you can read here.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Watch This Space...But Don't Always Trust It

We have it on good authority that the album review referenced previously in this space is now well and truly posted here. Management apologizes wholeheartedly.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What Will Be, Will Be

The undeniably Garon Cockrell has seen fit to publish a review of mine here, this lady continues killing it wherever she writes, and the 2014 series continues onwards here, featuring 30
stupendously talented people, along with this author.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Against Football

Here is where Garon Cockrell, friend to all mankind, has seen fit to publish This Blog's review of Steve Almond's new book, "Against Football", on his marvelous (and newly facelifted) site Pop Culture Beast.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Pure Slush's "2014" gets some love

Here resides a series of interview questions about Pure Slush's "2014" book series, wherein your humble scribe is quoted.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Release the Beast!

The inimitable Garon Cockrell of the website Pop Culture Beast has seen fit to publish a concert review of mine here. Go forth and consume. Or perhaps not, because I'm not the boss of you.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A To Z Day Twenty Four: X

Ten Things, People, And Concepts That Are Neither X Ray Nor Xylophone, The Two Things Children's Books Always Use For X:

1. Red Sox infielder Xander Bogaerts
2. Former Seattle Supersonic and Boston Celtic Xavier McDaniel
3. Xavier University
4. The movie rating X
5. The punk rock band X
6. The Mitch Hedberg joke where he supposes that because Xylophone is pronounced Z, X was upset that it wasn't given enough to do, so it gets a costarring role in Tic Tac Toe
7. The X Wing Fighter
8. The X Factor television program
9. The military job XO, or executive officer
10. The left to right portion of the Cartesian coordinate system.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A To Z Day Twenty Three: Weather

Weather and weather forecasting has always fascinated me. My father always said that weather forecasts beyond 48 hours are nonsense, and experience has taught me that this is true. The systems at play in the atmosphere are simply too complex- no matter how hard you try, how big your computers are, how sophisticated your formulas are, you'll never know everything.

There is a lesson there, I think.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A To Z Twenty Two: Veterans

Does it bother anyone else that there are veteran's charities? Since we broke these people, shouldn't we, the people of the United States, be paying whatever it takes to fix them? I don't oppose the cause, of course. I just think there shouldn't be any need for it.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A to Z Day Twenty One: U2

"Angel of Harlem" is one of my very favorite songs.
U2 got a lot of crap for this album (and for the accompanying film), and I don't think it was fair. People were saying, "How dare these Irish dudes tell us how great Billie Holliday was! We know how great Billie Holliday was!" Well, OK. But I was 17 when this record came out. I didn't know how great Billie Holliday was. And U2 made it cool so I could learn who Billie Holliday was. Perhaps I should have already known. But they were my gateway to a lot of great stuff, and I think that means something.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A to Z Day Twenty: The Band

One of my new favorite songs, "Richard Manuel Is Dead."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A to Z Day Nineteen: Schrodinger's Cat

The late Erwin Schrodinger, an Austrian physicist, once proposed a puzzle (a thought experiment, neither he nor I actually killed any animals) where a cat is sealed into an airtight box with a vial of poison gas , a small amount of radioactive material which has a 50% chance of decaying per hour, and a radiation detector, which if the material decays will smash the vial and kill the cat. The puzzle is, when you shut the box, is the cat alive or dead?
The answer is unclear. One can answer that it is both, or it is neither, or it is nothing until you open the box. There are a number of different interpretations and counter interpretations that try to solve the puzzle, or ignore the puzzle, or work around the puzzle. Personally, it has always just given me a headache.
To quote John Cleese, "it's people like you what cause unrest".

Monday, April 21, 2014

A to Z Day Eighteen: Rest In Peace

A List, In No Particular Order, of People I Wish Were Still Alive:
Isaac Asimov
Kurt Vonnegut
Robert A Heinlein
Freddie Mercury
David Foster Wallace
Jim Morrison
John Lennon
Kurt Cobain
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Jonathan Larson
John Bonham
Heath Ledger
Molly Ivins
My Father

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A To Z Day Seventeen: Queen

James Hetfield, Tony Iommi, and the surviving members of Queen bring the noise on "Stone Cold Crazy."

Friday, April 18, 2014

A To Z Day Sixteen: The Postal Service

Those of you who only know me electronically may not realize that I was, am, and continue to be, a fanatic letter writer and snail mail enthusiast. Even in these advanced times, I sit down with pen and ink and send a letter to people in Wasilla and Washington, San Leandro and San Jose, Nottingham and the Netherlands. It's a form of pseudo meditation, because it cannot be done quickly- or at least, it cannot be done well quickly.

I hear constantly about how retail is dying, the Web is king, and the post office is going to be privatized and go the way of the dodo and the Celtics' playoff hopes this year. These people may be right, and if postal mail goes away, I'll get along. I'm an adaptive sort.

But it shouldn't. A post office is part of a civilized society. Citizens in a democracy should be able to communicate with their leaders and each other without needing a $500 laptop. And it's the only secure communication left- if you seal it tight enough, nobody will read it except the person you address it to.

Call me a Luddite, but I love my postal service and will stay with it until the last dog dies.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A To Z Day Fifteen: On My Own

The incomparable Lea Salonga singing "On My Own"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A To Z Day Fourteen: Red Sox Nation

I am a Red Sox fan. (I'm sorry.) Being a Red Sox fan is kind of like owning an iPhone used to be: at one point, you were unique, now every third person is just like you.

My instinctive response is to point out that I'm not one of THOSE people- I've been a fan since the Carter Administration. I root when we're good, like 2013, and I root for the dog's breakfast group therapy teams like 2012 and 2011, and I root for the grossly overrated teams like 1995. As Jerry Seinfeld once put it, I'm rooting for laundry, and it's too late for me to change now.

But that's not the right way to act. When you love something, the natural response is to share it, not push people away from it, and just because I know who Jimmy Collins was and what Duffy's Cliff was and who owned the Third Base Saloon, that doesn't make me a better fan than you. It just makes me a bigger nerd.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A to Z Day Thirteen: Handel's "Messiah"

I defy you to not get chills listening to this, The Hallelujah Chorus performed inside a Macy's in Philadelphia.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A To Z Day Twelve: Loneliness

"I was part of the lonely crowd inside The Sad Cafe."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A To Z Day Eleven: Charlie Brown and the Kite Eating Tree

Most everyone knows who Charlie Brown is. The comic strip "Peanuts" and it's characters are known, I think, around the world. As with any great art, it works on two levels- a tale about a kid trying to fly a kite, and a kind of Sisyphean labor. Charlie Brown bargains with the tree, begs it, defies it, dares it, but still it sits there, implacable, endlessly hungry, ruining his day over and over again, heartless and cruel. I don't know what the late Mr. Schulz intended the tree to "represent", but I think everyone can appreciate a foe that just won't let you have a good time, no matter how hard you try to avoid it.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A To Z Day Ten: Jokes

A termite walks into a bar and asks, "is the bar tender here?"
What did one hat say to the other?

"You stay here, I'll go on a head."
Why couldn't Dracula's wife get to sleep?

Because of his coffin.
What do you do when you see a spaceman?

Park your car, man.
What did the big bucket say to the little bucket?

You look a little pail!
Why is there no gambling in Africa?

All the cheetahs.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A To Z Day Nine: You And I

"You and I", from the tragically forgotten musical "Chess", here beautifully sung by Elaine Paige and Michael Ball. It contains what might be the saddest lyric I have ever heard- "But we go on pretending/Stories like ours/Have happy endings."

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

A To Z Day Seven: A Gander At Gender

Blatantly stealing from my sister from another mother Giulie, today we talk about gender, and specifically gender in regards to my stories in the indisputably marvelous "2014" books, available here and at reputable book stores everywhere. And even some of the disreputable ones.

Gender is more complicated than it appeared to me previously, a phenomenon which is rapidly becoming a theme of my 42nd year on Earth. It's not simply your chromosomal layout or the appearance of your block and tackle, it's a social construct, who you feel you are as well as how you decide to present yourself to others. (This makes me think of the birth scene from Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life", where the mother asks if she has had a boy or a girl, and Graham Chapman responds, "it's a bit early to start imposing roles on it!")

In my 2014 story cycle, Mark Hamilton is a man caught in a vise- he is making tremendous sums of money at his job, but he is starting to hate the things his job is doing to him. His work world, professional baseball, is male dominated, while his home life is dominated by his wife Angela and his distant daughter Madison. He has trouble reconciling who he feels he has to pretend to be to keep his job and his paycheck, with who he really is, which seems to me to be the central thrust of the concept of gender.

To quote the late great Mr. Vonnegut, we are who we pretend to be. So we must be careful who we pretend to be.

Monday, April 07, 2014

A to Z Day Six: Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction, as you probably know by now, is simply short fiction, but focused and direct, even shorter than short, typically less than 2000 words. Basically anything longer than Hemingway's famous "for sale, baby shoes, never worn" is probably flash fiction, up until maybe 1500 words, at which point it becomes a regular 'ol short story, which has, I was once told, an upper limit of James Joyce's "The Dead". That seems as good a place as any.

Flash fiction is just like regular fiction- it needs to have a unity of effect, as Mr. Poe taught us, and have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It's just shorter.

This Blog has practiced Flash Fiction in this space from time to time, with varying degrees of success. This Blog is most proud of, at present, the fact that It has not murdered Its teenage son, as well as the works of flash fiction it has propagated in the marvelous 2014 series, now available in your favorite electronic or dead tree format.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Friday, April 04, 2014

A To Z Challenge, Day Four: Depression

Depression isn't the blues.

It isn't glamorous, or dramatic, or artistic.

It isn't disappointment, or being sad.

Depression is a disease, a horrible, grasping thing that changes people, destroys lives, and kills people as dead as Julius Caesar and Ty Cobb.

If you're depressed, get help. Please. Before it's too late.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

A To Z Challenge, Day Three: Cancer

Like my favorite podcast host Matthew Berry, I, and This Blog, have always opposed cancer. Among the shocks that flesh is heir to, the big C has never been a big worry for me. Not because it isn't serious, but because I always assumed something else would get me first. (Like the late Mickey Mantle once remarked, if I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.)

Cancer is an unusual disease, as such things go- it's not an organ or system failure, like diabetes or MS or heart disease. It's not (well, not entirely, at least not as far as we know) an invasion from outside. It's a cell's own machinery gone haywire, controls broken or missing, normal functions gone crazy. It's a ninja disease, sneaking in and wreaking havoc, and the one sure risk factor we know of is being alive.

Cancer has now touched my family, making me think about it in a way I never have before. (Obviously, I've thought about it before. But i can only think of so many things, so some (koalas, the balance of payments, forechecking) get shoved to the back burner.) It is now real for me, like it has been for so very many others, and I feel an awful kinship now that I did not ask for and would like to give back.

(Boring technical note: as far as I know, I have legally, morally, and ethically posted each and every day (all three of them.) I cannot understand why Blogger seems to think I posted three times on March 30th. I did not. I'll try to obey whatever witchcraft Blogger wishes in the future.)

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

A To Z Challenge, Day Two: Baseball

"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again."
-James Earl Jones as author Terence Mann in the film "Field of Dreams".

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

A To Z Challenge, Day One: America

(This post is part of the A To Z Challenge 2014.)

I'm going through one of those phases I go through. Suddenly I can't get enough of the Revolutionary War and the Founders, and I'm tearing through books like I'm in college again, even listening to Joanne Freeman's Yale course via ITunes U, burning through Mike Duncan's marvelous podcast Revolutions, and starting through the Gordon Wood books on Audible. This, like any fever, will probably abate in time, and I will become obsessed with something else. 'Twas ever thus.

I'm not someone who is regularly overcome with patriotic feeling. It always seems false and phony and holier than thou to me. (I don't think less of you if you have those feelings. I'm just saying that I don't.) I instinctively distrust whenever a feeling is assumed to be universal, because I don't think anything ever is.
The more I learn and relearn about this period (I'm quite forgetful), I am struck by a simultaneous awe for what occurred against tremendous odds, and a sense of shame at how much was left out, and how very imperfect they all were, and how many Americans still struggle to this day for their "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".

Baseball historian Bill James, talking about another systemic injustice, the color bar in Major League Baseball, once pointed out that we should look kindly upon the mistakes of the past in the hopes that future generations look kindly upon our own. The more I learn about the world, the more convinced I am that I don't know anything about anything, and everything is more complicated than I thought it was.
I still hate the Yankees, though.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Testing, testing...

*blows dust off of blog*
*taps microphone*
*winces at feedback*

Uh, hello? Is this thing on? Can anyone hear me?


Hey everybody!

("Hi, Dr. Nick!")

Guilie Castillo Oriard, whose talent is as wide as her name is long, is participating in an A to Z Challenge over at her blog. The A to Z challenge lives over here and is a network of almost 1700 bloggers who have committed to posting one entry for every day in April except Sundays, each entry thematically linked to a letter of the alphabet. The special part about Giulie (other than her being all that with a side order of clam strips) is that her entries are centering on and around the wonderment that is Matt Potter's 2014 book project as the featured arc for her blogging activities. She will feature contributions from This Blog as well as other, more talented people, all touching on characters, themes and events from our stories in the 2014 books.

For those of you who are terminally unhip and have missed out on "2014", it is a series of 12 volumes, with one story per day, each story written by the same author on the same day each month. (The story on February 11 is written by the same person who wrote the story on January 11, and also March 11, and so forth.) Each story is self contained, but they take place within the same universe. It's a fantastically ambitious project, and is worth your support.

In other news, This Blog is quite tickled by the idea of an A to Z challenge, and is going to try to make a go of it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Let's promote someone else for a change, eh?

Pursuant to a series of events I won't bore you with, I now hold in my hand a copy of Marian Kent's new book, "Superpowers", which is available by all the usual means. I'm not a poetry person. I don't have the patience to write it, and I usually feel unsatisfied after reading it. But Marian's book is different. It's gorgeous, first of all, with art that makes it look like a comic book. The font she used is utterly perfect. And the poems? God, the poems. She breaks your heart and makes you smile, sometimes both in the same poem. The book is without peer, and I recommend it strongly to anyone who is now currently, or has ever been, alive.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday is For Self Promotion

It has been made clear that I have been somewhat remiss in pointing out that Pure Slush's "2014" project is well underway, it being 2014 and all. Every single day, Sundays and holidays included, there is a new story available for your reading pleasure. The volumes are very reasonably priced, in both electronic and regular flavors. Please visit for details, or search "Pure Slush 2014" on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever it is you obtain your reading materials.