Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Proof Why Living In The Ghetto Sucks.

A few months ago my neighborhood hardware store shut down on Gerard Avenue. It was a tremendously useful store, even though I didn't make as much use of it as I should have. But with it gone the only other alternative for household fixtures and such is the Home Depot, which is a hassle and a bit farther away.

However, with this mom & pop shop closed, it did leave me wondering just what would take its place. I could think of many good opportunities for such a large space.

A book store? Nah, get real. Nobody reads around here.

An electronics store? Nope, too plum a target for jackers.

What I'd really hope for was a produce store, like a Korean grocery-type of place. We used to have one on the same block, until that, too, was closed down and a useless tax prep place put in the space instead. So much for providing good, fresh fruit to the poor masses of the ghetto. Why should we try to eat healthy and live longer?

See, this is what's wrong with the Bronx. Good stores close down, and utterly useless crap is put in their place. I know this. I've been living here all my life. But even I was unprepared for what eventually took over the prime spot the hardware store used to occupy:

I mean, WTF? How more cliched can you get? Seriously? Do we need this? We already have a liquor store half a block over! Why the fuck do we need another ghetto ass poison-water dispenser in the same neighborhood? You think this kind of shit happens in Gramercy Park or Murray Hill?

And I wouldn't even be complaining all that much if the spirits were at least good quality. You know, maybe a nice selection of imported mature wines? Make the place real classy. But even though the store is not yet stocked or open for business, you can just tell from looking at that awning and the big ass "Discount" portion of the sign and know that sophistication is not going to be on high demand here.


Guess it's true after all. The "man" really just wants liquor stores and greasy fast food joints on every corner of the 'hood.

Thanks, man.

(P.S. --And don't even get me started on the Army recruitment center located just above the liquor store. The symbolism is not lost on me.)

Doing Some Bloody Research

I mentioned it in passing a few times here on this blog, but I'm gearing up to write my first ever novel. Now, before you get excited--don't. It's nothing but a "practice" novel. Really, just glorified fan fiction, if you will. But fan fiction based on a video game rather than a movie or television property.

The game in question is Castlevania III, which was released on the original 8-bit NES back in 1990.

I chose to go this route because, rather than try to write for profit, this will be more like a technical exercise for me in the mechanics of novel writing. Since the bare minimal of plot is already laid out by the game, this will allow me to focus on other aspects of writing a full-length MS (I'm guessing 80 to 90k words here), such as: outlining, pacing, characterization, character arcs, and research.

To further the last aspect along, as well as other things, I'm reading a few non-fictional as well as fictional sources to educate me about the life and times of the historical Vlad III and 15th century Romanian politics. Although none of this is in the game, I want to flesh out the story a great deal, and part of this will be done by throwing in a political intrigue component to go along with why Trevor Belmont is sent in to battle the (now) undead Dracula.

Two of my most recent purchases include these books:

Dracula, Prince of Many Faces: His Life and His Times by Radu Florescu and Raymond McNally.

Vlad Dracula: The Dragon Prince by Michael Augustyn.

I've already done a ton of independent research on my own, trying to build a feasible and historic backdrop to the rather more fantastical plotting of the game. So what I'll end up with if all goes well is a nicely rounded historical fantasy with horror elements. And although I hadn't planned it this way, the timing of this project fits the season perfectly! Should be interesting.

I'm very excited by the story elements I'm working out in my head at the moment. I feel like I have so much to tell! And with the research I'm doing, I'm getting more and more sucked into the world of 15th century Transylvanian and Wallachian politics. I'm even contemplating a trip to the "real" Dracula's castle in Arges County, Romania--rumored to be the most haunted ruins in all of Europe.

Oooh, creepy!

Monday, September 28, 2009

An Update On Who I'm Following These Days.

I'm always looking for up and coming, exciting new writers in the SF field. My hopes are that some of their brilliance might rub off on me, since I'm in the same boat struggling to make headway in this stormy sea of publishing.

Last night I suddenly remembered a promising young woman who first came to my attention many months ago in an issue of Locus Magazine. I dug through my stacks and finally found the volume -- March, 2008. Somewhere in the "Books Sold" column was a picture of a woman who looked fierce and full of verve. At the time, something about her seemed interesting, and I was intrigued by the announcement that she, Kameron Hurley, had just sold the rights to her debut novel, God's War, along with 2 sequels to Juliet Ulman at Bantam Books. I did a quick search and found a website, along with a sample chapter of the novel in question. You can read it here.

I got goosebumps from reading this short excerpt, it was THAT good! Strongly feminist and holding back no punches. The prose just had me hooked from the very first sentence! I immediately tried to pre-order the novel, but alas it was not yet available. I'd promised myself to keep an eye out for it nonetheless, then promptly forgot the details. But now after looking through that issue of Locus once more, I've re-discovered the writer's name and even found her blogspot blog! You can find a link to it in my "Interesting Folks" sidebar below.

Now that I've found Kameron Hurley once more, I vow to keep a constant vigil on her progress and novel release dates. I just hope she's survived all the recent upheaval that has been going on in the SF publishing field this past year. God's War was due out this Fall, but now seems to have been pushed back to next year. Argh! I want to read it RIGHT NOW!!!

Guess I'll just have to be patient.

At my friend, Cindy's, private book signing over a week ago, I mentioned how I'd met a bunch of cool and nifty fellow fledgling writers, some of whom are already published. One talented member of the bunch was fellow Bronxite and budding SF writer, Steven Cordero. Steve has several first-stab books he's working on, including the latest, Daughters of Earth. It's a near-future tale about an Earth where men are an extinct species. The concept and world-building is actually pretty darn nifty. Check out the link for more details.

And, yes, I've added Steve to my "Interesting Folks" sidebar, too. So feel free to check out his blogspot blog as well. He's in good company.

So there you have it. Two more additions to my list. Seeing new writers flourish gives me so much inspiration to continue onward with this dream of mine.

Hope you'll follow me along and see me through this journey.

Baby Boys Just Love Them Some Hot Beyonce, I Guess . . .

I don't know what it is, but it seems my nephew Chandler isn't the only little boy who finds that Beyonce "Single Ladies" video so hypnotic. LOL!

It was a big hit sometime last year when we noticed a 1-year old Chandler grooving and gyrating to this very same video -- exactly like this baby, Cory, here in this home movie posted on YouTube.

No matter what, like clockwork, if that video came on, little Chandler would drop whatever he was doing, stand straight in front of the tv, stare, and then eventually start bopping up and down. No other video would do it. Just this one.

Hmmm, I wonder what kind of subliminal messages are hidden in there? Something only babies can see? Or maybe little boys just know a foxy lady when they see one? I can't help but laugh thinking of all the little boys experiencing some strange feelings upon seeing Beyonce bounce and jiggle her stuff -- haha! Can you imagine?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Well, folks, the apocalypse is upon us. I had heard rumblings of this being discussed, but I had no idea the universe was taking it seriously. Turns out there's no justice in the world after all.

Yup, my most beloved, cultish, favoritist movie of all time is being . . . REMADE!!!

As reported by, Summit Entertainment has found a director and producer to spearhead their re-tooling of the 1986 classic, Highlander. And they're the same guys who were behind the latest Fast & Furious film.

Oh god, please end the agony now!

If you're feeling sick to your stomach and tasting something bitter like bile in your mouth, I apologize. To make amends, I'm presenting the trailer for the 1986 movie. It should remind everyone just how awesome the original was and will always be:

And let us remember that no matter what they do to rape our memories, we'll ALWAYS have the definitive Anchor Bay version of this film on DVD!

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Sidebar

Finally got around to putting up a sidebar on this blog with links to my published writing. You can check it out in the upper right corner, just below my introduction blurb.

It's a small, lonely gathering of just two links for now . . . but hopefully it will grow in due time.

I'm getting a little more traffic to this site as of late, so just wanted to provide a corner for people to check out the progress of my writing. These stories are far older than their Feb. '09 publish date, and don't accurately reflect my writing style now. "Enemy of My Enemy," for instance, was written 2 years prior. "Khan Tengri," not too many months after. I'd like to think I've evolved a bit since then.

Hopefully I'll be able to post up evidence to that point shortly. Or maybe I should figure out a way to archive and display my shelved and unpublished recent stories. Hmmm . . .

My Feel-Good Weekend.

Had a great, relaxing weekend. Didn't do much. I read some, finished up my latest PS3 game (see the sidebar), and best of all . . . I got to meet an old internet friend! And in the process, I met all her cool writing and editor friends to boot! They were all an awesome bunch of people, including the very gracious host who opened up her beautiful Central Park East home to the gathering. It really was the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Too bad Lisa had to work and couldn't accompany me. She so much wanted to meet Cindy. I didn't get to take any pictures, unfortunately. I kinda lost track of such things. But I did get Cindy to autograph her new book. Awesome sauce!

This week finds me preparing for Lisa's birthday (tomorrow), and meeting up with an old elementary school friend for drinks after work (Thursday).

And somewhere in the middle of all that I'll be contemplating my next writing project. Either I'll: a) polish up some recently written and unsubmitted short stories; b) write a brand new short story; c) research my upcoming "practice" novel (looking at a late October start date now); or d) the inevitable "all of the above." I say inevitable because, let's face it, you know I'm going to end up trying to do everything at once!

I also have some critiquing to do for my online crit group. So basically, I'll be deep in me writerly cups for the foreseeable short-term future. But that's cool. I do plan to someday get paid to do this stuff, so might as well get comfortable with it now.

Hope you all had a great weekend, too. Summer's almost dead (hooray!) and now on to my favorite time of the year -- Fall and Winter! I'll be in an even more fantastic mood once October hits and the days start getting shorter while the shadows grow even LONGER . . .

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fantastic Fiction Update

I had a good time last night at KGB bar attending the Fantastic Fiction reading, as I mentioned one blog entry ago. The bar is only open for special events, and is not a straight-up walk-in type of establishment, which I did not previously know. It's really nothing but a converted flat in a modest 4th street walk-up in the Village, with a decently stocked full bar on one side of the room, and chairs and tables on the other side. The podium for speakers is situated between the windows and the bar in one corner, very cozy and intimate.

It was great seeing some industry "insiders" in attendance, but even better seeing my online crit-group buddies. Now that I've been there, I can see it would have been a HUGE mistake to have gone on my own. Without them to keep me company, I would have felt like an outsider hiding in the corner. I'm not saying people were unfriendly (they definitely were very nice), just weary of new faces I suppose.

Which is only natural; I don't fault them. This is still NYC, after all. But their reticence combined with my natural standoffishness would not have meshed well had I gone alone, so I'm eternally grateful to my friends for showing up. We carried on quite a spirited conversation between readings, and I could tell some of the long-time regulars were wondering who the hell we were. (haha)

The first reading was very long, but funny! The second one, much shorter and almost as funny. But he had a more polished writing style, so it made it seem faster.

A rep from Barnes & Noble was there selling copies of books from both authors speaking that evening. This was a first, as usually the task is handled by Mobile Libris at these readings. Event hosts Matt Kressel and Ellen Datlow asked everyone to please purchase something in the hopes that B&N will continue the service. Not many people partook of this advice, but of course I did. I just can't resist buying books, especially when they're stacked right there in front of my face!

I purchased the first reader's--Chris Genoa's--SF novel, titled "Foop!" Click on the link and read the description. It sounds like fun! I could have had Chris sign it since he was right there in the same room, but I'm not big on having authors' signatures. I buy books to read (and re-read); not so much to collect.

Anyway, I had a good time and some beers. Most people go to dinner together afterwards, but the night was getting long for me and I just wanted to go home. Maybe next time.

Oh, and yes, there probably will be a next time. I say "probably" because, while I would love to go again, I'm not going by myself. So I have to see if the same people are up to repeating the outing with me. We'll see, we'll see.

So that's one first-time meeting of online friends down. One more to go this Saturday. Can you tell I'm not a meet-and-greet type of person? Yup, it's true. I have no shame!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You Down With KGB? (Yeah You Know Me!)

I'm heading out to KGB in the village in a little while to sit in on my first ever Fantastic Fiction reading. Fantastic Fiction meets every third Wednesday of the month in the second floor of the famous KGB bar, where professional writers in the SF field come and read from their latest works. It's also a great meeting ground where various professionals in the field get to rub elbows with each other and fans, and maybe even have a pint (or three). The place gets fairly lively and crowded, so I'll be arriving a little early. Luckily it's a quick jaunt one stop over on the 6 train from where I work, so that's nice.

I'll be meeting up with two members of my online crit group, whom I've never met before in RL. Normally meeting people I've only previously known online is a source of nervousness on my part, but I'm looking forward to it this time. Should be fun!

And looks like this will be a week for meeting online friends in the flesh, as I'll also be seeing my longtime blog stalkee, friend, and newbie published writer, Cindy, at a private get-together in the city this weekend. I've followed Cindy for many years now via her blog, then through a limited e-mail friendship, and more recently (of course) through that ubiquitous of online social gathering sites -- Facebook!

Next week I might also be meeting a very old and only recently reunited (again, through FB) classmate of mine from back in the 4th grade! That's 23 years ago -- yikes!

All this is rather a big deal for me, as I'm notorious for being anti-social and tend only to a very small group of friends who I barely see enough of as it is. But I'm excited!

That's all for now. I'll update on the KGB experience when I get back.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

They Grow Up So Fast!

This is my nephew, Chandler (son of Lisa's sister), when we took him out to the mall last weekend. I can't believe this is the same chunky little baby I was just holding a couple of Thanksgivings ago. Why does time have to fly so swiftly?

Anyway, he's such a rambunctious little boy. Just turned two this past July, but he sure does get around. I think the biggest shock to me is hearing him talk and carry on full conversations now. It's uncanny! I swear, I'm not one to lapse into sentimentality over kids, but lately I've just been amazed by how quickly they can develop from little lumps of inactive flub (heh, heh) to energetic little grown-ups running around and spouting wise-ass comments they've picked up from the adults around them.

Just the other day Lisa called her sister and Chandler answered the phone. She had a nice little conversation with him, during which he informed his auntie that he was eating now and would have to call her back later. LOL! Then I got on the phone and he sounded very shy.

Me: "Hello, Chandler."

Chandler: "Happy birthday, uncle David."

Me: "Why thank you!"

Chandler: "You're welcome."

I gave the phone back to Lisa, but I didn't tell her how moved to tears I was just by that one snippet of dialogue. I just sat there amazed at how nature works, and the magnificence of it all. To watch and hear a baby develop and grow right before your eyes -- is that not as close to seeing real magic in the world as you can get? To hear this little 2 year old conversing so clearly and intelligently, I mean WOW!

I know it's mostly mimicry now, but some of it is not. Chandler gets all his phrases from his parents and big sister, as well as the cartoons he watches. But somehow he knows the right context in which to use these phrases, too, and that right there shows a crafty intelligence involved.

Amazing, right? I know it's nothing new to you parents out there, but it simply FLOORS me! :)

At some point Chandler told Lisa: "I'm going to knock your socks off!"

Ha-ha, we're still trying to figure out where he got *that* one from.

Nature's Bounty, Or H. R. Giger Sculpture?

I'm not so sure it translates well in the above photo, but this is one seriously narrow Red Delicious apple. It feels very odd in my hand due to the typical weight distribution of a normal apple being thrown off by the weird contours of this one. It almost feels like a tiny alien head -- YIKES!

I just hope when I bite into it that acidy blood doesn't squirt out instead of apple. Ewww!

Guess I won't know until I give it the old college try. I'll let you know if I'm still alive after I finish lunch later this afternoon.

EDIT: (2:00 pm) I'm still alive. Alien apple head? Not so lucky.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Feeling A Tad Inadequate, Are We?


When are people going to learn: when you don't got it, you don't got it?

I'm getting sick and tired of this whole gender "debate" over Caster Semenya, the South African 800 meter world champion who's been in the news a lot lately over stupid people claiming that she won only because she's really a man. Or at the very least, that she has male sex genes.

Are you serious? Really? Is that how lame international sports has become? Because a black woman is dominating a given field, she obviously must be a man or some sort of freak of nature? Let's get real, people, and face the truth: your country's runners just can't cut it any more.

I mean, just look at the above photo. Does nothing look more pathetic than that one white woman trying so desperately not to let the master race down?

Okay, okay . . . I'm being snarky now and I apologize. After all, Semenya isn't just dominating flabby white women the world over, she's dominating the sport of running period! No matter which country you hail from -- Denmark or Kenya -- Caster Semenya is going to make you look stupid. But at least, as this article demonstrates, she seems to have a good attitude about it all. She knows she has nothing to prove to anyone else beyond the evidence her feet provide out on that track.

So instead of celebrating this young phenom, why are we wasting time with nonsense about her gender? What, because she doesn't fit some people's Westernized ideals of "beauty" she's suddenly a man? Well, who asked you? To me the very fact she kicks ass in her profession makes her ultimately beautiful in my eyes. Nothing's more sexy than a champion, as they say.

And with today comes new images taken from an upcoming issue of You magazine, showing Caster out of her usual track gear and wearing what her detractors would consider more appealing feminine garb. You is definitely trying to make a point, but personally I don't see why this much was even necessary. Only paranoid white people seem to be getting up in arms over her gender. Not South Africans, the magazine's intended readership, that's for sure.

As for the rest of us . . . she looks just fine. Just fine indeed.

So keep up the good work, Ms. Semenya. I look forward to seeing you embarrass more European and American nations at the 2012 Summer Olympics. You've got my cheers.

Monday, September 7, 2009

It Comes But Once Every Year, It Does

Ah, yes, it has come upon us ladies and gentlemen . . . that fine time of year where the Earth has completed one more rotation around the sun since the day I first opened my eyes to the wide world around me and thought: Fer god's sake, PUT ME BACK IN!!!

(Actually, in all probability, I probably preferred it out of the womb being that I was apparently in a rush and was born 2 months premature.)

Anyway, yes, today is my birthday obviously. I turned 33. No big deal, really. I like getting older for some reason. Makes me feel more accomplished. And so long as I'm still able to run 6 miles and lift increasingly hefty and dangerous weights with no problem, guess I have no reason not to be happy on this occasion.

So, here's to me on my day. Despite all the odds, I'm still here and going strong! :)

And here's a closer look at the fabulous cake Lisa got "commissioned" for me, courtesy of Billy's Bakery here in NYC:

And here's the evidence of my awesome b-day haul:

Yup, just like with the Apple iPhone my wife got me last Christmas, she has turned me ever closer towards the dark side, folks! Truth be told, I never would have deigned to stoop so low as to buy a Nintendo Wii outright. What true hardcore gamer would? But secretly I am very happy to have it. Setting it up was a breeze, and connecting it to the Internet via my wLAN even easier. Wii Sports is insipid, and I got bored of it after just 30 mins. But to be honest, I wanted the Wii mostly for the Virtual Console, which allows me to purchase and play TONS of old school Nintendo and Sega games, among others.

Those who know me and my gaming habits well know which classic game I purchased first. It's listed at Number 1 on this list for those who don't have a clue.

I'm still playing (and enjoying the hell out of) Batman: Arkham Asylum, so unfortunately the Wii is going to take a back seat for a little while. But not too long, I think.

To all the people throwing well-wishes my way on Facebook -- thank you so much! You guys bring a smile to my face. :)

As for the rest of the day's plans?: not much, really. It's Labor Day, so I'm going to grill up some burgers and dogs, and corn on the cob, too! But seeing as how there are no good movies worth a damn to watch out right now, I suppose spending all day at home ain't so bad. ANd I took the day off tomorrow, so as to properly enjoy my b-day while everyone else is at work. Heh-heh, yup. I'm spiteful like that!

So, I Was Shaving Last Night . . .

Because I'm weird in that I can only shave at night time right before going to bed . . . and it occurred to me that I'm different from most guys (yeah, big surprise there). For some unexplained reason, I truly despise hair on my face. I think it makes me look unruly and unkempt. Sure, sometimes I allow a few day's growth to accumulate, but trust me this is purely out of laziness. Eventually it becomes unbearable and I *have* to put the razor to my skin.

Ahhhh, I *love* the feeling of a smooth, freshly-shaved face. It feels so clean and CIVILIZED! I'm so much a fan of the process that I've been thinking of going old school and purchasing a full shaving kit. I'm talking the real ones with the folding straight razor and leather strop and all!

Luckily for the safety of my face I haven't gone that far. I can only imagine the mishaps that would occur. I don't aspire to have my bathroom sink basin look like an abattoir, however, so perhaps for now I'll leave that purchase in the realm of wishful thinking.

But yeah, facial hair. Me. Ick! :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Can't Believe I'm So Clueless!

So, I was watching the final DVD of the complete Cosby Show box set as first mentioned here, when it dawned on me to look up the guy who plays grandpa Huxtable, Earle Hyman. Imagine my shock when I learned today that he was the voice of Panthro on the Thundercats tv show.

I mean, HOLY CRAP!!!

Did anyone know this? I feel completely stupid right now. I mean, Thundercats was my NUMBER 1 cartoon back in 1985-86. I was a certifiable junkie! And I used to watch the Cosby show all the time, too. Yet, even now watching the entire series back to back it never dawned on me that Hyman was the voice behind my favorite Thundercat after Lion-O.

This is seriously tripping me out. Thinking back on it, it's so OBVIOUS now of course. I can't believe I've missed the connection all this time.

But don't take my word for it, check out the next two videos to hear what I mean.

This first clip is of Earle Hyman in a scene with Bill and Malcolm from the Cosby Show. Take note of the voice:

This next clip is taken from the Thundercats cartoon:


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Happiest Moment Of My Life

I was just wandering inside my own head this morning, when I got to thinking about those memories that really shine. You know, those moments in time that are so indelibly imprinted onto our consciousness that we never forget them. Thinking of these times eventually lead me to think on when I was the most happiest, and I realized it was this one night my Freshman year of college.

It was nearing Spring Break, but Lisa's college got theirs a week before mine. Since I had my own room by this point in the year, I remember asking Lisa if she wanted to visit and stay with me during her week off. I was delighted when she said yes! We had been dating for 10 months or so, and I had already visited for a weekend at her college, which was nearly 160 miles away. Since neither one of us had a car, travelling between the two locations required ample use of that hated mode of travel for poor, broke bastards--the Greyhound bus!

On the day she was to arrive, I was SO fidgety with anxiousness. I zombie'd my way through my classes, barely took note of the drudgery that was working in the dishroom, and ran back to my room after dinner to wait the three hours until Lisa's bus arrived on campus.

I had a small problem, though. It came in the form of my midterm paper for Philosophy class. It wasn't due for another few days, and I'd figured I'd somehow work around Lisa being in the room with me and find the time to bang out the required 2,000 words discoursing the empirical views of Hume vs Locke and how they clashed (if at all) with the existential stance of, say, Nietzsche. Or something along those lines.

But as I sat in my room disinterestedly preparing an outline for the paper, it occurred to me: why not write the whole thing now--in these next three hours--so that you can devote all your time to being with the love of your life?

Heh, heh . . . okay, I wasn't *that* sappy about it, but you get the point. I immediately dismissed this as impossible, however. How could I possible write a critical essay of the required academic calibre I needed in a mere 3 hours? Or, rather, less than 3 hours?

But the more I thought about it, and what would more than likely really be going on during the time Lisa was with me, the more I began to realize that this was something that absolutely needed to be done--and right away! I suddenly knew with chilling clarity that I would be too excited and blissful while Lisa was there to possibly get any writing done. Luckily for me all my other studies were squared away and completed for the next few days. But this paper . . . no, it could not get done while I was distracted.

So, with nothing but the thrill of the challenge and pent-up excitement spurring me on, I sat in front of my Mac computer and started typing away. And this was no surface dressing writing, I must say. I totally lost myself in old, dead white philosophers for the next two hours, burning the keys away with brilliant insight and wit. And you know what? It turned out to be one of the best papers I would write during my entire college stint.

How crazy is that? I must have had the mother of all muses for love-sick undergrads guiding my hand that night, because that paper ended up getting me a B+ in what was a very tough beginner's Philosophy class.

But that's besides the point. Back to the story.

With the paper now done, I sat back and realized I had only 30 mins left to proofread. I did as much as I could, and then I made the mistake of looking out my window. I couldn't believe what I saw. Somehow, in the time since I had last gazed out through those panes of glass (which was before I started typing) it had snowed a whole inch and a half! I couldn't believe it. It was as if I had entered another world. Somehow the fact that it was bright and clear before I started writing the paper, and now nighttime and wintry white when I finished, made a part of my brain think that more time had gone by than actually did.

My pulse quickened, but then logic took over. It was mid-March after all, and this *was* Vermont. This kind of weather was supposed to be par for the course, or so I had heard from upper classmen. No need to panic.

And indeed I did not. I, instead, took it as a good sign. I love snow, and what better way to introduce Lisa to the beautiful campus of Middlebury College than under a blanket of fresh, pristine white powder? A whiteness that seemed to twinkle under the waxing moonlight like diamonds spread across the land.

How romantic!

And, so, powering down my Mac, I grabbed my coat and keys and left the dorm. This is the moment I remember clearly to this day. This is why I'm writing about this incident, the happiest night of my life.

I can't describe it adequately enough, however, for which I apologize. All I can do is paint a picture for you.

Imagine if you will a young college student running down the long, sloping path leading away from Mead Chapel. Every few feet he's slipping and sliding along the slick new snow like a surfer. He's spinning and jumping for no reason at all, beaming smile plastered across his face. He's not singing or whistling or anything cliched like that, but best believe there's a song playing in his heart.

I know this is hard for those of you who know me to picture--but yes, it's all true! I was that guy. Of course, I was behaving a fool because I was in love and about to be reunited with my sweetheart who I had not seen for over 3 months. I'd also like to note that the campus was devoid of strollers at that time of night, so I had the entire McCullough side of the field to myself. Down past Voter hall on the left I skipped, onward beyond Painter and Warner halls, and down the little hill to where the lonely bus stop waited on Shannon Street. I had arrived early, so I leaned against a tree and allowed the silent world to embrace me. It was a cold, lovely night, with errant snowflakes twirling through the air now that the main storm had moved on.

Although I only saw two or three students walk by in that time--on their way to the Science Center--I felt connected to humanity, as odd as that might sound. But it's a true irony: that you feel the most connected to the world when you are outdoors and in the elements, alone but anticipating good company to come. Surely my senses were over-heightened because I was so excited!

Eventually I saw the Vermont Trailways bus make the right off Main St. and trundle down College St. It stopped right in front of me and the driver came down and opened up the luggage storage compartment underneath the bus. Eventually Lisa walked down the steps, and suddenly she was all I could see.

I can't see the memory so clearly after this point. The remainder of that night is all a fog of happiness, laughter, and joy. I do remember the 6 days of that week which followed, though. I have pictures to prove it happened, too! But for me, as much fun as I had having Lisa come to visit, nothing sits so clearly in my recollection as the anticipation leading up to her visit does. Even today, 14 years later, I can't think of any moment more beautiful than my crazy, sliding run across campus in the still starkness of that wintry night, waiting for her to arrive.

This, I know . . . this is what love is. That memory right there.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Name Finally In Print!!! (Well, Sort Of)

A little over a year ago I participated in a raffle to drum up funds for the KGB Fantastic Fiction program running locally here in NYC. Among many other items I won was a chance to be "tuckerized" by SF writer Lucius Shepard in a future work of his choosing.

For those not familiar with the term, Tuckerization refers to a writer using the names and/or likenesses of friends to populate his/her fiction. The term is attributed to sci-fi author Wilson Tucker, known for using the names of his close personal friends as minor characters in many of his works.

Lucius sent a funny e-mail shortly after the raffle explaining that he would base a secondary character on me to appear in his soon to be written novella, "Halloween Town." Earlier this year he confirmed that the piece would be appearing in the October issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine.

Well, that time is finally here!

Yup folks, you can find the novella and many other wonderful stories and related content in the current 60th anniversary double-issue (Oct/Nov) of F&SF on newsstands now. Or, barring news stands in your neck of the woods, you can find a copy in any store where magazines are usually sold. I know for a fact that Barnes & Noble carries several SF pulp books in their magazine section. Usually amidst the comics and word puzzles, along with mystery and romance pulps, too. So check there.

"Halloween Town" is a thoroughly engrossing tale. It's around 67 pages long and begins on p. 129. The character based on my likeness and named "David Batista" appears on p. 174. I'm a bit banged up and worse for wear when I show up. But I start kicking ass somewhere around p. 189. :) That's where, in a wonderfully lurid passage, Shepard describes me as battling mutant-like creatures called "lurruloo" armed with nothing but a billiards cue. LOL!

I don't want to give the whole story away, but I'll highlight this one bit:

". . . laying waste to the lurruloo as they landed . . .in his sleeveless t-shirt and shorts, Batista the Barbarian . . . [wielding] his Blue-Tipped Stick of Doom."

How damned AWESOME is that? I couldn't ask for a better scene! I wonder if Mr. Shepard knows of my love for all things Robert E. Howard?

As usual, Shepard's writing is slick and fun, with his characters sounding like real everyday people you might know. And I'm not just saying that because my alter-ego is now immortalized in his story.

Seriously, read the novella for yourself. It's tons of fun and, seeing as how the weather around here has turned decidedly Fall-like all of a sudden, has an appropriate Halloween'ish vibe going on.

Now if you excuse me, I have to wipe this big foolish grin off my face. I haven't given the story to Lisa to read, but I know she'll get a kick out of it.

My year has been made! Thank you, Lucius!!!

Well Iran And North Korea Have More In Common Than Just Illegal Nukes

They're also very quick to brand outsiders as "spies" whenever someone wanders by accident over their vague borders. Seems to me if you were concerned about spies slipping into your country, you might do a better job of policing said borders. At least put up some signs, sheesh!

I was just reading a brief account written by Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the two Korean-American journalists who were detained in North Korea and charged with being spies before being set free. You can read the details of their ordeal over at their employer's website,

I hope the N. Korean authorities are feeling rightly stupid about now. I mean, they couldn't have asked for more attention brought to the issue of defection if they'd paid good money for it. LOL, what dumbasses!

The report by the two women probably would have languished in moderate obscurity if they'd just let them stay on the other side of the border that fateful morning. By detaining them and thus bringing international attention to the ordeal, they've effectively ensured that a great deal of people will be paying attention to anything these two women say now about the plight of N. Korean refugees in China and abroad.

Nice going, guys. Seriously. You've made the jobs of humanitarians the world over a tad easier virtually overnight.

Thanks a million!

Panama Trip - Day 1: Here There Be Balboas!

In late May, 2017 I embarked on a trip of a lifetime. A trip to Panama's steamy tropical province, Bocas del Toro. Now, before 2017 ...