May / June 2021


The end of April was insanely busy, and things haven’t slowed down much, so I’m doubling up on the blog. Oh, wait, that’s right, keep a positive outlook: I’m not behind; I’m gracing you all with a super-sized double-issue! Aren’t you lucky? <wink>.

I will warn you, though, since this post covers the events of two months, it’s going to be all over the place with ADD/Shiny-shiny syndrome. This double-issue will have updates, reading lists, random ponderings, and rants (an issue with issues; NICE!)

First, the biggest news: I passed my Poetry and Prose of World War I class and have just one class left before I graduate. It was an incredible feeling to sign up for the final class required for my degree and see that “Academic Progress” pie chart finally fill up. It’s only been some thirty years in the making, lol!

After I finish this last class in the fall, I’d really like to continue taking classes. This time, though, they will have to be online or after-hours classes. I’m totally over walking across campus in -40 degree weather and starting work at 6: 45 am in order to make up the hours I’m gone to class. Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely appreciate the opportunity I’ve been given. I appreciate that the university offers the benefit of classes to employees and that I have a supervisor who is willing to work schedules around classes. It’s awesome! But as Danny Glover’s character says . . .

I’ve done quite a bit of reading lately, especially longer reads.

I finished Winter Counts.

I finished reading A Farewell to Arms for my class.

I finished reading In the Dust of This Planet.

Now I’m working on Pandemic by Sonia Shah. The book was written in 2016, but she predicted SO MANY THINGS about the Covid pandemic. She’s a modern day Nostradamus, only *her* predictions actually came true!

I’m also working on the Audible version of The Lakota Way. I enjoy spirituality/philosophical books, and this is a nice change from the rigors of In the Dust of This Planet. Right off the bat, there’s a great takeaway that I’m trying to incorporate into my life as a personal philosophy: let the window blow through you.

Sadly, I still haven’t made much progress in Lovecraft’s letters. It’s a constant cycle of “read a few pages; wander away for a month and forget where I left off.” Sorry, Lovecraft, your correspondence is kinda boring. I’m still determined to do it, though, because this is my pet project!

Also, I can’t find it anywhere in the blog, but I finished reading Nomadland a bit ago. Now I want to see the movie, especially since it has one of my favorite actresses, Frances McDormand, in it!

In spite of everything, I was able to keep up with my short story reading, too. Here are the lists for April and May!

April 2021 #500Stories500Nights

  • 1: “New York Girl,” by John Updike (New Yorker: Fiction, 9-3-18)
  • 2: “His Last Bow,” by Arthur Conan Doyle (The Penguin Book of First World War Stories)
  • 3: “The Takeback Tango,” by Rebecca Roanhorse (LeVar Burton Reads, 2-8-21)
  • 4: “The Eyes Have It,” by Philip K Dick (Selected Shorts, 2-25-21)
  • 5: “Everyday Use,” by Alice Walker (Selected Shorts, 2-25-21)
  • 6: “Bargain,” by Sarah Gailey (Cast of Wonders: CatsCast 341, 4-1-21)
  • 7: “Extermination,” by OD Hegre (Tales to Terrify 472)
  • 8: “The Loathly Opposite,” by John Buchan (The Penguin Book of First World War Stories)
  • 9: “Early Bird,” by Taylor Allgood (Nocturnal Transmissions 99)
  • 10: “My Mother Explains the Ballet to Me,” by Jesse Eisenberg (Selected Shorts podcast, 3-4-21)
  • 11: “Rattlesnake Song,” by Josh Rountree (Pseudopod 746)
  • 12: “You Have Been Turned into a Zombie by a Friend,” by Jeremiah Tolbert (Fantasy Magazine Podcast, 6027-11)
  • 13: “Tango,” by Kurt Vonnegut [performed by the wonderful Tony Shalhoub] (Selected Shorts podcast, 3-4-21)
  • 14: “A Wrinkle in the Realm,” by Ben Okri (The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 2-2-21)
  • 15: “The Fire Eggs,” by Darrell Schweitzer (StarShipSofa 656)
  • 16: “Daddy,” by Damion Wilson (LeVar Burton Reads, 2-15-21)
  • 17: “The Book of the Kraken,” by Carrie Vaughn (Uncanny Magazine Podcast 39B)
  • 18: “The Secret of Theta Pi,” by Stephanie Gray (Drabblecast 442)
  • 19: “The Tale of Descruptikn and the Product Launch Requirements Documentation,” by Effie Seiberg (Cast of Wonders 390)
  • 20: “Louise, Your Shed’s on Fire,” by Matthew Weber (The Wicked Library 728)
  • 21: “My Cat Hates Me,” by Luke Kondor (The Other Stories 61.2)
  • 22: “Captain Carthy’s Bride,” by KG Anderson (The Overcast 147)
  • 23: “Cleaver, Meat, and Block,” by Maria Haskins (Pseudopod 745)
  • 24: “The Crooked House,” Jonathan Lethem (The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 3-2-21)
  • 25: “Katania,” by Lara Vapnyar (The New Yorker: Fiction, 4-1-21)
  • 26: “The Female of the Species,” by Tara Campbell (StarShipSofa 657)
  • 27: “Alluvial Deposits,” by Percival Everett (LeVar Burton Reads, 2-22-21)
  • 28: “The Day I Didn’t Get a Pet Nebula,” by Effie Seiberg (Drabblecast 443)
  • 29: “Luchadora,” by Melissa Mead (Cast of Wonders 389)
  • 30: “I Think My Treehouse is Haunted,” by Philip Fracassi (Tales to Terrify 476)

May 2021 #500Stories500Nights

  • 1: “Play Fetch,” by Dan Howarth (The Other Stories 62.1)
  • 2: “As Well as the Infirm,” by Scott Beggs (Pseudopod 751)
  • 3: “Good-Looking,” by Souvankham Thammavongsa (The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 2-23-21)
  • 4: “Stone Mattress,” by Margaret Atwood (The New Yorker Fiction, 6-1-18)
  • 5: “The Prey,” by John Wolf (StarShipSofa 658)
  • 6: “Paradise Retouched,” by Marc Laidlaw (Nightmare Magazine Podcast, 4-21-21)
  • 7: “The Regression Test,” by Wole Talabi (LeVar Burton Reads, 3-1-21)
  • 8: “The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change,” by Kij Johnson (Drabblecast 407)
  • 9: “Snowfather,” by Josh Rountree (Tales to Terrify 481)
  • 10: “Cornstalkers,” by Matthew Bradford (Tales to Terrify 481)
  • 11: “Al-Kitab Al-Ghoul: Being the singular Memoir of Ibn al-Warith, the Only Known Son of Abdul al-Hazrad, Called the Mad Arab by Some,” by Aaron Vlek (Nocturnal Transmissions 101-102)
  • 12: “Blood Pressure,” by TD Trask (The Wicked Library 726)
  • 13: “Call Out,” by Mike Edward Evans (The Other Stories 61.4)
  • 14: “The Artist and the Door,” by Dorothy Quick (Pseudopod 750)
  • 15: “The Shape of a Teardrop,” by T. Coraghessan Boyle (The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 3-9-21)
  • 16: “Ice in the Dark,” by Joachim Heijndermans (StarShipSofa 620)
  • 17: “Killer of Kings,” by Anjali Sachdeva (LeVar Burton Reads, 3-15-21)
  • 18: “Unseelie Brothers, Ltd.,” by Fran Wilde (Uncanny Magazine Podcast 40A)
  • 19: “The Hands of Heroes,” by Cat Rambo (Drabblecast 444)
  • 20: “Unnamed,” by Monte Lin (Cast of Wonders 451)
  • 21: “When the Stars are Right,” by Sarah Hans (Tales to Terrify 483)
  • 22: “Exquisite,” by Alan Baxter (Pseudopod 755)
  • 23: “Old Babes in the Wood,” by Margaret Atwood (The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice, 4-20-21)
  • 24: “Gallatin Canyon,” by Thomas McGuane (The New Yorker: Fiction, 5-1-21)
  • 25: “Strangers When We Meet,” by Shannon Phillips and Christian Chadwell (StarShipSofa 659)
  • 26: “Vaccine Season,” by Hannu Rajaniemi (LeVar Burton Reads, 4-12-21)
  • 27: “Rubberdust,” by Sarah Thankam Mathews (Selected Shorts, 5-6-21)
  • 28: “Sir Henry,” by Lydia Millet (Selected Shorts, 5-6-21)
  • 29: “Pen or Perish,” by Connie Millard (Tales to Terrify 484)
  • 30: “Winter,” by Rory Say (Nocturnal Transmissions 103)
  • 31: “The Infernal Itch,” by Bruce Boston (The Overcast 148)

Now on to the rants section!

The whole thing about the Naomi Osaka controversy really got me thinking.

One of the things I’m really enjoying about the last decade or so (maybe a part of getting older and getting to GAF less) is that I’m starting to question everything. All this, “that’s the way it’s always been” sort of stuff. More and more, I find myself going, “WHY? WHY has it always been that way? And finding that it probably shouldn’t be.

An example is Osaka. The public has always talked about “the price of fame.” If you’re going to be famous, then you have to deal with the fans and people always getting up in your personal space. Really? Why? Why does being famous mean that you have to be on 24/7 and allow people in your bubble?

And if you are any kind of public figure (rapper, author, actor, and even athlete), you often have contract obligations to engage and interact with the public. It’s something that’s just accepted as part and parcel of the fame. But Osaka’s balking at it has made me think, WHY?! Why do we have to allow the public access to us? I can’t believe it never occurred to me to question this before. I hate public events. I’m an introvert. I don’t mind being here on the internet blogging and communicating on my terms, but the idea of holding a reading or book signing or press conference TERRIFIES me. But, until recently it’s a part of the job, it’s expected, and even I meet it with, “ugh, it’s awful and I hate it and it’s sheer hell and torture but I guess I have to do it . . .” I just blindly accepted that it is what it is. BUT WHY? Why should it be that I, or a sports player, or an actor, has to agree to give up some of themselves for public consumption in order to be involved in their art/profession?

I know when I had a couple of stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, they encourage (and give lots of resources to help their authors do) book signings. They are great, because they don’t require it and just want to give you the tools to have a great signing should you choose to have one. But some publishers require it. The “book tour” is a well known, expected part of the publishing process. I just don’t think it should be required. Obviously, for some people (like Osaka; like me; like many others), this sort of forced access/availability can be detrimental to our well-being.

So, spoiler alert: I ain’t never doing a book tour. You’ll never see me in a booth at a Comic-Con. You’ll never see me at a book signing. You might see me at a reading, if I decide it’s something *I* want to try. But I won’t be forced into it. You are, however, more than welcome to interact with me on Facebook and Twitter, and by contact on my website. Of course, I’ll never be famous enough to have this kind of a problem, but if I did, I’d hope I get to choose how I handle my fame, and I totally support Osaka’s decision.

More rants . . .

We had our first camping trip of the year over the Memorial Day weekend. While it was a great trip, two events stood out from all the rest.

One was that this little guy ran into the camper window and knocked himself loopy. I happened to look up just as he hit and I saw him go <splat> like a cartoon. However, my eyes must have deceived me based on the very loud thump he made when he hit. I went outside expecting to see a bigger bird. I was terrified when I saw how small and pitiful he was. I was sure a bird his size could never survive a hit like that.

Luckily, he did. He hung out in my hand until he had all his feathers back in order and he could open his eyes again. I’m sure he had quite a headache! He didn’t want to leave my hand, but I gently encouraged him into a little shoebox I put on the table beside the camper (so he could recover without some hawk or something bothering him). I peeked out at him every now and then, and about a half hour later, he was gone, with nothing left behind but a little poo!

That was the good event.

The bad event is that our fridge went out. Yes, you heard right: the fridge went out in my one-year-old, brand new camper. Of course, the fridge is only warrantied for a year. Am I pissed off? Yes. First camping trip of the season, and I ended up throwing away a ton of food that couldn’t be saved and running to Walmart to buy a cooler to save the food that could be saved.

I’m kicking myself a little, too, because I had doubts from the start. When you order this kind of camper, you have the option of either an electric fridge or a gas/electric one like we had in our old camper. I don’t know anything about electric fridges in campers, but our old camper had a gas/electric and it worked great. I like to stick with what I know. But since the pandemic was just starting and no one was sure how the camper supply was going to be (terrible, it turns out, and it still is), they couldn’t guarantee we’d even get a camper unless we took one already in production. This camper was finishing up production with an electric fridge and was certain to get to us before camping season, so we went for it.

Now the camper is over at the dealership, and they are trying to figure out if it can be fixed. If not, then we will have to see if Everchill is willing to make things right.

That’s about all for this month . . . uh, months. Until next month (fingers crossed),

Stay Spooky!