Saturday, December 20, 2008

I'm back

Well, to be more accurate, my computer is back. Back from the dead, that is. My hard drive started acting up around Thanksgiving, and then, in a brilliant move inspired by a moment of neanderthalish anger, I punched the part of the dock where the hard drive was located, causing the computer to shut down for good.

Luckily, I have a roommate who works for Google and is a computer whiz. Luckily, I had backed nearly all of my writing. I purchased a new hard drive, and am now in the process of recovering nearly all of the files I lost.

Unluckily, I let this be an excuse not to work on my book or any of my writing for the past few weeks, and its grown cold. So today, I forced myself to sit down and begin working once again. After a bit, with the help of a generously-sized mocha, I was able to get out about 500 words or so, and edited a lot of other good stuff.

So I'm back. Or rather, the book is back.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Sandman comics

Marc Bernardin posts on his PopWatch blog on Entertainment Weekly about his love for Neil Gaiman's stellar comic book series The Sandman:

PopWatch: The Sandman

--which pretty much says all that I would say to anyone who has never read The Sandman.

You should. It will change your life. I know it changed mine.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

NaNoWriMo--update

It is quickly becoming apparent to me that, though I've been making great strides in my book The Constable of Bridge, I probably won't make the 50000 word goal by the end of this month.

Ah well.

Its the struggle, the journey that is important, no? So, as improbable as success might be, it feels like the correct decision is to go down fighting.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Victory Rally at Grant Park

Yes, I was there. My friend's fiance was out of town and she invited me to be her "date" for the ticketed portion of the rally in Grant Park. We had a quick dinner and a pint at the Emerald Loop, then headed over.

The weather was perfect. The mood in the air was festive but a little anxious. There was a shared look on peoples' faces, a hopeful expression, a knowing smile that here was another kindred spirit who had made the choice to believe in hope rather than cynicism.

One thing that struck me was the sheer diversity of the people in attendance, much more so than any Republican Rally that I'd seen on TV. Everyone I spoke with seemed to have a bit more intelligence and wit than that average Republican crowd (ie: no one screaming "socialist", "terrorist", or "kill 'em").

We were at the third checkpoint when they called Pennsylvania for Obama and I became quietly confident.

We had just entered the rally when they called Ohio, I started to grin. It was over. People were afraid to say it, there was almost an unspoken worry about jinxing the election, but mathematically I knew it would be impossible for McCain to come back after this point.

Then Virginia turned blue. We realized that this was actually happening. After California closed, Grant Park exploded into triumphant cheers that would make the spirits of MLK and JFK proud!

McCain's concession speech wasn't bad. The sentiment where I was standing was that if this had been the way he'd run his campaign from start to finish, the race would have been much closer. There were a few cheers when we saw Caribou Barbie crying though, and I heard someone, seemingly in the spirit of Eric Cartman, cry out "Palin's tears taste delicious to me!"

Obama's speech, his call to service as it were, was perfectly timed and delivered. It basically said, "We're only just getting started." I could barely make him out from where I was standing, but the jumbotron provided a great picture. His face looked at once both glad and grim, as though he was realizing the enormity of the task before him. Was glad to see Joe Biden and their families out on stage. Pictures of Jesse and Oprah crying were touching.

Before he left, Obama gave a final wave to the crowd in my direction, and, though I feel like a corny little kid writing this, it felt magical.

It was like someone had sprayed Happy Gas throughout the city.The crowds outside the rally were jubilant, a little wild, but with an almost surprising lack of hostility or anarchy. Loved walking around downtown.

I was so exhausted that it didn't really hit me until I made it back to my apartment late into the night. Before going to bed, I watched will.i.am's "Yes We Can" music video. It was then I realized what had just happened, that freedom, caring, and intelligence had actually beat out jingoism, hate, ignorance, and greed. Tears welled up in my eyes as I realized that we actually might have a chance in this world to make things better.

To echo what we were all crying in Grant Park last night.

Yes, we can.

Yes, we did.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

NaNoWriMo

Or, National Novel Writing Month.

One signs up and commits to trying to write 50,000 words during the month of November. That equates to 1667 words per day.

I've decided to give it a go. Since I was hungover Saturday from a fun-tastic Friday Halloween and didn't write a thing, I had to double up and attempt to get in two days worth of writing today, Sunday.

Somehow, after chugging two cups of coffee, I slugged my way through 3200 words. Now I feel mentally exhausted and a bid post-caffeinated edgy.

But it was fun. I've already started this novel, The Constable of Bridge, but I figured this would be a good way to keep it going.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I voted today...

...and I feel fine!

The Early Registration was at 69 W. Washington, right by my office in the Loop. Only took about 45 minutes in line during lunch. As I stood in line, I observed the e older gentleman in front of me, the pretty young woman with an iPod in front of him, the mother with USA stitched into winter cap, and a guy with dreadlocks. For all the diversity in the line, everyone seemed to have the same anticipatory smile on their face.

I felt an odd surge of patriotism and it was heart-warming. Something was in the wind, and it felt like change.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

2008 blog entries

H'okay so here's the deal.

I've had a few different online journals, and I decided to centralize all of them onto one web log. This one. I tried to figure out a way to import all of the entrees from my Myspace Journal and my Livejournal account, but to no avail. My roommate Matt doesn't think its possible, and since he's a techie guy who works for Google, I'll take his word for it. What does this mean? It means that I'm going to have to do things the old fashioned way, by cutting and pasting.

It means these three post are going to be frickin' huge. They're sort of like catch-up posts. What I've done is divide three posts by year. This post has all of my entries from 2008, the previous, 2007, and the one before that, 2006. I'll also be posting notices on my former blogs directing reader's interested in my life and/or writing career to this page.

And so, without further interruption, extrapolation, or rambling, let the catch-up posts begin!

Friday, June 06, 2008
vote for my story,

Hi friends,

Niteblade, the ezine that published my Dante/Hell‑is‑a‑circus story 'The Seventh Day' also prints a Best of the Year book anthology.

This year the book will be titled LOST INNOCENCE, which I think 'The Seventh Day' is perfect for. However, the majority of the contents in the anthology is based on votes.

So...VOTE FOR ME! Its my birthday in a couple days, so consider it as a birthday present.

Monday, June 02, 2008
the hits keep coming!

Had some good news yesterday! This past winter, I read that a publisher called Familia Books was looking to put out an anthology about mothers. I sent them a poem I wrote while at Aquinas and they want to include it in their book! Best of all, they apparently are going to pay me $100 for the poem!

This is by far the most I've been paid per/word, well over professional rates. The only other time I ever made that much money was when I won an Aquinas College short story contest way back in 2003. More details to come soon...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008
new short story "The Affairs of Wizards" available in book anthology!

Several years ago, back when i was a freshman in college I had the idea to write a short story that satirized the whole fantasy/Dungeon and Dragon roleplaying concept. Namely, that when "heroes" kill monsters, they are in fact committing genocide and hunting endangered species.

The result was an extremely rough clunky tale called "The Affairs of Wizards" (the title taken from a portion of a saying attributed by Sam Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings). Many years and revisions later, it had become a story that I was moderately happy with that contained some fairly funny moments.

I realize now that what I thought was an original idea (ooo, I'll satirize fantasy tropes!) has already been done quite well and quite prolifically by Terry Pratchett. For those of you who don't know, Terry Pratchett is the 2nd best selling author in England (he was first, until JK Rowling came along with her Harry Potter books). Picture Lord of the Rings meets Monty Python. Pratchett is amazing and I can't recommend him enough.


So I now view my story as a poor-man's, American Pratchett. And I thought it would never see the light of day. However, I found out about a publishing company looking to produce an anthology of comic fantasy and science fiction and thought I'd give them a try. To my great surprise, they accepted my story and its now available in the actual physical book: Strange Worlds of Lunacy: The Galaxy's Silliest Anthology

Its fairly funny. I chuckled at some of the poems and stories. The art is pretty cool too! Not a bad deal at $14.95. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 25, 2008
The Sparrow now available!

My horror short story "The Sparrow" is now available on the current issue of the Allegory e-zine. You can also download the PDF for free if you like. Allegory is the first magazine I've been paid at a semi-pro rate for, and also the first magazine that has reprinted a story that I published.

So I'm pretty pleased. Feel free to send comments! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008
good news

I was notified today that my short story "The Sparrow" was accepted as a reprint in Allegory magazine.

Reprint means that it was published somewhere else first. A magazine has to really like your story if they accept it as a reprint! Quite flattering actually. "The Sparrow" is a horror short story about a zombie outbreak on a slave ship in the 1800’s in the midst of its journey across the Middle Passage. Not usually the type of thing I write, but I had a lot of fun with it, and I was intrigued by the idea of contrasting a real-life human monstrosity with fictional super-natural monstrosities. How do those who treat others inhumanely react to something truly inhuman?

The story was first published on the website "The Horror Library" as the winner of its monthly Slushpile contest. To be honest, I wasn’t happy with the format, nor was I happy with the quality of stories that I was competing against. At Allegory, I’ll get a little compensation for my work plus a much better presentation of the story.

All in all, a great way to start the day!

24 March 2008 @ 09:43 pm
lets see...

Had some good ideas, one for a story I'm working on, another yet to be written. I think I'm more excited about the new idea, but that's the nature of my ADD creative beast. The book goes. I'm procrastinating another part of the chapter at the moment.

Work goes. The Easter break was awesome and I need to catch up on sleep if I'm going to back in the swing of things.

Finally, I saw Darjeeling Limited, Royal Tenenbaums, and a play called 13 Dead Husbands all in the same weekend. The result was an absurdist, romantic, humorous extravaganza that, on reflection, I think was very good for my soul.

And on a final note, I'm relieved St. Patrick's Day is done. Rule for next year: No calling ex-girlfriend's "whore", even if they show up at a party with their boyfriend that they had no business being at.

'cause that's just rude.

2/25/08
another acceptance!

After weeks of the dreariest winter I've experienced since living in Chicago, after a month of dull hum-drum boredom, I came home this evening to open my email and receive some great news.

I had another story accepted! The story is called "The Affairs of Wizards," and its actually a humor/satire of the whole Dungeon and Dragons concept. The title actually comes from a portion of a borrowed quote of Tolkien's.

Anyway, the book is called Strange Worlds of Lunacy, which is a pretty good fit for the story. I've been published in a magazine, an e-zine, a website, and a podcast. This makes my first book!

There are few things that compare to reading an acceptance letter for a story you've submitted for publication. Finishing a marathon, having sex, writing something really, truly, fucking electric...

Be that as it may, I'm feeling pretty good. The story is what I call my Terry Pratchett story, though I wrote it before ever having read Pratchett. (I also have written a Borges story, a Stephen King story, etc.) Perhaps its time to break out the bubbly...

14 February 2008 @ 10:11 am
A death

I just found out that an old friend of mine from college died this week.

Its a wierd feeling. 6 years ago we were fairly close, but drifted to the realm of friendly acquaintances by the time we were seniors and after I went to Costa Rica and Chicago we sort of fell off eachother's radars.

I've had classmates from high school pass away before now, but that seemed so far removed from my life, almost a different universe.

But friends from college? That feels like it was just yesterday. Its different from family. Aquinas felt like this safe little utopian bubble, removed from the world. Yes, there was occasional drama, as there must be in such an enclosed setting, but for the most part it was really fun. And now the bubble has burst. The maddening thing is that no one in our circle of friends knows how it happened.

And the most tragic part is that she has a little girl, who's now about 6 years old. I remember playing with Maddy senior year when she was a toddler. I hope that her family is okay.

And Amy, I hope you're okay now too.

1 February 2008 @ 02:00 pm
Scrivener: so far, so good!

I'll admit, initially I was afraid that I wasted $40.00 on the Scrivener softward but the last few days have showed me that those fears were groundless!

I've definitely been able to organize the book and it really has helps put things in perspective for me. The work has continued and I feel confident that its heading in a good direction. From here on out, its Word for short stories and Scrivener for books.

(I only pray that everything continues to go smoothly. Its usually at this point in the process where something goes pear-shaped.)

And then on a personal sidenote, my parents and little brother came in for the weekend. We went out to an Irish pub for dinner and saw a movie. It was nice.

07 February 2008 @ 11:17 pm
a book and a kook

What started out as a way to comment on George RR Martin's "Not-a-Blog" Livejournal account has morphed into a desire to actually write something. Not that I haven't been writing a lot lately, just not on Livejournal.

I just purchased the program Scrivener last night and have been learning the ins-an-outs of it today. For short stories, its not practical, but I've definitely noticed its potential for longer works, especially books.

And since, for the first time in awhile, I'm attempting a book, and its been going pretty good guns, I thought I'd try organizing it. The story was quickly approaching that point where I wasn't sure what to do next, and much as I hate to potentially squelch any creativity by adding structure and even >gasp< an outline, another voice in my head told me it might be a good idea. I guess its time to grow up. (a little)

So there it is, and so far it seems to have gone well. I'll do a little more organizing and fiddling tomorrow, and really try to knock something out of the park on Saturday.

On a sidenote, there's this really obnoxious trollish person who keeps entering things on GRRM's Livejournal. I know it shouldn't bother me, especially because I'm sure Mr. Martin can take care of himself, but a part of me just wanted to find this guy and kick his ass. I'm reminded of my favorite part of the movie Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, where they hunt down every troll who commented on them and beat them down. I wish this guy lived in Chicago, then we could meet up and discuss things in person. (meaning I could scare him) Alas, trolls are a cowardly lot who hide behind their internet anonymity ...

2007 blog entries

Here are all my blog posts from my Myspace page from the intriguing year of 2007. Some reading lists, but also a lot of news about my published stories. 2007 was the year I started to get published!

Monday, December 10, 2007
new story "The Seventh Day" available

So I just had another story come out in the December issue of the e-zine Niteblade. The story is title "The Seventh Day" and its sort of a modern homage to Dante's Inferno. (that means its about hell) I actually read it at the Twilight Tales open mic this past November

I'm excited about it for two reasons.

One, it was one of the first stories I wrote after moving to Chicago, and it taught me a lot about writing and self-editing. Seriously, this story went through about 30 drafts and numerous cuts before getting accepted. It is also one of the first stories where the characters just seemed to step off the page and take over. Especially Mr. Lucas. (read the story to figure out what I mean)

Two, its the first story I've written that's received its own illustration! Its just a black and white line drawing, but it as still done by a professional, award-winning illustrator!

The good news is that the issue of Niteblade is free and available online. You can find it at this link:

www.niteblade.com

Click on the December 2007 issue, then click beneath the cover image, then click on the link beneath the Support the Writer's Strike sign (which I agree with, btw), then click on my story. There's the story illustration, and then a nice little author bio, and links to the story itself.

Or, you could donate $2 and by the ad-free PDF of the magazine. Speaking as someone whose other job is layout and design, I was quite impressed with how the PDF mag was laid out. Honestly, it makes my story and the others in the issue a lot better laid out. Plus, it supports the small fiction guys and its a steal. Not all of the stories in there are top quality, but some made for interesting reads. Anyway, I hope that you give my story a perusal. I'd love to hear what you think!

Friday, November 16, 2007
new story, The Sparrow

Alright, I won't sugar-coat it, I'm shilling yet another one of my stories that's just been published. The good news is that this one's free too. The bad news is, well, its not bad news per se, but its a caution that this tale might not be to everyone's taste.

The story is called "The Sparrow" and takes place on a slave cargo ship in the 1800's embarking on the Middle Passage, the leg of the voyage where slavers left from Africa and made their way to the Americas.

Its got zombies.

And that's where the "not for everyone" warning label comes in. The story is actually not as gory as one might think, and in my opinion, the violence is tasteful and not gratuitous. But you can't paint the deplorable conditions of the Middle Passage in pretty colors, and when zombies are added to the mix, there might be a little blood that gets spilled. I was fascinated by the idea of the story, especially the premise of how those who treat others inhumanly for a living would react in the face of something truly inhuman.

The Sparrow won a monthly contest at the website called Horror Library. It can be founded under the Slushpile link. (slushpile is an editors' term piles of submitted stories) I was the featured monthly pick.

You can read the story by going to www.horrorlibrary.net. Again, proceed with caution. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Luna Springs--available NOW!

My latest published story, "Luna Springs", is available for free download in audio format from the podcast Drabblecast. Drabblecast is a weekly short fiction podcast/website and "Luna Springs" is a science-fiction satire.

There are two ways you can listen to the story:

1. If you have the program iTunes, go to iTunes Music Store, click on Podcasts, and do a search for Drabblecast. After Wednesday, 11/7, "Luna Springs" should be available.

2. Or you can go directly to the Drabblecast website: Luna Springs I was extremely happy with how the reading came out. Please give it a listen (remember its free--although you can donate money to the site if you feel so inclined) and send me comments if you like!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007
What movies you ask?

But wait, I thought that since summer blockbuster season was over, there would be no more geeky movies for Pat to get excited about. (Spider-man 3? Pirates of the Caribbean? Pah!)

In this, dear blog reader person, whomever you are, you would be wrong. Very wrong. For you see, on Friday, November 16th, two movies will be released that I have been waiting for for a long time.

1. Beowulf There are so many reasons I'm excited about this movie. It has a dragon and demons and heroes. It has swords. And vikings. It's motion-capture CGI. Anothony Hopkins. Angelina Jolie. Its FREAKIN' BEOWULF PEOPLE!!! The only damn thing I liked in High school Honor's English. Its arm-ripping, blood-pounding, ale-quaffing adventure! AND, it was written by one of my favorite authors of all time, my hero, the man I want to be when I grow up: Neil Gaiman. (oh, and it has nude scenes with Angelina Jolie...digital yes, but still kinda, um, awesome?)

2. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.'Nuff said.

Sunday, September 23, 2007
Number 4!

A few quick updates...

1. I'm no longer going to be posting a reading list here, since my friend at work Rachel emailed me this really cool website called Goodreads, which lets me list all the books I've read in a very nice format. I highly recommend the site to readers.

2. I just found out this week that I've had my fourth story accepted! The story is called The Sparrow, and it takes place on a slave ship in the 1800's. Its got zombies. Anyway, it'll be on a website called the Horror Library.net! Their myspace site is on my friends list. Check 'em out.

3. Another story of mine, Luna Springs, is going to be the feature piece on the weekly podcast, Drabblecast, on October 24th! Its a quick story, and I'm very eager to hear what it sounds like when read aloud.

That's all for now...

Monday, September 17, 2007
Fuck!

God damn it! I just heard the news that Jim Rigney, the man who wrote under the well known non-de-plume as Robert Jordan, died yesterday. Man, this sucks. Robert Jordan began, in the 90's, writing the Wheel of Time fantasy series, a series of books that I began reading all the way back in 7th grade.

The books started off so excellent, though each one at about 900 pages was quite a thing to digest. In fact, Jordan was almost a by-word for fantasy series that grow and grow. Back in high school, I freakin' loved these books. I would re-read them all the time. I started to lose interest after a poorly-written book 10, with no end in sight, but book 11 had brought me back into the fold.

In many ways, us fans never wanted the journey to end. I had always hoped he would be able to conquer his disease and finish his series as JK Rowling and Stephen King had done. And now, the road that seemed like it would go ever onward has halted. My condolences go out to his family and friends. What a tragic thing...

The only thing more I can think to say (and while it is corny, it is true, as so many true things are) is that while Jordan has passed into the Light, his characters will live on.

Friday, August 24, 2007
published again!

I guess good things come in three's. I jut got word that my short story, Luna Springs, has been accepted to be read aloud in a weekly online podcast called Drabblecast!

YESSSSSS!!!!!!

So now, by the end of this year I'll have a poem and two short stories published! Fan-freakin'-tastic. Although my grand total of payment for these stories has been pretty low, its still nice to have gotten some money. More info to come on the details of when the stories will get published.

Also, because of the places that the stories have been accepted, I'll have a work in print, a work online, and a work in audio format! Which is pretty cool.

At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Thursday, August 23, 2007
The Dark Knight pt. 2
I'm an extra in the movie! I'll be filming all day Sunday on set. (God that sounds cool) Yeeeaaahhhhhh!

Saturday, August 11, 2007
Do you want to read my published poem?

As most of you know, I just had my first post-Aquinas bit of writing published this July! To add on to that good news, I just found out yesterday that another one of my stories, The Seventh Day, has been accepted into an online magazine called Niteblade! (should be out this December!)

The reason I'm send this out to you all, is that most of you expressed interest in owning a copy of the magazine I just got published in. Unfortunately, they only gave me 2 free contributor copies. But I'd still like y'all to have the issue. So here's what I'm thinking.

You could either:

A. email me back saying that you'd like a copy and I'll order it online for you, you can pay me back later with either $3.50 or a beer.

B. order the magazine yourself online. Here's the link to their store: http://thewillows.myshopify.com

The magazine is called The Willows and costs $3.50, and I'm in the July issue. Most of the fiction is pretty dark/scary, as is my poem The Pipes of Pan, so be forewarned! If you're getting this, that means you're one of my friends or family who's supported me while I've worked on getting my writing career off the ground, and honestly, that means more than I can say. Its no best-seller, but its a start!

Monday, July 23, 2007
H-Pizzle

Which is, to say, my roommate's "gangsta" nickname for Harry Potter.

Though I am in the midst of a lot of books right now, (far too many to try to put into an updated reading list since my last one--dammit!), I put them all aside for the 7th book by now-billionaire JK Rowling.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
: wow. Halfway through the book I had my doubts, I must admit. It gets very dark, very depressing. I wanted more Snape!!! However, the 2nd half of the book, somehow manages to resolve all the mysteries and give us an almost-too-happy ending. Yes there's deaths, and lots of them, but I seriously thought more main characters were going to bite it. The fear of main characters' death did, however add a spicy, icy anticipation flavor to the book which made the experience more enjoyable.

I was also gratified that several of my (and Adrian Blazek's) prediction came true. Although, in a way, this took away from the surprise, but still, ultimately made the book enjoyable. Character favorite, in some ways, was Snape, who I now compare almost to Dicken's Sydney Carton or Val Kilmer's Doc Holliday as an excellent tragically flawed anti-hero.

The best was how I was totally unaware of whether or not Dumbledore had a plan. I can't tell you what was left to chance and what was it. Suffice to say, Rowlling is good at writing mysteries. I'm in awe of her planning skills. So, in the end, the book lives up to the hype. We have a series that can be re-read, enjoyed, and passed on. I can sit back now and wistfully think of how I began reading about Harry 7 years ago, in my room in the basement of my parents house. We (the Muggle readers) and the characters who live in Rowling's world of magic have all changed a lot since then.

SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT, BEWARE!
My one question, or regret, is that a portrait of Snape as headmaster was not seen in the headmaster's office after he died. I would have loved for some more resolution between Harry and Snape. The scenes where he looks into Harry's eyes (to see the look of Lily's eyes) as he dies and the epitaph that Harry gives about Snape to his son (named after Snape and Dumbledore) were quite beautiful.

I think a conversation between an older Harry and Snape's portrait by Rowling, would serve as an excellent post-script short story...it'd be great if she ever did that...but I guess that's the nice part of me that wants to see everyone resolve conflicts and be friends. Yeah, I'm an old softy.

Thursday, June 21, 2007
Nananananananana BATMAN!

Those of you who know me, know that I am a nerd.

And with that disclaimer, I have to talk about the Batman sequel THE DARK KNIGHT, which is FILMING in Chicago!!! Last week, my roommate and I came across a Gotham City Police squad car behind our bulding. We waited around for a bit (okay, I did climb onto a truck, all secret-mission-impossible style) and we saw Gary Oldman walk out for a scene as Commissioner Gordon. As if the Fanboy in me couldn't be pleased enough, I just found out that Tuesday and Wed. 6/26-6/27, they are filming Batman RIGHT in front of my office all day!!!! Yes, this is me gushing. No, I will not dress up in a batsuit and punch Heath ledger (he's playing the Joker). Although the thought is tempting...

Saturday, April 28, 2007
Reading List (again)


The Demolished Man, by Alfred Bester. How do you get away with murder when nearly everyone is psychic? Good. A sci-fi classic. I'm glad to have read it, the man was ahead of his time. Honestly, I'm surprised that they let the book get published in the 50's.

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where hackers reign, the Mafia delivers pizza (or else!) the CIA has become the CIC (Central Intelligence Corporation), and no one give a shit who the President is. Again, ahead of its time. Basically, the Matrix movies would not exist but for this book. The style is definitely interesting, I would say that it is the definitive "cyber-punk" or "steam-punk" book.

A Dirty Job, by Christopher Moore. Fucking hilarious. Chris Moore is the American Terry Pratchett. Bravo! Thank you Adrian for turning me on to him.

Death: The Time of Your Life, by Neil Gaiman. Amazing, as always. Neil Gaiman, I want to be you when I grow up.

Death: The High Cost of Living, by Neil Gaiman. Ditto above. Death as a cute goth chic is somehow very believable to me.

The Dreamhunters, by Neil Gaiman. A beautifully rendered, beautifully written Asian folktale in which a fox falls in love with a monk, and tries to save his life by pleading to the King of Dreams. Neil Gaiman, I want to be your heir.

A Magic Lover's Treasury of the Fantastic, edited by Margaret Weis. Some quite good stories in here. Others were just so-so. It introduced me to Fritzi Leiber, and there was a fantastic piece by Roger Zelzany, and a good Ray Bradbury. Overall, a very good find at the used bookstore.

The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle. Sad, funny, beautiful, and strange. At times it tired me, and at other times (especially toward the end) it made me want to cry. Sometimes it felt as though Beagle was trying too hard to be symbolic, and then again, it worked perfectly. Get it?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007
PUBLISHED!!!

After stacks of rejection letters, it was bound to finally happen!

The July issue of The Willows, an LA-based dark/speculative fiction magazine will be printing my poem "The Pipes of Pan"!

Wooooooooooohooooooooooooooo!

Be sure to try and pick up a copy!!!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007
If all you're friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?
Uh, sadly yes. And have done so.

In response to my misguided bleached hair of 7 years past, my friend Annie just asked me if Billy Joe Armstrong jumped off a cliff, would I as well? This got me thinking about an incident during my time in Costa Rica. My friends Chris, Heidi, Theresa and I were all staying in the beautiful little surf town of Montezuma, along the southern coast of Costa Rica.

Montezuma is known for, among other things (including topless beaches and great surfing), its spectular series of freshwater waterfalls and lagoons a couple of miles out from the village. Suffice to say, the place is paradise. Lush green trees, water so clear you can actually see the sunbeams wavering through it, even at 20 feet deep.

One of traditions at the falls is to cliff dive. There are several waterfalls, one 100 feet tall, one that's about 50-60 feet, and a couple of 25 footers. The 25 footers are easy. You can swing off ropes and vines into them. However, several tourists have actually died jumping the 100 footers. For while the pools at the bottom are quite deep, they are surrounded by hard, hard stone. Most people content themselves with the 55 foot waterfall.

When I saw that, I thought, "there is no way in hell I'm jumping that thing." I was happy swinging off ropes from 25 feet up, but after that... Its not that I have a fear of heights. I love climbing, love rollercoasters, I leaned over the Cliffs of Mohr in Ireland ferchrissakes!

But, I hate falling. HATE it. I am terrified of bunji-jumping. I actually feel queezy when I think about it. So, naturally, I was content to let my friends do it. Oh, how I underestimated the power of peer pressure and my own wounded machismo!

You see, I expected Chris to jump, and maybe the girls, but I thought they would have to work themselves up to leaping off a 60 foot cliff. Therefore I was a little irritated that both girls jumped without hesitating as soon as we reached the cliffs. Not to be daunted, Chris followed. Then they all did it again. And again.

That's when the taunting started. I'm pretty sure I remember Chris calling me a "Sissy-ass bitch", which I think was what did it. Chanting to myself over and over to "Just fucking do it" I ran at the cliff and jumped...

It takes a long time to fall 60 feet.

Midway through, I made the mistake of opening my eyes and looking down.

Which caused me to shift to my side.

Which caused me to LAND on my side.

Which caused a huge splash and a collective "Ooohhhh" from all of the onlookers, including Chris, Heidi, and Therese. I came up to the surface laughing hysterically, and repeatedly saying over and over, "it hurts when I laugh, hee hee."

Turns out I bruised my ribs on the landing, and they would remain purple and green for the next few weeks, and hurt whenever I raised my arm. Nothing, of course, that a few beers couldn't fix, at least for the night. Apart from the sickness of post-adrenaline rush and the occasional pain in my side I was quite glad that I "conquered" my fear, albeit with the help of some well-placed taunts.

So, would I jump off a cliff if all my friends did it? Probably not again. However, for all fellow lemmings out there, if you must follow your friends over a cliff, my only advice to you is, don't look down.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Reading List (3/6/07)

Thunderstruck, by Erik Larson, a historical account that combines the invention of the Marconi's wireless radio and a doctor's murder of his unfaithful wife and how the two events crossed path's in Victorian London.

The Black Seas of Infinite, an HP Lovecraft anthology, slow going but very creepy

Dracula's Guest, the White Worm, and Other tales, a Bram Stoker collection, everything written by the man outside of Dracula. Fascinating
The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle

I have just recently finished:
Frankenstein, by Mary Shelly
The Vampyre, by Dr. Polidori (a companion to the Frankenstein piece)

The Last Duel, by Eric Jager (a really cool historical account of the last government approved duel in medieval France, and all the intrigue that led up to it) AWESOME!

The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon, a Pulizter Prize winner, loosely inspired from the story of Siegel and Schuster, the creators of Superman

The Line Between, by Peter Beagle..most of the stories in here were pretty good. There's one about a cat that I think my friend Adrian would like. My favorite is the Sherlock Holmes tribute, but the Two Hearts story made me want to read The Last Unicorn.

The Light Fantastic, by Terry Pratchett
The Hogfather, by Terry Pratchett
The Colour of Magic, by Terry Pratchett
Sourcery, by Terry Pratchett
Eric (or Faust), by Terry Pratchett. All of Pratchett's books are, as always, excellent, combining excellent writing, sharp, to-the-point satire, a good story, and great humor.

I am waiting to read:
Adventures in Unhistory: Conjectures on the Factual Foundations of Several Ancient Legends by Avram Davidson....a historical examination of the factual basis for several common myths...I love the idea!

Winter of Enchantment, by Victoria Walker...hey it looks cool, and Neil Gaiman recommended it

The Empire of Ice Cream
, by Jeffrey Ford...a good review in F&SF mag, apparently full of very original stories, something very lacking in the fantastic genre today
The Compete Poe Anthology, by Edgar Allen Poe
Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Screw work, I'm going for a run.
What? That's all I got.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Fuck Valentine's Day, its my brother's birthday!

Happy Birthday Sean! He's turning 16, which means come June that I'll be 26. Wow. Now I feel incredibly old. And he'll be able to LEGALLY drive a car! Holy shit!

Watch out streets of Portage. I bet my parents can't wait to cope with one final round of super-fun teenage angst before the last Hurley child is finally out of the house...

Monday, January 08, 2007
New Year's resolutions:

1. To get into marathon shape again.

2. To crush all who stand in between me and world domination.

3. To try and be a better listener.

4. To stop dropping acid.

5. To start snorting cocaine.

6. To figure out what the hell James Joyce was talking about in Ulysses.

7. To drink a lot of Guinness so I can figure what the hell James Joyce was talking about in Ulysses.

8. Kill.

9. To instate an 11th commandment in Church dogma that reads "It's not a sin if it's awesome."

10. To read less and watch more reality TV. Apparently I'm missing out on what it means to be an American.

Sunday, January 07, 2007
What I'm reading as of 1/7/07:

The Stolen Child, by Keith Donohue, inspired by Yeat's poem of the same name (and my favorite poem ever) the dual story of boy who is kidnapped and the changeling who replaces him

Lisey's Story, by Stephen King, so far, so fantastic...a famous author's wife must confront things that were left behind after her husband's death...one wonders how much of this is based on King's own life?

White Man, by Tony D'Ouza, interesting unique story of a white missionary worker in Africa, quite vivid and I like how the protagonist really "goes native". Very different from what I imagine my friend Joel is doing right now in Africa.

1602, by Neil Gaiman, all the Marvel superheroes in England during 1602. Fantastic, and winner of the Quill Award

The Ladies of Grace Adieu
, by Susannah Clarke...I love English writers and Clarke's tales capture the magic and otherworldliness that fairy tales SHOULD have

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley...taking a break on it, but still plugging away
The Black Seas of Infinite, an HP Lovecraft anthology...weird but fun
A Tolkien Miscellany, by JRR Tolkien...Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a very difficult read, but fascinating...I would say its more scholarly than compelling

Civically Engaged Reader, by the Great Books Foundation (that's my office)

Monday, July 14, 2008

2006 blog entries

Here are all my online entries from 2006. Mostly reading lists and the like.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006
What I'm reading (as of 12/05/06):

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
The Watchmen, by Alan Moore
Devil in a White City, by Erik Larson (AWESOME)
Lies of Locke Lamoura by Scott Lynch, Ocean's 11 meets fantasy medieval Venice..fantastic!
The Black Seas of Infinite, an HP Lovecraft anthology
A Tolkien Miscellany, a Tolkien anthology (duh) but it has EVERYTHING by the man outside his Lord of the Rings stuff, including his translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight!
Solstice Wood, by Patricia McKillip
Temeraire Trilogy, by Naomi Novik
Civically Engaged Reader, by the Great Books Foundation (that's my office)
Cell, by Stephen King (creepy)
The Ice Dragon, by George RR Martin
Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman (AWESOME!!!!!!)

I'm re-reading:
On Writing, by Stephen King
The Earthsea Trilogy, by Ursula LeGuin

Tuesday, October 24, 2006
This the sound a Production Coordinator makes when he's been gone for 6 days and is now trying desperately to catch up on all the shiza that has piled up on his desk:

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you.

Friday, October 13, 2006
I just went to Prom!

So my friend Jen Vanderplaats decided to have a Prom themed party last weekend. The Prom was called:

"A Knight Under the Sea with Stars in Paris Forever"

Sort of an amalgamation of any prom theme that has ever existed. Each of us were to dress in a costume of some prom-related cliche, and I decided to go as the chaperone, Principal Hurley, which explains the new profile pictures. So, after the sweater vest, tweed coat, glasses, pipe, and name tag I was all set to be the fun, cool, slightly creepy, high school principal.

However, what really made this really weird for me is that my dad actually is a principal, and has been ever since I can remember. So whenever anyone called me Mr Hurley or Principal Hurley, I found myself turning around and looking for my dad. All in all, the party was really fun, and I'm glad I got the chance to bond with some students. God, that sounds dirty.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Dave's wedding...

...was awesome!

For those of you who don't know, Dave Williams, my college roommate for two years and one of my closest friends, just got married this weekend! And I got to be Best Man! This was actually a little more demanding than I thought.

It included organizing a bachelor party, renting a tux, buying gifts, decorating a car (those fuzzy things get tangled quite easily), giving a speech, chaperoning a dollar dance with the groom, thousands upon thousands of annoying pictures, and, at one point, sprinting across Aquinas's campus to bring the groom his car so that he and his lovely bride Missy could ride off into the sunset...

All in all it was a happy affair. Dave had a great time and Missy was lovely. The only two drawbacks were the photographer being a little annoying (I think they are paid to be) and the DJ being HORRENDOUS. What kind of idiotic DJ ends a wedding reception with the song "I got Friends in Low Places"? Whadda maroon!

One wedding down, and one more to go. I gotta fly out to Colorado in less than a month to stand in my roommate Nick's wedding. If you think being bestman is expensive, try buying a 2-way ticket to Denver then booking a hotel for 4 days. Yikes. Weddings. Love 'em or hate 'em, I guess 'tis the season. Good thing I don't foresee myself getting "hitched" for a long, long time, cuz I'd be one broke bastard. (instead of just a bastard)

Friday, September 08, 2006
What I'm reading...

Dracula, by Bram Stoker. I figure since I was in the play in college, I might as well read the book. Very intersting, in that it gives a good perspective into 19th century British Victorian society, has a tons of hidden metaphors for sex, is scary, and finally is just a damn good read. Also, I like coming across passages or bits of dialogue and being like "Oh yes, I remember saying that line..."

The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde. Barnes and Nobles was having a 50% sale on their classics, which included both this and Dracula. This book is compelling in so many ways. First of all, it provides a intricate depiction of Oscar Wilde's conflicted beliefs. Secondly, the story is so damn fascinating. We see the subtle fall of a soul, no less proud than Lucifer, give away his morality and damn himself to a life fo misery, all the while trying to convince himself that it was a good decision. Dorian Gray is so conflicted, and the book so well-written...wow. I can't decide if I admire him, despise him, or feel pity for him.

The Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett. Imagine the Smurfs as crazy Scottish people who've watched Braveheart one too many times, and you have the Feegles, or Nac Mac Feegle, Terry Pratchett's latest satire in to the realms of the fantastic. A young girl Tiffany must find a way to save her brother from the Queen of the fairies, with only the crazy pictsies as her protectors. As always, Pratchett is perfect. Hilarious, a good story, extremely intelligent, and perfect for children and adults.

A Hat Full of Sky, by Terry Pratchett. Sequel to Wee Free Men. The stories keep on getting better. With their rampant cries of "Crivens!", "Scunner!", and "Nae problemo", the Feegles continue to get funnier and funnier as they help Tiffany face off against a strange creature that hunts her.

The Wintersmith, by Terry Pratchett. Latest sequel in the Tiffany/Feegle story line. I was extremely lucky to get an advanced copy of this, and it was what started me reading about the Feegles. How does Pratchett do it? How is he so funny and such a good writer ALL THE TIME!!?!???!??! Ah me.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Reading List part IV

Sooooooo, what have I been reading lately? Its hard to remember, since much of my brain has been lost in a fog of beer and Lake Michigan water from my adventures two weeks ago. (see previous blog post) But, be that as it may, I think a new reading list of recently completed books is long overdue. And SO, lo and behold, I give to you (whoever you are) a new list of books read most recently:

The Screwtape Letters, by CS. Lewis. I finally got around, again, to reading this book. It only took two days to finish. Awesome. And very scary. Its slightly disturbing that every time the protagonist Screwtape was describing common ways in which to get mortals to sin, I was like "Holy crap, I do this/think like that/ignore this/believe this ALL THE TIME!!! So either Screwtape's minions are doing one hell of a number on me, or I can chuse to accept that CS Lewis was a stuffy British Oxford don, who had some very peculiar personal habits, but also wrote some very awesome insightful books, and therefore I can sleep easy at night....or can I? Anyway, Clive Staple's notion of hell is strikingly similar to one which I depicted in my short story The Seventh Day. We both believe that Hell operates like a horrible big business conglomerate. Kewl.

Elric of Melnibone: Wierd of the White Wolf, and Elric at the End of Time,by Michael Moorcock. I have chiefly heard of Michael Moorcock, because he is a semi-successful fantasy novelist who is very well known for villifying Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. (my favorite books. Ever) So, I decided to give his Elric series a try, mostly after reading the another one of my heroes, Neil Gaiman, likes him. After reading two short books, my reaction is simply: Meh.
It was gratifying to read someone that I feel I can write more originally and better material then. It gives me hope of being published. And while Moorcock's vision itself of Elric, the tragic albino prince with the black sword is compelling, the stories neither read well nor have depth.

Lirael, by Garth Nix. The second book in his well-known Abhorsen Trilogy. A friend whose opinion in books I trust implicitly recommended this series to me. the first one I read some time ago, and was neither dissappointed nor impressed. My reaction is somewhere in between. The idea is very cool. The Nine Levels of the River of the Dead. A magic use who wields bells that invoke various magical properties. A system of markings and Runes that magic is based on. Very cool. However, my main criticism in the first book Sabriel is the same with Lirael: the characters. The characters are not very real to me, nor are their struggles and plights. This is definitely meant for young adults and grade schoolers. Had I read the books back then, I would most probably have loved them. But now...I just don't get into it. Lirael had brief exciting moments for me, but all in all, just seemed like cookie cutter fantasy, the type which Ursula LeGuin complains of.

Cat's Eye, Margaret Atwood. My old AQ friend, Molly, recommended that I try out Margaret Atwood, and then I read an interview with her and was impressed. So I bought at a 2nd hand store Cat's Eye, the novel besides Handmaiden's Tale, that she is most well-known for. I was impressed. The fact that Atwood could make my own elementary school struggles come alive for me, that she could make a girl's struggles with self-image, acceptance, career, and artistic fulfilment come alive for a male reader, is, for lack of a better expression, 'very cool'. I would recommend the book to anyone.

Book of Magic, by Neil Gaiman. An awesome graphic novel that deals with a boy who discovers that he has within him the potential to be the greatest magician of his age. Has a whole host of well-known, and lesser known DC comic characters from their magical pantheon, including Constantine, Dr. Fate, and Gaiman's own Morpheus, the Sandman. Many have noted the similarity between this book and Harry Potter. (this came before JK Rowling's fabulous series). Both boys have glasses and dark hair, live in ordinary worlds and discover magical powers, have pet owls, etc. Gaiman himself says to think nothing of this, and that the apprentice magician archetype has many things in common, including owls. As always, Gaiman suceeds. I'd hate him if he weren't so damn awesome.

The Last Hero, by Terry Pratchett. Another fav British author of mine. Pratchett combines Lord of the Rings with Monty Python. The result is something stunning: both with real, compelling, and emotional stories, and also completely f*..@ing hilarious. The Last Hero is no different, except that it is extensively illustrated. It parodies the concept of Heroes in heroic fantasy, specifically Conan the Barbarian and Xena, among other things such as Apollo 13, Catch 22, and all sorts of mythologies. Pratchett is a master satirist, and those who don't read him do so to their own disadvantage and are missing out.

The Prose Edda, by Snorli Sturrslson. This book is a translation of ancient Danish/Viking myths. Its sort of what the Odyssey is for Greece, the Iliad is for Rome, and what Beowulf or Gawain and the Green Knight are for the British Isles. (although Beowulf is also from the Nordic countries) Its very interesting and informative, though not the most exciting read if you are not into myths. More of a way of providing scholarly insights. I read it because two of my fav. authors, Tolkien and Gaiman, have drawn heavily upon it for their stories. Trust me. Also was interested to read that Loki may have been based on Ulysses and Thor based on Hector of Troy. Que interesante. A good read for mythology buffs. Well, thats about it, or all I can remember anyway. Now I have to start reading some of my own company's books, since we produced like 30 since I've been working there!

Friday, July 28, 2006
The Reunion

Once every year, Eric Johnson, Joseph Lynn, and I have a tradition of meeting in one of our respective dwellings for a week of...well, 'mayhem and madness' sums it up both eloquently and alliteratively. Last year, we were in Phoenix where we drank tequila in Mexico, floated down rivers with beer in Arizona, and cruised the strips in Vegas...
This year, both EJ and Joe came to Chicago. (along with several other Aquinas College Cross Country fellows). What ensued was possibly one of the most fun, exhausting weeks of my life. Driving to Green Bay to meet a girl. Midgets wrestling. Cigars on a rooftop. Chilling on Lake Michigan. Boob jobs. The Big Lebowski. Fado's. Taxi cabs drag racing. VIPs. POWER HOUR. Joe brought a CD of 60 one minute clips of 80's songs, with which a group of people can have what is known as a "Power Hour". In this brilliant game, during each song clip, you take a shot of beer. (I've heard rumors that some people have actually played this game with shots of straight licquor, but believe that to be physically impossible.) Even with beer, it is difficult, as you are effectively drink about 8 cans of beer in an hour.

I learned that, if you and your friends are going to compete in a three person team of a triathalon, that as long as you have a Power Hour two nights before, you'll be okay.

I learned that drinking for 5 straight nights and swimming a half mile leg in a triathalon in 60 degree Lake Michigan weather at 7am is not the best thing for your health. Especially when you are the only person in the triathalon swim who does not have a wetsuit on and is just in board shorts. (I have never been so cold in my life)

I also learned that it is not a good idea to try to cure your cold with having another Power Hour, although it may seem so at the time. I learned that beer and cigars with friends will always taste good, no matter how shitty the beer is. I learned never to let Dave "Kegstand" Kramer go into a public restroom unattended. (especially the girl's restroom), and that Dan Kaspowitz is excellent manbait.

Finally, I learned that I'm lucky to have friends such as these. Thanks for coming down guys!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006
the sexy party...

Or not so sexy? I learned a few things...

1. Though its very hard to see in a dimly lit bar, wearing aviator sunglasses is always a good idea and will never go out of style.

2. Silk shirts and straight guys don't always mix.

3. Top Gun costumes are fantastic, and you can wear them anywhere, even at 10 in the morning in a diner.

4. Its a bad idea to spill a drink on the girl you are hitting on. Its an even worse idea to apologize by grabbing her ass. (way to go Chris)

5. Eating Chipotle and spending all morning and afternoon watching Family Guy = the perfect antidote for a hangover.

Quote of the party: After dissappearing for 6 hours and supposedly not remembering anything, the next morning Chris Vilcek summed up his night by saying, "I thought, 'Hey, its time to make some bad decisions.'" Classic and classy.

Monday, June 12, 2006
A funny thing happened on my birthday.

I took the day off of work, and after an excellent lunch with my mom, went to Barnes & Noble, eager to spend the gift card that had been one of the birthday gifts from my parents. After purchasing some new books (The Sandman, Book of Dreams anthology for one), I made my way to Lake Michigan to find a nice lonely bench somewhere to sit and read. The day was exceptionally cold, the sky gray, and the wind was fierce. I found a nice little nook out of the wind, began to sip my mocha and turn the pages. It was perfect.

And then the strangest thing happened. As I perused the different stories, occasionally glancing out at the gray and swirling lake, or stopping to answer a phone call from different birthdaywell-wishers, a man walked out in front of my view along the lake's edge. At first, I thought nothing of this, but then noticed that by strange coincidence, he too carried a Barnes & Noble bag and was sipping a B&N mocha. Very odd. And then, as I answered a phone call from my sister, he too took out his phone and began to chat with someone.

For sometime things went this way, both of us either reading or chatting on our phones. This guy had the same dark hair I did, and in fact looked a bit like me, only extremely thinner, maybe 80lbs lighter.

Finally, after having satisfied my need to read, I walked back to the main path along the lake, ready to head home for some dinner and possibly a movie. It was then I noticed that, still along the border between lake and pavement, my new friend was walking back as well. But for the 50 feet of grass in between us, we might have been mirror images of each other. And no matter in what ways the my path curved and meandered, somehow we kept pace with one another. At last my curiousity and imagination got the better of me, and I turned east to walk over to the lake and see who this stranger was. But when I got to the lake front, he was gone.

Anyway, it was probably just a lot of weird coincidences piled one atop of the other, but it gave me a great idea for a story...

Thursday, May 25, 2006
Reading List Part III

Well, its been awhile since I last entered this stuff in. But here goes, from memory. Oh, and I'd like to include the clause that I may have forgotten some of the books I've read (I know, only a total bookworm forgets books he's read recently)

Battle Royale: A Japanese book translated into English. Was a bestseller in Japan. Sort of an action/thriller with a Lord of the Flies twist. The scene is an alternate version of Eastern Asia, where a totalitarion government controls every aspect of their culture. Every year, one class of 40 middleschoolers are placed on an island, where they must all kill each other. The government claims to force them to do this for research purposes. Also, the kids have to do it, or the collars they are wearing around their necks will explode. Pretty grim, pretty horrific, but very interesting and exciting. At first I was quite shocked by the graphic violence in the book, but then the story pulled me along. While you can tell its a translated book, and the words would flow much better in Japanese, it still works. Basically, its an action thriller that begets some interesting sociological questions of how far we are willing to go to survive.

The Brother's K, by David James Duncan. This book was incredible. I haven't stayed up for until 4 am reading a book for a long time, untll this Brothers K fell into my hands. The last time I was this suprised or delighted by a book to this degree was when I read The Power of One by Bryce Caron. Brothers K examines so many issue, and contains too many interesting characters to explain. Suffice to say it deals with baseball, family bonds, the horrors of war, the dangers of fundamentalist religion, and lots more. While loosely connected to the Brothers Karamazov, the connection is still there, and I would recommend this book to everyone!

Great Irish Stories of the Supernatural I found this anthology at my Grandma's, and she let me keep it. I was blown away. Within are great stories of ghosts, the Sidhe, faeries, devils, and mysteries, that only the Irish can recreate. I felt like I was back in Tully again. Some famous Irish authors included in the work are James Joyce, WB Yeats, Frank O'Conner, John Millington Synge, and Bram Stoker. An excellent read for anyone of Irish descent.

The Way to Rainy Mountain. A collection of stories and myths of the Kiowa Native American tribe. The Kiowa's were a horse-riding, buffalo-hunting people who resided in the Central mid-west. Interesting stories, interesting history. A little slow at times, but I was fascinated by the way thier legends were similar to many other indigenous peoples. Another piece of evidence supporting the collective unconscious I guess. A good book for anyone who likes folktales.

The One True Thing, Anna Quindlen. It was made into a movie in the 90's, which I never saw. Its the story of a woman who she finds herself volunteering to take on the chore of caring for her mother while she is dying of cancer. Slow at first, then compelling. I thought that the author dealt with the topic with an appropriate balance of gritty reality and sensitivity to the subject. While a bit heavy, I think its a beautiful story, particularly apt for those who have had to deal with death and loss firsthand.

Monday, May 22, 2006
conversation of the Day

So the managing copy editor and I are commiserating about how insane our projects at work are, and she says,
"it must be hard for you to be caught in the middle of these crazy groups of women who are yelling at each other all day."

To which I responded,
"Are you kidding? I grew up in an Irish Catholic family with 2 sisters, an overbearing mother, and like 30 aunts. I've been yelled at and bossed around by crazy women ever since the day I was born."

We both laughed about this for like 10 minutes, then sighed, and went about our work. Then, realizing how true this actually was for me, I went out to find a nip of baileys or whiskey I could pour into my coffee.

Saturday, April 29, 2006
Invisible Children

No, this is not the title of a new comic book I started reading or a short story that I came up with. This is the title of a brilliant documentary that I saw last weekend, which brought a tear to my eye and rocked my world.

Invisible Children was filmed by 3 students who went to Uganda and came across a horrible, tragic phenomena that is happening there. Every day, a multitude of kids must traverse insane distances to sleep in public places in the city or risk being kidnapped by rebel forces in Uganda. What happens to the children, as they are indoctrinated into the rebel army (called the Lord's Resistance Army I believe) is just too awful to describe.

Anyway, I have a weakness for little kids, and I can't stand it when they suffer. So thanks to this movie I've a new cause added to my list (I can only handle a few more!) Tonight in Grant park, there are many people (including me) going to camp out there as a sign of solidarity for these kids, and also a little letter writing campaign. Corny maybe, but the thought of kids being kidnapped and tortured....well, we can't just do nothing, can we? So I'm in, and I suggest that anyone who reads this should take a look at the cause as well. Donate money. Donate time. Every thing you can do helps. The website is: www.invisiblechildren.com
I would urge you to check it out, and get your hands on the movie if at all possible.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Guster

So yesterday I had the opportunity to go see the band Guster, whom many of my friends enjoy. It was on Loyola's campus, and tickets only costed $5. (Guster tickets generally go from around $35-70) Quite a deal, especially since it wasn't too crowded and we were like 5 feet away from the stage. Apart from feeling like I was 10 years older than everyone else around me (besides my roommate Nick and my friends Cheryl and Brooke), it was an awesome show.

Before the concert, the only Guster song I knew was 'Demons'. (although in all fairness, I liked that song quite a great deal) Yet I was really impressed by the way the band performed, their musical skill and versatility, how they seemed to enjoy being on stage with each other and getting the crowd to sing along. After the blitzkreig of arrogant and talentless pop/rockstars that dominate the media, it was refreshing to see a successful band just wanting to play their music and have fun.

Plus, they are socially conscious, and are running a very cool sustainable/environmental non-profit, which I can always get behind. Anyway, just my thoughts. I'm glad that I got to see their show (if only so I could see what my friend Cheryl was so obsessed about). I know they have a website, so check them out when you can.

Monday, April 10, 2006
Reading List (updated)

Well, I'm about three quarters of the way through wading through the ocean of books that I've checked out from the Chicago Public Library, and I thought I would update this blog with my thoughts on each work that I've finished. Of course, I decided to add more books to the list about half-way through. Ah well, what can you do? Here's where I'm at:

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. Excellent book. Really, it was almost two different books, one about a kid trying to find Truth in its many Faces, (a philosophy I can definitely get behind) and another about a heroic struggle to survive. Basically, the book rocked my world. Especially the ending. It begs the question of how much truth is too much, and whether myths can in essence have more 'truth' than mere facts. [spoiler ahead] I was a little dissapointed to learn that Pi was, in fact, a totally fictional character. I had hoped that his story in part might be based on an actual living person's harrowing account of rescue at sea. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Yann Martel's story was true, from a certain point of view. (as Obi-Wan Kenobi would say) "All writers use lies to tell the truth," was a line in the recent film adaptation of V for Vendetta. Never was the case more true for this book. An excellent read that I would recommend to everyone.

Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving. A fun, quick read. Washington Irving uses vivid imagery and flowing prose to bring to life a post-Colonial Dutch community. I felt I could see the golden-red leaves, taste the wind, here the raucous laughter of rough and read Dutch Farmers...and feel the gaze of the Headless Hessian as he traced my steps on a moonlit night. Very quick read, that I would recommend to anyone around Halloween!

The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury. Fun. Not awe-inspiring or terribly thought-provoking, but fun. These 18 short stories deal with many Bradbury themes, such as the importance of fiction, Mars, the USA's colonial experience, racism (in a Sci-fi sort of way), the evils of book-burning, and Poe.

The Lord of the Flies, William Golding. Holy shit. This book was what caused me to take a break from Screwtape Letters. It was awesome, but whew! I can still hear the boys chanting "Kill the pig, drink its blood!" The Lord of the Flies lurks in all of us, buzzing, wheedling, whispering in the dark corners of our mind. That doesn't mean that we listen to him. Golding did an excellent job here. This story is...true. It never happened, but its true none the less. While I normally love books that point out that every person has the capability for heroism and holiness, it is also necessary to read books that demonstrate the darkness inherent in every man. This book is like a vivid painting, beautiful, terrible, and lasting.

The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury. Not bad. The stories are all different, but all formulaic. I liked them, but was a much bigger fan of Something Wicked This Way Comes and Dandelion Wine. (and of course Farenheidt 451)

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Of all the books I've read recently, this one suprised me the most by how much I enjoyed it. F. Scott Fitzgeral can write, and write well, but that is merely the vehicle in which this story is delivered. The haunting nostalgia, the fading lights and faint laughter, the gray hours in the late night after a party has sputtered and died...these images and ideas spoke to me, haunted me. Gatsby is told by the protagonist that he cannot reclaim the past. To which he indignantly replies

"Of course you can!"

This refusal to give in, to try to subvert the world into one's vision, to never give up the heaven we wish to make on Earth, is tragic and doomed. I see in Gatsby's struggle something noble, if misguided. It is an attempt to reclaim the past, by living in fairy tale world of ethereal lights, fake beauty, and glamourous, shallow illusion. I think our generation, with its priviledge, pomp, and knowledge, must often struggle with the fake "MTV-ness" that allures and bombards us constantly through the media. We experience Gatsby's great dilemna, and hopefully will not submit to its sirenic call.

The Learning Tree, by Gordon Parks. Awesome. This book should be required reading in every high school in the USA. Its characters tell a beautiful story, a story of struggle, nobility, and the harshness of life. [spoilers ahead] It should be noted that, for me, this book mirrors (in tone and story) To Kill a Mockingbird. In the Learning Tree, a white man is on trial for a crime that a black man committed, and the reverse is true for TKM. (and in both trials, the right or left-handedness of the man is used as evidence for his innocence-how I first noticed the parallel) By mirroring, I mean that this book almost seems to be To Kill a Mockingbird told through a black man's eyes. We feel what its like to see the world through Newt Winger instead of Scout Finch. We experience racism firsthand, rather than as reported by a little white girl. And honestly, much as I liked TKM as a film and book, I like Newt's view better.

Thursday, March 23, 2006
Reading List

Well, I got sick of re-reading all my favorite old books and waiting for my favorite authors to write new ones, so I decided to go to the library and pick up some novels that I've been meaning to get around and read. I walked around and the list grew and grew. At work, (the Great Books Foundation), it is a common question to ask what each other is reading. I always forget what I've read, so that is in part the purpose of this list/blog.

Here's what I left the library with, and what I think of each book so far:

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. Wow, I can tell this book is going to be great. 2 days, and I'm already halfway through. I've often entertained the idea of being a member of all religions (not just Irish Catholic), and it was refreshing to find a kindred spirit in Pi.

Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving. I saw the cartoon when I was a little kid, and the cool-looking but awful-written Tim Burton movie. So finally, I decided to see where they all came from. Pretty neat so far, Washington Irving is like America's first folklorist.

The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury. Already halfway through this anthology of short stories, with a cool premise (each tatto on a stranger tells a different story). Actually, one of them, The Veldt appears in our own Junior Great Books collection, a gruesome, interesting, insightful tale. Very cool.

The Lord of the Flies, William Golding. I read this in high school, but wanted to read it again with fresh eyes, not the eyes of a whiny, tired out kid who is pulling all honors classes, three sports, and a early morning weightlifing class who hated this book. The older me is definitely enjoying it so far, but it is a CHILLING read.

The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury. Pretty cool beginning, but not that far into it. I do enjoy Bradbury though, ever since I read the unforgetable Something Wicked This Way Comes.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Once again, read it in high school, didn't like it. Hopefully will have a new experience with more patient, mature eyes. Haven't started yet though.

The Learning Tree, by Gordon Parks. I've had numerous people recommend this book to me. So I finally caved. I will start it soon!

First Post

I'm posting this to see if its possible to import other blogs and online journals I've created so they can all be linked into this site.

So this might as well be a "this is a test post" type entry. It may be deleted.