My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

I formulate infinity stored deep inside of me…

Archive for the 'Opinions' Category

Things to Do: Fire a gun with a switch

July 06th, 2018 | Category: Life,Opinions

So, two Saturdays ago I got to scratch another item from my Things to Do list, and it was quite the ballyhoo; I went to a local shooting range, Reload, and I got to fire a Glock 17 with my switch. Now, for those unfamiliar, a switch is a piece of assistive technology that I use to control my various Macs by way of wiggling my eyebrows to operate an on-screen keyboard. Let’s get all the technical stuff out of the way before I go on about anything else.

The gun firing scheme was created by an absolute fucking genius, Bill Binko, from ATMakers.org. The really hard part was finding something to safely, firmly hold the gun in place during the firing. The good folks at Ransom International were kind enough to send us a Ransom Rest, basically a sort of vice specifically designed for holding guns in place for precision aiming. The Rest is used in ballistics testing, it’s been used on MythBusters, it’s a well-respected tool. Also, I didn’t get just any Rest, I got the very first Rest, created by the late Chuck Ransom. He was the only person to ever use said Rest, it was kept in a glass case at the home-office with a little plaque bearing Chuck Ransom’s name. Well, by now it’s back in its case, and my name is being added to the plaque. Very unnecessary, and very nice. I was also given a bullet from a totally kind smith at Ground Zero Reloading; I fired this round first. All that taken care of, Bill created a little piece robotics for pulling the trigger, it was a little robotic arm attached to a chain attached to the trigger. The arm was controlled over wi-fi via a hand-coded web interface; I pointed Safari toward the robot’s IP address, got a camera view over the gun barrel and two buttons to arm then fire the gun. A Glock 17 doesn’t need cocked, the “arm” button was simply there for safety purposes, just so everybody was absolutely 250% certain the gun wouldn’t go off accidentally. Bill didn’t know my level of gun awareness… better safe than having me blow off Bill’s fingers! Using a web interface is ideal for this sort of project, the gun could be fired from any platform. I used a MacBook running macOS High Sierra, but I could have used anything.

Gun Interface

At any rate, that, in a nutshell, is how I fired a gun with a switch. Of course, most people want to know the why

I’m an ultra-liberal, anti-National Rifle Association, anti-all things Trumpian. I think our antiquated gun laws are disgusting. It seems that in America, a person’s right to obtain any sort of gun as quickly and easily as possible is more important than the lives of children. The Second Amendment was written during a time of muskets, not AR-15s, Glock 17s, it’s time to completely overhaul our gun laws. Guns are too readily available, our background check system is a joke, we don’t require psychological testing for gun buyers, we allow civilians to own military-grade weapons, we are irresponsible about gun control. I understand guns aren’t our only problem, but they are a problem, a problem that needs addressed. So, these being my firm beliefs, why would I want anywhere near something I’m so against?

The short answer is, I’m not against guns. I’m against our irresponsible gun laws, I’m against our lax gun regulation, I’m against people using guns for ill, but I’m not against guns. I’ve been a fan of Star Wars, Alien, Tarantino films, Predator (though Predators is probably my personal favorite Predator movie), any zombie movie, whatever, forever. As a kid, my mom never censored my fiction, I learned right and wrong, fake and real. I didn’t need censored. Thus, guns as part of fiction, guns as objects have always fascinated me. As real-world pieces of engineering, as props in films and video games, I’ve always loved guns. I mean, when someone cocks a shotgun before they relieve a zombie of its head, that click-click sound is cool. Lately, I really dig the John Wick movies; Keanu Reeves is a top-tier assassin who rains vengeance down upon an underworld that wronged him, using gorgeously engineered firearms. I think you can admire a gun as an object, as something used for fun, and still be strongly against the ways in which people use guns to perpetrate absolutely vile acts of cruelty.

Life isn’t black-and-white, it’s gray. Guns are surrounded in gray. When John Wick throws his empty gun at a guy’s face, draws a fresh one, then puts the guy down permanent-like, it’s so over the top it’s laughable. If you firmly grasp the difference between reality and fiction, it’s possible to see the humor in John Wick, while feeling empathy and disgust when a cop shoots an unarmed black man ten times in the back. You can hold guns in your mind and see them in two totally separate ways. Taking a Glock 17 to a range and blowing holes in paper targets using my assistive technology was spectacularly fun, and I don’t regret it, yet if I had to point said gun at a living being I’d be sick to my stomach. Again, fiction vs. reality comes into play.

I don’t see enjoying guns for their own sake as morally wrong, intent is critical. My personal intent regarding guns is simply fun, and to exercise an aesthete’s taste in fancy weapons. That’s why I wanted to fire a gun with a switch, I like them. I understand their power, their ability to end lives en masse, but I don’t think guns themselves are the problem. The problem is that the gun-lobby has D.C. in a death-grip, we haven’t seen meaningful gun legislation in thirty-some years. You know, cars used to be really fucking dangerous; seatbelts were optional, a fender-bender could become an inferno because of faulty gas tanks, cheap parts and cut-corners were a-okay! It took legislation to make cars better than coffins-on-wheels. Guns are too potentially deadly to go unregulated, it’s our moral failing as American voters that we have yet to demand that our legislators do the job they aren’t doing.

At any rate, everybody involved in my gun firing quest was super nice. The folks at Reload closed off an entire room for us on a very busy Saturday. The good folks at Ransom International sent us the key piece of hardware that was the foundation for the other pieces of our project. Ground Zero Reloading took the time to craft me my first round. Then, of course, Bill Binko, the genius who not only solved the puzzle, but also crafted most of the pieces. Absolutely everyone who took part in this project has my thank you!

It’s a little fatey that I should fire a Glock 17… Way back when DVDs were a thing, one night Sara brought out the boxed set of this BBC show by Simon Pegg, Spaced. The show pretty much encapsulates everything I love (it also made me fall even harder for Sara), it’s like, Simon Pegg in Sandbox Mode. Spaced was basically just practice for his eventual films. Anyway, watch episode 2 and you’ll get it about the Glock 17.

SaveSave

SaveSave

1 comment

From Facebook, a tussle…

December 08th, 2017 | Category: Life,Opinions,Thoughts on Politics

So, I got into a bit of a tussle on Facebook, a little politics, a little gender equality… I tweeted in favor of Al Franken, who is a person not without contriversy. I’m ALL for the #MeToo movement, I want it to flourish, I don’t want it to stop. I also think that some political dark artists used a movement that’s truly good to do something truly disgusting.

I got the following comments:

“Person 1:You are dead wrong on this and I’m actually disappointed but not surprised at your response. Women have become use to this response. Zero tolerance for sexual assault is about the protection of women. It’s not about politics. If the republicans want to play dirty I do not care. This mentally is why nothing has changed for women. Franken should step down for the good of our country. We don’t lose because someone will take his place that is a democrat. You should speak with a women that has been sexually assaulted or disrespected in the work place. It may change your mind on making exceptions for a likable man. Women shouldn’t have to “take one for the team” because of republicans. It’s gross and hypocritical. Get mad at Al Franken for disappointing us all because of HIS BAD CHOICES. Get mad at him, not female democrats asking him to resign. Your anger is in the wrong place.”

and

“Person 2:“…a few vague claims against Franken…”

What YOU think of what Franken did doesn’t matter. What Franken’s purported victims thought of his behavior is the issue. They said they thought he acted inappropriately. They said he made them uncomfortable.

Yeah, it’s a detestable shame the Democrats hold themselves to a higher standard of behavior than Republicans. And now is the not the time for the party to immolate itself, this close to the midterms.

But that doesn’t change the fact that we, collectively, have to do better. And those that are giving Moore, Trump, Fahrenthold et al a pass on this will be judged harshly by history, because they’re on the wrong side of it.”

To which I replied:

“This is all a little Salem Witch Trial-y. “He made me uncomfortable, burn him!” or “SHE made me uncomfortable, burn her!” Person 2, I’m certain at one time or another, unintentionally or otherwise, you’ve made women uncomfortable. I know I’ve made women uncomfortable. My own mom has made MEN uncomfortable. If the standard for losing your work and your reputation is “uncomfortable,” then we’re all guilty, and we all deserve to be punished.

=Person 1, EVERYTHING is about politics, especially right now. If you think all accusers are genuine, and that nobody’s going to weaponize the times, you’re dead wrong. Who was on-camera trying to dupe the Washington Post in order to vindicate Roy Moore? A WOMAN. She obviously didn’t give a damn about the movement to empower women. People are going to further take advantage of this movement, to the detriment of the movement. If too many people use the movement as a weapon, it hurts the movement, maybe gives an excuse to END the movement, and I don’t want to see THAT happen. Someone very dear to me was assaulted, helping her to not blame herself, staying up all night to make sure the tv always had cartoons, because after a nightmare having cartoons and someone to talk to helped her feel safe, I’d have done ANYTHING to take away that pain. Also, given the opportunity, I’d have killed the evil sick fucker who inflicted it. I mean that, every word. I HATE abusers, which only gives me more incentive to see that the abused get justice, and the abusers lose everything. I want the movement to stay strong and righteous. Here, we can agree, yes?

Now, where we disagree… I’m not sticking up for Franken because I think he’s guilty, but darn likable, and a great Dem besides. If I actually thought he was guilty, well, you know my feelings. No, I’m sticking up for him because I don’t think he’s an abuser, an harasser, or a skeeze. I think he was a test case for a new chapter in the Political Dark Arts Manual. I think the right wanted to see if they could use the current social climate of women’s empowerment to their advantage. I think Franken caught the business end of a political hit-job. They gin’d up accusations knowing we’d go zero tolerance, and that’s that. I think they built their entire scheme around that stupid photograph. I know people look at that photograph and say, “Monster!” I just don’t see it that way. He wasn’t a senator, he was a comic on a USO gig, and he played a prank, as comics are wont to do, a stupid, immature prank… and it cost him the world. It shouldn’t have, but it did. Also, his seat isn’t guaranteed to stay with us. The Governor of Minnesota will appoint a placeholder Democrat, then comes a special election in early 2018. Minnesota is very purple, we could easily lose the seat. So, we lose a good Democrat, and I think, a good man, over allegations from a BIRTHER and a bunch of “anonymous” sources. Is that really okay? Doesn’t it seem really reactionary? If a woman sold out her gender and CHILDREN for Roy Moore. couldn’t some political dark wizard have found a few women to lay low Al Franken? I think, absolutely.

Zero tolerance is a bad way to go, it’s punishment without reason. Not every man, or woman, who makes someone feel uncomfortable deserves to lose their career, their reputation, everything they’ve built. Also, I’m sorry, but it’s especially dangerous in politics. The right isn’t playing by the same rules as us, they’re not even playing the same game! There’s a mile of CREDIBLE evidence against Roy Moore, a PEDOPHILE, and they’re going to let him in with open arms, because he’s an easy “yes” vote, and a fearless liar. Trump has TAPED evidence against him, bragging about sexual assault against women AND abusing his power as a pageant owner, walking in on young girls in their dressing-rooms, yet he’s safely ensconced in the Oval Office, telling lies easy as breathing. Of course, he surrounds himself with liars, and therein lies the problem with zero tolerance in politics. The right does not and will not play fair. The GOP will keep their abusers, no matter how egregious, and I genuinely fear Bannon with his Trumpian cult will pick off any Dem who makes their Master’s life too difficult. What happens if Kamala Harris starts hitting Trump too hard, then a picture shows up of her doing a beer bong in college at some party, then a fellow from that party says she was aggressive, drunk, touched him inappropriately… then a few “anonymous” staffers from her lawyering days pop up and say that she could be very verbally abusive, and at the office holiday parties, well, they had to quit hanging mistletoe… What if that happens? Zero tolerance? We lose another strong voice against Trump, the GOP loses nothing. Some GOPers may go up on ethics charges, some might even go down, but they won’t be anybody important. Trump wants to surround himself with more radicals and easy-liars anyway. They get to say, “See, we’re cleaning house too!” all while the Moores and the Trumps stay safe as houses.

Our sex crimes laws are broken, our governmental ethics system is broken. Let’s remove the the statute of limitations on sex crimes, no abuser should slip through the cracks. As far as the government goes, instead of the current broken ethics committee system, let’s establish a Bob Muller-style non-partisan investigative office. They’d hear all ethics complaints, swiftly, yet thoroughly. Rather than zero tolerance, both parties get due process, which is the basis of our just system.”

Maybe I’m wrong… If I am, I’ll admit it, and I’ll apologize. I guess we’ll just see.

These are dark times, America has become an Orwellian nightmare… and I wish I was kidding.

5 comments

Monuments to heroes, monuments to hate

August 19th, 2017 | Category: Life,Opinions

You know, until recently I never gave much thought to historic monuments, particularly Civil War Monuments. I just saw war statues, I definitely never broke them into categories; Union and Confederate. I thought they were “historic,” but I never gave any thought to the individual histories behind each statue. Then Charlottesville got me thinking, then Heather Heyer’s death changed everything.

We have monuments to historic figures all over America. Monuments to people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, both great men, but men with flaws. They owned slaves, which was, sadly, a cultural norm at the time. They did nothing directly to end slavery, but they did help to found our great nation, a nation with a Constitution that all but guaranteed an end to slavery. Our Constitution appeals to our better angels, it promotes freedom and equality, it’s a document that would be read by a someday generation who would see the hypocrisy in slave ownership while swearing an oath to said Constitution. So, yes, we still celebrate our slave owning Founding Fathers, not because they were perfect, but because they were ultimately good.

We have a GIANT monument to Abraham Lincoln, a fellow who, in his early life, was known to speak racial slurs, yet would ultimately put an end to slavery. He saw the powerful words written in our Constitution, rose through the ranks of American politics, and eventually became the President who broke the slavers’ chains. Of course, we honor President Lincoln. Still, slavery wouldn’t go away easily, it was big in the American South, and the South was willing to spill a lot of blood to keep their slaves. Southern leadership broke their oaths to the American Constitution, broke away from the United States to start their own country (the Confederate States of America), and levied a treasonous war against the North. The American Civil War cost the lives of some 600,000 American soldiers, North and South combined, all because some Southern rich white men just had to have their slaves.

After the war ended in 1865, monuments went up to honor the Union leaders and soldiers who fought and died to end slavery, as well as to keep these United States united. These Union monuments absolutely belong, they represent a part of American history that should be remembered, a part of which we should be proud. Almost all of our monuments are monuments to heroes or heroism or noble ideals. Almost…

Unfortunately, we have some monuments that really don’t belong in America, Confederate monuments like the monument to Southern General, Robert E. Lee, a monument White Nationalists murdered Heather Heyer over, simply because she protested against it.

See, a majority of these Confederate monuments went up between 1890 and 1950, funded by groups of white folks, especially women’s groups, like United Daughters of the Confederacy. Part of the reasoning behind these monuments was to raise Southern morale, to romanticize what was really an ugly chapter in the Southern story. However, I think these confederate monuments had a far more sinister purpose, a purpose that even today, nobody in the South wants to acknowledge out loud. They went up during the era of Jim Crow segregation, a time before anybody even thought to march for Civil Rights. These Confederate monuments didn’t go up in war cemeteries, they went up in town squares and public parks, places where they’d be seen. Imagine being black in the South during Jim Crow; you’re not welcome, the Klan burned a cross on your lawn just last night, AND every single day, you have to walk by a monument to a man who had your grandmother whipped to death. These Confederate monuments were built to further delusions of former Southern glory. These Confederate monuments were built to intimidate black Americans.

People who argue for these monuments, like Donald Trump, say they’re beautiful statues. They’re part of American history, of Southern heritage. Absolutely none of that reasoning flies, it only demonstrates an ignorance of history. Germany didn’t build monuments to Hitler & Friends so they could remember their heritage, so they could remember his inspirational speeches, while forgetting he was an evil lunatic. They relegated Hitler & Friends to the history books, filed under The Evils That Men Do, and moved on. Germany worked toward atonement, they did not build monuments that glorified the sins for which they were trying to atone.

Our Confederate monuments are nothing but tools of revisionist historians and symbols of bigotry. They celebrate treasonous war criminals, slavers willing to kill to stay slavers. These monuments are rally points for hate groups, as we saw in Charlottesville, they inspire such people toward violence. Heather Heyer, a young woman who believed in social justice and equality is dead because a bunch of bigots decided a monument to Robert E. Lee needed their protection… at all costs.

It’s important to remember our past, it’s important to mark our wrongs in history books, and teach future generations not repeat those wrongs. We should not build monuments to the perpetrators of our most vile wrongs. Confederate monuments are monuments to hate, there is no valid justification for their existence, no matter how nuanced. The fact that the only people who show up en masse to protest their removal are hate groups is exactly why they have to go.

America is country founded on noble ideals, not vicious hate. Monuments to the Confederacy are one of our mistakes, a mistake it’s time to fix. Now.

4 comments

Lying vs. being wrong

July 20th, 2017 | Category: Life,Opinions

So, health care reform was always sort of a political white whale; Presidents chased it, but President Barack Obama was the first to successfully run it down. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) completely changed the American health care system, it was a big deal. President Obama tried really hard to pass a bill that would get Americans health insurance, particularly those who couldn’t have afford it. The ACA has done a great deal of good, and helped a great many people over the last seven years. Still, not everything President Obama promised worked out, for SOME people the ACA has been a hindrance. Now, this post isn’t about the nuances of the ACA, it’s about a piece of shit con-man calling an honorable man a liar, but to set the stage it’s important to note that the ACA developed flaws, and President Obama made promises that went wrong.

Okay, yesterday I’m watching MSNBC, Trump is going on and on about the greatness of the Republican health care bill, just typical Trumpian nonsense. Then I hear something jarring, something that really gets my heart going. Trump says, the ACA was a “giant lie.” He says, when President Obama made certain promises they were lies, that President Obama knew he was lying to America. I’m listening to Donald J. Trump, a con-man who lies easy as breathing, often stupid lies, lies that can be found out by a simple Google search, and he has the nerve to call President Obama a liar… I’m so livid I want to put my fist through the tv.

President Obama governed for eight years without a scandal. I had no need of MSNBC, not during the Obama Administration. He never did anything outrageous, he definitely never did anything stupid. He was bad business for the late-night comics, he gave them nothing to work with, absolutely no material. He was the first President I ever truly respected, truly admired. President Obama governed with a steady hand, he was thoughtful and deliberate… He was not a liar. Maybe because Trump has never spent an honest day in his entire life, he doesn’t understand the difference between lying and beings wrong.

The ACA is a large, complex piece of legislation, something nobody ever successfully enacted. President Obama signed the bill with the best intentions, he told the American people how he thought the bill was going to work. He made promises he thought he could keep. I’m sure there were promises he refused to make because he was certain he couldn’t keep them. He’d never knowingly mislead the American people, his sense of morality wouldn’t allow it. Another concept Trump couldn’t possibly understand. At any rate, the ACA didn’t work exactly as planned, President Obama couldn’t keep every promise. He was wrong on some key points. What Trump didn’t mention in his nonsense speech was that President Obama owned his mistakes. He acknowledged the ACA’s flaws and took full responsibility for them. Above all, he wanted to fix the ACA, but the Republican majority felt that it was better to waste six years trying to kill it. Trump didn’t mention that either.

President Obama never lied about the ACA, he simply ended up being wrong where he meant to be right.

Trump’s default position is LIE, a moral failing he likes to project onto others.

8 comments

Review: Borne

May 23rd, 2017 | Category: Opinions

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer is one of his most unsettling and endearing novels; it has the brutal edginess of some of his earlier work, but also a nuanced softness to draw in readers who might not otherwise go for Weird fiction. Borne has its monsters, biotech abominations, hideous children surgically given vicious claws, the soft skin of their throats replaced with reptilian scales, anything to make them better killers that don’t end up prey to worse killers. See, the world has collapsed, no governments, no countries even, just cities and land, nameless decaying cities sitting on decaying bits of land. We kind of know the hows; climate change, war, pollution, the explosion of biotech. Biotech was supposed fix everything, but the minds behind the technology decayed just like everything else.

Borne’s story is told by Rachel, a scavenger in a place its inhabitants simply call, the city. Nobody is alive from “before” to know what the now useless maps used to label the place. The city is blessed, but mostly cursed by biotech that was birthed in the labs of the Company. When the Company realized that the city was beyond help, and hope, they simply started releasing their creations into the field. Creations like Mord, a ten-story tall bio-engineered grizzly bear of near-human intelligence… with the ability to fly. Though, somewhere along the way, that intelligence turned to madness. Mord’s original purpose was to protect the Company, but once again, decay stepped in;, it touched Mord, his mind, his purpose. He went rogue, smashing, tormenting, ruling the city through his deranged whims. Rachel is a scavenger for a former Company technician, Wick, her business partner, friend, sometimes lover. One day, while climbing a napping Mord, searching for the rich salvage that’s often tangled in his fur, she finds a… thing. It looks like some sort of sea anemone crossed with a squid that in sum looks kind of like a bizarre vase. It makes a humming sound and smells of the oceans of “before.” Its color shifts from purple to blue to sea green, Rachel has to have it. She is pretty sure it is biotech, and Wick is certain that it’s Company-related and potentially dangerous. Wick wants to cut it up and figure out what it is, what it was created to do, but Rachel makes a decision that will change their lives utterly. She decides to keep it, she even feels protective of it. The “it” soon becomes a “he,” and he is Borne. A sentient, funny, child-like, intelligent, caring person, who isn’t a human being. That’s one of the first things Rachel decides to teach Borne, that he’s a person. She raises him as her own, tries to teach him the lessons all parents hope to teach their children, especially right from wrong. Only later does she realize that while she feels certain that deep down Borne is a good person capable of finding a good purpose, he might also be a very dangerous person.

Borne is the sort of novel that can’t be neatly tucked into this or that genre, which is why it feels so accessible. I think just about anybody can pick up and enjoy it; there’s sci-fi, there’s grit and violence, there’s elements of modern Weird fiction, but ultimately it’s a story of people trying to be a family in a world that may no longer allow such fragile things to exist. It’s about the relationship between a mother and her child, a child who may have been created to be a monster, or simply a being with a morality that is suited for a monstrous world. Is it wrong to love him? Is it wrong to want him to be safe? To be happy? Through Rachel and Borne we get to examine such concepts, such questions.

The novel is also a true testament to VanderMeer’s skill toward world-building. Mord is a GIANT bio-engineered flying bear, yet nothing about him seems false, or overdone, or hokey. Mord feels as real and as serious as a heart attack. Borne is this anemone squid vase thing with multiple eye-stalks, whose shape and color can change at will, yet one never doubts the reality of his existence, nor does one ever doubt his personhood. The ability to create such characters and make them feel absolutely real shows a total confidence in one’s use of craft, confidence that in VanderMeer’s case, is not at all misplaced.

Borne is a must-read novel, one that will endure because it touches on questions almost everyone asks themselves at one time or another; Why do I exist? Why am I here?

No comments

Kell!

April 21st, 2017 | Category: Life,Opinions

Meet Kell!

So, I often do things on a whim. Some weeks ago, out of nowhere I said to my assistant, Jillian, “Okay, we’re going to the pet store… I want a fish.” Specifically, a betta, true fishy loners. Male bettas kill each other on sight, and females don’t fare much better, save for their brief mating periods. They’re an odd breed. Still, they’re gorgeous, and require very little care aside from their meals. They breathe air from the atmosphere just above the water’s surface, making them ideal for folks who want a beautiful fish that doesn’t take up much space.

At any rate, I’m quite fond of my mysterious little betta, Kell, named after the equally mysterious magician from V.E. Schwab’s spectacular Shades of Magic book trilogy. Kell hides in his skull, or his cave, or rests on his little Betta Hammock. Really, a Betta Hammock, a plastic leaf anchored near the water’s surface so the betta has a place to relax and breathe easy. I bought it because it was pretty, but otherwise I figured it was a scam. Turns out, Kell’s enjoying a nap right now, it’s his favorite furniture.

More tomorrow.

7 comments

WordPress 4.7 for the holidays…

December 07th, 2016 | Category: Life,Opinions

So, we are now running WordPress 4.7. It wasn’t the usual auto update, which was kind of exciting. I never do the recommended backups, which means that if the install went sideways for whatever reason, I could potentially lose the entire blog. It didn’t happen, a Higher Power seems to want the blog around awhile longer. As for WordPress 4.7 itself, just watch this spectacularly bad intro video…


Honestly, I LOVE WordPress, I wouldn’t use anything else, but that video… David Fincher tells this hilarious story about the first test screening of Seven, these three mid-western school-teachery ladies go storming past him, trying to get away from the theater as quickly as possible, and one of them says to the others, “the people who made that movie should be killed.” A little harsh for Seven, the movie was beautiful, but not NOT fitting for the WordPress 4.7 intro.

2 comments

A shared experience

December 03rd, 2016 | Category: Life,Opinions

So, I find this kind of fascinating… It seems there’s this shared experience surrounding Julie Hayden. It always starts, “Well, I’d never heard of Julie Hayden, then I listened to Lorrie Moore reading Day-Old Baby Rats on the New Yorker Fiction podcast. I was blown away, the story was absolutely amazing.” We listeners try to find out more about Julie Hayden and find very little, which is depressing, because Day-Old Baby Rats is beautiful. So we dig a little harder, and find a little more. We TRY to scare up a copy of The Lists of the Past, Hayden’s out of print short story collection, and some find it, usually through America’s arcane library system, or they luck out at some vintage bookshop. Either way, whether we’ve found Lists or not, we do whatever’s in our power to make Julie Hayden known again; a blog post, an essay, something. Though, as far as the somethings go, writer, Cheryl Strayed, has gone the farthest. Thanks to Strayed, finding The Lists of the Past is no longer limited to libraries and book resurrectionists, she got Lists re-printed.

It makes one seriously consider the whole ripples in a pond thing. Lorrie Moore started the ripples, everybody I know of who heard that New Yorker Fiction podcast thought the story was gorgeous, and that it was heartbreaking that Julie Hayden went out of print, before her early death. Lots of us tried to do something to bring Hayden back, but Cheryl Strayed really did something. It all started with a shared experience that created ripples that created waves that brought a dead writer’s dead work back to life.

No comments

Julie Hayden Revisited

November 30th, 2016 | Category: Life,Opinions

So, some time back I wrote about Julie Hayden, a very brilliant writer who lead a very tragic life that ended too early and so very bleakly. When I wrote about her, her work was totally out of physical-print, and barely available digitally. I was shocked that a Google search turned up almost nothing about her. If not for the New Yorker Fiction Podcast, I never would have heard of Julie Hayden. I wrote my original post so that it might show her life and her work to even one more person. I just wanted to do whatever I could to keep her name around.

Well, every so often I search iBooks for works I’ve yet to own as ebooks. Eventually, everything’s going to be an ebook, it’s only a matter of waiting. Last night, I gave Julie Hayden another search… and I hit pay dirt! Julie Hayden’s first and only short story collection, The Lists of the Past, has been re-published, first in print, and then as an ebook.

I love print books, I really do. Having been published a few times I know there’s absolutely nothing like seeing your name and your work on the printed page, it’s beautiful. I also know print isn’t sustainable. Before Hayden’s death in 1981, her work was out of print. Print is expensive, and unless you’re Stephen King or J.K. Rowling selling a zillion books a year it’s just not worth the cost it takes to keep your book around. It’s math, ice-cold math. It costs money to print your book, and it costs money to store your book somewhere until money is spent to ship your book somewhere. Staying in print is harder than getting your work published in the first place. Print itself is a dying industry, all because of math, but ebooks are lasting.

As an ebook, The Lists of the Past won’t so easily vanish, Julie Hayden will have a chance at being remembered as she deserves.

1 comment

The look on his face

November 10th, 2016 | Category: Life,Opinions

So, seeing Donald Trump with President Obama after their first meeting today reminded me of a song by Aimee Mann so much it fucking scared me. The song, Can’t You Tell?, was written for 30 Songs, 30 Days, a collection of music with a political bent.

Mind, she wrote this pre-election…

“That bastard making fun of me in front of all my peers
Those people think I own this town, you’re stripping all my gears
Well guess what Mr. President, I’ll be seeing you
In four years

Though on the campaign trail the papers paint me like a clown
Still all I see are crowds who want to fit me for a crown
I point out all my enemies just so my fans
Bring them down

Isn’t anybody going to stop me?
I don’t want this job
I don’t want this job, my god
Can’t you tell
I’m unwell

You try to pin me down but you don’t really try that hard
I throw out any shit I want and no one trumps that card
So dazzled and distracted by your fantasy
Of Hildegard

Isn’t anybody going to stop me?
I don’t want this job
I don’t want this job, my god
Can’t you tell
I’m unwell

You ask about my plan but baby my plan is to win
I wind up all the tops and watch the others keep the spin
You handing me grenades is just compelling me
To pull the pin

Isn’t anybody going to stop me?
I don’t want this job
I can’t do this job, my god
Can’t you tell
I’m unwell”

The look on Trump’s face, eyes down, looking at his shoes while President Obama was actually being a leader, was disturbing. It looked like he was thinking, I don’t want this job, I can’t do this job… exactly like Aimee wrote him.

1 comment

Next Page »