Sunday, October 31, 2010


In the book of Japanese fairy tales I'm reading, the wicked stepmothers and brothers end up realizing they were wrong to be hateful and jealous, beg forgiveness, receive it, and live happily ever after along with the stepdaughter or brother. This in contrast to European fairy tales, where those people are often roasted alive
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end in sight

For 12 years i woke up every day with a body worn out with fatigue and a brain that could not function properly. Each and every day, with no end in sight and no hope for help. This was CFS for me. All i knew was that in some people, after many years, the illness eventually ran its course. I could only wish to be one of those people and in the end i was, but only after i had literally exhausted the prime physical years of my life, from ages 27 to 39. Today, while waiting for more biopsy results, i feel that i can face anything which had a known prognosis, a probable outcome, a relativwely certain recovery duration. With an end in sight, with some expectation of a termination, things are more bearable.
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change over time

Everything we see in this world experiences change over time. This equation defines life on our planet. Evolution is also change over time, where the values of both change and time are very large. For some people, this simple formula is hard to understand
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Saturday, October 30, 2010


Wht fine storytelling in this film, Pickpocket by Rovert Bresson. Simple, direct, beautifully staged, well acted, a nihislist love story at heart, apparently a model for 'Taxi Driver'. The hero/thief has no values until, in the end, he somehow comes to a consciousness of being human. He had been inwardly comatose all that time. 'Something lit up her face' - he (finally) saw that she loved him, and in that he glimpsed the first reflection of his own love for her, his only love for anything (other than his late mother) up until that point. It really can be that a person can go through life seeing nothing, knowing nothing, feeling nothing, while all the while believing they have some secret wisdom, a false knowledge. To come upon the truth too late is a tragedy, or is it really ever too late? To live in darkness for all of your life except the final moment, when the light is barely seen ... for some people this is their destiny - nocturnal souls who view the dawn only at the last moment of their time.

Blog Commenting - Submitedge

God I love this! They post only in "reputed blogs" !! Highly Experienced Blog Commenting Experts!

So highly experienced they don't even know the meaning of the word "reputed"

Friday, October 29, 2010

time traveling movie extra

Surely you've seen the video going around on youtube, showing the extra in Charlie Chaplin's movie, The Circus. It seems to be a large woman all in black, walking past and jabbering into a cell phone. A still-futuristic cellphone, clearly, one that does not require cell towers or repeaters. Wonder who's her service provider ... Ma Bell?

My guess is based on my retail years in downtown San Francisco, where any number of nutjobs would pass by or pop into the store, talking to their imaginary friend, or into their imaginary microphone like Mister Wonderful, or waving at their imaginary adoring crowd like Mister President.

They had crazy people roaming around in the 1920's too, I suppose, even in Hollywood, or maybe especially there

Then again, the true solution seems to be this1924 Western Electric Model 34A "Audiphone", a sort of hearing aid with a microphone to amplify surrounding sound. The person is talking into it to see if it works, is the theory  

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Easy DIY CouchDB using Ruby

Rather than use somebody's couch gem, (which may or may not return JSON when you expect it to!), what I'm doing here is rolling my own compact Couch library class in Ruby. The class simply uses net/ssh to make properly formed REST calls to the CouchDB. You also need the 'json' gem installed. (Also, I'm using Ruby 1.8.7)

The Couch class needs a host, port and db parameter passed into its initialize method. The db is the name of the db, while the host and port are used by the request method to form the URL.  Most every call to Couch is either a GET or a PUT (there is also a DELETE), so we only need a couple of methods (get, put) to create the right kind of Net::Http object, make the REST call and convert the Http response into JSON.

Here is couch_lib.rb

# begin code

require 'net/ssh'
require 'json'

class Couch
  def initialize(host, db, port=5984, options = nil)
    @host = host
    @port = port
    @db = db
    @options = options

def request(req)
    res = Net::HTTP.start(@host, @port) { |http|http.request(req) }
    unless res.kind_of?(Net::HTTPSuccess)
       # if there was some kind of Http error, show it
       puts res

def get(id, parse=true)
    res = request("/#{@db}/#{id}"))
    parse or return res.body
    JSON.parse res.body

 def put(id, doc)
    req ="/#{@db}/#{id}")
    req["content-type"] = "application/json"
      req.body = JSON.generate(doc)
      res = request(req)
      $DEBUG and puts "put response: #{res.code} :: #{res.body}"
      current = get(id)
      doc["_rev"] = current["_rev"]
      req.body = JSON.generate(doc)
      res = request(req)
    hash = JSON.parse res.body

# here we have a method to create the database
 def create
    req ="/#{@db}/")
    req["content-type"] = "application/json"
    res = request(req)
    JSON.parse res.body

 # use clear method to drop and create a db
  def clear
    req ="/#{@db}/")
    req["content-type"] = "application/json"
    res = request(req)
    JSON.parse res.body


# end code

To test the Couch class, I created a new database, put some data into it, created and stored some views, and make queries. The default parameters assume that CouchDB is running on localhost on default port 5984, but those are easily configurable.

# begin code
require 'rubygems'
require 'couch_lib'

$DEBUG = true

class CouchTest

  def initialize(p={})
     @params = { "host" => "",
                 "port" => "5984",
                 "db" => "pwp"
                 }.merge! p
       @db =["host"], @params["db"])
     rescue => e
       puts('oops. is couchdb running at http://#{@params["host"]}:#{@params["port"]}?')
    # make pwp database

    # make pwp-specific view

  def make_pwp_db
    puts "delete the existing db and create a new one"

    unwritten = {"title" => "unwritten rules","date" => "2010","category" =>"urban fantasy"}
    sidewalk = {"title" => "secret sidewalk","date" => "2007","category" =>"urban fantasy"}
    renegade = {"title" => "renegade robot","date" => "2010","category" =>"urban fantasy"}
    zone = {"title" => "time zone","date" => "1999","category" =>"science fiction"}
    missy = {"title" => "missy tonight","date" => "2008","category" =>"atheist fiction"}
    @db.put("unwritten", unwritten)
    @db.put("sidewalk", sidewalk)
    @db.put("renegade", renegade)
    @db.put("zone", zone)
    @db.put("missy", missy)

  def make_pwp_views
    titles_view = { "_id" => "_design/titles ","language" => "javascript",
      "views" => {
        "result" => {"map" => "function(doc) { if (doc.title) { emit(doc.title, doc)} }" },
        "all" => {"map" => "function(doc) {  emit(null, doc) }" }      

    dates_view = { "_id" => "_design/dates ","language" => "javascript",
      "views" => {
        "result" => {"map" => "function(doc) { if ( { emit(, doc)} }" }

   categories_view = { "_id" => "_design/categories ","language" => "javascript",
      "views" => {
        "result" => {"map" => "function(doc) { if (doc.category) { emit(doc.category, doc) } }" }

   @db.put "_design/titles", titles_view
   @db.put "_design/dates", dates_view
   @db.put "_design/categories", categories_view

  def delete_doc(doc)

  def get_all_items(sorted=false)
   # curl -X GET
   puts "==> get all items"
   dataset =
   items = @db.get("_design/titles/_view/all")["rows"]
   items.each do |row|
      dataset << format_item(row["value"])
    dataset.sort! if sorted
    dataset.each { | s | puts s } if $DEBUG
    return dataset

  def get_all_items_by_date()
   puts "==> get all items by date"
   dataset =
   items = @db.get("_design/dates/_view/result")["rows"]
   items.each do |row|
      dataset << format_item(row["value"])
    dataset.each { | s | puts s } if $DEBUG
    return dataset

  def get_by_date(target="2010")
    puts "==> get by date: #{target}"
     dataset =
     items = @db.get("_design/dates/_view/result")["rows"]
     items.each do |row|
      item = row["value"]["date"]
      if item.include?(target)
        $DEBUG and puts JSON.pretty_generate(row)
        dataset << format_item(row["value"])
    dataset.each { | s | puts s } if $DEBUG
    return dataset

 def get_by_title(target="e")
    puts "==> get by title: #{target}"
     dataset =
     items = @db.get("_design/titles/_view/result")["rows"]
     items.each do |row|
      item = row["value"]["title"]
      if item.include?(target)
        dataset << format_item(row["value"])
    dataset.each { | s | puts s }
    return dataset

   def get_by_category(target="e")
    puts "==> get by category: #{target}"
     dataset =
     items = @db.get("_design/categories/_view/result")["rows"]
     items.each do |row|
      item = row["value"]["category"]
      if item.include?(target)
        dataset << format_item(row["value"])
    dataset.each { | s | puts s } if $DEBUG
    return dataset

  def format_item(item)
    return "title: #{item["title"]}\tdate: #{item["date"]}\tcategory: #{item["category"]}"

  def update_renegade
    puts "==> update renegade, change its category"
    renegade = {"title" => "renegade robot","date" => "2010","category" =>"science fiction"}
    @db.update "renegade", renegade

  def delete_renegade
    puts "==> delete renegade"
    r = @db.get("renegade")

# usage example: ruby couch_test.rb host=localhost port=5984

if $0 == __FILE__
   params = {}
   ARGV.each do|a|
     args = a.split("=")
     params[args[0]] = args[1].chomp
   db =
   db.get_by_category("science fiction")
   db.get_by_category("science fiction")
   # db.delete_renegade
   # db.get_by_category("science fiction")

# end code

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fantasy: Updated

"Fantasy" as a genre is pretty well a European medievalist type of thing, running from Grimm's fairy tales through Tolkein and Rowling, well-populated with elves and fairies, goblins and trolls, witches and wizards, magic rings and amulets, topographical maps and ancient city-legends, castles and towers, damsels, heroes and so on.

"Urban Fantasy" would be a contemporary update of the genre, trading in those typical trappings in favor of more modern and familiar types; lawyers and cops instead of viziers and knights, abandoned warehouses and bus maps instead of caverns and buried treasure, cult leaders and crazed billionaires instead of deathlords and mad kings, drunks and mechanics, cashiers and psychics, strip malls and burger joints, safety deposit boxes and junk mail, and, instead of magical spells, science fiction.

There are probably more stories that fit the bill than would like to admit it - some of the gritty hard-edged lowlife dramas, for example, and all those law and order procedurals that mingle laboratory wizardry with good old-fashioned shoe-leather and know-how.

Sometimes the label 'magical realism' gets pasted on stories that have an element of the fantastic but have a definite urban setting. Sometimes the science fiction element pegs them to the science fiction genre, where they really don't belong. Science fiction is in many ways the magic of our times and can be sprinkled into any story requiring an extra-normal element. Some 'steampunk' stories might fit this category too.

Maybe I'm just exhausted with the old middle ages motifs, but I still like fantasy/adventure stories. I just want them to be set in a world that's not so dated!

Got thoughts? Recommendations? Love to hear them.

Me and my 'Robot'

On Indie Books Blog today

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


the main problem with being labeled a 'humorist' is people who don't think you're funny

no comments

now that i know about highly experienced professional blog commenters, i can no longer believe in any comment i see on any blog. it's just like tv commercials - i don't believe that person is really suffering from dandruff or incontinence or is even hungry for that burger. those commenters can't really think that president obama is a 'communist', can they? it's just that someone is paying someone else to say whatever ...

magical thinking and sports

Tonight the World Series begins between the Giants and the Rangers. On the sports talk radio, much magical thinking going on - mostly tongue-in-cheek, but with a hint of desperately-wanting-to-believe a la X Files.

Something about a recurrence of the number Five and Tim Lincecum's uni number being 55

Something about how every time the Giants play the Red Sox in inter-league play, one of those teams wins the World Series that year (i.e., the Red Sox did it twice, the Giants never)

Something about the Giants being 'due' (sure, 56 years of futility MUST be a magic number)

There is a long history of superstitions in sports, especially those of athletes (not touching the white lines, for example, or changing hats or bats, etc ...) but I wonder how much has been collected regarding fans' trivia superstitions. I'm sure there's a lot of great stuff there.

a simple google search turned up some, including this and this

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

self-pub prayer

Dear Lord, please forgive my typos. I do make mistakes. I am not a bad person, really. Whatever. Amen.


this article spells out the 6 federal policies that the tea party candidates believe are unconstitutional and therefore ought to be struck down, including:

social security
the united nations
the minimum wage
unemployment insurance
the civil rights act (in outlawing discrimination by private businesses)
(also to be included are the health insurance mandate and aspects of the americans with disability act)

aside from the united nations thing, what do all of these have in common? they benefit the weak, the old, the sick, the poor, and the disadvantaged.

it's hard for me to believe that this nation would be better off if the weak were weaker, the sick were sicker, the poor were poorer, old people were left more destitute and the disadvantaged were more disadvantaged.

now, the tea party people might say that all they really want is for individual states to control all of these things, but isn't this argument kind of disingenous? if the states all provided these things to the same level as the federal government now does, would that then be acceptable? of course the states do not all have the same leverage, and equal opportunity "for all" would be denied on that basis. for the same reason we have a national army, we also have a national safety net: e pluribus unum, in other words. "providing for the general welfare" as the constitution says.

on the other hand, as a californian i couldn't really give a crap about the morons in texas and florida and elsewhere who are happy to make certain people's very existence illegal! if we're going to dissolve the united states, then i'm right where i ought to be anyway. good luck, alaska! they love their tea party in that state where 40% of the per capita income comes from the federal government. hypocrites or idiots? you decide.

Urban Fantasy

"Fantasy" as a genre is pretty well a european medievalist type of thing, running from Grimm's fairy tales through Tolkein and Rowling, well-populated with elves and fairies, goblins and trolls, witches and wizards, magic rings and amulets, topographical maps and ancient city-legends, castles and towers, damsels and heroes and so on. "Urban Fantasy", a genre I would like to designate, eschews those typical trappings in favor of more modern and familiar types; lawyers and cops instead of viziers and knights, abandoned warehouses and bus maps instead of caverns and buried treasure, cult leaders and crazed billionaires instead of deathlords and mad kings, drunks and mechanics, cashiers and psychics, strip malls and burger joints, safety deposit boxes and junk mail, and instead of magical spells, science fiction. Probably there are more stories that fit the bill than would like to - some of the gritty hard-edged lowlife dramas, for example, not to mention cop shows that mingle laboratory wizardry with good old-fashioned know-how. I would put a lot of my own stories into this bucket, from 'Squatter with a Lexus' to 'Secret Sidewalk', 'Unwritten Rules' and 'Zombie Nights', 'Macedonia' and 'Missy Tonight', and especially 'Snapdragon Alley' and 'Freak City'

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Cover Art - Time Zone

one of the great things about indie publishing is that you can change the cover of your book any time you feel like it. This is a collage I made years ago from the inner flap of a strip-covered mass-market romance novel. I called it 'Blue' but I really think it fits the sense of the fractured reality I tried to imagine with this book. Time Zone is a time travel story in which every trip changes the traveler(s) until they are not at all the same people in the same world in which they began


how about this service from SubmitEdge? I never thought of it! this career was probably never on anyone's list of 'what do you want to be when you grow up'?

What Do We Offer Through Our Blog Commenting Service?

Our blog commenting service involves posting comments in various blogs. Our blog commenting service is not like the blog submission service offered by other companies. Other companies wait for moderator to approve the comment. Only when the comments are approved they will be publicly visible and only the approved blog comments will be available to the search engines for indexing and tracking links. With our blog commenting service you will not have to worry about moderator's approval. We offer 100% guaranteed approval of the comments. We will provide you with a complete report which will include the direct landing pages where your links are submitted. You can always cross check your linking pages and the live links.

Our blog commenting service is 100% manual. We do not make use of any software for our blog commenting service.

build android on ubuntu

must be 64-bit system as of froyo (android 2.2)
curl > ~/bin/repo
chmod a+x ~/bin/repo
mkdir android
cd android
repo init -u git://
repo sync

Sunday, October 24, 2010

stat magic

[Cliff] Lee had 30 strikeouts in between walks, another postseason record. There have been eight postseason games in history in which a pitcher has struck out 10 and walked none; Lee has four of them. He locates his fastball as well as any pitcher in the game, works the inside part of the plate as well as any pitcher, and has a great curveball and a cutter from hell. Every hitter knows he will be around the plate with every pitch, and no one can hit him.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


According to Wired, Coca-Cola invented the coupon with free giveaway coupons in 1888. Giving away theirn product for free led to sales. They gave away 8.5 million free drink coupons by 1913. Hippies? Uh-uh. Loss leader marketing works and history proves it.
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huevos without

got to respect this young woman - a 20 year old becoming the police chief in a Mexican town of Praxedis Guadalupe Guerrero. new definition of courage


messing around with GarageBand this morning I realized that this was the program I really wanted when I started getting into computers back around 1987 (coincidentally, the last time the SF Giants faced the current predicament of being up 3-2 in the NCLS but on the road, eventually to lose both games. please not again!) - computers attracted me for music reasons, which is why i began with an Atari ST (it had built-in MIDI ports) and why I taught myself computer programming. I ended up getting a college degree in music engineering and went to work for a music software company, but the stuff that was available back then could only aspire to GarageBand simplicity and ease of use. There was a lot of great stuff (ProTools, StudioVision, MOTU, etc ...) but this application really has what the average user needs.


whenever i'm tempted to tweet or otherwise attempt feeble promotions of my little books, i remind myself that i've put them all out there like paper boats on a stream, given them some pushes, and they're off. i'll respond to any contacts, but it's time for them to find their own way in the big wide world, ready or not. those ships have sailed.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

what is new?

Been sidetracked with that whole indie-pub thing for awhile, but it's time to return the pigeonweather scene to its regular programming. What's been going on in the meantime?

It's been Tea Party time in the media for awhile now. Not surprisingly, rallies of tens of thousands against a war got zero coverage a few years back, but let 150 people show up in Nevada and it's all over the news. The news is basically a roving spotlight (used the word 'roving' on purpose) and most of us can only see what they put into the light. There's no good way to know what are the real proportions of things in terms of relevance, importance, weight etc ... See It Buy It is also See It Believe It.

You have these morons (is it really 2010?) who ridicule science based on their faith, just as we smart people ridicule their faith based on our science. Climate Change is a hoax. Evolution is a myth. Well, if scientists are all conspiring to fool us all the time, why do you ever go to a doctor? Why would you ever get on board an airplane? Why would you cross a bridge or use a computer? More hoaxes. More folly, when all you really need is a book written by some ignorant old men some thousands of years ago and edited and revised and translated numerous times in history's greatest saga of whisper-down-the-lane.

Now we also have our conundrums, such as, why is it okay to discriminate against people because of who they want to be with? And why is marijuana illegal but beer is sacred? And how come it's okay for a politician to spend more than $100 million of her own private money in an effort to buy an election? And since when is it okay for a minority to block every effort at legislation? Why are we fighting a war whose expiration date has long since passed? Sour, that one.

We are burning books again, or threatening to, but nothing should be too surprising for a country built on genocide and slavery. Then again, it was not too long ago that people here were freaking out over a song like 'Lay Lady Lay' ...

That's right. It's America and the best thing about it right now is my San Francisco Giants - woot! One more win, boys, and it's off to the World Series. Of course, the announcers keep comparing this team to the one from 1987, which was also one game away from winning the NLCS, only to blow it big time to the Cardinals, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. We have never won a World Series here in SF. Never.

Personal note: I officially entered "old age" this week. I define that as having to see 3 different doctors in the same week for 3 different chronic conditions. Yikes. It's Geezer Time.

Friends Like These: Someone who added me as a 'favorite author' on Smashwords also branded one of my books with One Star. Thanks so much. You shouldn't have. Really.

And more Zombie Nights whiners - I liked it but it was too short, I didn't like the ending. Zombie gets killed. Oh pooh. Well, if you were a criminal gang member, and you were murdered by a rival gang, and you came back to life in their neighborhood, and accidentally ran into them, what do you think they would do? Give you a breath mint? Sorry. I like my ending, and if it happens too fast, it's supposed to; it's sudden, like a cat getting hit by a car, and there you go. Give it a star won't you please?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

loaded dice

someone did a study of her self-publishing hits, using a story with "porn star" in the title. yeah, you might get some attention with that ...

once a playmate, always a playmate

think before you unpeel ...

headline of the day: (playmate-charged-with-attempted-murder)

look, she's 66 years old now. she was a 'playmate', what, 45 years ago?

pomme du terre grande

despite numerous health-related incidents, my recent trip to New York City with family rekindled my love of that place. so much great stuff

depression as healing

the theory described here seems to suggest that depression is a manifestation of brain-rewiring after stressful or traumatic events, a symptom of recovery and healing. makes me wonder if any number of so-called ailments are really healings gone awry - one theory of chronic fatigue syndrome, for example, blamed it on an immune system overcompensating against a retrovirus. the immune system is attempting to heal and causing more problems than it is solving. this fits in nicely with my theory that "the leading cause of problems is solutions"

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

a year of publishing 'independently'

a birthday usually feels like a beginning to me, but this one feels like an ending, an ending to my year of publishing 'independently'. it's a bit early, since the year of doing that factually began last Thanksgiving weekend, when I first put some of my books on Smashwords and Feedbooks and was startled to see any of them being downloaded at all. It's been fun and I've learned a few things, but I've also seen enough to know that the so-called Indie Book community is not one I can really be a part of. I've never been a joiner anyway, and despite the fact that there are lots of good and talented people involved in it, that world essentially boils down to marketing and grubbing for money.

Every child knows how to cry "mommy, mommy, look at me", and every parent knows how tiresome it becomes. I've been the child and the parent in this year of publishing 'independently' and have had enough of both. Every 'success' (measured in the number of downloads) has been a matter of serendipity, but you have to align yourself with the times to have any chance of having any luck. By this I mean that if I hadn't asked webmasters to put my ebooks on their sites, and if I hadn't put the ebooks out there in the first place, then my own little cries of 'look at me' would never have been heard at all. Two websites ( and kindle nation daily) and three enterprises (Smashwords, Feedbooks and Amazon) were responsible for the bulk of that attention and those downloads, and the rest of my activities resulted in practically nothing. It's all about the eyeballs and I'm not going to go after them anymore.

I'm not going to 'build my brand', or attempt to attract more 'follows' and 'likes' with honey or vinegar. When I have something new I will post it and announce it, but otherwise my advertising age is done.

Here is what I've learned from readers: In the immortal words of PJ Harvey, I tend to leave them dry. The preponderance of comments confirms this. My readers are titillated, excited, but left short of experiencing the readerly orgasm they want and demand. The books are too short, there are too many characters-per-page, the endings are too abrupt, unpredictable and unsatisfying. After an early arousal, the readers are just not getting off. They wish the books lasted longer, as if I should have used some kind of writer's viagra for their sake, but the truth of the matter is, if I'm a lousy lover/writer for them, it's because I was never thinking of their pleasure in the first place. I only write for my own pleasure, so what can I say? Go find somebody else?

The complaint could be fixed with "more". More pages, more pages-per-character, more ending pages, etc ..., but I just don't do more for the sake of more. I don't do padding. I do what I want, what I feel, what works for me. As a thin/fast kind of guy, I write a thin/fast kind of story. I've got no padding on me or in me. Maybe people just expect a certain kind of portion from stories these days - super-sized, a value meal. They starve otherwise. Eh ...

It comes down to this. You can try to give other people what you think they want, or you can be true to your nature and your limitations and yourself. If it's not their money you're after, and if it's not their love you're after, then go with door number two. You'll be much better off.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Outside the Hippie Commune

Here is another diatribe against free ebooks. As one of those 'hippie writers' who is 'helping to breed more entitlement into people, making it harder for others to make money', I can only say, "cry me a river", and get a job. I personally don't give a damn if nobody ever made any money off their writing. Kafka never did. Poe barely did. The list goes on and on, but god forbid any contemporary american hack should not get a proper pound of flesh for their latest crappy sex-in-the-city-based p.o.s..

fuck 'em.

guess what? cultural products can always be free (or close to it) for those who want them to be. you can go the library for your books, music or movies. you can go to the metropolitan museum and choose to not pay the 'recommended' admission. you can listen to the god damn radio and watch public tv without chipping in. guess that makes you a hippie!

the whole 'sense of entitlement' shit reminds me of that crackpot Sharron Angle and all those other asshole republicans who claim that unemployment insurance is the cause of unemployment, those who whine about 'welfare mothers', those who want to abolish public education and in general buy into the whole american horatio alger bullshit myth which never was and never will be.

these same arguments are used by companies like microsoft in their screeds against open source software. too fucking bad. you're not stopping anyone from doing what they want to do and what they can do. if i want to give my stuff away, i will. the world doesn't owe you a damn thing for wanting to be 'a writer', and that's just one more fact you have to deal with, and hopefully get over, and move on, and take care of your own business and the things you can control.


on a recent trip back east i was surprised at having no memories whatsoever of penn station in new york, although i had been through there many many times, many many years ago, on regular visits to my then-fiancee. i don't have a great memory for places or names anyway, but it made me feel as if those times had never even happened, or had never happened to me at least. it was someone else's past and it was gone forever. what does it mean to not remember your own life? i was thinking about this and then, due to an unexpected complication, i found myself in a hospital, lying on a gurney next to an old man with alzheimer's who was on the brink of death. every now and then he would open his eyes and someone (a nurse or his nephew or a doctor) would ask him his name, his birthday, if he knew where he was. occasionally he gave some sign that he was aware of one of those details, but mostly he stared vacantly and closed his eyes again. he had maybe days to live and it sure seemed that he remembered nothing of his life or even of his own self in the moment. this is what it comes to in the end.

Friday, October 15, 2010

the buck's incident

One person who keeps changing into other people
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.3

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

What is Indie Lit?

I've been coming across this term and its variations a lot recently. Today I even spotted this site for the Indie Lit Awards.There are Indie Writers, Indie Authors, Indie Publishers and so on. They are sometimes linked to Independent Bookstores, but not necessarily, as more often they are correlated to the burgeoning world of e-books, and sites such as Smashwords and Feedbooks, Barnes & Noble and Amazon, where anyone can upload anything at all and call it Indie Lit. But is that what it is?

Some people are making the correlation between Indie Lit and Indie Films and Indie Music, but I'm not sure the analogies hold. As I understand it, the films and music categories are more or less defined by their being produced "outside of the system" and, therefore, "on a low budget", and this far the analogies do hold, but there is also implied an "independent spirit", something about those ventures that are not only done outside the system but also could not be done within it, due to the nature of their content, and this is where I'm not seeing a lot of Indie in the Indie Lit I've been coming across. Of course that doesn't mean it isn't there. There's a huge "haystack" of e-books and small pubs and other non-traditionally produced fiction, certainly no shortage and I've only sampled a sliver of it all.

What I have seen, though, is largely the same kind of stuff I've come to expect from 'the system' itself. There is a lot of Romance (Time Travel and Otherwise), Erotica (Straight, Gay, Albino, you name it), Hard-Boiled Mystery with cops and private eyes, Fantasy (with the usual Elves and Wizards), Science Fiction (with Outposts on Mars, and Cowboys in Space), Slice O' Life American Style, Episodes of Law & Order S.U.V... I have also come across a few books that I would consider Indie Lit, but such a small percentage! These are stories that stand out for their originality, quirkiness, and oddity, and I guess that's what I expect from something called Indie. Maybe I'm wrong about that. Maybe my criteria are way off-base. I don't want something that makes me "feel good". I don't want something that makes me feel bad either! I just want to be shown something I have never seen before.

I was thinking of this after going on a reading binge of stuff I found on those Indie sites, and then I re-read the story 'Before the Law', by Franz Kafka. Of course it's not fair to compare anyone with that, but to me it really drove home the point that's been percolating in my brain. What is Indie Lit? THAT was Indie Lit.

Or is it everything, and nothing at all.

Comments appreciated and welcomed

Saturday, October 09, 2010

An Imperial Message

This classic story by Franz Kafka captures perfectly my concept of the 'Needle in the Haystack' problem of the Indie Writer

The Emperor—so they say—has sent a message, directly from his death bed, to you alone, his pathetic subject, a tiny shadow which has taken refuge at the furthest distance from the imperial sun. He ordered the herald to kneel down beside his bed and whispered the message in his ear. He thought it was so important that he had the herald speak it back to him. He confirmed the accuracy of verbal message by nodding his head. And in front of the entire crowd of those witnessing his death—all the obstructing walls have been broken down, and all the great ones of his empire are standing in a circle on the broad and high soaring flights of stairs—in front of all of them he dispatched his herald. The messenger started off at once, a powerful, tireless man. Sticking one arm out and then another, he makes his way through the crowd. If he runs into resistance, he points to his breast where there is a sign of the sun. So he moves forwards easily, unlike anyone else. But the crowd is so huge; its dwelling places are infinite. If there were an open field, how he would fly along, and soon you would hear the marvellous pounding of his fist on your door. But instead of that, how futile are all his efforts. He is still forcing his way through the private rooms of the innermost palace. Never will he win his way through. And if he did manage that, nothing would have been achieved. He would have to fight his way down the steps, and, if he managed to do that, nothing would have been achieved. He would have to stride through the courtyards, and after the courtyards through the second palace encircling the first, and, then again, through stairs and courtyards, and then, once again, a palace, and so on for thousands of years. And if he finally burst through the outermost door—but that can never, never happen—the royal capital city, the centre of the world, is still there in front of him, piled high and full of sediment. No one pushes his way through here, certainly not someone with a message from a dead man. But you sit at your window and dream of that message when evening comes.

bit of a splash

making a bit of a splash on Amazon, even since the Free promo reverted to a whopping 99 cents.

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,198 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

Can you hear the chanting? We're Number One Thousand One Hundred Ninety Eight! We're Number One Thousand One Hundred Ninety Eight! One Team! One Fight!

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,809 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

Oh well, we don't have enough wind left to chant this one :}

Friday, October 08, 2010

die trad pubs die

The publishing industry began to be destroyed decades ago, along with the rest of the general mom-and-pop shop economies of the so-called developed world. Vertical integration, monopoly capital, whatever you want to call it, is not a good fit for art of any kind. I say “die trad pubs die” and the sooner the better.
On the other hand, we may only be in a temporary zone of possibilities before, as indie author Neil Crabtree put it, “the pond freezes over again”. In the meantime, let us indie authors get our indie books out there any way we can. People are reading and want to read. They’re getting more choices now, that’s all, and if the haystack is just getting bigger and bigger, there are more needles in there too!

(from a comment I put on the site of Wanda Shapiro,  the author of 'Sometimes That Happens With Chicken'

Thursday, October 07, 2010

free v indie

The question is, do Indie writers who give their books away for free, hurt the sales of other Indie writers who charge for theirs? I think the answer is 'yes, but not so much'. I think the 'Needle in a Haystack' problem is so much bigger than the 'Why Buy A Cow?' issue, and although it is certainly true that free ebooks also add to the overall haystack, I still believe that once a reader finds a needle, they're much more likely to buy the cow (so to speak). I was reminded of this today when Mario Vargas Llosa won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and remembered reading his first book more than 30 years ago. I've read nearly everything he's published ever since, regardless of the format or the cost. Getting people to find that needle though, there's the rub!

Nice is nice

and this review was nice to read, from ebooksjustpublished

Zombie Nights was my first Lichtenberg story. Really fun! I have since read ~20 more of his books and stories that I downloaded at Feedbooks:
He has a gift and great sense of humour. If you get thrown by one of his reads, put it down and come back in a little while. It will all make sense!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


this whole interview is very interesting, as I'm sure the book - Where Ideas Come From, by Steven Johnson - is as well.

You observe that most of the major innovations over the past 200 years have come from networks of individuals who rarely capitalize or even intend to capitalize on their work. How is that possible?

We underestimate how much innovation comes out of the university system. If you look at where innovation, defined as ideas not as commercial product, tends to live, the university system is remarkably innovative. Like the Internet, which no one owns and which generates vast fortunes for people who build on top of it, the university system, through a collaborative, open network, creates ideas that become platforms that enable people to build businesses stacked on top of them. We're seeing it with genomics: core research is happening in universities that's going to lead to vast fortunes for big pharma. I hope this section in the book will make people pause and reconsider their belief that markets drive innovation better than anything else. They do sometimes, but when you combine creative chaos and connective power, you create environments where ideas can truly network, rather than being locked away in an R&D lab somewhere.

limited time promo

Two of my books were picked by Amazon/Kindle for a 'limited time promo' offer - Zombie Nights and Snapdragon Alley. They're free on Smashwords and Feedbooks but Amazon requires a 99 cents minimum - with the promo, they're free on Kindle as well. The result has been pretty amazing - more than 7500 downloads in just a few days - it shows me that Kindle is where most of the e-book readers are, not Apple, not Barnes&Noble, not Android. I'm glad they picked my books just to open my eyes to that fact - Amazon (and probably Google as well) will soon dominate the publishing industry; not just the selling of books, not just the distribution, but all of it from start to finish. (this morning the two are being downloaded at a rate of one every other minute)

Sunday, October 03, 2010

indie author roundup

During my brief (yet not brief enough) experience working for Microsoft, I heard the expression "eat your own dogfood" at least once a day. They meant "use the software you're writing" but what I heard was "yes, it sucks, and it's going to suck when it's done, otherwise we wouldn't be calling it dogfood". I considered proposing they change the expression to "eat your own cooking" because, in that case, one might want it to taste good! I didn't suggest it, though, because I despise Microsoft and am so glad I no longer work for them (disclaimer - they bought the company I happily worked for - Danger - and promptly destroyed it completely).

Anyway, with the expression "eat your own cooking" in mind, I've decided to read fellow "indie authors" who are giving away their books for free on Feedbooks or Smashwords, and make some comments on them - not reviews, and no 'star' ratings involved. I will say one or two things I liked about them, and I will not mention any book of which I have nothing good to say. I don't promise that I actually finished reading the books, only that I read at least enough, and liked it enough, to have something nice to say.

My own mama never told me "if you don't have anything nice to say ...", but in the spirit of someone's mama having said that to somebody else at some time, here we go - my recent reading list of free indie author ebooks:

Broken Bulbs - by Eddie Wright
   One thing I always go for is originality, and this book has got that. Two things I always go for are originality and humor, and this book has got those. Three things ... okay, never mind. It IS kind of gruesome and gritty, but also hilarious, following a screenwriter who needs direct injections of inspiration from his 'fixer', Bonnie. I loved the interior screenplays and the book made me laugh out loud several times, and I almost never do that.

3 - by Moxie Mezcal
  Even though I'm no longer a druggie loser cashier in my twenties and hanging around with same, I once was and did, and one of the stories in this book brought back those days - 1999. I liked the other two stories a lot more. Home Movies is about a possible snuff flick discovered by a woman working in an adult video store, and she decides to investigate (bad idea!), and the other involves a journalistic hoax with a nasty twist - both of these were intriguing and kept me reading in excitement and anticipation and did not disappoint.

The American Book of the Dead - by Henry Baum
   I really enjoyed the characterizations of some of the minor characters and their interactions. I wasn't thrilled with the apocalypse-with-close-encounters stuff, but hey, that was the story he wanted to tell. Leprechauns hopping out of UFO's not really my bag, but like I always say, go for it!

The Defective Detective: Cat Chaser - by Adam Maxwell
   Very funny. Funny all the time, in fact. The book features a newbie detective who suffers from narcolepsy, so he's continually falling asleep at inappropriate times. Since it's told in the first person, neither he nor we have the full story of what's going on at any moment. Very clever, very funny. Nicely done.

Back(stabbed) in Brooklyn - by Lenox Parker
   Some really great dialog here - more than anything else, that's what I enjoyed, and I read on her blog that she's most interested in screen writing. I can see that. She's got a fine ear for it.

Are There Toilets in Heaven? - by Gil Gaudia
  Cranky old atheist lets fly - hey, sounds like me! I can dig it. I love an unabashed out-and-out atheist, as long as they're funny (I already know they're smart!), and this author cracked me up.

The Ghost, the Girl and the Gun - by Ted Boone
   next on my list ... response tbd ...

blink twice

unless has gone out of their freaking minds, 3000+ copies of the Kindle edition of Snapdragon Alley have been sold in the past few days, and nearly 900 copies of Zombie Nights. The previous high was last month's 21 copies of Zombie Nights. What the heck?

the were both featured here:

aha! i got it. Amazon was giving these two away for free. They're still tallying up my royalties (35 cents a copy) - so it's just been a 'loss leader' weekend. fine with me.