Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008: The One-Thousand's Year In Review

Just a quick rundown on writing progress made this year. Thirty-two stories closer to one-thousand! Son-of-who-cut-your-navel-string! Yes, I know that I've got to do a lot more than thrity-two a year to meet my goal. And yes, I know that something like fourteen of those stories were micro-fiction for Thaumatrope and a lot were flash fiction, but I did have a few longer dealies in there: Unit One, Maisy's Many Souls, The Guy Who Made Only McDonald's, Jim Sawgrass and the Family Bulbs. I consider 2008 a big win. In comparison, I only completed five stories in 2007 and four in 2006. So there. Yay, 2008!

I made ninety-three submissions in 2008, thirty-two in 2007 and fifty-seven in 2006. I have records going back to 1991 (sad, isn't it?), but I figure the last two years are good enough for our purposes.

Normally at this point, I'd discuss how well I did in relation to my writing goals for the year, but I didn't seem to have made any for 2008. Well, I can't strictly say that because in December of 2007 I planned out how I was going to turn my NaNoWriMo novel into a real novel which would have taken most of 2008. I abandoned that rather quickly. I generally suck with goals. I had no short story goals for the year and I did rather well. Goals take the piss out of me. I think just looking at them disheartens me and I quit before I start.

So here are my goals for 2009. I would like to write ninety stories and one novel in 2009. There's no way I'll do that, but that's my goal. Actually I could do the story part with really short stories. Hmmm. A really short novel? I'd like to make two-hundred submissions in 2009. That's possible.

What I'd like to do that's not quantifiable is become more of myself through my work. My writing life has been a struggle to find the essence of what I do. I don't know where that is, but it will be far enough from everything else to be distinguishable. I want to get closer to wherever that is.

Thaumatrope is temporarily closed to submissions but it looks like its Daddy, N.E. Lilly, has got a new flash thing going at Everyday Weirdness. I'll have to see if I have anything for him and if not, write something.

I might not be posting tomorrow, I don't know yet. If not, I wish all of you a wonderful New Year's Eve (The wife calls it Old Year's Night) and I hope everyone will have a wonderful 2009. Like my goals, I know it can't happen, but I'm hoping it just the same. Again, so there.

Friday, December 26, 2008


We got a ukulele in at the store a while ago that came with a book and extra strings. My son and I have been wanting one so I bought it for Christmas. It's crap. I suspected it might be, because it seemed on the cheap side. Not that I go around pricing ukuleles, but it seemed pretty cheap. So I got what I paid for. Tomorrow it gets returned. It needs a fret that it was never given. It sounded like ass when I tuned it by ear yesterday. Today I went online at Pineapple Pete's Uke School, which seems like a pretty handy site for a beginner, and tuned each string to the notes there and then it sounded a hell of a lot better. That is, until I tried a couple chords. As soon as you finger a note, it's out of tune with the open strings. What a mess. Now I'll look around music stores for a real uke.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Favorite Christmas Song Ever

Merry Christmas all. I probably won't be posting tomorrow, because I'll be in one of those mystery no-internet zones that are still sprinkled about the planet. So here's Christmas. My favorite ever Christmas song for your pleasure. Yes, I know it's from the eighties, shut up already. Billy Squier rocks! Enjoy the very unique Santa dance at 1:36.

Aural Delights Christmas Special!

Merry Christmas Eve, my plucky little elves!

The StarShipSofa is pleased to present a special Christmas episode of Aural Delights, featuring a gorgeous illustration of the China Miéville feature story by Skeet!

Aural Delights No 56 China Miéville

Editorial: Tony C Smith

Flash Fiction: A Christmas Tale by Davis Kopaska-Merkel

Flash Fiction: Robowassailing by Allen Steele

Fact: Sofa Art by Skeet

Main Fiction: 'Tis The Season by China Miéville

Narrators: Diane Severson, MCL, Amy H Sturgis


Monday, December 22, 2008

Two Exits, No Waiting

Food poisoning yesterday. Absolutely trashed me. As Robin Williams put it, "Your body says, 'Everybody out! Two exits, no waiting!'" Nine hours of that! And then I could barely move. The wife picked me up to take me to her house and take care of me. She had to help me get dressed. A Powerade did wonders for me. That and many, many hours of sleep. I still had to call out of work today, just walking the dog put me back in bed for hours. I'm feeling much better now and should be back at it tomorrow.

I just sent out The Dog Planet. That's number 88 of The One-Thousand. I'd write more, but I've got a bazillion things to catch up on and it wouldn't surprise me if more sleep was one of them.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Not the state of victory, not the Roman military procession, but the band. Watch Mike Levine channel Derek Smalls at the beginning:

Now, I'm not one of those guys who is stuck in the eighties. I love lots of new music, but I keep finding these wonderful gems from my misspent youth and now, in my misspent adulthood, I want to share them with all of you. Having said that:


And this is me just digging the video in my bedroom. I actually saw the guys on this tour (Sport of Kings) back in 1987, though it was in Worcester, Mass, not Halifax where this video was shot. Best concert ever! They were ten times better live than in the studio.

Here's a funny lighter story. I saw nearly every show I've ever seen in the eighties. I went to see Rush (That other godlike Canadian power trio) with my wife in 1996. Before the show I told her we had to get lighters.
"Why? We don't smoke," she sez.
"No," I sez, "It's for Closer to the Heart (I speak in italics like that sometimes). Everybody holds up their lighters at the beginning of Closer to the Heart."

Besides seeing this on their concert videos, I saw them twice in '87 on the Hold Your Fire Tour. So I knew whereof I spoke. We're at the concert, yay, song, song, song, then Alex starts up with the beginning of Closer to the Heart.
"Quick, get out your lighter!" I told my wife. We hold up our lighters and I look around this crowd of maybe 12,000 people and their are maybe ten lighters lit in the whole goddamned audience.
"Okay, put away your lighter," I said. Sheepishly would be the proper adverb here.

Enough of that crap. I achieved 87 today with Cranberry God. I think Thaumatrope is choking on submissions. My last one is set to run on July 3rd and I read a message after submitting Cranberry God that said, Please wait for a response to this submission before sending another. So that will slow me down. But it was bound to happen.

Call Me Butter, Cuz I Am On A Roll

85: The Song of the Modular Men

86: The South Rises Again

I told you it was going to get stupid. But I've got to get to some serious writing. Besides the story I'm working on, Fiction Crawler is long overdue.

But Sleepy Time now.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

Friday, December 19, 2008

83 And 84. And Socks

Sold my two Easter stories to Thaumatrope yesterday. That brings my total Thaumatrope sales to 6. The success is quite heady. I may have to lie down. My first rejection from them might be devastating! I sent two more stories last night: Political Flavors (83) and Tomorrow's Love Never Comes (84) These have no particular theme as there's no holiday call.

Outside of that, my writing has been stink city this week. Productivity has been low, low, low. As I said, Sunday was great, but between my funky schedule, errands and Christmas shopping (and screwing around here), I have been seriously slacky. And I had such high hopes on Sunday. Well, the nice thing about not being dead yet, is that you can say, "I'll do better in the future." You may not do better, but you can say it and that feels nice.

Last day of school today before Christmas break. Hooray! Aside from Christmas Day, I may not have to get up at 5 am for a couple of weeks. That's my Christmas present. And socks.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

They Shall Call Me A Visionary

Lookie here. The Boingers pointed to this story today about a bunch of freaks in Iowa who garlic salt their streets: Iowa Town's Roads Well Seasoned. Note the date of the story. December 17th, 2008.

Now, note the date of this post, A Season For All Seasonings: July 29th, 2007! That's right, bastards. I saw it coming nearly a year and a half before they did it. Nostradamus can suck it. I didn't even need to hide it in a quatrain! Think about it, Church, this cult has got it goin' on now! A leader with verifiable prophecies? Son of a gun!

New Flight Of The Conchords

This is what I had to say: Here's episode 1 of Season 2 of Flight of the Conchords from Funny or Die. I was on the fence about whether or not to post this, because it can only be seen in the U.S. apparently and it might only be viewable for a few days. Sorry to everyone who can't see it, but it may reach a few people who didn't know it was out there and who can enjoy it, so here it is. The season starts on January 18th.

Thought I Had More To Say

Sold my two St. Patrick's Day stories to Thaumatrope and sent two Easter stories: Out of One Basket (81) and Grass Monkey (82). Every day is a holiday at Thaumatrope submissions. It's the happiest place on the net.

I've decided to stick with The One-Thousand (the goal, I mean). If I meet the goal in a way I hadn't expected, then so be it. When it's done, I'll set another goal, that's all.

Man, I was certain I had more to say. Maybe I'll say something else later today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

StarShipSofa - Aural Delights No. 55

Nominations are over and the finalists are in! It's time for listeners to vote for their favorites for the first annual Sofanauts Awards! Voting is open until January 23rd. By the by, I'm a big fat finalist in the Best Fact Article Contributor category. Honestly, it won't bother me a bit if Amy or Jim wins, their stuff is great, but if you do like my goods the best, give me a vote. My "Sorry you didn't get in there"'s go out to all my fellow Sofa-sitters who didn't get in there. Sorry.

This Week, the StarShipSofa is proud to present a story by Ben Bova on Aural Delights No. 55. Blast Off!

Aural Delights No 55 Ben Bova

Editorial: Tony C Smith

Poetry: How I will Outwit the Time Thieves by Mike Allen

Flash Fiction: Magician by Jeff VanderMeer

Fact: Singularity by Cory Doctorow

The Process Diary by Paul Caggegi

The Sofanauts Awards: by Mark Bormann

Main Fiction: Inspiration by Ben Bova

Narrators: Chrispy, Mark Nelson, Annette Bowman

This podcast is brought to you by Audible.com. Download a free audiobook of your choice today at audiblepodcast.com/sofa


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Thaumatropic Orgy!

I sold my two stories to Thaumatrope today. Yay! One was a Valentine's Day story. My man Church sold one as well and I think they're giving Grant his own spinoff magazine. As an aside, Church doesn't seem to want to follow me. Is it my bottom? Because if it is, I'm perfectly fine with him following me from the front.

I just wrote and sent in two more stories. They're now calling for St. Patrick's Day stories. Now understand, I don't title the stories in my submissions. Those are precious characters I cannot spare (each of today's stories were precisely one-hundred and forty characters). But for the purpose of The One-Thousand, I have to title them. To tell them apart if for no other reason. I'm not going to call them something like: Untitled (The one about the guy with the thing). Today's stories were: Again With the Green Beer (79) and Unlucky (80).

Michael Swanwick shares a wonderful anecdote about Galileo's Finger. Scroll down a tad. It's there. And Diane turned me onto Nicola Griffith's interesting new project. Check it out, you might want to get involved.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Life's Goal Has Just Been Turned On Its Head

There's a new magazine in town called Thaumatrope and it publishes on Twitter. That's right, Twitter, the land where no post can exceed one-hundred and forty characters. I just learned about it a couple of days ago on John Scalzi's blog. He did an interview there. My compadre, Grant Stone, has pounced on this and asked me just an hour ago if I'd submitted. I checked into it and I've already submitted two stories.

Here's where it gets stupid.

Given my my rules at the onset of The One-Thousand, these stories count toward my goal. Hell, Thaumatrope is even a paying market! Given all this, I could conceivably meet my goal in a few months time, rather than ten years. By the way, for those of you keeping track: Bright Idea (Number 77) and Sweetheart (Number 78). This isn't exactly what I had in mind, but that was the goal. This changes everything. I'll have to rethink.

How does The Ten-Thousand sound to everyone?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Writey Write Write

I'm happy today. The house is a mess, I have a pile of things still to do and I stink like a fish, but I'm happy. That's because I wrote seven pages today. Some pros might think, "Seven pages? Big deal," but seven is a lot for me. I may be onto something good. I got worked up by this month's posts on Dean Wesley Smith(no relation)'s blog: http://deanwesleysmith.com/. He's been posting about writing goals all this month. If you're a writer, I strongly encourage you to check out everything on there from December of 2008. You'll want to read them in chronological order since each day builds upon the last.

Yesterday's post in particular kicked me into gear, because I was really able to throw down the numbers for what I want to do and figure out what I need to do to meet those numbers. About six and a half pages a day will get me where I want to go. That should seem like a lot to me and to be honest it often has in the past. But today I looked at it, and thought, "We're talking one and a half to two hours a day here. In the big scheme of my life, that's doable." Hell, I often waste that much time screwing around online. Today was easy, because I had a day off. Tomorrow might be harder. I want to get the writing out of the way as early as possible so it's done and I can get on with the business of real life like cleaning the toilet. Today, once I made my goals, I wrote before doing anything else and that equals happy. Tomorrow, I'd have to get up at 2:30 in the morning to get the writing out of the way and that probably isn't happening, so we'll see what I can do later in the day. But at the moment I'm optimistic.

Another thing I've found is how to get the writing done. You may recall the wonderful AlphaSmart I blogged about here:
It's a magnificent little machine, but I put it aside once I got my MacBook. It sat unwanted in its corner, looking pathetic for a year and a half. A few months ago I picked it back up and discovered that it rocks out for first drafts. Why? No goddamned Internet! No e-mail. No distractions. Just writing. I got huge chunks of my story, Maisy's Many Souls (75), done on the AlphaSmart and I picked it up again a few days ago. It's awesome. Alphasmart for first drafts, MacBook for editing. By the way, the AlphaSmart is still running strong on the three AA batteries I put in there Christmas day 2005! Battery strength is still a little over 50%! Did I mention it rocks?

So there you go. Everything's coming up roses. For today at least. We'll see what tomorrow brings but I'm going into it aware of the hump I'll have to overcome and I am so fore-armed. Cheers until the morrow good friends! What ho!

Where the hell did that come from?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Havin' A Reggae Christmas

Just throwing up a quick one before midnight so I'll have a post today. Another happy Christmas video from my youth. Rasta Wee:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dead Folks

Follow me! Yet another call for followers. Spice up the party for those four lonely people over to the left. Click the "follow this blog" clicky.

Question: What do these two people have in common? Van Johnson and Bettie Page

Answer: Had you asked me about them last week, I'd have been sure that they were already dead.

Do you guys have this problem? Are you certain that you heard a famous person was dead when they're actually still alive? Maybe they do die, but pop back into existence due to Hollywood magic or zombie dust. Two more names: Abe Vigoda and Nell Carter. I'm sure they died multiple times. I'm not talking about being resuscitated on the operating table. I'm talking dead and buried, formaldehyde in the veins, then getting back up for a couple of years, maybe doing a little work before checking out again.

I know it can't be just me. Who were you sure was dead that wasn't? Throw us a comment.

Okay, I'm not nuts. I just checked Wikipedia to confirm the spelling of Abe Vigoda's name and found this whole section on false reports of his death. Now, you know I have to check Nell Carter.

. . . (time passes)

No false reports listed there. But that woman had a crazy-ass life. Married a mathematician and lumber executive? Who does that?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gene Gene The Dancing Machine!

If you were alive in the seventies you know that the best part of the whole shitty decade was Gene Gene the Dancing Machine. Nothing could make you happy like Gene, especially if you danced along like I did. By the way, don't read that last line in his Wikipedia entry. It'll just bring you down again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Hard Rain On The Sofa

Woo-hoo! I've got a flash fiction story on the Sofa this week! A Hard Rain, as you might remember, first appeared on this very blog. Once again, if you haven't voted for The Sofanauts Awards nominations, do so now. There's less then a week to go.

This Week, StarShipSofa is pleased to present Aural Delights No. 54. Blast off!

Aural Delights No 54 Joan D Vinge

Editorial: Tony C Smith

Poetry: Light Across An Impossible Lake by Mark Rich

Flash Fiction: Hard Rain by Matthew Sanborn Smith

Fact: Arthur Gordon by Amy H Sturgis

The Sofanauts Awards: by Mark Bormann

Main Fiction: A View From A Height by Joan D Vinge

Narrators: Kate Baker, Julio Flavio, Diane Severson

Advertisement: This podcast is brought to you by Audible.com. Download a free audiobook of your choice today at audiblepodcast.com/sofa


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Greek Legacy

See, I can make fun of customers here because none of them will read this blog. Today while I was helping a customer, a second customer approached my fellow employee, Paula, and asked, "Do you have Suh-FAH-klis?" (I'm writing it the way she said it, emphasis on the middle syllable.) I was thinking it was some nutty New Age philosophy or twist on an eastern religion. I don't know what tipped Paula off, maybe the lady showed her what she wanted on a slip of paper as she said it, but Paula asked, "Sophocles?" and the lady said, "Yeah, that's it."

This reminded me of a phone call from about a month ago. A guy asked me if we had The Writings of Aristotle, Volume 1. While I was looking it up on the computer, he asked a someone who was with him, "Hey, who wrote that?"

Which in turn reminded me of a joke my dear friend, Aslan (No, he was not a lion), used to spout whenever the Greeks came up. He used to talk about the famous Greek philosopher, Testacles (You want to say it like he did, for that special Greeky flavor - TEST-uh-cleez). I like to think of old Testacles as the father of urology.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Just Skip To The Good Part

If you want to avoid all the crappy boring stuff, just skip to the video at the bottom. You've been warned.

The weekend. The wife was up at 4 am and I at 5 am to make breakfast for two-hundred people for the PTO's breakfast with Santa. Save for the part about getting three hours sleep, it was kind of fun. I had a brief Lileks moment. Understand that because of the way these meals had to be served, we had to package them individually, as if they would be purchased for take-out. The little packages of syrup we included were not labeled "maple syrup" but instead labeled "table syrup" and I pictured the stuff inside being refined from the sap of freshly squeezed tables.

Then a quick trip to the wife's house, walk the dogs, and off to the five hour parenting class, which made watching paint dry seem like downhill racing. Suddenly it was dark again and my daughter needed to get to my computer for a couple hours for a science project. Dropped her off, came back, started working on something for the Sofa. The wife called, this was like midnight now, and we had to talk out some stuff so I went over there, talked it out, got a couple hours sleep, went home, slept for another forty-five minutes before being called into work early.

You can imagine what a pleasant mood I was in by that time. I don't totally remember what happened last night (I know there was driving involved), but I had to go to the Dreaded Monday Morning Meeting today, and after errands and my quarterly visit with Dad (Who, as a veteran who fought at Pearl Harbor, was bumming because he received very little mention in yesterday's paper on the sixty-seventh anniversary of the attack), I went home and slept and slept. My son came home from school and after our post-school meet and greet I went back to sleep. Then supper, library with daughter, and now, at 10:20 pm, I'm thinking I'm going to sleep again. This is normally very early for me. It's partly about catching up on three night's of lost sleep, partly trying to wash the memory of the weekend away.

I'm posting this, because it's one of my favorites for Christmas. Hall and Oates got intentionally goofy here and the video is as much fun as the song:

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Classin' This Dump Up

I had the weekend from Heck. It gave weekends a bad name.

Welcome, Grant! Those followers are really rolling in now. To show Grant what a classy joint we run here at The One-Thousand, I present the following:

UPDATE: Damn it! NBC must have come down on youtube. Most versions are gone and embedding on this one is disabled. For some reason, I can still link to it. Well, we'll see how long the link lasts:

Friday, December 05, 2008

I Wanted You To Read It Here First

Thanks to Diane, for being follower number three and all the nice things she's said in my direction over the past year (including her comments here). If you haven't yet voted in the Sofanaut Awards nominations (and why haven't you?), then give Diane your love for "Best Narrator." Yes, we are a big mutual admiration society over at the Sofa. That's why we need your votes, so that it doesn't end in a fifty person tie for first place. Voting only lasts about twelve more days, so please have at it!

Tomorrow, I'm heading to the wife's school early on to help her with a Breakfast with Santa, the cooking and the clean-up. Then we're off to a parenting class which is a condition of the forthcoming divorce. That's at least twelve hours of my day between the two, so I'm not certain I'll be posting tomorrow, but I'll sure as heck try to get you your daily dose of Mattitude.

Oo. I just forgot. The class is near our good friend(Joel Kilmer, who first coined the word Mattitude)'s shop, Big Dog Comics. We'll have to stop by there for the latest issues of The Boys if we possibly can. Over the past month I've enjoyed the twentieth anniversary of meeting both Joel and my wife. Both meetings occured shortly after I moved to Florida. And I thought I wouldn't make new friends.

Of course, if Joel reads this, he might say, "What in the hell? I didn't know they were getting a divorce!" Well, all I can say, Joel, is that these things are best broken online, where I don't have to answer any questions!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Okay, Now Vote For Me

I don't know what I was thinking in that last post. Maybe I was trying to be self-effacing.


That's better. My name is in the hat for "Best Flash Fiction" (That would be for my story, Sunday Dinner) and "Best Fact Article Contributor" (For my regular Fiction Crawler series and my article, Jim Sawgrass and the Family Bulbs).

And by all means, whether you like my stuff or not, give a vote under "Best Narrator" for Kenny Park, my man over in "followers" to the left, for his FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC narration on the Adam Roberts story Remorse. You can listen to it on episode 30 (about three minutes in) here:

StarShipSofa - Aural Delights No. 53

The StarShipSofa is pleased to present Aural Delights No. 53. On this week's show notes there's a link to The Sofanauts Awards nominations, a listener poll for the best of the first year of Aural Delights. So click it and nominate all of your favorites from the past year. Blast off!

Aural Delights No 53 Ted Kosmatka

Editorial: Tony C Smith

Poetry: An Eccentric In Orbit by Laurel Winter

Flash Fiction: Conspiracy Of Dentists by Jay Lake

Fact: Movie Talk by Rod Barnett

The Sofanauts Awards: by Mark Bormann

Main Fiction: Deadnauts by Ted Kosmatka

Narrators: Kate Baker, Diane Severson, Paul Caggegi

THE SOFANAUTS: Click to vote!


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I Have Two Mouths And Feel No Need To Scream At The Moment, Thank You Very Much

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

No sir, things are going great. My mouths are the lives of the party, I tell you. I can smooch two ladies at the same time. Who wouldn't want some of that?

I can eat twice as fast. Of course, you want to coordinate that chew. I can't tell you how many times my mother yelled at me when I was a wee and I'd shovel her gravy-laden chow into one maw just to have it plop out the other. I'd retire to my corner and suck both thumbs. It's all controlled now. Only happens at family gatherings, my version of the breathalizer. When half of my shirt is covered in beer, it's time to stop drinking.

I can whistle in harmony with myself. Same for kazooing and harmonicazing. I can sing while enjoying a juicy stick of gum. Yes, I know the juice is really just my spit, but did you ever stop to think that makes my gums twice as juicy? A-HA!

You think you're special? Let's see you put your hand through your face. Without bleeding, I mean. Yeah, yeah, screw your petty arguments. Twice the floss and twice the paste, twice the dental bills and twice the gingivitis. Try twice the smiles. Sixty-four shining, blinding pearlies. Two times the cheeses. Look at all those people taking my picture! I look twice as happy as you ever could. At you I stick out both my tongues. Or, if not directly at you, certainly to either side.

That's two two true. Twice the tongues. Oh, hear me, my cubby, when those lollipops reminisce with their kin up and to the left in Lolly Heaven, they'll know what it has been to be properly well sucked! And speaking of . . .

A C-cup to the left and another to the right. A Double-Bubble double suckle, "Two CCs, stat!" and after that every stand is a two-nighter. They love that deep Frenchy soul sucking kiss while sweet whispered nothings tickle their ears.

So you scream, little one mouth. You with both the ability and the reason to. With two sets of taste buds my life is just too sweet.

Title Of The Song

Stick with it, you'll appreciate it.

Title of the Song - Da Vincis Notebook