Friday, February 27, 2009

An Embarrassment Of Sofa Riches!

Four (4) Episodes of StarShipSofa this week! Even better: Me x 2 on episode 68! You lucky bastards! Exclamation points all around!

First off StarShipSofa is proud to be showcasing three of the nominees for the British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Short Story:

Evidence of Love in a Case of Abandonment: One Daughter's Personal Account by M. Rickert

Little Lost Robot by Paul McAuley

Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Next, the regular weekly show, with a piece of flash fiction from me as well as Fiction Crawler 5. And may I say here that Paul W. Campbell does a great job narrating my story. Thank you, Paul. Eight characters and a dialogue only story, but you pulled it off!

Aural Delights No 68 Kim Newman/Benjamin Rosenbaum

Editorial: Kindle the Savior of Book Publishing by Tony C Smith

Poetry: Angle Bites by Tim Pratt

Flash Fiction: Brothers and Sisters All by Matthew Sanborn Smith

Fact: Sofa Art Cover by Skeet

Fiction: The House Beyond Your Sky by Benjamin Rosenbaum

Fact: Movie Talk by Rob Barnett

Main Fiction Serial: The Serial Murders Kim Newman Part 1 of 4

Fact: Fiction Crawler No 5 Matthew Sanborn Smith

Narrators: Kate Baker, Gareth Stack, Paul W Campbell, JJ Campanella

Links to the stories featured on Fiction Crawler No 5:

At the Bottom of the Garden by Jo Walton

Non-Disclosure Agreement by Scott Westerfeld

The Support Technician Tango by Daniel Abraham

Big Man: a Fable by Joe R. Lansdale

The Shangri-La Affair By Lavie Tidhar

Things by Ursula K. Le Guin

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

That's What Geeks Are For

The great thing about all the Watchmen trailers and 'making of' videos is that I can be disappointed by the movie before I actually see it. I'd been planning to avoid the movie altogether because it just can't be the comic no matter what goes into it. When I saw the first trailer last year, I was impressed enough that I changed my mind. I thought, "Well, it's not going to be the comic, but we'll see how close it can get." And up to tonight I've been relatively okay with what I've seen. But tonight I realized that the attention to detail isn't as attentive as I thought.

The cars are wrong.

Much of the story takes place in 1985 and if you look at the streets in the movie, you see a bunch of real mid-eighties models of cars. And that's wrong. Watchmen isn't just a superhero movie, it's an alternate reality movie. Two people in particular have made a huge difference in the world of Watchmen as it compares to our world: Dr. Manhattan and Adrian Veidt. Because of Dr. Manhattan, Nixon is still president in '85, Vietnam is the 51st state and everyone drives electric cars. And they're funky looking cars, not to be mistaken for what we had on our roads back in the day. Here's a little glimpse:

Not a great glimpse but I think you can see these things don't exactly look like the Ford LTD. Besides that, I have yet to see those funky ball pipes everyone smokes in the comic, or the goofy space cadet hats or any topknots. Here's a hat:

All of these things help make Watchmen uniquely Watchmen. But, hey, maybe they're in there. I just doubt it. I know this is all just petty bitching. I'll give you that. But that's what geeks are for.

I See You Girls Checking Out My Trunks

Monday, February 23, 2009

Comic Bookery

I twittered about some of this stuff earlier, so maybe this won't be new for you. I'm going to reread Watchmen before the movie comes out. I read it every few years anyway, since it first came out. I've been poking around it at the store, rereading my favorite line in all the works of man - Rorschach (To an entire prison population): "None of you understand. I'm not locked up in here with you. You're locked up in here with me." You have to read the book to really appreciate it, but fuck, that is bad ass. If you haven't read it yet, what the hell are you waiting for? You have less than two weeks to swallow it down so you and I and the rest of geekdom can be sufficiently disappointed with the movie. Hurry up!

Process Five, some of you may remember, began as a comic book script. I had an encouraging half a bite on it too, before a certain line of a certain publisher bit the certain dust. Because it was a comic script, I wrote Process Five's lines in first person present tense, a mainstay of gritty story-telling throughout the past thirty years of four-color heroism. I tried it that way in the story I'm working on now, with other parts being third person past tense. Then I decided to can the other points of view, so it was all going to be first person present. Then I thought I should put those other parts back in and entire thing should be third person past tense. The other day I realized Process Five's parts should again be first person, but in past tense, while the other parts should remain third person past, save for Process Five's dream/memories which should be first person present. Are you following me? What all of this means is that I keep going through this goddamned story, changing piles of pronouns and verbs again and again and this isn't the first time I've gone through this with a story. Gaaa!

With this post I realize I don't talk nearly enough about comic books here. They were practically my life for fifteen years or so, and now I hardly ever pick one up. For much the same reason I don't watch much TV or see many movies or even read much. I'm too tied up with work, householdery, writing and wasting time online. But man I have some happy comic book memories. I want to tell you about Watchmen. I want to tell you about Andy Helfer's brilliant nineteen issue run of The Shadow and Kyle Baker's magnificent art on that book, the excitement of an honest to goodness comic book space opera near the end of The Omega Men with the wonderful round-bodied cartoony artistry of Shawn McManus, Gaiman and McKean's Black Orchid, Englehart and Rogers' magnificent Batman stint. Ah well. Some other time then. I need to catch my breath.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Another Day Wasted

Let's see, what's been going on around here? Not much. Did a day of work. The former wife and the daughter saw Coraline in 3D. They weren't gushing about it, but they liked it well enough. The boy and the dog and I stuffed our faces with pasta and meatballs and garlic bread and dog food. Only the dog did that last one, other than that we were all on board. I read a bunch of crap on the internet and that brings us to now. Another day wasted.

I watched a few videos by this Haleybop lady. This song, I feel, stands above the rest.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Sleepy tired. I sent story 94 out yesterday. It's called The Creepy Little Mailbox Man.

The boy has hand-delivered me to the edge of madness this week. I dealt with the stress the way I always do. Comfort food. I turned two very big sub rolls into a bunch of cheesy garlic bread and downed it all. Later I had moose tracks ice cream. I like that kind because it has real chunks of moose in it. Though I once chipped a tooth on a piece of antler. So now I'm big and bloated and full of stinkbreath. Come and get me ladies!

Near brush with greatness: I almost saw Robert Wagner and Jill St. John today.

I feel good about my ongoing struggle with Process Five. I think I've got a handle on it now, and I've solved enough of the problems to make it a real story. Once I've done that, I'll see if I can turn it into a good story.

Likee Vid of the Day:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hold Those Horses

I just realized that to those of you unfamiliar with the magazine Fantasy and Science Fiction, you may have a different idea about what type of competition I won. I didn't have a story published, it was more of a quip. For competition #77 we had to translate the title of a famous science fiction story into another language and then write a synopsis of that story based on what the new title looked like in English. "Huh?" you ask. Well, as examples, I present the five entries I sent in that didn't win:

Jefty is Five = Jefty รจ cinque (Italian)
A boy whose best friend is a sink, grows into adulthood and realizes that his best friend is still a sink.

Rendezvous with Rama = Afspraken met Rama (Dutch)
Afspraken, an Amsterdam talk show host, meets a thirty mile extraterrestrial spaceship on a cross-country trip. Afspraken insists they can never be friends because sex always gets in the way. Eventually they have sex and get married because, hey, it's Amsterdam.

Red Mars = Mars Rouge (French)
A cosmetics company sends a group of colonists to the red planet to gather chemicals for their new line. A splinter group goes underground to develop make-up tips based on Martian colors and lighting, decrying all Earth tones.

Anthem = Hymne (German)
Harmony 9-0210, a down-trodden singer in a monotone collectivist state, discovers a hymnal in a forgotten church basement and organizes a Baptist Choir which overthrows the tyrannical government with inspirational songs.

The Demolished Man = El Hombre Demolido (Spanish)
A telepathic sheriff on the trail of a gunslinger with a fistful of dynamite tries to learn the stranger's name. But the outlaw's mind is impenetrable as it endlessly plays the theme from
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

So that's what it's about. For my efforts I won a copy of the issue in which my entry ran and a hardcover copy of Project Moonbase and Others by Robert A. Heinlein. Again, if you want to see the winning entry, I encourage you all, NO, I encourage each of you to go out and purchase a copy of the April/May issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction. To sweeten it up, there are plenty of other great things in there besides me. This is their first big fat bimonthly issue and it features stuff by Ellen Kushner, Paul Di Filippo, Thomas M. Disch, Jack Skillingstead and John C. Wright. Check it out!

F&SF And The Sofa

I won the Fantasy and Science Fiction Competition for the second time in a row! Go buy a copy of their April/May issue if you'd like to read the winning entry. And subscribe if you can. If we don't support the mags we love, they'll go away and then we'll be sad. Let's be happy instead.

I added links to the blog for the Fiction Crawlers. You can find them over on the left sidebar under the heading "Read (or listen to) My Stuff," formerly known as "Read My Stories."

And speaking of the Sofa, let's jump on and make the springs go *twangy!*

The StarShipSofa is proud to present Aural Delights No. 64. Blast off!

Aural Delights No 64 Ted Kosmatka

Editorial: The Good and the Bad by Tony C Smith

Poetry: Her Opals by Samantha Henderson

Flash Fiction: Where Credit Is Due by Edward M Lerner

Fact: Science News by JJ Campanella

Main Fiction: The Art of Alchemy by Ted Kosmatka

Fact: Kim Stanley Robinson by English Assassin

Narrators: David Lamb, Annette Bowman, Dale Manley

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Toe Jam

I'm making progress in my battle with Process Five, the story that wouldn't die. I've fought for years now with this thing. I'm going to win, I just don't know if the story that comes out of it will be any good. I don't know if I'll care. I just want to put it behind me forever and ever.

Here's a great video I discovered the other day while wandering through the corridors of youtube. It's got David Byrne, a clever and funny concept, a great song and lots of naked people. What I mean to say is, it's got everything you could possibly want in a video.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

25 Random Facts About Me

Hey, you can do this too. If you don't want to, what am I going to do about it? I'm not your boss, your god or your mother. You will not be graded on this. If you do it, send me a link.

25 Random Facts About Me

1) The first erotic dream that I remember happened when I was 4 or 5 years old. Ruth Buzzi was sitting on my toilet in her underwear. That was all the eroticism of which my young mind could conceive.

2) I became an atheist suddenly in class at fourteen years old when I read that Neanderthals buried tools and objects with their dead. It was a revelation not necessarily based on logic.

3) When one of my dogs dies I'm very upset for about an hour. Then I mostly forget about them for the rest of my life.

4) As a child, I was convinced that I could become the Earth-Prime Batman.

5) I swing my arms around in the shower in case there are invisible people in there with me.

6) (Are you still reading this? Seriously?) My favorite food is the cheeseburger, which explains the shape I'm in.

7) I've had two hernia surgeries.

8) My former wife and partner of 20 years is black. Before I met her I had known maybe three black people in my entire life.

9) I was a hardcore Reagan Republican as a teenager. Now I lean Libertarian but Socialism doesn't seem like the worst thing in the world.

10) I count myself very lucky to have a wonderful mother-in-law. I've heard some real horror stories from other people.

11) The worst hangover I've ever had was worse than my two hernia surgeries. It followed a night of rum and Cokes and lasted about fourteen hours.

12) I wanted adventure as a kid. When I became a parent, I wanted no part of adventure.

13) Although happiness is nice, I see it as ephemeral. Instead, I'm shooting for fulfillment.

14) From about the time of the Big Bang until about 1969, I didn't really do much. Total slacker for, like, fourteen billion years.

15) Aaron Neville is my arch-enemy.

16) I was out on my own at eighteen. My minimum wage jobs worked better than any diet. I had to buy new pants because I was swimming in my old ones. Then I lost more weight and couldn't afford to buy any more pants, so I'd buy pints of ice cream and frosting and eat them from the containers just to keep some fat on my waist.

17) My nose runs like a leaky faucet. Always has.

18) I am not a people person. Except during job interviews.

19) Aaron Neville could beat me senseless if he knew I existed. Have you seen those arms? And besides, he has four brothers. That's ten Neville legs kicking my ass while they sing a song about it.

20) I was laid off at nineteen and moved to Florida to stay with my parents. I've been there ever since. (In Florida, that is. Not with my parents.)

21) When I was ten my blood would turn to ice whenever I heard a plane overhead. I was waiting for a hydrogen bomb to drop on my head. Because, of course, Plainfield, Connecticut was number one on the Soviets' list of targets.

22) I am at once a slob and a germophobe.

23) I think writing is one of the most powerful technologies we have ever devised. Little marks on paper or a screen can produce images and concepts in someone else's mind, thousands of miles away. We can listen to the dead. We can speak to the not-yet-born. We can make a solid thing of our memories. Nearly anyone can be taught to use it. It can move armies and elicit emotions in a person when no action has taken place.

24) When I was a teenager, my friends and I used to joke that I would be killed by a bus at the age of thirty-eight. For the year between my thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth birthdays, I was worried that my id would win out for just a second and I would step out into the path of an oncoming bus in order to fulfill the prophecy. Now I believe I am invulnerable.

25) I have never had sex with a white woman, though I might make an exception for Ruth Buzzi.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Thaumatrope ran another one of my stories yesterday. You can read it here. Next one is up on March 14th. I've got a couple of St. Patrick's Day stories for you.

Fellow Sofanaut Gareth Stack has a new podcast going on: The Invisible Tour Guide. I downloaded the first episode, but I haven't listened yet. Whatever the subject matter, I could listen to him talk all day. Check it out.

I'm guessing if you read this blog, you've already seen this video, because that's the type of person you are, but I want to put it here anyway. And you'll want to watch it again. The Shat with Joe Jackson singing a Pulp song equals asskicking.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love Is In The Air

You would think that a naked baby running around with a bow and arrow would put people off of love. Keep loving, that's what you'll make: A baby. Then before you know it, he'll take his clothes off and grab a weapon. You don't want that do you?

Long ago I was smitten with someone and spent too much time composing and editing a love poem in my head. Never got a chance to tell it to her. If I ever wrote it down I forgot where and now I can't remember it except there was a sunset in it and something about her eyes. You'll just have to trust me when I say that it was really good. I mean, if I had ever recited this poem to her, a piece of her would have been mine forever. So use your imagination as I try and piece together what's left of it here:

________________ sunset _______


Although some parts are missing, I think you can still appreciate its power. Mr. Lova Lova, that's me.

Friday, February 13, 2009


My first Thaumatrope story ran today, a Valentine's story. You can read it here. Scroll down to see it once you get there.

Sorry, folks, but I'm a bit tired and don't have anything else to say. Talk to you all tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Aural Delights 63

This week the StarShipSofa is pleased to present Aural Delights No. 63. Blast off!

Aural Delights No 63 John Scalzi

Editorial: by Tony C Smith

Poem: Spot In Space by G.O. Clark

Flash: Jesus and the Cowboys by Jay Lake

Fact: Miles J Breuer by Amy H Sturgis

Main Fiction: After The Coup by John Scalzi

Narrators: John Scalzi, Jim Campanella, Julie Davis

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I've Been A Wiener

But what's new? It's been what? Like a couple of weeks since the Sofanauts Awards, and I haven't mentioned the winners, which I would have had I won. Sorry. Amy won in my category and I'm happy, because although I told people to vote for me, I voted for her. For the simple reason that I think her articles are better than mine. Here are all the winners:

Best Flash Fiction: Spider Robinson - "In The Olden Days"

Best Main Fiction: Ted Chiang - "The Merchant & the Alchemists Gate"

Best Poetry Contributor: Laurel Winter

Best Fact Article Contributor: Amy H Sturgis

Best Narrator: Spider Robinson

Pretty much anybody who was nominated could have won and I would have been happy with the results because the Sofa is just that good.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Unpacking My Adjectives For Blossom

Hi gang!

I finished Fiction Crawler 5 a couple of hours ago and shipped it off to Tony. I must now sit and hope that he doesn't run any stories that I mention before he runs my bit. Living a quieter life (a little less radio, a little less iPod) was the right thing to do. Already, ideas are bubbling up out of my head. It wreaks havoc with my scalp, but we must suffer for our art.

Blossom Dearie has passed away. My generation mostly knows her for her Schoolhouse Rock songs Figure Eight and Unpack Your Adjectives. I shall unpack a few adjectives for her right now. Distinctive. Delightful. Girlish. Playful. Warm.

She wished me love. She told me so:

Sunday, February 08, 2009

60 Minutes Sucks Tonight, Don't Watch

60 Minutes tonight has a story on Sullenberger, the Hudson River pilot guy and a story on Coldplay. What the hell is this, 60 Minutes? I could get this shit on Good Morning America. Go investigate some corruption, that's what you're there for. I can get pap like this on a hundred other shows.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Shopping Spree

Steve! Welcome, my friend. Nice to see you here. The love train continues.

The best thing about having a stomach virus is that when you're getting over it and someone says, "You're full of shit," you can stand with fists firmly on hips and announce, "Not anymore, I'm not!" Not that I'm getting over a stomach virus or anything. These are just the things I think about when I'm grocery shopping without my iPod. And have to go to the bathroom. Now I can't wait for my next stomach virus so I can try that line out.

I'm lightening up on the iPod a bit, as well as the radio and the internet. My TV consumption is much less than it used to be. I used to eat about seven television sets a week. I'm now down to less than one. And, now that flat screens are all the rage, my waistline is really showing it. But I'm pulling back from net surfing because I want more writing time and I'm shooting for less audio input so I can sit and think. I don't do a lot of that anymore with ears constantly full.

And speaking of the grocery store, while shopping earlier, I bought a 12 ounce package of provolone. The package proudly proclaimed "50% MORE." Below that, in little print, it read, "Than our 8 ounce package." I thought that was a hell of a deal and bought two.

Then there was the mustard (Turkey subs/grinders/hoagies/heroes/atomic tarantulas for supper). The Wal-Mart "Great Value" brand stated on the label that it was "Prepared mustard." The word "prepared" didn't jump out at me on any of the other labels, so I thought I'd better buy the Wal-Mart brand. I didn't want to squirt anything on my sandwich that wasn't ready to be there. What have the other mustards been doing there on the shelf all this time, anyway? You'd think they would have plenty of time to pull themselves together and implement a plan. Ian was afraid that if he squeezed a bottle of the unprepared stuff, mustard seeds would come out.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Strange Overtones

I need new music. I don't grab music very often, but I need to start again because I was ready to throttle my iPod today. I was tired of everything on it. I heard this on Tank Riot's 2008 Music Roundup last night. Strange Overtones by David Byrne and Brian Eno. I downloaded it today. The first song of many to come. If you have suggestions on good newish music, let me and everyone else know in the comments. Pardon the overstimulating video, but as in the Sons and Daughters post, hit play and just listen.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Watch This Post Spin Out Of Control

As we up and comers come up, we'll want to keep in mind Kristine Kathryn Rusch's very brief reminder about useless titles. Keep those things memorable folks!

And speaking of things and titles, today I listened to episode 15 of the excellent podcast, A Bite of Stars, A Slug of Time, and Thou which concerned Ursula K. Le Guin's story, Things, which is about as generic a title as one could hope for. The podcast's title, however, is magnificent. I don't know if I've mentioned it here before, but I've always wanted to do something with the title, A Loaf of Spam, A Jug of Flapple, and Thou, though I don't know if I ever will. Flapple is, of course, the term coined by the immortal Fred Sanford for flat Ripple.

In looking up the Wikipedia entry for Fred Sanford, so I could link it here, I noticed at the bottom that there is a Wikipedia category called Fictional junk dealers. Which leads me to wonder if there's one called, Are you fucking serious? In case you're wondering, there isn't. I just checked. The big W asked me, "Did you mean: are you flying serious?" Yes, that's what I meant. Are you flying serious?

Stupid Big W.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Sons And Daughters

Just a quick check in here. I want to get to bed earlyish. Up at 5 and then to work. Did a rewrite that I'm happy with today. We'll see how that goes. Here's Sons and Daughters by the Decemberists. I love the song. I love many of their songs, actually. The action in this particular vid is rather . . . static. But just hit play and go and do other things online while you listen to it.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Geekety Geekety Geekety

My following has grown by twenty percent in a single day! Welcome Lisa in Indiana! If you really are Lisa in Indiana, that is. Your picture looks suspiciously like Grant's. Coincidence? How many faceless grey-skinned people are there out there? Hmmmm . . .

It occurs to me that I have not yet posted an actual link to The Golem at Everyday Weirdness. Now I have. Hit the little link at the bottom of that page and it will bring you back here. It's a freaky loop that will blow your mind!

Scalzi tells us of a new edition of The Forever War
coming later this month. I'm pretty sure I have to read this again. I haven't read it since high school and I think there's more stuff in it than there used to be. I have to read that new stuff. The Forever War is one of my favorite books and I am not alone. If you haven't read it, do so now. Or on February 17th so you can get a copy that's not covered in greasy fingerprints. I'm just kidding. No one picks up science fiction books.

Saw this at the job last week:

The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet by Neil deGrasse Tyson. I like Neil deGrasse Tyson. I like seeing him on Nova Science Now (Though I am a big fan of Robert Krulwich, whom he replaced (Am I super-geeking?)). But I don't, I'm sorry to say, give a rat's ass about Pluto, or whether or not it's a planet. The truth is, I would probably still like the book. Though America may disagree, I'm unconvinced that Pluto is its favorite planet. I'm putting my money on Earth (both literally and figuratively) because that's where America keeps all its stuff. Like air.