Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Thinking over what to say when Mom says she wants to date again, Redux

"Date me? No? Then it sounds fine. It’s been years! And the woman next door was totally looking you over. If you go lesbian it’ll take care of any Daddy Issues I might have. I hear women are more sensitive than men anyway. Don’t have any empirical evidence of it, but it’s a rumor. You can date any woman you want, but leave the under-25’s for me. Men? Well, if he mows the lawn. And make sure he’s rich. And generous to his step-children."

Friday, May 24, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Anton and Anton

Anton sits on his knees before the grave of Anton. For a while, Emil and Yulia's son holds Anton's left hand and does his impression of prayer; at three years old, he no better understands prayer than he does who is buried beneath his soles.

"Amen," Emil and Yulia's son mutters, releasing Anton's hand to rub at his eyes. The drive here has made him drowsy, and Yulia stoops to pick him up. She bows a quarter of the way she normally would, dipping herself and her child toward the headstone.

Instead of 'Amen,' she says, "Thank you for saving my husband, Anton." She says nothing more, and ends her bow. She did not think much of Anton, the drunken shadow of her Emil. She is two paces behind Anton when he checks her, her gaze already on the car.

It is four years to the Saturday since Anton Behrs was blown up pulling Emil from a foundry. That is what everyone knows. They commemorate it on Saturdays because Emil Behrs has never in eleven years missed a day at the exchange, and Anton will not let Emil fail now. He misses absinthe.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

No E-Book of Joyland, and Shut Up About It

Too much is being made of Stephen King's Joyland going print-only. So his initial run will be paper-exclusive, intended to help bookstores and accentuate some nostalgia for the pulp presses that inspired his detective novel. He is now being misquoted as thinking e-books aren't real books and decried as a luddite.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Refugee Camp Regrets, Redux

"I don't regret why I'm in here. They can starve me, beat me. Call me a traitor. I'm not one. What I did was for the good. I was a General in name only, put in charge of the children and the lame. A sea of starving, helpless people, with less than a dozen armed guards, all of whom were routinely called away for more glorious service. I couldn't lead my charges to safety. The raiders would find us in any cave or stronghold I managed to reach. We were ransacked weekly. We lost our supplies and the youngest starved. When the raiders returned to find no more food, they took the near-pubescent girls as slaves. No number of missing or dead on a report changed the minds of those in command.

"I remember the fifth attack most clearly. The smoke from tents they burned out of malice. The lamentations of young and feeble. A crippled mother crawling after them escaping raiders, barking for them to return her daughter. I watched her legs drag in the sand behind her, like a split fishtail. It didn’t even flop around. Other men would have found it heartbreaking. I found it inspiring, and I am not sorry for the idea it gave me.

"I took arms. Only one per child. I took a couple of hands, but that wouldn’t be enough. I took no legs – every one of those children would grow up to walk. I even mailed them one of the limbs along with the reports and testimonials from children who could no longer write themselves. I packed it in salt. Six mutilated children and one arm were somehow harder to ignore than thirty dead parents.

"The next week we had a brigade defending our camp. The raiders were rebuffed by bronze shields and long lances. Able-bodied men did their duty by the meekest.

"Which of them gave me away? I don’t know. From the looks, I think it was some of the same children who had sworn by my testimonials. You can’t trust children, even parentless ones, to keep up your stories. I can understand the juvenile mind begrudging me my work. I don’t blame them. But I’m not sorry. Those one-armed children will live behind shielded camps because of me. If my story is spoiled and Command withdraws the brigade, then I’m still here, in a prison twenty days away from whatever carnage happens, with nothing but the story that they are safe. I have no regrets."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

After Three Years, John Finally Goes Book Shopping Again

In April, I finally did it. After three years of reading as hard as my Little Engine of a brain could, I knocked my To-Read list down to double digits. Despite constantly piling up with gifts and loans from friends, and copies seemingly materializing out of boxes, I defeated the tide. Friends know I was banned from deliberately purchasing any more books until I was out of the hundreds, a rule I followed as best I possibly could. Thanks to my victory, I got to freely wander around a book store and grab whatever I wanted for the first time in three years. My girlfriend was so proud she even gave me a giftcard to help.

It didn’t take long for me to empty that giftcard, because my Hoped-For list is enormous. Sales definitely helped me pick most of what I grabbed, while two driven by desperate desires to see what they were like. It’s the first batch of books I’ve bought in over two years. I figured I'd share the things I came home with (or that are shipping from Amazon).

C.S. Friedman’s Black Sun Rising
Her Coldfire Trilogy has been popular in my college-circle of friends for years. Two of those friends say its one of their favorite trilogies of all time, and recently I’ve seen Friedman come up in more discussions about the great dark fantasists. Given that grimdark isn’t my thing, I’m tempted to push at it and see what spills out.

Tom Holt’s The Portable Door
Another legacy purchase. I discovered Holt’s wonderful Blonde Bombshell (easily the best novel that could ever be written with such a title), and enjoyed its humorous take on SciFi so much that I leapt to try his Fantasy. I’m told it’s about bureaucracy handling and perhaps marketing the impossible, which is a pregnant premise. High anticipation for more good humorous Fantasy.

Jeff Smith’s RASL
This is the next big work from the author and artist of Bone, which is one of my favorite comics I’ve ever read. RASL is obviously very different, as skimming it revealed graphic violence, booze and partial nudity. While those things don’t typically attract me, Smith has more than earned my interest for experimenting in something radically different than the amazing adventures out of Boneville. He was on my list so hard after Bone that I actually read his Monster Society of Evil by accident at a friend’s house. Seriously – slipped, fell and read four hundred pages.

Monday, May 20, 2013

"This is a bathtub-in-the-kitchen apartment, right?” –Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

"This is a bathtub-in-the-kitchen apartment. The four of us share a fold-out bed, tucked underneath cheap sofa cushions, and when it's a sofa, at least one of us has to sit an arm-rest. I've gotten good at balancing up there. This is an oven-is-also-a-space-heater apartment, whether you want it or not, winter or summer. This is a the-only-window-is-our-air-conditioner apartment. We don't have wifi, we don't have cable, and our musical selection is whatever the guy upstairs plays too loud, a station that broadcasts all night. He loves Thrash Metal and we're trying to learn to appreciate it. We love it here. If you pity our bathtub in the kitchen apartment, then you must not know where we came from."

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Consumed Podcast 17: Star Trek Into Darkness

The Consumed Podcast rose from the dead this weekend for a double-feature. Max Cantor and I gathered in New York for the opening of Star Trek Into Darkness and spent over half an hour hashing Bad Robot's franchise. We start off questioning if this is really a reboot, which leads to the many ways the company has changed the franchise.

But the big stuff lies in the Spoiled section, where we get to discuss the mystery villain, villainy in Star Trek, and most interesting of all, Into Darkness as an action movie that attempts to condemn revenge and violence. It's a conversation I'd love to expand on. You can join us in the Comments and download the MP3 of the podcast right here.

The second half of our double-feature, discussing Iron Man 3, ought to be out in the next week. With good luck the podcast may get up and running routinely afterward. We're deeply looking forward to some episodes about Naoki Urasawa's Monster, which you can watch for free on Hulu.
Counter est. March 2, 2008