Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"American Stonehenge"...

My friend Grafton just sent me THIS ARTICLE from WorldNet Daily - it's an interesting write-up of a piece of... art? Counter-religion? Defiance? Conservationism? I have no idea.

Either way, it's pretty interesting - a set of granite slabs upon which are inscribed a set of 10 Commandments in several different languages. Called everything from "The Georgia Guidestones" (the official name carved on its base) to "the Satanic Commandments", the tablets advise people to:

  • Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
  • Guide reproduction wisely – improving fitness and diversity.
  • Unite humanity with a living new language.
  • Rule passion – faith – tradition – and all things with tempered reason.
  • Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
  • Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
  • Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
  • Balance personal rights with social duties.
  • Prize truth – beauty – love – seeking harmony with the infinite.
  • Be not a cancer on the Earth – leave room for nature – leave room for nature
Pretty radical. No wonder some God-fearin' Christian groups are trying to get it removed. Lord knows we can't have people advocating fair courts, respecting truth and getting rid of useless officialdom (I assume dogmatic churches are included in this one)..

More from the article:

According to a website devoted to the stones, an unnamed man walked into the offices of the Elberton Granite Finishing Company in June 1979, asking about the cost of building a large monument to conservation. He told the company's president he represented a group of Americans living outside of Georgia who wished to remain anonymous forever.

Looks like I need to take a little side-trip the next time I'm down in Georgia. More photos are behind the link at the top.

Fatty Fatty Fat Fat (UPDATE)

Back in October I posted THIS regarding my fears about my 16-year old daughter's body images.

Well, seems as if we've come full circle - now models and actresses are turning up for photo shoots looking too thin. Cue the latest PR photo enhancement craze: reverse airbrushing.


Nicky Eaton, head of PR at Condé Nast (which publishes Vogue, GQ, and Glamour) has confirmed that images of models are enhanced to make them appear fuller-figured:

"There have been cases where models are booked way ahead of a shoot and then they turn up two months later looking less healthy and perhaps a bit underweight. We wouldn't be happy showing them that way, so it is then that we would need that person to look a little bit fuller."

Hmmmmm... so you make women neurotic to the point of borderline starvation (all while selling them useless ad-filled glossy pieces of ephemera like Glamour let's not forget) and then, when your models show up in a perfect size -2 or a designer infant onesie or whatever, you're still not fucking satisfied? I'm sorry but I call douchbaggery.

You know... I used to poke fun at the concept of "destructive, negative body image" and all that navel-gazing BS (despite my own blind spot about my own weight - I know I'm a hypocrite sometimes), but this is just... well... Evil. Sorry ladies - color me abashed.

I say we hunt down the Nicky Eatons of the world, hold them down and force-feed them Twinkies and Ding Dongs until they explode, a la Se7en. That'll show 'em.

Personal appeal to the ladies: Keep your curves. Don't let this marketing bullshit brainwash you - this shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter what you do, you'll never be "perfect enough" for these people, and no matter how hard you try, someone, somewhere is trying to figure out a way to make you feel like a worthless piece of crap all in the name of selling you something you didn't need in the first place.

As a man who quite honestly prefers a woman with a few curves (as well as hollows, I'll admit), I'm here to tell you that there are plenty of men out there - good, lusty, strapping men - who like a woman that looks like a woman and not a 9-year old boy in a Feed The Children ad.

Rice Advisor:: "Iraq Invasion Was Fucking Stupid"

No... it's not the Onion. It's for real.

Priceless quote (this is from one of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's advisors, let's not forget):

More bluntly, Kilcullen, who helped Petraeus design his 2007 counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, called the decision to invade Iraq "stupid" -- in fact, he said "fucking stupid" -- and suggested that if policy-makers apply the manual's lessons, similar wars can be avoided in the future.

"The biggest stupid idea," Kilcullen said, "was to invade Iraq in the first place."

(Sigh)... Only, what... several TRILLION dollars too late. Brilliant.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Deep Time Photographs...

On a related note to the wartime photo post below, I ran across this interesting piece on one artist's attempt to create truly archival photographs, ones that can withstand the ravages of time - even "deep time", or spans measured not in years or even decades but in centuries or even millenia.

As is pointed out, photographs, particularly color photos, tend to have a shelf life not much beyond that of milk, and I worry about where all the wonderful images made since the advent of photography will be in 100 or 200 years. The link above gives one possible solution.

There's only one problem:

On the stage Burtynsky showed a large carbon transfer print of one of his ultra-high resolution photographs. The color and detail were perfect. Accelerated studies show that the print could hang in someone’s living room for 500 years and show no loss of quality. Kept in the Clock’s mountain in archival conditions it would remain unchanged for 10,000 years. He said that making one print takes five days of work, costs $2,000, and only ten artisans in the world have the skill, at locations in Toronto, Seattle, and Cornwall. Superb images can be made on porcelain (or Clock chamber walls), but Burtynsky prefers archival watercolor paper, because the ink bonds deep into the paper, and in the event of temperature changes, the ink and paper would expand and contract together.

Hmmmmmmm... sounds like the home version is still a ways off, huh? Dang.

War Photos...

Saw this GREAT ARTICLE over on the Huffington Post and had to link to it here.

Some out there might not know it about me, but before I wrote, I scratched the creative itch via illustration and photography, and I'm always on the lookout for things that push our understanding of our current human condition just a bit further.

The article describes the overwhelming crackdown of Iraq and Afghanistan war imagery being distributed to the outside world via the military's "embed" process. The term "censorship" is often bandied about in the article, and I'm not convinced that it's wrong to do so, even as I'm simultaneously understanding of, say, a dead service-man's or -woman's family's desire for privacy. It's a tough call, I understand, but I also know full well that censorship is never the answer.

Either way, it's a fascinating article, as are the ones the author links to in support of his thesis.


One of the sites linked in the article above is the blog site of Zoriah Miller, a photojournalist that dared go against the military by shooting, and publishing, honest pictures of the war, and who was expelled from that country because of it. He is the photojournalist who took not only the top image, but also the image at the bottom. Please be careful in viewing his site, which includes a graphic and honest story of the aftermath of a suicide bomb attack in Fallujah. As horrifying as some of the images were, it's the shot of the man below that makes the breath hitch in my chest and my eyes burn:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

OMG... porn no longer "recession proof"??

Who woulda thunk it?

Of course, we're talking about an industry for which:

...(t)he laws of supply and demand have been turned upside down. We're on par to put out 15,000 new releases this year, which is just insane.

15 THOUSAND? In a year? That's a whole lot of hide the salami, brothers and sisters. And, hey, I mean... have you seen porn? To call it "formulaic" is to, well... I doubt that most people that product porn could say "formulaic", let alone spell it. In response, we have:

"We constantly have to innovate," says Medrano. "We need to get out in front of consumer demand."

Well, imagine that.

Obama Does Berlin...

Holy crap...

(Video and a full transcript of today's speech are behind the link).

Just hearing lines like these make me excited to be volunteering for the campaign - when was the last time you heard anything like this come out of a President's mouth, let alone a candidate's??

So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.

That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations - and all nations - must summon that spirit anew.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, John McCain, not wanting to be left out of the German luv fest, visits a German restaurant here in my own home of Columbus Ohio for lunch...


Wait, wait, wait.. is that a joke? Obama gives a speech in Berlin, and McCain chokes down "Sauerkraut-Bratwurst Balls" at a "Sausage Haus"? Man, whoever running that campaign should be fucking fired. Like, immediately. I mean seriously... who's his campaign manager - the lead writer for the Tonight Show? Maybe he figures he'll just skip writing the jokes and actually live them first person?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Now I don't feel so bad...

Being a writer can be hard. I always feel like such an idiot when I typo or mis-spell something here. It's like, "I'm a professional, fer Chrissake, and I can't even spell 'exercise" right? What the hell's wrong with me, anyway??".

So... imagine how these guys must feel.

Thanks for making me feel better, staff of the 'Valley Newss'!

Pool Tables in Saudi

BigRedKitty is not, technically speaking, a site for non-geeks. In its pages, you can find things like movies of World of Warcraft raid teams taking out high-level end-game bosses, calculators for optimizing a Hunter's DPS (that's "Damage Per Second" to you, partner), and lots of other stuff that's guaranteed to make a true hard-core gamer (like me... sigh) squirm with delight. You have been warned - follow the link at the top of this post with care.

But wait... there's more!

The author is also an ex Air Force electronics warfare specialist, and occasionally he pens some of the funniest and most disarming anecdotes about military life that I've ever read, like this one about "accidentally" taking a pool table (sans balls) to Saudi Arabia.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bird by Bird (plus Tales About Racing)

So, I’m reading this fantastic book about writing called Bird By Bird, written by Anne Lamott. Amy gave it to me at the beginning of the weekend as a present, and I’ve been chomping at the bit to read it ever since I caught this wonderful little passage on, like, page two of her introduction:

“One of the gifts of a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches and tramps around.”

Too true.

So far (I’m about halfway through), I completely adore it. Not because she offers up some wonderful and more importantly practical advice on the everyday task of sitting down to record words (her analogy of the “1-inch picture frame” is completely true and wonderfully articulated), but also because, as with most books “about writing” that I love, she wraps up this advice in-between little scenes of her life and past experience, all of which help contextualize what she’s saying.

I’ve been given some great books about writing. Oddly, they tend to be gifts from important women. Sherrian has given me several over the years, and Kara, of course, gifted me with Stephen King’s wonderful works On Writing and Secret Windows, both of which have helped me immensely since beginning my last (thankfully successful) attempt to craft a manuscript. Now Amy and the Lamott book. Don’t know why that’s important, but it feels like it is.

The only complaint I have, if one could even call it so, is that the stories Lamott recounts are generally very full of rage and angst and dizzying joy. Writing, for her, seems to be a very roller-coaster affair, full-to-bursting with stratospheric highs and Stygian lows. I’m sure that this is the inevitable side-effect off distilling years upon years of writing experience into the pure, undiluted form of a book on writing (a process designed to cull out all the boring, everyday stuff), but still it makes me wonder what’s wrong with me sometimes because, well, it’s generally not that way for me at all.

Writing, for me, is often a very “workmanlike” task. I sit at my PC (most) every morning, and open my file. I read back 2-3 pages, so I can catch the flow of what I was saying, and then when I come to the big white space at the end, I begin to type. Generally, I get down two or three paragraphs, then delete out three-fourths of what I just wrote. Then I write another half a page, and delete most, but not all, of it. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Over time, the simple mathematics of what I’m doing accrues into three or four pages of story over the course of an hour-and-a-half or so. Then I have to shut down and go to work.

Repeat 4-5 times a week over 6-8 months, and you have the first draft of a 120K-word story. Editing, of course, is a completely different matter, one deserving its own posting.

Terrifically fascinating, huh?

I just made an illustration for Amy last week: a city-scape of her favorite place: Dubrovnik in Croatia, drawn from a panoramic photo taken from the city walls. It was the perfect subject for me: detail-laden and sweeping, filled with teensy, fiddly-bit details that I love rendering. Drawing it was like writing, in that I had all this white space to fill up, and in order to do so, my primary ally was my dogged determination to just get everything down that I saw. To make sure that every tile roof, every church dome and roof-line dormer window, was put down on the paper.

When I showed the drawing to her, her face lit up, as if I’d done something far more amazing than I really had. I felt, truth be told, like a bit like a fraud. All I did, after all, was document what I saw in front of me. How hard could that be? True, I was thinking of her as I laid down every line, and that’s likely what she was responding to just as much as the final illustration itself, but still...

Writing is the same. I see things so clearly in my head sometimes, that writing them down feels more like note taking than creation. Sometimes I wish that my brain would stop endlessly churning on things 24/7/365, even as I realize that if that were to happen that I’d lose something integral and fundamental about myself, something that only a few select people generally can see (and who I hope admire about me).

As such, I suppose saying what I did above could be considered to be conceit, but it’s really not. Such is the contradiction of the creative person’s mind: eternally driven to document and create but equally harried by a million little doubts about the integrity of one’s work.

How do you deal with this crucial, character-defining issue? As one writer/artist to another, I really, really want to know…

WRITING UPDATE: Finished the first draft of “Dragonrider” this morning. It’s a modern myth about an Iraq vet that runs afoul of Hastseltsi, the Navajo god of racing one night out on Rt. 129, the deadly Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina. I’ve been going down there for the last few years to participate in the MINIs on the Dragon event. In October, you may recall that I totaled my beloved orange MINI Cooper S on the road, and ever since that day, the desire to write about the road has been top of mind.

Writing about Manny, my Iraq vet, was very stressful, and ended up incorporating some of the recent testimony from PTSD-afflicted anti-war vets to congress. Careful readers have picked up on some very subtle commentary about this issue that I put into the manuscript of Nights of Sin (good catch, Jerry), but "Dragonrider" is and will be my only overt piece related to our involvement overseas. As such, I’m equal parts happy and relieved that the tale’s finally out of my head and out in the world, where it belongs.

Now the editing begins. (( Happy dance )).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Words of wisdom...

God, I love Engrish.com...

WARNING: do not read this site at work. Every time I do, I end up laughing like a over-caffeinated hyena with borderline personality disorder, until someone invariably "prairie-dogs" over my cube wall to see if I'm having a seizure. Or something. You have been warned...

The Most Beautiful Suicide

Equal parts lovely and chilling...

Writing fodder

I had to take my 6-year old son, Grayson, to the doctor’s this morning.

A few weeks back, he fell off a teeter-totter and broke his collar bone. I, being the perennial "father of the year" candidate that I am, didn’t take him to the ER right away – I figured it was a typical bruise. He wasn’t really complaining about the injury, and it wasn’t until almost a week later, while playing catch with him, that I saw it was still bothering him. Good one, Matt...

The next day, in the Urgent Care, I endured the “what the hell is wrong with you anyway, waiting so long?” glances of the nursing staff as I tried to explain why I hadn’t brought him in right away. Ah, guilt… They sent me off with some x-rays on a CD and something called a “Figure-8 Splint” that promised to hold his shoulders in the proper healing position.

His regular doc wanted to see him after two weeks, to be sure that everything was healing properly (everything's fine, thanks for wondering), hence my early-morning foray to her office. When they finally called Grayson and me back, I noticed an array of laptops sitting on little black stands reminiscent of wheeled conductor’s podiums, standing in a cluster beside the usual weigh-in station. “We’re doing all our charting on PCs now, so I hope you’ll be patient with us,” the nurse explained.

I shrugged. Whatever tech helps you keep track of stuff, right? Thing is, while sitting in the exam room, watching this older lady hunt and peck her way through entering Grayson’s information, it struck me that nobody had even so much as glanced at him since we’d arrived. All of her attention was on finding the right entry on the drop-down list for “Follow Up – Injury – Clavicle – Right Side” and “Patient’s Height/Weight/Temperature At Time Of Visit” or whatever.

As the minutes dragged by (a second nurse had now appeared, in an attempt to decipher the new system), I began to get angry. Grayson’s doctor is a wonderful woman, even-tempered and pragmatic, and her staff is generally warm and caring – totally unlike this collection of confused, harried tech slaves. As she laboriously entered the data her computerized taskmaster demanded, the nurse’s fingernails ticked against the keys with the same sound as a poodle on linoleum, a sound I’ve always found oddly disturbing.

By the time the doctor herself came in, accompanied by her own wheeled Dalek-like cart-and-PC, I was almost ready to complain. Luckily (cue heroic music), that's when writing came to my rescue!

In that moment, it struck me that this was one of “those moments” – one of the myriad little snippets of life that I love so dearly. I go through each and every day this way: observing little moments like this and telling myself “I must remember this and use it in a book someplace”. Most are forgotten, but a few, like my feeling of frustration as not one but two care-givers ignored my son in favor of appeasing their laptop PC, stick around for a while. Some even make it into a manuscript someplace. Maybe it was crafting the “fingernails like poodle’s claws on linoleum” simile in my head… Maybe it was the fact that I knew that I still had this vague guilt hanging over me, the residue of the fact that I'd not brought Grayson to the urgent care for almost a week when he had a broken bone for Christ's sake, and I knew full well that some portion of my irritation was simply misdirected anger at myself... Whatever it was, I had the image now, and it wouldn’t go away.

My dear friend Amy refers to these moments, large and small, as “writing fodder”, and I couldn’t agree more. They’re important, even when they aren’t weighty in and of themselves, just as each small chip of colored glass or stone in a mosaic isn’t terribly interesting. It‘s only when taken all together, as one (hopefully) coherent image, that the greater pattern emerges.

I think that this is equally true of writing and of life – as if there were ever any division between the two in the first place.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Watchmen movie trailer = SHIZNIT

I don't usually post up stuff that's easy to get to otherwise, but this was just too effing cool to sit on:


(Thank you, Sarah, for sending me the link - you rock.)

Based on the timbre and tone of the trailer, I'm already taking back at least 85% of the concerns I had about adapting this particular graphic novel to movie form. I'm predicting more and more that the Watchmen movie will either be the best superhero movie ever made, one that sets the high bar for all future films, or it will be a colossal flop and prove to be the largest disappointment of my adult movie-going life, topping even the infamous Highlander 2 debacle of 1991.

((( Crosses fingers )))

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Reminder: cover prints still available

Just a reminder:

The cover art for both Blood Magic and Nights of Sin is available as high-quality prints from Tim Lantz's site, Stygian Darkness. You can order the prints in a variety of sizes here:

Blood Magic Cover Art

Nights of Sin Cover Art

If you end up ordering one and hang it in your apartment, house or office, be sure to send me a picture!

Ear wax... candles?

I'm sorry, but... WTF?

Here's a quote from the web site:

It was long believed that ear candling actually "drew out" earwax through suction, or a vacuuming effect. However, we now know that very little if any of the residue left in the unburned portion of the candle is actually ear wax. Most of it is created by the burning of the candle itself. It is just not possible for an ear candle to be powerful enough to suck out ear wax. Candling can however, soften and loosen impacted wax allowing the wax to find its way out of the ear canal naturally.

You know what else softens ear wax and allows it to "find its way out"? Hot showers.

Given the aroma I've experienced rolling off some of the "dirty hemp people" I've met, perhaps they should try a little soap and hot water first. It's much cheaper, and doesn't leave you smelling like a wet llama in a smokehouse... with a burning candle sticking out of your ear, let's not forget.

1000 Calories

I hit a milestone today.

As part of my ongoing campaign to keep my feet from falling off, I go to a gym 4-5 times a week. As anyone that’s kept to an exercise routine for any length of time will tell you, boredom is generally your worst enemy, and the endless lifting of weights and counting to 10 over and over and over can really get stale. Staleness leads to excuses not to go and, well… you get the drift.

So, I now take the organized classes offered by my gym. They keep me motivated. I don’t really care that I’m generally one of the only men in a roomful of women during these times. Let the mouth-breathing jocks stare - by my calculations: 1 man (in a room of) 50 hot suburban moms (divided by) an hour’s worth of hip-gyrating salsa music (equals) one damn good time.

I guess math isn’t their forte.

I also wear a heart rate monitor while I work out, in order to gauge my current level of sloth or virtue at any given time. When I am virtuous, I can burn through 700 or even 800 calories. When slothful… less. A goal I’ve had for months now is to burn at least 1000 calories in a single hour, and tonight, I did just that.

My favorite class at my gym is something called “Latin Fusion”, taught by a wicked little sprite of a woman named Jeanie. She’s no more than 5’4”, maybe a buck-oh-five dripping wet, with wide, smoky eyes over a bow mouth and a head of curly dark hair.

The legends surrounding Jeanie are legion, but my favorite is the one about Jeanie being an ER doc that put herself through college and med school on a dance scholarship. I can believe it: I’ve witnessed Jeanie on more than one occasion seemingly disconnect her hips from the fundament of her spine, in order to move them independently from the rest of her equally gyrating body. To say this is enticing is an understatement. It’s also distracting to we mere mortals, as well as intimidating as hell. I often felt like quitting, but something kept me going back.

Tonight, on my triumphant 1000-calorie night, Jeanie gave me a treat: she played my favorite song, the Black Eyed Peas cover of Sergio Mendez’s Mas Que Nada, which is also, co-incidentally the only dance in her routine that I’ve mastered. This being the case, I generally join Jeanie on her little instructor’s platform to lead the number, an exercise that always leaves me gasping for breath and streaming sweat. Tonight was no different, and I like to think that I accounted for myself well. As my friend Susan often says: "the man who can dance gets the girl". I don't know about that, but it sure feels good.

So... thank you Jeanie for kicking my ass all those months in your class. You really did make a difference. My feet (and the rest of me) appreciate it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On exercize...

I've always considered myself to be a fat guy.

In school, I was... well, I guess the charitable word would be "big boned", but really I was simply too lazy to really work up a sweat exercising. I wasn't a water buffalo, and I never had "man boobs" (thank God for small favors), but I was never comfortable, say, walking around shirtless at the beach. Hell, I'm still not.

This only got worse when I got married and started eating regularly, leading to me being more than 70 pounds overweight by the time I was in my mid-20s. When I was 27 or 28, I began to get sick when I ate anything more substantial than a cheese sandwich (no mayo), and I ended up losing 65 pounds over several months without even trying. Like an idiot, I was excited by the this, not scared shitless like I should have been.

I was donating plasma three times a week back then (no joke) to make a bit of extra income. Every year, I had to take a basic physical - no biggie, just a quick urine sample and a brief exam by a sleepy med student. 10 minutes after they took away my urine sample, I was called into the office in back.

"You can no longer donate," I was told by the haggard med student. "There's a problem with your blood."

"Problem?" I asked, slurping on my second Big Gulp of the day. I was always terribly thirsty, back then. If I was worried, it was about the $25 donation fee I wouldn't be getting, not about my health. I mean, I wasn't even 30 yet - what could possibly be so bad, right?

"Yeah. Your blood sugar's off the charts and you're dropping toxins into your piss," he said in a bored tone, as of he delivered news like this a hundred times a day. A test strip was produced and waved in front of me. The little pad at the bottom was black, as if dipped in tar. "Go see your doctor."

I learned the next day that I had diabetes, the disease that had already killed one of my grandfathers and had sickened the other (he later dies of complications). In the doctor's office, my sugar read well over 300, which is enough to send most grown men to the emergency room, followed by a few days in the ICU, hooked to heart monitors and insulin drips. God only knows how long it had been that high - months certainly. Needless to say, I was terribly depressed in the months that followed - in my mind, I'd just been handed down a death sentence.

A few months later, I met a man who was lean, trim and muscular. I learned that he, too, had the disease. But rather than looking as of he were living under a guillotine, he was hale and smiling, obviously "high on life".

"Diabetes was the best thing that ever happened to me," he said with a grin. "I lost a ton of weight, and the fear of losing my feet or, worse, my boners, keeps me off my ass and exercising. Now I'm in better shape than I could have dreamed of when I was 25!"

I admit that, at the time, I thought he was nuts, but as the weeks went by, I found myself thinking of him, and eventually decided to stop moping and start sweating. My first foray into regular exercise was a pawn-shop bicycle purchased for $20, which I rode all over Columbus's west side.

Now that I have the benefit of more than a decade of experience with the disease, I can tell you unequivocally that it was good piece of advice, probably the best thing anyone ever told me. It's advice that I still follow, and while I do have to take oral medication daily, my frequent trips to the gym do keep me fairly lean and mean. I still have my feet (and, ahem, everything else).

I point this out because I'm always interested in new exercise trends, most recently the Wii Fit phenomonon. I ran acros this wonderful little article, written by Todd Levin, in which he eschews the de jour phenom for a more tried-and-true method: the Atlas Plan. Hilarity ensues. My favorite quote:

In every lesson, I found something I'd heard echoed by contemporary fitness experts. Atlas' instructions to avoid acidic, spicy foods like pickles, ketchup, vinegar and mustard are remarkably similar to one of the main principles in "Dr. Joshi's Holistic Detox," a recent best-selling diet book heartily endorsed by actress Gwyneth Paltrow. Although I'm not sure if Dr. Joshi, like Atlas, also recommends dousing one's genitals with icy water each morning until you experience a "pleasant warm glow in that region."

Of course, for each good idea contained within the Atlas course, there is an almost equal measure of bat-shit crazy. Sometimes I found his methodologies questionable, such as his advice for avoiding muscular stiffness: "feed the tissues by rubbing them gently with pure olive oil." (The course also suggests reserving some extra olive oil to rub into your scalp, which must have produced a smoky rotisserie-chicken aroma at the beach.) He also suggests a few too many bracingly cold morning baths. Combined with Atlas' insistence on leaving windows open year-round to let in fresh air, I wonder if he should have added an appendix to his course, titled "Coping With Pneumonia."


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Batman on steroids?

Here's an interesting article over on Scientific American's web site regarding what kind of man the Batman would be IF HE WERE REAL. Yeah, yeah... I'm a comic book geek. News flash!

Anyway - the bottom line is: it's possible! You know... assuming you're a billionaire. And have 12+ years of training. And only want to keep the job for 2-3 years. Interesting stuff...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Awesome video - Dancing.

Maybe it's because I'm in a particularly good mood or something this morning, but I found THIS VIDEO on the web absolutely charming. It's corny to say, but expressions of simple joy like this give me hope that maybe, just maybe, the world isn't as fucked-up as I often think it is...

Plus, the cosplay people in Tokyo are, in a word, hilarious.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

McDonald's intentionally pisses off religious nut jobs?

Saw THIS little gem over on the Huffington Post. Love the HP (although this great piece comes from Chris Kelly). The quotes are really a "must read" - I genuinely wonder if any of these people decrying the "homos" have even read the effing bible.

Money quote:

I just had a thought -- honest to God, I swear this wasn't where I was heading with this thing; I was just going to make a lot of snotty remarks about reductio ad absurdum and the McFaddin Family's feet -- but it occurs to me that McDonald's has done something brilliant:

They've deliberately offended a demographic they don't want.

For just $20,000, they've chased off all the crazy people who hang McDonald's sputtering and ranting and making me not want to eat there.

It's genius.

Now, if they'd just bring back the McRib.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Book Update: Things are looking up!

Just heard from Paula at Juno... they're asking me to update my bio so that means the release date for Nights of Sin is imminent! Amazon has a release date of Sept. 3, which jibes with what I've heard, although they still don't have a cover illustration posted, which is disturbing. Last time, they had one several months in advance...

Now for a favor: I'm hearing from Paula that Juno will likely *not* do a large second printing of Book 1 (Blood Magic), "unless large chain store orders warrant it". That means that it's likely that places like Barnes and Nobles will *not* have large numbers of Blood Magic to display next to Nights of Sin. I worry because I'm the kind of guy that if he sees a Book 2 of a series that looks good, but Book 1 isn't sitting right there, I'll generally pass on purchasing it.

I hear you ask: "how can I help"? Thrilled you asked. By going to your local bookseller and asking them why they don't have a copy on the shelves! I'm not goig to ask anyone to purchase a second (or third, or fourth) copy of Book 1, even though they do, y'know, make excellent gifts, but maybe just asking might inspire them to order a few more copies.

Last, things are most definitely looking up for me personally. For those that don't know (read as: you haven't been reading this site over the past few months), I've had a bit of personal turmoil lately, but all that seems to be clearing up. But don't worry - I don't begrudge the bad times. They're like stormy nights in the summer here in Ohio: tumultuous and scary and dramatic, what with all the midnight tornado sirens wailing like banshees in the night, but soon enough those squalls blow past, revealing a freshly-scrubbed, rain-drenched landscape ripe for new, growing things.

(This concludes the metaphor/simile portion of today's blog post - thank you for flying with us.)

If you're one of the people that have been helping me out, both personally and professionally (and you know who you are) then I say "thank you" a thousand, thousand times. I'll always appreciate the things you've done for me, and I can't wait to repay the favor - I know you're going through your own crap. Keep your chins up, the smiles on your faces and never let the petty asswipes get you down. You will triumph.