things I did this weekend


Because absolutely nobody cares, including me (not caring that nobody cares):

Saw my friend Steve’s rockin’ band Cha Cha’s Cadillac absolutely tear up an Irish pub. Early in the first set, the manager told them they need to play much quieter. They turned everything *way* up. \m/

Partook of what was likely the world’s blandest Mexican food :-(

Watched my kid’s Irish dance company bring a little bit of culture and international flavor to a quaint, conservative small town festival.

Washed a metric assload* of laundry.

Re-strung my Fender Telecaster because I’ll be needing it this weekend for some Down Home Dharma.

Took some time to clear out both my email inbox and the hard drive on my Playstation 3 (and only accidentally deleted my progress on one game I had hours and hours invested in).

Finished reading the first post-Expanded Universe Star Wars novel, A New Dawn. I wish I could say I was more impressed. It was Star Wars, I guess, and had some neat ideas, but it was honestly kind of a slog by the end; finished more out of obligation and misplaced optimism than enjoyment.

…and so on.

This week’s looking like a lot of proposal reviews at the office with a few musical interludes interspersed throughout, and maybe the spaying of a cat.


*- yes this is a technical term.


by the hoary hosts of hoggoth! cast this thing already


Warning: comic book deep-geekery™ ahead

There’s been lots of Marvel movie news floating around the internet the last couple of weeks, the biggest news being the apparent set up of the Civil War arc in Cap 3 with prominent appearances by Robert Downey Jr. leading into giant special event pictures down the road. See also at that link DC jumping into the whole shared universe thing with both feet. Of course, I think this whole business is fascinating (although the print Civil War could have been a whole lot better, and isn’t an easy copy/paste into the movie universe they’ve set up), and I’ll keep watching as things continue to roll out. It’s an exciting time to be a comic book fan.

Lost under the fanfare of that stuff, though, is the rampant speculation about Doctor Strange, who is supposed to be a huge fixture in Marvel films’ Phase 3 plans. The film has a director (horror guy Scott Derrickson), a writer (genre stalwart Jon Spaihts, who wrote the first, way better than the final product, draft of Prometheus), and is set to go before the cameras early next year for a 2016 release. There’s one thing they don’t have: a star.

They are not, however, short of rumors. Every day, it seems some new 30-40something actor has his name thrown into the mix, whether they’re a good fit or not. Joaquin Phoenix, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy all had their turn. Last week it was Keanu Reeves. This week has already gone through Ewan MacGregor and Ryan Gosling, and it’s only Thursday. Yesterday, Variety, the bible of the entertainment industry, posted a “short list” of actors supposedly being considered by Marvel for the part, including old favorites such as MacGregor, Ethan Hawke and Jared Leto, and seeming longshots like Matthew McConaughey.

Not surprisingly, Marvel themselves have been almost completely silent on this – they run a very tight ship. I fully expect that Kevin Feige’s office has an armed security detail on it round-the-clock – which leads me to believe that all of this is mostly speculation. Marvel, might, however, be encouraging this to build buzz, but I wonder if it’s all gone on too long now? Do the fans, the ones who hang on every bit of movie gossip and show up opening day for these things, already have some of the symptoms of Strange fatigue?

I don’t know, but I’m kind of getting there. I make no secret that while I enjoy almost all the Marvel stuff, most of my favorites are what many people would consider third or fourth stringers. For example, I’m inordinately excited and amazed that I live in a time where, as I type this, they’re lensing a movie based on Ant-Man for a blockbuster release. My favorite comic being published right now is probably G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel, which currently features the Inhumans’ giant teleporting bulldog-thing, Lockjaw. I have a terrible fondness for Steve Gerber’s and Bill Mantlo’s work on oddball team The Defenders and Dan Slott’s run on She-Hulk; not exactly top-shelf marquee material for most people.

Doctor Strange fits right in there. He’s not your typical hero – he’s a former surgeon turned Sorceror Supreme, who lives a bohemian lifestyle in a gothic brownstone in Greenwich Village, mostly staying out of Avengers-style slugfests in favor of psychadelic-tinged magickal battles with existential threats to the universe on far-off planes and in the battlefield of the mind. For my money, he’s Steve Ditko’s greatest creation (and I’m a total Spider-Man loyalist), and I’m really looking forward to the film. It should be cool and visually interesting, and distinctly different than existing comic book properties, which can only be a good thing; comics, even superhero comics, are a medium of great variety, and Strange is a great chance to demonstrate that to the masses.

However, I am tired of the speculation. I want this thing to get rolling. I don’t need spoilers, I just want this thing to have a cast in place so it doesn’t fall apart; so it becomes a real thing. I want to get excited about something concrete, to either immediately appreciate the eventual casting choice, or to have time to make my peace with the choice and come around if I don’t. Unfounded speculation is fun, but only to a point; after a while, it becomes just noise, and enthusiasm wanes. One can be teased too much. I’m getting there.

I’m well aware that I’m owed nothing from the folks making this. There’s plenty of other interesting stuff competing for my attention (including stuff I’m playing a part in making myself) outside of the stuff that keeps food on my table, which is busy enough right now (I trained over 700 people yesterday on a software tool I’ve been managing development for for the last year!). But, as people are fond of saying, Superheroes are our modern myths, and I’m a fan of those myths – I get excited about back-channel geek industry news the same way sports fans get engaged with stuff coming out of their favorite sportsball team’s business offices, and I have no shame about that, nor should I.

I’m just shouting out my opinion on the internet because I can, you know?


my friends can write


So, it’s only Tuesday morning (and given that Monday doesn’t count this week because of a bank holiday celebrating European Imperialism), but I’m pretty sure the following literary image is going to be the best thing I’ll read this week:

…went down like a sack of potatoes. Cheap, hungover potatoes. The sort they’d throw out rather than make vodka from.

This particularly evocative bit of wordsmithing is courtesy of Lynn Townsend.




I told you I was going to link to this one again today. It’s the perfect autumn book; all the right sorts of creepy across fourteen stories of horror and dark fantasy. Here’s Antimatter’s promo site, filled with all kinds of amazing reviews. I’ve read it. It’s brilliant.

Now, click on this link to buy it. Trust me.


virginia is finally for *all* lovers


So, as I write this, marriage equality has been the law of the land in Virginia for approximately seven minutes.

So yeah, good news. Not only good for Virginia, but as the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals on the marriage equality cases in the Fourth and Seventh Curuit courts, the legal impediments have fallen, or will likely soon fall in, if I’m counting right, 30 of the 50 US States.

As indicated above, starting at 1pm today, VA officials will be able to perform marriages, and the state will recognize marriages performed in other states. That means that several dear friends of mine now have (but didn’t before lunch) the same recognition for their partnership as I do. That’s amazing news.

I’ll probably have more thoughts on this later. Right now, though, it feels like a victory for what’s right. Virginia, home of Loving v. Virginia, is a particularly symbolic state for equality under the law for same sex couples to finally be the law of the land. Kudos to the work of all the active proponents in the state, particularly Equality Virginia and People of Faith for Equality in Virginia for all the work they did to get Virginia here.

Given the history, it seems right to me to close with some words from Mildred Loving on the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia:

I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry… I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.


i get knocked down, but I get up again


T’was quiet for a week or thereabouts in these parts. I’ve been busy with work and life, is all. Plus, I got sick there for a couple of days. Wasn’t fun.

Only a couple of things to report, but they might be of interest to some folks. Probably not.

First of all, another announcement from Antimatter: Our second official release, Mike Allen’s Unseaming, is out tomorrow. You can purchase it at the link back there. Five dollars and ninety-nine cents for a collection of fourteen really creepy short stories for your Hallowe’en reading pleasure, . The lead-off story, “The Button Bin” is an amazing piece of work, and a 2008 Nebula Award nominee. I’ll throw another link up tomorrow to remind you again. This one’s very, very good.

After flirting with the idea for several years now, I bought a kilt. A pretty nice “modern” kilt from UT Kilts. I have several sorts of occasions where it’s wear would be appropriate (Celtic Festivals, RenFaires, Irish Dance competitions, Geek Conventions) throughout the year, and it seemed like it would be a fun thing to have. I’ve already had several congratulatory comments from kilted friends who wish to gather for kilted photos, and it only took a few minutes after this acquisition was made public for me to be the recipient of the “what does one wear under there?” question. For the record, my answer is as follows:

I have been advised by men much wiser than myself that one must never answer that question directly; it destroys the mystery of this revered garment. Also, it’s none of your business.

Also this week, I got a new mobile phone. It was time for an upgrade. For once, I’m actually on the forefront of technology; the spouse and I got shiny new Samsung Galaxy s5s. It’s nice. Does what I need it to do. The battery life good. It’s a phone. I don’t get too excited about them, but a lot of people do (like the couple of co-workers who couldn’t stop fondling their new iphones in the last couple of weeks), so I thought someone might be interested.

Saturday, some friends and I took the new fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons for a spin. I’ve played most of the various versions of this over the past years, though really bought back in with 4th edition, which was a bit different than previous; it was a good game, though I understand why many folks said it didn’t “feel” like D&D. I did one of the open playtests for this edition a while back, and had a good experience, though after playing though the opening dungeon crawl included in the starter set box that came out over the summer, I can say that this one feels a lot like “old school” D&D, though with some updated and streamlined mechanics of the later editions that really worked – it’s a very good synthesis of the old and new. Combat moves swiftly, everybody had something to contribute at first level, and the rules get out of the way and let you try some weird, off-the-wall stuff to add to the fun factor. It worked, and I’m looking forward to playing again.

Otherwise, life continues to happen. There’s stuff, but nothing to talk about at this point. Maybe later. We’ll see.

In any case, have a nice week, folks. Maybe read something. I’ve given you a couple of suggestions already. ;-)


bad wizard – a major announcement


“I think you are a very bad man,” said Dorothy.
“Oh, no, my dear; I’m really a very good man; but I’m a very bad Wizard, I must admit.”

With that quote lifted from L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz begins James Maxey’s new novel Bad Wizard, available tomorrow, October 1, from Antimatter Press. Here’s the official marketing blurb:

In 1892, Oscar Zoroaster Diggs turned up in Topeka with a suitcase full of high quality emeralds. Instantly the richest man in Kansas, his winning smile and keen mind launched him into a meteoric political career. As Secretary of War under Teddy Roosevelt, Diggs oversees the construction of the ultimate tool for spreading democracy, a fleet of rigid airships. Dorothy Gale, a reporter for the Kansas Ear, is the one person who knows the truth about Diggs. She met him ten years prior in the Emerald City, where he ruled as the Wizard. But how can she explain to her editor that Diggs intends to use his aerial navy to invade an island in the clouds ruled by witches? Stopping Diggs is going to take more than the power of the press. She’ll need the help of old friends, and maybe a Winged Monkey, as she pursues the Wizard across the wondrous and deadly Land of Oz.

Oz and Steampunk. Two great tastes that taste great together. I believe everyone should go and buy this one immediately, not just because it’s a great book (which it most certainly is), or because it’ll hook you on James’ other work (Nobody Gets the Girl is awesome) but because it’s the first big publication from Antimatter Press, a venture that I have the privilege to be a part of, and we’re all very proud of it.

Antimatter, as I may have mentioned previously, is a small e-press started by my friends Elizabeth and Jonah to publish just these kinds of stories (i.e. “the stuff we ourselves like to read”); Fantasy, Science Fiction, Magic, Steampunk…you know, cool, enjoyable, and thought-provoking otherworldy adventure. Bad Wizard is our first major release, though we have a few other projects coming up, including Mike Allen’s short story collection Unseaming later this month.

I’ve personally been on the Antimatter train for a couple of months now, doing some project management/editing on some neat serial fiction projects that will hopefully see publication next year, and teaching myself, slowly but surely, how to build ebooks for reading on your favorite e-reader devices. I didn’t have much to do with Bad Wizard personally, though it was a pleasure (and a learning experience) to watch it develop as a part of the organization.

Again, I think you should all go buy copies for yourselves and all your friends: The story is engaging and entertaining, and the ebook itself is gorgeous, and includes several illustrations by artist Jeremy Cavin which really add to the reading experience (see that cover above? that’s one of many). I know you’re going to like it.


they say that man Strike is a bad mutha…shut yo mouth!


While I was in Atlanta last week, my library hold on Robert Galbraith’s The Silkworm came in. I picked it up on Friday, and, being a good library citizen, I shoved the book I was reading (D.B. Jackson’s Theiftaker – really good, btw) temporarily aside, and started reading this one immediately so I can put it in the hands of the next person in line in short order.

I’m not done with it yet, but I’m enjoying it as much, if not more, than I did Cuckoo’s Calling (which I quite liked a year ago). The Characters are wonderfully quirky and lived-in; particularly the protagonist, eccentric private detective Cormoran Strike, war hero who came back from Aghanistan one leg short, bastard son of a philandering 70s rock god, a mountain of a man (as is fitting), deceptively smart, and with the most bad-ass name in modern fiction.

This got me thinking a bit. I’ve got more than one foot in the world of wizard rock, and given the obvious connections, I’m of the mind that somebody needs to write a Cormoran Strike song, and maybe, just maybe, that someone is me.

Trouble is, I’m kind of stuck for ideas, or at least the connective tissue to string the handful of little embryonic thoughts into an idea. To be fair, I’ve only been at this about half an hour, and it might come. So far, the best I’ve got is the title to this post, but I’m not sure Isaac Hayes funk is the way to go.

The only other stuff that’s bubbled up are the disconnected lines “Straight Outta Cornwall, Supporter of Arsenal” and “One foot’s more than enough to kick your ass”. So, it seems my mind is today mired in tongue-in-cheek pastiches of 90s west coast hip-hop.

Maybe I’ll just link this to the social networks later and see what the hive mind can come up with. It’s worked before.


new addition


This sign wasn’t in this particular parking lot the last time I was on this side of town….

I am a positive force for social change, or at least influential in sowing paranoia.


friday random ten eleven – “a long forty hours” edition


Along with being International Talk Like A Pirate Day, it’s Friday, which means, if I get around to it, a list of tunes pulled at random from my hard drive.

Twas a long week at work. New software releases, lots of repetitive questions, briefings to a nationwide audience, dropping everything to respond to Senatorial queries…you know, the usual, turned up to eleven.

But, I’m done with it now. Today I get to hang out at home with my lovely wife, run some errands, and head out to my friend(author Lynn Townsend)‘s book signing in the city this afternoon at Fountain Bookstore.

But, there’s the matter of the tunes, with an extra one because I can’t count. Here you go:

  1. “Anti-Matter” – The Aquabats
  2. “Side Part” – that dog.
  3. “The Dark Before Dawn” – Witherwings
  4. “Linger” – The Cranberries
  5. “Who Will Save Your Soul” – Jewel
  6. “Anodyne” – Son Volt
  7. “Stupid Girls” – P!nk
  8. “Daphne” – Django Reinhardt
  9. “Finest Worksong (Other Mix)” – R.E.M.
  10. “The Nearness of You” – Norah Jones
  11. “Black Diamond” – The Replacements

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