Monthly Archives: December 2011

Annual “Click All My Amazon Affiliate Links” Post, 2011 Version

2011 was a mostly-arbitrary division of time just like any other, but things happened within that duration in my life that are worth noting. My son got borned in August and I got canned from Noisecreep in the Great AOL/HuffPurge. On the literary side I released Bored in the Breakroom as a free e-book (rave reviews on amazon!) and the short story A Native’s Story real-book.

And in the interest of being an amazon.com affiliate, here are some links to favorite books I read during the year and albums that were released. I won’t deceive you like other bloggers and their multi-post hoo-haa year end link projectile vomiting: this is purely for amazon click-throughs, and because I need a quick break from Retardo Montalbán.

Behold…then pour cheap midnight wine into your bloodstream in celebration of a mechanical ball succumbing to gravity.

The Complete Collection – H.P. Lovecraft
Halo: First Strike – Eric Nylund
All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales – Ray Bradbury
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Lynn Varley
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation – Ray Bradbury, Tim Hamilton
2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke
2010: Odyssey Two – Arthur C. Clarke
The Man Who Was Thursday – G.K. Chesterton
Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories – Franz Kafka

10. Animals as Leaders – Weightless
09. Death – The Sound of Perseverance reissue
08. Deadlock – Bizarro World
07. Demon Hunter – Death: A Destination
06. Death – Individual Thought Patterns reissue
05. iwrestledabearonce – Ruining It For Everybody
04. Death – Human reissue
03. Born of Osiris – The Discovery
02. Life On Repeat – Struggle & Sleep
01. Life In Your Way – Kingdoms (download for free)

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I Used To Write Her

Merry Christmas, work in progress. You've been bad.

Like someone else in a similar position recently posted, I’ve decided to suspend A Season Underneath indefinitely. The reasons are legion, but the biggest is that I am on my fourth rewrite and it doesn’t seem to be getting a whole lot better. The chapters are just sort of there, with no real story to bite down on. I can’t imagine anyone really liking it, but that might be because I’ve been looking at it for a while now.

I actually don’t mind doing this. The first draft was an elephant gun misfiring at a mosquito. Awful-awful. After a few rewrites most people would have moved on to something else but I kept at it, so I am where I am now because of undue persistence.

It’s a common thing to not have one’s first manuscript published because your first (and sometimes subsequent) book are too horrendous for exhibition. Even established short story writers can’t/won’t bother with their first novel because it’s a beast many tentacles to hack off and a greenhorn novelist doesn’t have an intellectual axe big enough to handle it. They finish it but it sits somewhere on a shelf or hard drive somewhere while the second novel, if the writer hasn’t offed themselves yet to get it done, gets more traction with agents.

So with that I’m starting a new manuscript with the nickname Retardo Montalbán (please, PC language police, find a more worthy cause). It will be soft/social sci-fi, alternate history, not really dystopian, with a sort of Luddite-libertarian feel…no damnable vampire love triangles, wizards, fairy tale characters in real life, hyperdrive shunts, or anything occurring in the year 1,000,000,000 AD. It’s a story with people who do and think things and set things into motion, not a bestiary of gimmicks.

So, birth/death, a new year, and all that jazz. Krampus will be pleased with me.

Photo by riptheskull.

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A Post Where I Feature a Comment I Made About Car Accidents

The beginning of something great.

Writers love to hi-five each other with permalinks instead of dollar bills in our hands, then we return to our dens and badmouth others’ sentence structures and word choice into half-empty coffee mugs. This post is different because I’m referencing a comment that I made and liked, posted on someone else’s site. Mike Duran’s blog will remain nameless but I will still speak ill of my own talent because it’s not hard to do.

Good writing is like car accidents. The writer constructs a scene of metal and glass and bodies gone wrong. There are certain brute facts about it, and as the god of the book’s universe the writer knows them all, but everyone who sees the accident, the readers, witnesses those brute facts different. Writers do a disservice to their readers when they hammer every detail out in plain language, leaving no room for engagement.

Readers should be confused enough about the violence of your story to need to think about how not to be confused, but not so much that they believe the effort is not worth the return. For people that see books as a drug fix while in between reality show seasons will not understand this—having to do thinky things while reading? That’s for like, school—but that might be preferable to being told the backstory of the auto industry or worse yet, how we should think of and feel about the accident.

Photo by the Seattle Municipal Archives.

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It Was a Pleasure to Read

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Further Thoughts on God and Trans-World Moral Agency

Images from a "trans-world moral agency" search. I take it to mean processed carbs are an element of a depraved universe.

I posted about the problem of evil about a month ago, and I had some further ideas related to it.

  1. God created at least one physical universe with moral agency (axiomatic).
  2. God created the angels with moral agency (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6).
  3. God would be omniscient enough to know when his preference for moral agency-creation would be sated, or he is never sated with the creation of moral agencies in universes.
  4. God has no reason to not fulfill his preferences maximally.
  5. Only God is the only perfect moral agent (or, all moral agents are imperfect creations absolutely).
  6. Imperfect moral agents will eventually choose depravity at least once.
  7. Therefore, he seems to prefer moral agency more than moral automata (1 and 2).
  8. Therefore, every universe created would contain at least one type of moral agent, or, no universe would be created with only moral automata (3,4,7).
  9. Therefore, every universe created would experience depravity (5,6,8).

In a nutshell, if God prefers moral agency in one instance, and assuming he has enough power and knowledge (I don’t think he has to be omni-propertied) to know his own preferences and is able to fill them, he would prefer moral agency creation with every creation “session”.

I was hesitant about proposition 2 because the creation of angels isn’t really a universe creation, although the creation of hell may be seen as that. I included it to bolster the idea of God preferring moral agency. Hell’s depravity is pretty much axiomatic, but maybe not in the same sense that our universe, or any universe with moral-agency-depravity, would be. Christ saw it fit to redeem our universe and though Revelation has Satan unrepentant for eternity it doesn’t say there wasn’t some sort of plan in place to redeem him that he ultimately rejected, and I don’t think there’s anything mentioning the other fallen angels.

Homework: barring verses to the contrary, other universes are at least not likely and I might say they are more than likely given statement 4. If so, what would trans-world redemption look like?

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Something To Get Mad About For A Few Minutes

An interesting image of dubious accuracy that has popped up many times in my facebook feed the last week. The origin might be here, but a website with a domain name like that might not be the best source for statistics.

Some may cluck their tongues at America’s unfettered capitalism but it’s really a result of corporatism that the ratio is so drastic. Instead of the mass of consumers deciding who wins and loses, CEOs that win the auction for regulatory power would naturally reap the monetary benefits that they would have to actually work for otherwise.

In a truly free market, America’s ratio listed here would actually indicate a healthy division of labor. It would mean the poorest of the poor are entering the market and driving that ratio further apart. With something as simple as minimum wage laws in place this would never happen, and so the poorest (usually teenagers) find it harder to secure employment.

Don’t expect this to be remedied soon, or rather, don’t expect the reasons for the ratio to change anytime soon. Increased regulation is a sexy prospect for some voters and politicians love the job security.

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Another Case for Physical Books

These aren't the Droids™ you're looking for.

I posted before about the kinda-sorta-in-a-way superiority of physical books as opposed to e-books. It felt like a conflict of interest as I’ve released an e-book of my own, but since a physical book(let) of a short story has been actualized (more on that later) I won’t feel the cognitive dissonance as harshly.

The emergence of an Kindle Fire fulfilled a half-prophecy of mine: that it won’t be enough for consumers to have an e-reader that just displays book/document texts. Consumers will want to do a bunch of other things after breezing through the chapters of the latest Wizard Vampire Dragon Tattoo “sleeper”, and since functionality creep is an inevitability with popular gadgets the Fire’s arrival wasn’t a risky prediction.

It’s true that you could always read books on tablets, but the Fire is significant because it’s breaking open functionality on something that was formerly just meant for reading. It’s great that demand is being filled but what’s the use of e-readers if it ends up being just another tablet? It’s much harder to make that mistake with a book. There’s only a limited function set you can do with bound paper and ink, but with digital devices you can see and do nearly anything. There’s no mistaking a book for something else but with smartphone technology you’ll get anything.

Fahrenheit 451 predicted a lot of things accurately but one thing I think Bradbury missed. Book, before they were outlawed for being “confusing”, got dumbed down first. They won’t need to be dumbed down, you just need to have other forms of easy entertainment else available and books will become too tedious*.

Photo by RLHyde.

* I’m not poo-pooing e-readers at all and I don’t think they will destroy books, either digital or physical, like they did in Bradbury’s universe. I’m just pointing out the potential pitfalls of the technology that previously were not there with physical books. Maybe I shouldn’t make this disclaimer a footnote.

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Drag Your Hangover to My Church This Sunday Morning

I blatantly stole this copywritten image, much like Bacchus steals your soul and the memory of your car keys.

After reveling in spirits the night before, come to Discovery in Cranberry Township/Pittsburgh this Sunday. We begin the new series, God the Artist, featuring a story I wrote plus some other fun writey type of things. You’ll be able to buy a book designed by Kevin Rupert and notecards designed by Alanna James. The money from art/book purchases will go to eat-art.org.

If that construction ditch next to the bar is too deep for you to crawl out of to make it in the morning, you can hit up the Southside campus at 7 that night—then hoof it to one of Pittsburgh’s fine drinking establishments on Carson St. to sauce up for the new work week.

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