Review – A Perfect Circle’s EAT THE ELEPHANT

The Thirteenth Step is probably one of my favorite albums of all time. I could take or leave the rest of A Perfect Circle’s discography, I haven’t listened to their third album since around the time it came out. Thirteenth is incredible and strange and haunting and beautiful and ultimately mysterious. There’s no way that new APC music would stand up. Can’t say I ever really wanted more.
My initial reaction to the first new APC tunes they released were: “Yes that is a song.” 100% sarcastic and indifferent to it. I knew I wanted something more but I wasn’t sure what that was. I decided to find out what I wanted, or rather what it was I loved about Thirteenth.
I did so without revisiting the album, not at first. I wanted to see if I could find out what it was from memory. What I discovered was I liked how it seemed to transport me, take me away. There is something otherworldly about Thirteenth and that is infinitely attractive to me. The weird odd mysterious nature of it engulfs me. Something that none of the other albums do.
Including the recently released, EAT THE ELEPHANT. I appreciate the title and abhor the cover.
As I stated above, the few songs I listened to ahead of the album’s release did not inspire any sort of confidence but hearing those songs in context of the album make them a lot better. It’s not a bad album. I’ve been listening to it a lot more than I thought I would. The first couple listens were difficult because the first four songs are one block, they feel like they belong together and then there’s an abrupt jarring album killing change with the fifth song. Which worsens with the following track. The album is ten times better with those two removed from the playlist.
So my advice is to just delete “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish” (track 5) and “TalkTalk” (track 6) that way the album keeps a more tighter sound. And a much more satisfying runtime of about 48 minutes.
Overall, it’s a chill album on its own merits and I don’t have anything negative to say about it besides the bit about the cover. I’ve enjoyed thinking about it in regards to Thirteenth but I’m not sure I’ll be listening to it fifteen years from now like Thirteenth.
I wonder what my life will look like in fifteen years…

Review – Tokyo Ghost

Back in 2006-2008, I was heavy into weekly comics. I was making decent money and not doing an abundance of drugs, nor was I faced with any real responsibilities. So it wasn’t anything to drop more than $60 a week on comics. Around this time, Marvel was doing the ‘Dark Reign’ banner books, one of which was a new Punisher series written by Rick Remender. I remember seeing the name and thinking “that’s a cool name”, upon opening the book I was instantly hooked. I loved every second of that run, yes even the Franken-Castle bits. That was actually my favorite. It was only recently I became aware of the hate for that story. Before Rick completed his run, I was pulled away from comics—that’s a story for another time. The point is, I never forgot his name and a handful of years ago I came across a couple of his Image books, notably Black Science which is a benchmark for comics. It is incredible. I dare you to not get hooked.
I finally got around to reading Tokyo Ghost last month and I savored it. Soaked in the art across the 8×12 large hardcover that is absolutely perfect. This is a big story. Very stylish and cinematic. The first couple issues are dripping with this humor that I wasn’t expecting but quickly the real emotional hooks of the relationship between Debbie Decay and Led Dent stuck themselves into me.
It’s a story about dependency, whether that is on technology or other people or power or anything else. It’s all present here. I really related to a lot of it. Rick does a great job of putting in things in his stories that are relatable but I think this is the one that hit me the hardest.
The art by Sean Gordon Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth is nothing short of incredible. It pulls you in and doesn’t let go. There are car chases and sword fights and everything anyone could ever want. It’s really something to behold. You just have to look at the covers to get a glimpse of the style that is all over this book.
I have been paying attention to Hollingsworth for some time now and it’s really impressive the depth of his skillset. I’m not an artist, I don’t pretend to know what he actually does, it’s apparent that there’s a lot that goes into his coloring. Just comparing this book to Seven to Eternity (another fine Rick Remender product) really displays a lot. He is able to lift these books to heights I’m not sure they’d achieve without him.
So I’d like to thank Frank Castle for putting me onto Rick Remender and I’d like to thank Rick for putting me onto some of the greatest artists working in comics today. If we’re in a golden age of television then it’s a fucking platinum age of comics.
Read Tokyo Ghost, it’s not just flash and noise, sure it has that but there’s also a point. Sharing art is the meaning of life. Tokyo Ghost starts with a needle drop, what more could you ask for?

How about getting it for 50% off at comiXology?
Here’s the first half collected (issues 1-5) for $3.99.
The complete deluxe set for 59% off!
Or individual issues for $.99 each.

SALE ENDS TODAY, JULY 2nd. The sale includes all of Rick Remender’s books for Image. Black Science is a universe hopping thrill ride! Seven to Eternity is a brilliant take on the alternate world fantasy adventure. It’s almost guaranteed to not go where you expect. But I actually recommend buying Seven to Eternity in physical means because the art is otherworldly. Jerome Opeña is a master and this is his finest work to date. Every issue is stunning and more stunning than the last.
I literally can’t say enough good things about this.

Disclaimer: I am not an affiliate nor do I receive any cut of anything you spend on these fine books. I just really fucking love them and want other people to read them!

Halfway through 2018!

Earlier this year I posted my goals for the year, here they are again:
**Finish new sci-fi short and begin submitting it
**Continue writing and working on novel
**Be more consistent on the blog
**Continue the application process to bring fiancée into the country
**Travel across the world, collect fiancée and bring her home
**GET MARRIED
**Be happily married
**Switch shifts at work

Soon after posting this list it changed, such is the way I suppose. I realized quick that the short story was really flawed and wasn’t working. I could make it work but seeing as I’m not a huge fan of short stories, I felt fake putting so much into writing something I don’t enjoy. I do like writing them but reading them is often a chore. I probably just haven’t found the right collection or writer. So that story is safely tucked away until I decide it’s time to revisit. There is an idea worth revisiting there, character is the problem.
I finished the third draft of my first novel on June 10th 2018. I believe I can complete the thing by the end of the year and be querying agents before 2019. I’m not backtracking with it again by rewriting from the jump like I have before. The foundation is set, time to go into the smaller details.
As far as the blog is concerned, I’ve been more active than I think I have in a long time. Not sure I’m consistent, more like haphazardly posting things. It might be an accidental pattern. The problem is when I get sucked into a draft, I don’t think about the blog.
The rest of the above bullet-points are all under one umbrella, I just didn’t want to have one bullet-point because it’s far from one item. The things I have listed above don’t even begin to cover it. Her and I have decided to wait until the spring because getting married in the winter sounds like a fucking drag (that’s an understatement). The first stage of the paperwork should be finalized somewhere around September and by then we should have more of a timetable/plan for the rest of the things that feed into us finally being together for real. In a nutshell, I’m getting married next year!
Oh and the job, um… hopefully next year for that as well. I’m waiting on that as well.

This is the halfway point of the year and I think I’m doing okay with it all. There’s always room for improvement. I’ve written somewhere around 80,000 words so far this year. At the end of May, I did try to go without a “zero day”, as in words written. I didn’t quite make it a full month so new goal is to start with July 1st and try to go the rest of the year without a zero day. It does seem to inspire me, trouble is when there isn’t a focus on a project I get distracted. Not that I’m feeling guilty. The focus remains on the novel and I think I did need a break.
Let’s break down my new goals:
**No more Zero Days!
**Finish novel by year’s end and…
**Begin querying agents
**Blog more consistently
**Revisit, revise and release A CIRCLE OF TEMPORARIES

That last one is a bonus. I think it’s possible but I’m not sure exactly how much work that needs, seeing as I have yet to examine it as a whole. That’s slated for next month, after I do another pass of the novel before sending it off to be read by some people.
I am experimenting with scheduling things and so far so good. It’s just a little strange working on secondary projects. Especially since I feel so close with the big one and I have big plans for it. Hopefully I’ll be able to share some of that sooner rather than later.

A Faded Crosswalk

There seems to be more ghosts than demons, less like a hand gripping at every scrap of flesh and more like helpful, guiding hands. I’m not alone and I’m not together. Somehow it’s okay that I have outlived more than I wish to count. Even with the idea that an early grave was in someway bought and paid for.
Hope you kept the receipt.

I remember the car, I’m sure you do too and that actually goes for all of you. Strange to consider the importance of the thing most take for granted, more than anything else. It’s a weapon of mass destruction and a safe haven, a thrill and a fear. The wearer of many skins and roles. But do you remember the car we sat in? And all the things we said, all the plans and theories and discussions. It’s like seasons, years even, of my life are encased there. An entire year as one night. Ever ready to be replayed in fractured, minute blips. Memories like raindrops in a storm.

Back then we were invincible; living and breathing and fatally flawed. The easiest handholds are the ones that seem to crumble under our weight. I was a faded crosswalk. Painted lines well worn from feet and tires, and just about anything else that wanted to roll on through. You were a friend when I wasn’t sure I knew the meaning of the word. Here in the after, I’ve repainted the lines. They look a little different but I’m sure you’d recognize me. After all, you’re here. Isn’t that strange and beautiful and fucked and a whole dictionary of things? You’re gone and yet you’re here. I can shake the demons off but I can’t throw salt over my shoulder at the ghosts. My ghosts. I protect you, the way you seemingly protect me.

Every day there’s a memory to time travel through. We are time travelers. I am the paint, the pavement, the faded lines and the ones redone and touched up.
All of it, all at once.
All of you, all together.

Updates to the site and books

I have made some decisions and some changes to my website. Notably is the fact that most of the free fiction is now gone. There hasn’t been a lot of action in quite some time. Which is not a bad thing nor is a great thing, it’s in the middle and so I figured why not try different things with it.
My two poetry books My Enveloping Reflection and Armorless and Afraid remain available on Amazon and now they are both exclusive there and enrolled within Kindle Unlimited. I’m experimenting with the price point as well. I have updated the ebooks and the descriptions and even have my author page more complete.
As of this writing, I have completed the third draft of the novel. It came in just over 60k words, which is shorter than the second draft and longer than the first draft. There are things I have planned to add in which I’m calling in my head “interludes” but now my current worry (having overcome the thing about the ending) is it won’t be “long enough”. I’m not gonna pad it to just pad it. We shall see how it goes. I’m taking about two to three weeks away from it then there’s some tweaks and additions to make before I send it off to a couple folks. If all goes according to plan, I should be querying agents at the end of the year.
As for A CIRCLE OF TEMPORARIES, it is also no longer available on this site. Originally, it was meant as an effort in having content on the blog for people to read if they saw short stories of mine in other publications but having decided to abandon the short stories and also my personal feelings about ACOT, I’ve decided to revisit it and actually edit it as a whole rather than six Pieces, as it were.
The goal is to be proud of it. To be glad my name is on it. Not to say I wasn’t before, it’s just the first Piece is really clunky and if I can barely read through it…
Not to mention, I paid for cover art so there’s no reason to not put it on Amazon. I might even include some extras in the back, sketches and things. The goal is also to have ACOT complete and released by year’s end.
If you’re interested, you can see the poetry books here and if you enjoy them please pass them on.
Thank you for reading.

If you’re so inclined, you can join my mailing list and receive A VAST EULOGY for free. It is a 6k word short story about a woman venturing into a strange world and who she meets there.

On crafting a story

Over the past few months I’ve been thinking about how I have crafted stories, both the ones that are complete and the ones I’ve been working on. The novel I’m working on was a combination of two things. I began writing it in December of 2014 after the protagonist (name and all) popped into my head. The other thing was a few pages of a story beginning I had written in I think it was 2008. I don’t know what happened to those pages and it still kinda haunts me. The story itself was really just a scene or part of a scene I could never figure out what to do with it. I tried different things and nothing worked.
It is odd how things work themselves out eventually.
The other project I’ve been working on this year is a short story that I started last year, one that I have since abandoned which is partly the reason for this post. It was quite a journey with that short because when I wrote it initially I thought it was very comedic then I read it months later and was stunned to discover the opposite. It’s just weird. And I love the ending. I think a lot of that story has to do with current events and I tried to present something positive. I think on that front it succeeds, on a certain level. But ultimately I decided the story didn’t work because I found upon a few read-throughs that I did not care about the protagonist at all. Even after I tried to give to flesh him out more. I cared even less.
But there was an idea I had about the story that would involve tearing the whole thing apart and rebuild it from essentially nothing and I decided I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t believe in it. I still don’t. I found that what I liked was the ending. That was a lot of what the story always was for me. There are two images that I dreamed up that I loved and I haphazardly put a “story” around it.
That approach has worked for me before but after some thought I have decided I can’t do that anymore. I need to be more intentional. I don’t really want to be someone who creates only popcorn fun entertainment.
I’ve been listening to Brian McDonald’s INK SPOTS which is a collection of blog posts on writing, his other book INVISIBLE INK is probably my favorite book on the craft of writing that I’ve come across. There’s a part in INK SPOTS where he talks about a writing student who was having trouble with an ending for her short story and he asked her:
“What is a story?”
She thought it was a trick question but he wasn’t playing at anything. He just wanted her answer. He believes that every writer should have their own definition of what a story is or rather a definition that fits their writing.
It really helped me and I’ve thought about it a lot. I keep coming back to the word intentional. As I’m making my way through the third draft of my novel I’ve kept that word in my mind. There are things I want from the story and their are things the story wants. It’s fascinating how a certain idea has come out of it that I didn’t see until recently but it has been there since the first draft. I just couldn’t see it and that’s why the previous iterations have had disappointing endings because there was something there but not fully there. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone but me…
One thing I have learned so far this year is about slowing down. I didn’t have a plan for the novel when I wrote the first draft of my novel and I’ve rebuilt it so many times, it’s been exhausting but also very informative. But going forward, I have other novels to write and I’ve actually been working on those ideas in the background over the past few months. I’m developing these ideas rather than just diving into things headfirst. I’m not sure what I’m going to write first but there are two novels vying for my attention once this one is complete-ish. One is the obvious sequel and the other is something new and exciting. I’ve been careful about crafting and preparing it. I’ve been building the characters and not thinking about the plot much. I have the broad strokes because the character stuff informs that. It all has to work together to form a unified thing. I should be saying I’m building a novel rather than writing one because it’s more like building than just writing.
I don’t want to craft stories based on one or two cool images. I can’t stop my brain from having those cool things pop in and out but those aren’t stories. An arrow isn’t an arrow without a point.

Don’t call it yet…

She said to the doctor, who had just turned his wrist to take note of the time. The time of death.

So it’s been about three months with no updates here, I’ve been busy with the third draft of my first novel. It’s going well and coming together. I should be finished with the draft next month and after that I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do. I did have a rough plan for the year earlier that was very ambitious, it included starting two new novels and finishing their first drafts this year. Yeah that’s not going to happen. The second half of this year is going to be a lot busier than the first half. I think editing and revising and getting the book into a presentable state for agents is going to be all I will be able to handle. And the more I think about it the more it makes sense to keep it simple in the writing side seeing as everything else is going to be hectic and overwhelming and I need to be present for it all.
Over the next week or so, I will be posting more content to get the ball rolling on the blog again. I have reviews of things in the works. First up is reviews of episodes of the new show THE CROSSING. As of writing this, I’m only a couple episodes into it (I’m about a month behind) but spoiler— I really like it so far. Tomorrow I will be posting at least the first. I also have a couple other things that are in the pipeline. I don’t think I’ll be doing book reviews nor will I be tackling big/popular things. I don’t feel the need to share my take on the latest blockbuster. I have a few ideas for things that are more popular but they are less reviews and more personal takes on things (could you be any more vague?).
The plan is as it was before to have more of presence here. I will be writing about different topics and things about my own writing process. I have one about my ideas on crafting a story that is coming.
Music is a big part of my life and I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to approach reviewing albums which is something I want to do.
Thinking about it now, I consume so many things.

Fun fact: it’s been three years since I completed the first draft of my first novel. And a year since I started the second draft. I wonder what next May will bring!

Thank you for reading.