Trust not my reading, nor my observations, which with experimental seal do warrant the tenor of my blog.

Hello.  Good morning.  Today is Thursday, and so of course it’s time for the most recent edition of my weekly blog post.

I’m writing this post on my phone, using the Google Docs app, because unfortunately, even my petite, eleven-inch-hypotenuse laptop seems to be too much to carry around in my backpack, given how badly my back and hips and ankle have been behaving.  I don’t think it’s so much the weight of the thing that’s the issue as where it tends to rest‒right up against my lumbar spine.  It may not truly be triggering any problems, because my back and hips and my right knee and ankle are in pretty severe pain no matter what, even though I’ve lost two belt notches worth of weight recently.  However, reducing the load in that area seems to decrease my pain, or at least to cause less of an exacerbation, so for now I’m writing on my phone, so to speak.

I keep trying to find things to do that decrease my pain, but all my attempts have so far been quite unsatisfying.  Perhaps the Dread Pirate Roberts was right after all, and life is pain.  Or was that the Buddha?  Anyway, one or more of those great philosophers said something about life and pain being inextricable.

I’ve been writing The Dark Fairy and the Desperado on my phone this week as well.  The two main characters have finally met!  Of course, the Dark Fairy immediately tried to kill the Desperado, but that’s to be expected.  It’s slightly slower writing on the phone than it is with the laptop, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, but as I’ve also mentioned, that may be good for keeping my writing more concise.  On the other hand, my verbosity may not be something any device known to humanity can curtail.

I posted the most recent section of Outlaw’s Mind here this week.  There’s still quite a bit to go before we reach the point where I’ve stopped writing it, and I hope those of you who read it are enjoying the story.

In other news, yesterday I recorded, overdubbed, edited, and posted a video of me playing and singing the Beatles song And I Love Her, and I’ll embed it here.  I’ve been half-heartedly working on getting it into playable shape for a while, and I decided I needed to have a rhythm track (which I had to create the new-fashioned way, beat by beat, on Audacity, since I have no drums), and that it also would be much better with the little accompanying arpeggios* during the second, third, and last verses in the background.  I wanted to be able to do those at speed when I played them.  To pat myself on the back (which doesn’t help my back pain), I only got the basic chords from a guitar book, but did the (admittedly simple) key changing and worked out the solo and stuff for myself.  I’m reasonably pleased with the results, though it’s far from perfect.  I’ve gotten pretty good at throwing these videos together at least, including sound editing and backing tracks and the like; I did these things literally in my spare time yesterday morning.

There’s no need to feel obligated to watch the video of me playing, though; I certainly take no joy in looking at myself and it’s hard to imagine anyone else would.  It’s basically there to prove that, yes, except for backup/overdubs, I really did play and sing it all at once, myself…and because the milling masses mostly only seem to respond to video** anymore‒but here it is in case you want to listen:

I’m not sure what else there is to talk about today.  Of course, there are always subjects that could be raised, but I’ve not really done any discussion or commentary, either here or on Iterations of Zero, for quite a while.  The whole process seems utterly pointless (not least because of the aforementioned predilection of the populace for video***); my energy level is steadily deteriorating, and my motivation is doing so even more.  I’m not convinced that anything I write or say or do will make any difference, even for me.  I continue this blog mainly out of stubbornness.

I did do a slightly curious thing this week.  There’s a horror novel that I used to read and reread a lot back when I was a teenager:  Floating Dragon, by Peter Straub.  The events of the story begin on May 17, 1980.  Indeed, there’s a line in the book that goes, “On May 17th, 1980, the Dragon came to Patchin County.”  That line is always bouncing around my head at this time of year, so on Tuesday (which was the 17th) I decided to buy the Kindle version of the book, though I haven’t started reading it yet.  I miss my old, battered paperback copy, lost now with all my other possessions from before 2013.  It had the amusing characteristic that the way the title and author were written on the spine, if one read them in ordinary left-to-right fashion, seemed to say, “Floating Peter/Dragon Straub”.  I wonder if the publishers realized that after the fact and were duly embarrassed.  Anyway, it was a good, albeit very weird horror story, and I still can recite parts of it from memory, such as:

“You were dreaming for a long time, and then you were not.  You were asleep in a place you did not know, and when you awakened you were someone else.  You had a drink in your hand, and a woman was looking at you, and Dragon, the world was yours again.”

With that, I’ll call things to a close today.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this atypically written blog post, and that you’re all as well as you can possibly be.



*Is it supposed to be “arpeggi”?  That’s how Radiohead spelled it in the title of their song Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, and they’re Cambridge-educated, albeit probably not in linguistics.  Then again, I studied English at Cornell.  Not that such a thing matters much anyway, since the word in question is Italian…but it’s not being used as Italian, but rather as a term of musical jargon.  I should probably just look it up, but where’s the fun in that?

**Angels and ministers of grace defend us from anyone who might think to ask most people to read.

***Perhaps we should retire the term vox populi and replace it with visus populi.

For grief is proud, and makes his blogger stoop.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, the second Thursday in May of 2022, and it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.  Tomorrow will be Friday the 13th! Unlike many people, I like Friday the 13th both because I like being a bit contrary and because I like prime numbers.  I used to always put thirteen gallons of gas in my car when I filled it up, just because I like prime numbers, and I particularly like thirteen because so many people dislike it.  Maybe I thought it deserved to get some positive attention for a change.

I haven’t been quite as productive this week as last week, but I did write a good five thousand words on The Dark Fairy and the Desperado.  I’ve been a little worn out because my recent travails have exacerbated my chronic back and leg pain, and yet I’m walking about two and half miles a day as part of my commute.  So, my concentration—nay, even my very will to live*—has been detrimentally affected.  Nevertheless, I have continued to write; being on the train is nice for doing that, at the very least.

I posted the next section of Outlaw’s Mind this Tuesday, but it was a short one.  I didn’t want to add the subsequent section to beef it up any, because that section is already rather long, and adding them together would have made it too much, I think.  I don’t know if anyone is actually reading the story—I don’t know if anyone is actually reading this, for that matter—and if they are, I don’t know whether they like it.  I suppose it’s possible that some masochist might hate the whole thing but read it for that very reason.  That seems unlikely, though.

I mentioned last week, with my tongue in my cheek, that I tend to play guitar and sing as a way to punish the world.  Well, I’ve done a bit of such punishing recently; I’ve embedded below two videos of me amateurishly playing guitar and singing, for anyone who feels the need to scold themselves, perhaps for falling off a diet, or not getting enough exercise, or committing adultery…stuff like that.  In all seriousness, however, I like both of these songs a lot, and so I did my amateurish best to play and sing them.

The first is If You Could Read My Mind, by Gordon Lightfoot, a song I’ve known and liked since I was a little boy.  I’ve always loved the melody, and Gordon Lightfoot was a very good singer.

The second is No Surprises, by Radiohead, which I only came to be aware of perhaps fifteen years ago, but which very quickly became one of my favorite songs (and bands).  It’s harder to play than IYCRMM, as you can probably tell, but I really love it.  In many ways, it is the song of my soul, if there is such a thing.

As for anything else…well, there really isn’t much else.  There was a death in my family late last week, about which I’m quite sad.  This was my uncle, whom I hadn’t seen in quite a while, but who had been, along with his son—my cousin—one of the only people in my family to attend my wedding.  That’s part of a long and dreary story that I won’t go into, but it is a shame that I hadn’t seen him in so long, and now I won’t be able to do so.  Such is the story of life, unfortunately.  I wish I could have told him how much that meant at the time, and even though that marriage has since failed, that gesture still means a great deal to me.  At least I can hereby tell my cousin the same for his part!

I fear quite honestly that I am on the verge of a real and serious mental (and physical) breakdown, and I don’t know what to do about it.  I also fear that, even if I did know what to do about it, I would not have the will to do it.  I wish I did.  I would like to be optimistic and upbeat; I have been so in the past.  No one who suffers from chronic depression and/or other, related difficulties would wish to suffer from it/them. They might well believe, however, that they richly deserve their own suffering for being the awful, evil, rotten person that they see, that they “know”, themselves to be.  I don’t know how to escape that trap.  I have tried, many times and in many ways, but I don’t think I have the strength or the resources to do it on my own.  And on my own is what I am.

I hope, nevertheless, that all of you reading are feeling and doing as well as you possibly can, and that you are with those you love, or at least in communication with them, and that you find a great deal of joy in that.  Please take care of yourselves, and of each other.



*It’s an interesting notion, this concept of “will to live”.  It’s misguided and misleading, because it’s not as though one can simply stop having some “will to live” and consequently just die.  Trust me, I know.  The body and brain have been shaped by millions upon millions of years of evolution to try to stay alive, and one’s will, at the human level, has almost nothing to do with it.  Ditto with eating and drinking and breathing.  Just try not doing those things.  The machine keeps cranking along until it falls apart, or until something breaks it.  Believe me, if not having the “will to live” mattered at all, there are many times—several in any given week, I’d say—in which I would already have died.  Alas, it’s the will to die that’s more a real kind of will, and it is set against gargantuan, Lovecraftian powers of nature that force living beings to stay alive whether they really want to or not.  I’m working on it, though.

Why, what is pomp, rule, reign, but earth and dust? And, blog we how we can, yet die we must.

Hello.  Good morning.  It’s Thursday, and so, whether anyone asked for it or not—whether anyone wants it or not—it’s time for my weekly blog post.

I can only apologize.

So far, this week has been marginally better than last week for me, which may not be saying very much, but at least it is better by some measures.  I got quite a bit of writing done this Monday through Wednesday on the train; I’ve been using my laptop, not my phone to do it, despite my thoughts that I just might stick with the former device.  Still, on each of those three days, I wrote roughly 2100 words in the morning, which is more than twice as many as I wrote last Friday, which was a very difficult day, continuing the pattern of the days that had preceded it.

Anyway, The Dark Fairy and the Desperado is moving along well.  Though we have not met the Dark Fairy yet, we have met the Desperado.  He is the first person we encounter, and he is soon to be sent to meet his fellow title character.  It won’t be a friendly encounter, I’m afraid, but if things all went easily, where would be the fun?  A story without the exchange of fireballs and bullets between protagonists can hardly be called a story at all.

I also remembered to post the next part of Outlaw’s Mind here this week, unlike last week, so to those of you who were pining for it, you’re welcome.  I tried to put in a “continue reading” tab, so that it wouldn’t take up as much screen space for scrolling purposes if you’re trying to go back to further entries, but I’m not sure I succeeded.  I didn’t try very hard to check, and I haven’t yet gone back to insert any in earlier posts.  Have I but world enough and time, I mean to do so.

I’ve considered perhaps interspersing some posting of parts of The Dark Fairy and the Desperado here, perhaps alternating with Outlaw’s Mind, perhaps posting them on another day of the week.  Let me know what you think, if you have any interest in the question at all.  It’s not a horror story, but is instead a trans-universal fantasy adventure, so be prepared.  I want to (and so I hereby do) remind everyone that these are stories in early draft form*, so they won’t be as polished and streamlined as something that’s been formally published would be.

In this, unfortunately, they may bear all too much resemblance to all too many of at least the online versions of publications from Scientific American to the various major newspapers, all of which seem to have fallen into the editorial hands of the pointy-haired boss from Dilbert, and many of the writers of which seem to have learned their trade via Twitter-mediated coursework.  Honestly, the state of much of the publishing industry is terribly dispiriting to note.

More than once within the last few months, in mainstream-published books about arguably serious subject matter, I’ve encountered the words “free reign” used instead of “free rein”.  That latter is an expression related to horseback riding, in which one essentially releases control of the horse to allow it to go where it will, presumably at high speed, but with outcomes that may be difficult to predict, and this is the source of the metaphor.  The former is…I don’t know, perhaps a reference to some form of particularly liberal monarchial regime**.

But, as they say, I digress.  I’m prone to do so often and grievously.  The point I meant to make was simply that I wouldn’t want you to mistake the form in which I might share parts of a story here for the way they might appear in “officially” published form, in case anyone were to consider buying one of my books.

One other thing I did at the end of last week was to record a video of me playing guitar and singing the David Bowie song, A Space Oddity.  I had downloaded the chords to the song from a site of which I am a member, and they sounded so good to me when I played them, even though they weren’t particularly difficult chords, that I couldn’t resist making a video.  I’ll embed it here, for anyone who is interested.  I make no promises regarding the quality of the playing or the singing; I just liked singing and playing the song.

And I think that’s pretty much what I have to share this week.  I hope you’ve all been feeling and doing better than I have been, and I do mean “all”.  I’ve been having a truly rough time, though at least I’ve kept on writing, and I don’t want any of you to feel like I do, no matter what Peter Frampton might say.  I would seriously like you to share (in the comments here, not on Facebook or Twitter, which I tend not to spend much time on for the sake of my already alarmingly tenuous mental health) whether you would be interested in reading sections of The Dark Fairy and the Desperado, and if so whether you would mind if I alternated them with Outlaw’s Mind, or if you would prefer to have me share them in another slot during the week.

Otherwise, as always, please try to be kind to each other and to yourselves, because goodness knows I’m not likely to do it.


Theoden king

*It wouldn’t be quite accurate to say that they are first drafts, because I always reread what I’ve written the previous day before starting on any new writing, and I edit as I do so.  Often, I’ll have reread a portion and edited it more than once in this process, depending on how much I wrote the preceding day.

**A regime, by the way, is related to the rule of a person or dynasty over a nation, or something analogous.  A regimen is a “prescribed course of medical treatment, way of life, or diet for the promotion or restoration of health”, and related usages.  The words are obviously related, so it’s not such a big deal to conflate them***, but it is a bit sloppy, and—of course—it irritates me far beyond its level of importance.  One follows an exercise regimen, not an exercise regime, unless one is ruled over/governed by one’s workout routine in a more or less literal sense****.

*** “Reign”, on the other hand, comes from Latin via Old French and Middle English and so on, while “rein” is apparently derived from Old Norse, so though they are homophones, they are not closely related words.

****A “diet” is more complicated, since it can refer to a legislative body, thus making things ever more confusing, though I doubt that many people confuse regime with regimen for that specific reason.  There’s even a famous historical “Diet of Worms”, which had nothing to do with the eating habits of annelids, but instead referred to a body convened to address the heresy of Martin Luther.  Though I love it dearly, English is often muddled and can be confusing.  It’s both a technically “degenerate” code and also often not a very specific one.  Maybe I shouldn’t get so worked up by people mistaking a horseback metaphor for one related to monarchy and similar governmental situations.

Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word – cover on guitar and voice

Yesterday in my weekly blog post, I threatened you all with the possibility that I might upload some more videos of me singing and playing.  Well, I did just that, with my amateur version of the Elton John song, Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word.  It’s far from perfect, but I’m reasonably proud of my arrangement of the opening solo and the middle solo, which were of course originally for piano, this being Elton John.  I even arranged the middle one from memory, since it’s very memorable.  I was getting the opening wrong, though, I could tell, but wasn’t sure in what way, so I did re-listen to the song’s opening by Sir Elton to fix that.

Anyway, here it is.  I hope you like it.

And folly, doctor-like, controlling skill, and simple blog miscalled simplicity

Hey, everybody.  I’m really feeling tired and worn out today, so I’m not going to say very much in this post.  This time, I think I really mean it.  There’s not much to report, anyway.  I’m not sure there ever is.

I’ve written about 3000 words on Outlaw’s Mind this week so far, but I had to go back to the computer to do it; the longhand project was encountering some problems.  I’m afraid my handwriting has degenerated beyond even its former, maddeningly messy form, hard though that may be to believe for those who have seen my curse-ive before.  Also, it’s become more difficult and slower for me to do.  Some of this may just be due to lack of recent practice, but it was very frustrating, and so I abandoned that noble idea.

I did some recording (on video) of myself playing some songs on guitar, and singing along, for practice and self-evaluation purposes, and one of them—the Beatles song Help—turned out reasonably well, so I decided to share it on YouTube.  I’ve embedded it here:

I also am taking a break from my antidepressant.  It doesn’t seem to be doing much good, and it’s been having some irritating side-effects.  I know it’s not usually a good idea to change one’s medical regimen without consulting one’s doctor, but since I am the one who “prescribed” it, and since I am the only doctor I’m seeing anymore, I guess that criterion is met.  We’ll see how it goes.

Other than that, there’s not much to say.  Life, as John Mellencamp said*, goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone.

I hope you’re all doing much better than I am, and that you’re staying warm, staying safe, and staying healthy.  Maybe next week I’ll write more.  Maybe not.  I don’t know.


empty man

*I’ve probably even quoted the line many times before, but I don’t feel like checking.

Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may blog the fool no where but in’s own house.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday again.  I thought for a moment that it was 1/12/2022, but that was yesterday.  I liked it because it was a date full of 2s (even though there were 1s, there were 2 of them, so that added to a 2 in my book) and of course, today is the second Thursday of the year and of the month, and thus this is my second blog post of the year.  It would have been nice to have that match up, but alas, it was not to be.

Tuesday was an interesting date if you write it in a European order:  11/01/2022.  It’s an almost palindrome, but with the right side of the mirror having doubled the values on the left side.  This makes me imagine some quantum mechanical system or some higher-dimensional theory in which there are two versions of certain particles or forces, but with all things reflected in some variant of CPT, with one always having some quantity twice that of the other.  I have no idea if this could apply to anything in reality.  Maybe it’ll explain the whole neutrino question, or the muon anomaly, or the nature of dark matter or dark energy.

I highly doubt it.

I forgot to mention last week that I had done a sort of video* of me playing American Pie (and singing) and had posted it on YouTube.  Here it is.

I don’t quite like how the audio turned out (except at the end).  I was trying to combine multiple simultaneous recording sources, and that was a nice idea, but I ended up doing the mixing and reverb in a way that doesn’t sound ideal.  It also creates the illusion that I actually miss an occasional note while singing, and we all know that cannot be accurate**.

I bring this up because yesterday I did another “sort of” video (see previous footnote), but I did a better job with the multiple sound inputs and the reverb and so on, so that audio came out better.  We live and learn, I suppose.

Here’s the other video, of me playing and singing Hallelujah, and I think you’ll agree the sound here is better.  Try not to look at me, at least if you have food in your stomach.

I don’t like to be a “Like and Share” whore, particularly since I wrote a song with that very title in a rather disapproving tone (though it was not so much about liking and sharing per se as the psychologically damaging culture associated with living by one’s “likes”).  Nevertheless, I do ask if you like those videos you might “Like” them, as with this blog.  This is purely to boost my self-esteem, which should be an easy enough task; there’s way more room to go up than down.  Also, if you want to subscribe, certainly feel free to do so, and of course, I welcome comments.  If you want to support my work financially, though, I have no Patreon or Cup of Joe*** set up, but you can always buy my books/stories.  The Kindle editions are not expensive.  Or tell your friends about them, if they like fantasy/sci-fi/horror.

Speaking of books/stories…

I’m nearly done with my reread of Outlaw’s Mind so far and should soon be back to writing more of it.  I’m enjoying the reread, and that should hopefully help my enthusiasm.  The good thing about working on what had started as a short story but has morphed into a novel is that it will probably be a reasonably short novel, which is a novel thing for me.  Ha ha.  It will have significant tie-ins to my eventual novel Changeling in a Shadow World, which may end up being a series or at least a multi-volume story.  As I think I’ve mentioned previously, that series will have at least a peripheral connection to The Chasm and the Collision, though no characters from CatC will appear in it.

In general, all my works appear within the same Omniverse****, not just because they’re all written by me, and its components can sometimes interact with each other.  In fact, those who are paying attention will notice that Hole for a Heart and Unanimity are literally in the same world, with the latter taking places slightly earlier than the former.  Don’t believe me?  Just read.

Inspired by a few YouTube videos, I bought two fiction books this week.  The first was Revival by Stephen King, which I’d avoided as not seeming like my kind of story.  But a video reviewer rating his favorite books described it briefly (without spoilers) and made me realize that it might be just my kind of Stephen King book after all.  I’ve already finished it*****, and it was quite good—above-average King.

I had mentioned and recommended another book that I’d read a while back to someone at work, as being very unusual, quite creepy, and rather disturbing.  Then, that very lunchtime, as I watched the Stephen King review video, the YouTube algorithm posted a video about that very book.  This isn’t as weird a coincidence as one might think, because I had been following similar videos about similar books.  The book is House of Leaves, by Mark Danielewski, and with this reinforcement, I ordered a physical copy, and have already started reading it.  It’s as good, and as weird, as I remember.

By the way, the video I saw was titled, “Is House of Leaves the scariest story ever?”.  My answer is, “No,” but it is scary at many points, and it is disturbing (not in a gross or gory way, but in the sense of giving the reader the urge to quote the 12th Doctor in saying, “Three-dimensional Euclidean geometry has been torn up, thrown in the air, and snogged to death!  My grasp of the universal constants of physical reality has been changed…forever.”), and it does leave one feeling “What the Hell?” quite often, but in a good way (if you like horror).

That’s about it for now.  I expect to restart work on Outlaw’s Mind as early as this weekend, if I can summon the discipline and drive.  In the meantime, I hope you’re all well and enjoying your new year.  I’ll leave you with the very pleasing news that 2/22/2022 is a Tuesday.  How cool is that?


house of leaves

This is a sample of the interior of the book House of Leaves

*By “sort of”, I don’t mean that it’s not really a video.  It’s clearly a video.  But the video portion is not worth any attention.

**This is sarcasm, of the self-derogatory sort.  I hadn’t tried playing and singing that whole song in one go before, so I’ll cut myself a tiny amount of slack, but not much.

***Or whatever that thing is.

****My original term was Metaverse, then Mark Fuckerberg stole the term, even though I’d thought of it at least a decade before Facebook even existed.  I could still use it, of course, but it’s tainted now.  Anyway, Omniverse is probably better, I just need to get used to it.

*****My first new fiction read in quite some time.

Street Spirit (Fade Out) baddish cover

Okay, here is the “video” of the cover I made to atone for the horrible “live” video version that I tried to sing without even warming up my voice.  Or trimming my hair uniformly.  Or being in any way photogenic.

I hope you like it.  It’s really me doing the music, including the double-tracked guitar arpeggios and of course the singing (though the drums are done electronically, because I don’t have a drum set).

The canker blogs have full as deep a dye as the perfumed tincture of the roses

Hello and good morning.  It’s the first Thursday of May in 2021, and so, of course, it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.  I don’t have any particular topic to write about today, so I’ll just start with some comments about how work has been going on my latest story.

It’s going well.

I won’t leave it just at that, though you might prefer it.  I’ve been writing at a decent clip, but not quite approaching my peak levels from recent weeks, because I had a flat tire, and earlier this week I had to get the repaired tire replaced, and I had to take the train to and from work while that was happening.

I’ve still been writing over a thousand new words—so to speak—a day, even on my worst day of the week, and on Monday I hit two thousand.  Given that I do my writing in the space of roughly an hour in the morning, that’s pretty good.  I’m enjoying being able to write new things instead of simply having to rewrite and edit works that have already been written.  I feel a bit like a kid how is finally able to go outside and play after a long rainy spell; it just feels good to move, or to write as the case may be.  I also tend to get caught up in writing new things more readily than in most other pursuits.  Though it’s often a minor push to get going in the morning, by the time I need to stop, I often don’t really want to do so.

The new story I’m working on, In the Shade, is a horror story, and is rapidly turning towards the Lovecrafty side of things, which was my intent and expectation when I originally started writing it.  Invoking Howard Phillips always seems to energize me.  The story is getting a bit longish, but that is at least tolerable in a Lovecraft-style tale, since his stories were often pretty long.  Still, I think I’m going to set my self a more draconian goal than usual in reducing the word count during the editing process.  Then, of course, I must put together my collection.

In addition to writing (and working at my day job, of course), I’ve been doing some more videos.  For two weeks in a row now I’ve released some as part of my Iterations of Zero blog; they appear on YouTube and in the blog proper.  I also did a few little silly videos, mainly in order to play with video editing programs, to see what they can do and what I can do with them, in a half-hearted kind of way.  I also did a video of a cover of the Beatles song, Blackbird.  I’d posted on YouTube a video among others I’d made of me just practicing the song, but my singing wasn’t great, and the sound quality was also far from ideal.  So, I did a more formal recording/mix of the song—in one morning, after writing, originally, but then I redid the vocals after that.  The whole song is just one guitar and a singer (double-tracked in the middle), so the vocals are very much in your face.  I was reasonably happy with the outcome, and I did a video proper—so to speak, again—with pictures of various blackbirds, with effects pasted onto them using a very basic video editor, in a rather silly fashion.  I’ll embed the video here, just in case you want to watch/listen.

I feel foolishly proud of my guitar playing there, because it’s a rather complicated finger-picking song, and I’m really playing it, and at full speed.  I remember reading about how, when the Beatles were hanging out with the maharishi, Donovan showed Paul and John that finger-picking style, and they each excitedly went on to write and record a finger-picked song for “The White Album”.  Paul did Blackbird, and John did Julia.  I’m also practicing the latter, but it has some additional challenges—the use of a capo, for instance, and more complex chord fingering—that mean it’s going to take a bit longer to get to where I want it to be.  I did do a video of me playing it, on that same morning, and it’s on Iterations of Zero, here, with other videos, but I haven’t put it on YouTube.  Eventually I’ll get it in shape and do a full recording, maybe with a real video of me (you are hereby warned).  This song definitely has at least double-tracked vocals, because John overlaps himself singing it.

Anyway, that’s all really a side thing, though it’s enjoyable working on a new skill.  As mentioned last week, I’m unnoticeably far into the beginning of the ten-thousand hours needed to master playing, but it’s fun.  I have advantages in that I’ve played piano and especially cello since I was quite young and played in orchestras regularly right up until the end of medical school.  I’ve never been a great cellist—my practicing habits were abysmal—but I always enjoyed it, and it definitely provides a leg up for playing the guitar.

That’s about all I have to write about today; it’s probably more than I actually have to write about, or at least more than is worth writing about.  I hope you all have a lovely, lusty month of May, but that you stay safe and healthy in the process.



This is a picture I drew a long time ago. It has nothing much to do with this post, but captures my love for the monstrous “hiding” amidst beauty.

The bay-trees in our country are all withered, and meteors fright the fixèd blogs of heaven.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, and thus it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.  Windows, et al recently updated twice (yesterday and a few days before), and that seems to have done more harm than good so far, but hopefully I won’t have too much trouble getting this written and posted.  We shall see.

It’s been a reasonably productive week.  I’ve worked steadily on In the Shade.  I’m near the climax, when the worst of the bad things happen (it’s a horror story, so that’s only to be expected), but I’m going a bit more slowly this week, so it will take a bit longer than I previously expected it to take.  Also, as you all probably know by now, my writing tends to balloon rather easily, so it’s becoming longer than I guessed it would.  That seems to be the usual case with all human endeavors (I think this was discussed nicely in Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, a book I can highly recommend).

I’ve generally made a key part of my editing/rewriting process a targeted trimming of word counts, usually by a set percent (at least), and for the most part I’ve been able to reach that target.  Still, I may need to raise my reduction goal and be more dogmatic in its application.  I try to do this with my blog posts, though the short time given to writing them in the midst of my otherwise full days* impairs that process slightly.  As a historical person, possibly Benjamin Franklin, is reputed to have implied, it often takes longer to write a short piece than to write a long one.  But trimming away excess is important, and I’m capable of producing copious quantities of excess.

I’ve posted some of the guitar/singing videos I did last week, and I even recorded two more of them last Friday.  The process was decently enjoyable, though seeing myself on the screen is not an easy pill to swallow.  Nevertheless, given how popular videos about ideas are—I enjoy many of them, myself—I thought that I’d try to incorporate video into my other blog, Iterations of Zero, using video to produce the equivalent of articles or essays that I had planned to write, but which I haven’t been able to work into my schedule, or into my mental energy budget, or whatever you might want to call it.

I recorded a brief introduction to this idea, and I’ve been working on editing that video, but trimming out my hems and haws and pauses has led me to realize that the Microsoft basic video editor is just too cumbersome a tool for such purposes in the long run.  So, I went to How-To Geek, a most useful resource, and found an article in which they reviewed various free video editors**.  I have downloaded one of them.  I’ll finish the video I’ve already started using the Microsoft editor, but will probably then experiment with this new one.  It has online video tutorials, and these are—as one would expect—quite well produced.

I’m not the most committed person to using instruction manuals for such things; I often try to figure them out as I go along, seeing what works for my purposes, consulting manuals only when I want to do something and am not sure how to go about it.  Usually, successful computer programs are written in reasonably logical ways, so I can usually figure out how they do what they are supposed to do.  Sometimes I learn about things that I would never have thought to use otherwise, just by poking and playing around.

Anyway, I mean to at least try to use the IoZ platform to share these videos, though I’ll upload them to YouTube, which has much more available video storage space; that is, after all, its entire function.  I may try to put together some better videos of me playing music (both better video and better playing, hopefully), and I’ll let you know if I do.  For now, if you want, you can watch recent videos of me playing Pigs on the Wing, a demo of a song I’m working on called Mercury Lamp, and a less well-done video of Wish You Were Here, which I posted on April 20th in (dubious?) honor of my son’s 21st birthday***.

There’s not much more to say that anyone would probably be interested in reading; I tend to be a bit of a downer.  Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities will be coming before too long, once I’ve finished and edited the last story in the collection (see above) and decided how to put it together.  Then, of course, I’ll finish Outlaw’s Mind and release that as a stand-alone novella, before going on to whatever work I decide on next.

That is, of course, unless some meteor strike or some such kills me in the meantime.  We can all hope for and dream of such things, right?


Meteor Shit

*Full with work of various kinds, as well as commuting.  I have no social life.

**They all have options for paid upgrades if one develops the need for them.  The one I chose seems reasonably priced—certainly compared to Adobe software.  I’ve used Adobe’s video editor in the past, when you could buy it in a box and load it onto your computer and didn’t have to pay an outrageous monthly fee and get online to use it.  But who knows, I may eventually go back there in its modern incarnation.

***He’s alive and well, by the way—so I’m told—so don’t worry about that.  He just hasn’t spoken to me in eight years or so, by his choice.  So, particularly on a milestone birthday, I find his absence extremely painful—his birth, and his existence, was the greatest thing that had ever happened in my life, equaled since only by the birth of his sister 17 months later.  Tuesday was not a good day for me.  This is not a good week for me.  I’m sure I deserve it.

In these confines with a monarch’s voice cry “Havoc!” and let slip the blogs of war

Hello and good morning, all.  It’s the “ides of April”* today, a date that is much more traditionally associated with dread—in America, at least—than is the anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar.  It’s also time for my weekly blog post.

I’ve done my part to further general world health this week:  I recorded and posted some video of myself playing the guitar and singing, on Iterations of Zero.

No, wait!  That’s not what I did that was oriented toward public health (quite the contrary).  Rather, yesterday I received my second dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.  I should be just about as immune as it’s possible to be at this point (or soon, anyway), since I had the infection itself in January, and now I’ve received full vaccination with the version that seems, based on what I’ve read, to have the highest protection rate.  This, as I say, was done for social reasons more than for personal protection; I honestly wouldn’t mind much if I’d gotten severely ill**, or even if the virus had killed me.  But that’s not a choice I think I have any right to make for other people (neither does anyone else, especially out of personal laziness, contrariness, selfishness, or unwarranted paranoia) so I don’t want to spread it thoughtlessly.  Getting as immune to it as I can seems the most reliable way to avoid that.

I did post some videos of myself singing and playing guitar on Tuesday, though.  You can watch them, if you want.  I’ve avoided posting videos or even pictures of myself in recent years, because I hate how I look now, in many ways, for many reasons.  I don’t even like to look in the mirror much.  However, I recently figured—at least this is the story I tell myself—that hiding from cameras is like eating when no one is around.  Just because someone doesn’t see you eat, and you don’t count the calories, doesn’t mean that you haven’t eaten, and it won’t protect you from the consequences.

Reality is not merely perception.  A catastrophe you don’t see coming can still hurt or kill you.

One source of my dissatisfaction with my appearance is that, rather than lose weight when depressed, as some people do, I tend to eat more, and thus to gain weight.  This is probably a self-soothing thing, since the process of eating food is one of the most reliable short-term neurological rewards a person can engineer, for good, sound biological reasons.  So, when everything else in the world feels and seems like shit, including and especially oneself, it can be hard to resist the urge to snack and overeat.

I suppose opiate and other addictions can similarly be a form of self-soothing, due to literal, direct, neurologic effects.  This often leads to emaciation, as all other drives fall by the wayside.  But since I associate opiate use with chronic, severe pain, I’m not as likely to seek them out, “heroin chic” notwithstanding.

You can thus tell from looking at me in my videos that I have been struggling with my Churchillian “black dog” for quite some time, with inconsistent (or consistent but negative) results.  I also, possibly for related reasons, botched my recent job at trimming my hair on Sunday, and I couldn’t see it until I saw myself on video; no one told me about it, but that’s not surprising.  Who would?

Anyway, I figure if I just start doing such videos and posting them, at least I’ll have to face my appearance and what bad shape I’ve allowed myself to get into.  Perhaps it’ll help provide some counter-pressure against the eating thing.  Also, frankly, people out there in cyberspace just seem to like videos of people, even if they’re just talking to the camera.

I was remarkably stressed by the fact that I was playing and singing on video for the first time ever, even if just on impulse, just to test it.  I hadn’t warmed up my voice at all—which I think is obvious—and my guitar playing was not at its best either.  I fumbled in many places where I normally play without a problem.

I didn’t even get the picking and fingering in the shot for most of the videos!  This is a minor shame, particularly with respect to Street Spirit and Blackbird, since I feel mildly proud of how far I’ve come with them.  However, the former song’s complexity of play compels me to cock my neck waaaaay down, desperately eyeballing the pick and to some extent my left hand, and that’s not a great posture for singing.  I can sing that song much better when I’m not hunched over like that***.  But I was extremely self-conscious during this “filming” process, and it was early morning, and my throat was still dry and yet gummy.  These are excuses, obviously, but they are also actual, legitimate reasons, so I don’t feel too bad about making them.

I’m probably going to commit the crime against humanity of sharing these videos on my YouTube channel, and even on Facebook, and Twitter, and on the recently rediscovered Instagram account that I made for unknown reasons in the past.  I might as well use it for something.  Goodness knows I’ve seen people post worse videos, and I’ve even enjoyed some of them.  If you have any strong objections, do share them with me.

On to lighter things, so to speak.  I’m making good progress on In the Shade, and the first draft should be done within the next week or so, even with minor distraction from making ill-advised videos.  As evidence, on Tuesday, even though I stopped early to do my “filming”, I still wrote about 1500 words on the story.  It helps in this that I do have the traditional early-awakening brand of insomnia associated with the “black dog”—actually I’ve always been an early riser and a short sleeper—but at least I can put it to work for me.

Even black dogs can be used as draft animals, it seems.

So, look forward to Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, which I think will be a good collection of stories, and look forward—perhaps with fear and trembling—to the prospect of me doing more videos.  If you have any reaction to the ones I’ve posted, please let me know.  Also, I’d love to hear feedback regarding The Vagabond, if you have any to give.


Video killed

*It’s been called to my attention by the alert and educated reader, StephenB (see comments) that the Ides of April is actually the 13th, something I did NOT know at all, but am delighted to learn.  Seriously, it made my day.  I’m leaving the term, now in scare quotes, in the post, since it’s a fun reference to “Tax Day” in the US, but I expect I shall not make this error again.  Thanks, StephenB, seriously.  I love learning new things like this!

**As I think I’ve mentioned before, I was not the sickest I’ve ever been when I had Covid, but I was sicker than I’ve been in a long time.  Thankfully, I wasn’t as feverish as I was during at least one episode of severe flu.  Maybe that’s because now I pretty much always have significant—probably long-term-toxic—levels of NSAIDs and Acetaminophen in my system, because of chronic pain due to “failed back surgery syndrome”.  My body probably has a hard time even generating a fever nowadays, so the fact that I did get a fever a few times during Covid might mean that I would have had quite high ones if conditions were otherwise.

***I did some good belting in Exit Music, even resulting in clipping/distortion at the song’s dramatic peak.  That’s kind of funny to me; I do get very into that song when I sing it.  How could I not?  Radiohead wrote it for Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, and Shakespeare makes everything more powerful.