But your blogging by me cannot amend me; society is no comfort to one not sociable

Hello, good morning, and welcome to Thursday and to a new iteration of my weekly blog post.  I say, “weekly”, but of course, last week I didn’t post, nor did I make any announcement about not posting.  I doubt that anyone was worried about me, which is just as well since there was little about which to worry, but I do apologize for the unexplained absence.  You can withhold a week’s worth of whatever you’re paying me if you want.

I was “under the weather” last week (not in a viral way, but in a bad sleep/migraine sort of way, which is preferable, but which has the disadvantage of being a gift that recurs at unpredictable intervals throughout life), so I stayed in bed with the light off for most of the day, reminding myself that, though it didn’t feel like the medicine was working, I didn’t know how I would feel if I hadn’t taken any.

Which brings me, in a weird way, to a thought that occurred to me—and has done so more than once—since this whole pandemic began.  Many people are bemoaning the ordeal of social distancing, of not being able to go out and shop and go to malls and to movies and to night clubs, to spend time with friends and family in ways that they normally do, and in response I’ve been thinking to myself, “What the hell are you talking about?”

I realized that, for me, not socially interacting, not going out, not shaking hands, not going to restaurants or to the movies or to the mall or to the grocery store or wherever is my regular routine.  I mean, I have a housemate*, with whom I share rent, and I have people at the office with whom I work (though mine is the only desk separated from the main room, since I do records and payroll and whatnot), but that’s pretty much it.  I don’t really have any real friends to speak of, certainly not locally.

I cannot abide things like WhatsApp or FaceTime or whatever.  I can barely stomach Facebook and Twitter, both of which usually just make me feel more depressed about my fellow human beings and myself.  I also have a very difficult (or at least unpleasant) time talking on the phone because of highly asymmetrical hearing loss and rather severe tinnitus in my right ear.  Thank goodness for WordPress and for YouTube channels like Numberphile, Sixty Symbols, and PBS Space Time, and for uploaded videos of British comedy panel shows.  Without them, I’d only have books.

Come to think of it, that last part wouldn’t be so horrible, would it?  Books are good.  Hell, books are great.

Anyway, my point is, if you’re feeling bereft by “social distancing” and feel hard done by because you can’t go out to the movies or the mall or the night club or whatever, you’d be well served not to complain to me.  I consider your complaints very much “first world problems”, and I’m liable to respond to you by saying things that will make you feel much, much worse.

Do you remember in The Silence of the Lambs how Hannibal Lecter got mad at his cell neighbor “multiple Miggs” for treating Clarice Starling rudely, so Hannibal just spoke to Miggs quietly for several hours, after which Miggs wept for a while and then killed himself by swallowing his tongue?  It would be something along those lines.  If you don’t believe me, you should read some of my posts about depression on Iterations of Zero and remind yourself that those are some of the thoughts I’m willing to share publicly.

(Insert diabolical laugh)

Seriously, though, it is a little disconcerting for me to realize that I’m barely, if at all, disrupted by current social changes, because I’m more or less socially isolated at baseline.  This is far from the worst way life could be, of course, but I can’t resist a bit of schadenfreude.  I’m not a nice person, I guess.

Anyway, on to far more important things.  I’m more than halfway through the penultimate edit/readthrough/rewrite of Unanimity, still whittling away the unnecessary (and hopefully not too much that will turn out to have been necessary).  Soon it’ll be time to do final layouts and cover design (though the cover’s general form was decided long ago), and then by this summer the book should be ready for publication!

I’m rather excited, not least because I’ll finally be able to do some new writing.  Don’t get me wrong, I truly love Unanimity, but I seem to be particularly vulnerable to depression when I’m not writing new fiction—or perhaps it’s more precise to say that writing fiction is my strongest weapon against depression—and I’ve committed myself**** to abstaining from starting any new writing projects until I’ve completed the previous one.  I do this because, in the past, giving in to the temptation to start a new story has frequently prevented me from finishing numerous books that I’ve begun.  “Know thyself and act accordingly.”

So, I’m not going to change that policy, which has served me very well since I started it, but I do look forward to completing a new novella (working title, Escape Valve) and putting it together with previously published works into a collection of short stories, then moving on from there to a new novel.

And whither then?  I cannot say.

With that, I think I’ve written all that needed to be written for this blog post, along with much that probably did not need to be written.  I hope you all experience ever-growing levels of happiness, health, and satisfaction, as well as reasonable safety (but not too much…that would be boring).


*He’s a good guy, and to be fair, he is a friend.  He also both plays and makes a mighty mean guitar!  He made two of mine—a Strat and a Les Paul (the latter of which is the finest sounding instrument of any kind that I’ve ever played)—and found and bought my SG for me as well.  Who would ever have thought that I would have so many guitars**?

**I have six—two acoustics and four electrics.  That’s enough, I think***.

***This has been my first use, if memory serves, of nested footnotes.  Any thoughts?

****Ha ha.

Lovers and madmen have such seething blogs…that apprehend more than cool reason ever comprehends.

I'm not in the street you fairy


Okay, so…hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday again, and I’m not flagrantly ill*, so that must mean that it’s time for another blog post.  Huzzah!

It’s hard to think of much that’s new with me since last Thursday.  I did get one very nice comment on this blog about my song, Like and Share, and of course, family and friends on Facebook and elsewhere had some very kind words about it.  Since then, regarding music: I’ve been practicing regularly, and I’m working on two projects, neither of which is as “serious” as Like and Share was.  First, I’m working on recording a “bad cover” of the Beatles song, Something, which I’ve been practicing/learning for the guitar for a while now**.  I’m hoping to make something that’s not too embarrassing to have other people hear.

I’ve also been finally arranging a tune I made up a loooong time ago for the Joker’s song from the graphic novel The Killing Joke, written by the justly legendary Alan Moore and illustrated by the absolutely brilliant Brian Bolland.  The melody just came to me when I read the story from early on, but I never wrote it down or anything; like so many of these things, it’s just been bouncing around in my head ever since.  Well, now I have written it, and I’ve worked out the chord structure and everything—for the piano mainly.  If I get to the point where I can play my own frigging composition at speed without missing notes all over the place, I may record it.

I know they made an animated film version of the story in recent years, and apparently someone must have written their own version of the tune for the Joker’s song, but I’ve neither seen nor listened to it, nor will I before I finish putting my own together.  I don’t want to taint my own thoughts, nor get too depressed about the movie version being either better or worse than my version.

Those are just frivolous little playthings, though… “fairy toys”, as Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream might say.  Not that everything isn’t frivolous from the right perspective, but these are frivolous even from my own point of view***.  My most important work, to me, is my writing, and most particularly my fiction, but for some time now, and still for a bit of time to go, that work has been and will be comprised solely of the editing/tweaking of Unanimity, since it’s such a long story (I still like it a lot, though; don’t get me wrong).

Quite some time ago—but not nearly long ago enough—I decided that I wouldn’t begin any new story until I finished the previous one.  This is because one of the main things that derailed me from finishing many (or any) books earlier in life was my tendency to become distracted and start some new project before ever having finished previous ones.  And so, many things were begun but few were finished…and enterprises of great pith and moment with this disrespect their courses turned awry and lost the name of action.

It’s a common enough lament, I suppose, but it’s terribly annoying for me to look back and realize how many balls I dropped because I kept trying to juggle instead of giving just one of them at a time a good, solid fling into the distance.  Such is the metaphorical nature of regret.

On a lighter note, I just realized that it’s 02/20/2020 today, or in the European form, 20/02/2020.  That’s not as cool as 02/02/2020 was, but it’s still fun for numberphiles like me.  Of course, all dates and dating systems are arbitrary (though the length of a day and of a year do refer to real, physical cycles).  Even most serious Christian scholars (including former pope Benedict, aka Darth Ratzinger) estimate that Jesus was probably born sometime between what we would call 6 B.C. and 4 B.C.  None put his birth at year zero…for there is no year zero in that dating system!  (And almost no one really believes that Jesus was born three or four days after the winter solstice in whatever year.)  The counts of years and of months and of days are just arbitrary.  But the numbers can still be fun.

That’s about that, I guess.  Not much more to talk about.  Or, to put it another way, there’s way too much stuff to talk about (or, rather, “about which to talk”) to get started on it here in my weekly blog post.  Perhaps I’ll try, yet again, to touch upon it in audio posts or to write about it, either on Iterations of Zero, or here.  More likely, I’ll just keep having the conversation with myself in my head—and sometimes out loud—until I can finally shut the stupid soliloquy up for good.


*Physically, anyway.  By which I mean outside the brain…though that’s certainly a physical organ.  But I’ll try not to split hairs.

**Not as long as I’ve been working on mastering the lead guitar part from Knives Out, by Radiohead, but that’s difficult mainly because it’s just got a lot going on and has no real slow spots.  It reminds me of some of Bach’s Two-part Inventions, which is part of why I like it.

***Actually, to be fair, pretty much everything is frivolous from my point of view, since I’m fairly unconvinced even of the possibility of any external, intrinsic meaning to anything at all.

The brain may devise laws for the blog, but a hot temper leaps o’er a cold decree


Okay.  So.  It’s Thursday, and thus it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.  Hello, and good morning, and all that chitty chat.

I’m not sure that I have much to say that’s very interesting today, not that I’ll let such a thing stop me.  Nothing much new is going on, as it were, just a lot of the same old same old.  I posted a “karaoke” song on Iterations of Zero over the weekend, and I then (yesterday) posted the audio I did on common misunderstandings of evolutionary theory and some troubles with social media as well, but as far as I can tell, no one has listened to that.  Except me, of course; I listened to it repeatedly during the editing process.  But it’s hard to say whether anyone else has listened to it.

There are tools in WordPress with which to check one’s metrics and clicks and all that, but I have a hard-enough time fitting the writing (or the recording) and editing of these posts into my schedule.  Frankly, it’s a good thing that I have no life, because otherwise I don’t see how I’d get anything done apart from running about like a decapitated chicken.  Yesterday at work, for instance, was one long chain of trying to address problems most of which shouldn’t have existed.  Ironically this involved greater stress than did working as a physician, even in the emergency room of the primary city hospital in the Bronx, since in the latter case at least one was surrounded by and working with motivated, skilled, and intelligent coworkers*.  It’s difficult to overstate how wonderful that can be.

So, I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do with respect to IoZ and these alternative subjects about which I want to speak and/or write.  I often enjoy the recording of my thoughts (which entails the crystallization and clarification of those thoughts themselves, carried out aloud), but though it’s easier to do the rough draft for audio, the editing is much more onerous than is the editing of a written file.  Also, it’s astonishing how data-inefficient audio is.  I’m seriously considering using voice-to-text on some typical portion of one of the things I posted and seeing how big the Word file is relative to the mp3.  The current draft of Unanimity, which is now just under half a million words, takes up a little more than 1 megabyte of storage.  A simple, compressed audio file can take up more than that amount of memory for only a few minutes of speech.  God help you if you look at a raw wav file or similar.  Don’t even try to think about the size of video files!  It will drive you as mad as an encounter with one of Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones.

I guess there was a good reason—probably many of them—for inventing written language.

It’s difficult for me to tell if anyone out there is more interested in listening to audio files than they are in reading my written posts; I’ve received no feedback on the subject, nor any clear and convincing data, one way or the other.  As for me and my house, I prefer reading in one sense, but it’s weirdly easier to fit audio into my schedule (I can listen while commuting, for instance).  Also, many people whose thoughts interest me do a lot more podcasting than they do blogging or writing books or articles.

On the other hand, my hearing is not great…with the exception that I quite literally, constantly hear a very intense and high-pitched “A”** in my right ear.  But that’s tinnitus, and as far as I can tell, it conveys next to no information***.  I’d probably be better off if I just didn’t listen to anything on my commute and eschewed watching videos, except with subtitles and the sound turned down.  I already avoid phone conversations if I can, partly because they are maddeningly noise-ridden****.

So, anyway, if anyone out there has any suggestions about whether you think I’m wasting time with the audio stuff for IoZ, and/or if you prefer it to written matter, or if you have any other comments, I’d appreciate the feedback.  I’m very much talking to myself, otherwise, and I can do that without using the internet.

In other news, Unanimity, at least, is going well, as I hinted above.  The editing process is bearing fruit, which hopefully will be ripe for your consumption and enjoyment in the not-too-distant future.  I’m still enjoying the story, myself, but I’m reaching that excellent stage where I can read what I’ve written and say, “Well, that whole paragraph adds absolutely nothing to the book.  Delete it.”  Stephen King counsels that, when editing, you must be prepared to “kill your darlings,” but honestly, it sometimes feels more like killing cockroaches…which, a reasonable interest in entomology notwithstanding, is not a difficult thing for which to find motivation.

It’s the cleaning up afterward that’s annoying.


*I know what you’re thinking:  How did I worm my way into such a work environment?  I have no clear answer for you.

**I know this because I tried to discern what note it was the other day, and then checked my guess against a keyboard, and I was right.  It was an “A”.  At least I can tune a cello any time I need to, no matter where I am.

***Other than the obvious, which is:  “Hey, you’ve got pretty nasty nerve damage in your right ear!  Hey!  HEY!!!  HEEEEEEEEEEEEEYYYY!!!!!!!!!

****To be honest, though, that’s mainly because of anxiety.  Still, when one is already socially awkward, the added problem of trying to decipher someone’s speech without the help of visual cues from body language and lip movement is just that much more problematic.  I suppose video calling might help, but then I’d have to let people look at me, and that’s never a good thing for either party.

But when they should endure the bloggy spur, they fall their crests, and like deceitful jades sink in the trial.

Wyoming-Quintet-Opus-1 (2)

Hello, good morning, and welcome to yet another Thursday.  I don’t know that I have much to write about today, but that’s never stopped me from writing before, and I see no need to let it do so now.  I’ll just start writing and see what happens.  If worse comes to worst, I suppose I’ll just have a short blog post.*

The editing of Unanimity is going reasonably well, as usual.  There’s not much new to say about it.  I’m more than halfway through the latest pass, but I still have quite a few run-throughs to go.  Well, okay, the actual integer number of run-throughs isn’t large, but when those numbers refer to the editing of a huge novel, they can still take quite a long time.  I wish I were independently wealthy, or at least able to make my living solely by writing.  Then I’d probably have been done with Unanimity by now, and on to some subsequent project, if there is to be any subsequent project.  Unfortunately, wishing for the counter-factual is an exercise in futility.  As the old saying goes, “If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.”  I think the situation is actually far more extreme than that, with respect to the number of wishes in the world, so my personal version of the saying is, “If wishes were horses, then we’d all be hip-deep in horse-shit.”

Which, in a certain sense, we already are.  So maybe it wouldn’t make much of a figurative difference.  Are horses as big a producer of greenhouse gasses per capita as cows are?  Maybe if wishes were horses, we could replace beef in our diets with “chevval” or something along those lines, and the world would be slightly better.  Or maybe it wouldn’t be.  Our gardens at least would have plenty of fertilizer.

I’ve written a new article for Iterations of Zero for this week, but I haven’t posted it yet, because I haven’t finished editing it.  It’s not that this has been a particularly busy week—though it has been busy—it’s just that I’ve had a hard time finding the energy and time to apply to IoZ in the midst of other things.  I just know that I put all that time and energy somewhere, but I think it might have gotten thrown away by accident the last time I moved.  In any case, I can’t seem to locate it no matter where I look.  I suppose that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Time can be a curse as well as a blessing, depending on the circumstances (while too much energy can be explosive, and in the extreme limit, can create a black hole).

As for everything else, well, there’s not much new in the world.  Of course, as always, there are specific “new” things, specific iterations of more generic types of events that keep occurring, but it’s important to recognize that such details are trivia, with little to no lasting consequence as compared to any other possible set of details.  At least, it’s important to me to recognize this, as much as something trivial can be important, and as much as something important can be trivial.

The weather in most of the United States has gotten quite cold over the past few days.  It’s even cooled down here in south Florida a bit, though not to an uncomfortable degree.  This has brought a bit of rain, and that’s mildly annoying, but it’s hardly unusual for a subtropical wetland—which is what this area is when left to its own devices.  In any case, the arrival of the “cold” months down here tends to entail a significant reduction in daily rainfall…and it’s more or less unheard-of for there to be snow in my neighborhood.  As the end of the year approaches, one really should hear in our local malls the carol, “I’m dreaming of a wet Christmas,” since the more traditional version is surely just a pipe dream.

To be honest, it’s been years, probably almost a decade, since I’ve even been in a mall (except when passing through on the way to see a movie, which has happened on three occasions).  Some of you may think that sounds enviable, and I’m sure you have your reasons, but I like malls, at least when they’re not too crowded.  They make me feel almost as if I’m in a slightly gaudy museum—a museum where I can, if I really like something that’s on display, buy it.  Malls were always truly fun and often exciting places to go with family…which is one of the main reasons I haven’t gone to one in so long.

Anyway, I’ve now said more than was merited by anything about which I had to speak (or to write, if you prefer to be pedantic, which is an urge I find it hard to criticize), so I should probably draw all of this to a close.**  To all of those reading—and to the vastly larger number of people who aren’t—I wish you well; indeed, I wish you all the best possible moments and outcomes in all areas of your lives and in all their intertwinings with all the other lives out there.

But we know what wishes are worth, don’t we?


*I suspect there are many who think this is far from worse, let alone worst, but we’ll ignore them, since they must be masochists if they’re reading this despite their displeasure.  Okay, well, it’s too late to ignore them now, but we’ll at least give them no further attention.

**I’m sure there are those out there who think I should do so on a much more global level, top to bottom, side to side, in all possible senses.  As with the urge to be pedantic, I find it difficulty argue against such a point of view.

Give me your hands if we be friends, and Robert shall restore amends

wine glass shatter


Buenos días, ohaiyou gozaimasu, and good morning!  Welcome to another jueves, Mokuyoubi, and Thursday.  It’s that day of the week, by any other name, on which I write my blog posts, and that’s just what I’m going to do.

I must warn you, however, that I’m currently suffering from the viral respiratory infection that’s going around the office.  More specifically, I’m in about the second full day of the thing, which is often among the worst, when all the cytokines and other inflammatory and immune mediators are floating around the body, triggering low-grade fevers, chills, aches and pains, as well as poor sleep (something to which I’m at least reasonably accustomed).  In other words, I may be at less than my optimal writing state, and I may further be in less than an ideal state for evaluating the quality of my writing.  So, if you find that this blog post is irritating or incoherent or simply stupid, I ask you please to cut me some slack.

Basically, I’m giving myself excuses for not doing as good a job as I—and presumably you—might like me to do.  Perhaps the fickle Spirit of Human Charity will even work to my advantage in this, and this blog post will be popular even if it’s not great.  How cool would that be?  If only I always had such excuses*.

Okay, sorry about that bit of auto-derision.  I’m currently reading a light novel series in which the main character/narrator is a cynical loner who ends up doing good things for other people more or less against his will, despite being a natural outsider.  That thought style resonates with me perhaps a bit too strongly…though I’ve come to my personal attitude thanks to fifty years (minus three days) of experience, whereas Hikigaya Hachiman reached that stage of enlightenment** by the time he was in high school.  I suppose there are prodigies in any area of expertise.  Also, he’s fictional; as far as I know, I’m not.

It’s good to be reading fiction again, though I think “Oregairu” is about the only one for which I’d have any stomach right now.  It’s a unique story with a unique protagonist—almost an anti-hero, but not quite—and it’s been made into a two-season anime, which I’ve already watched more than once.  It was very well done, and very true to the books, so I already know what’s going to happen, but that’s never been a problem for me.  God knows how often I’ve read The Lord of the Rings and enjoyed it every time.  Ditto for many other high-quality tales.

I’ve heard of a study that claimed to find that audiences and readers enjoy a story more when they already know the outcome (more or less).  I’m not sure how robust or convincing this study was, but there’s little doubt that audiences of almost all movies, books, shows, etc. have a good idea going in how most stories will end.  “The rest is commentary,” as they say.  Though, of course, they also say the devil is in the details…which is particularly true in most of my writing, though perhaps not in the sense usually intended.

Speaking of my writing, I’ve almost completed the third editing run-through of Unanimity.  Indeed, I just finished the main arc of the story yesterday, and only the denouement remains.  I feel a little silly relating this, but the climax of the story literally brought tears to my eyes.  Mainly this is because the characters involved were crying, and when I write and edit, I try to sort of act out the scenes in my head, and I often speak the dialogue aloud; it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m great at writing heart-wrenching fiction.  I’ll sometimes tear up when singing songs from The Phantom of the Opera or The Long and Winding Road or Empty Garden and similar, just because that’s the mood of the songs***.  Also, being prone as I am to depression, the resonant frequencies of my brain simply respond to minor keys—literally and figuratively—most powerfully.

Perhaps that’s why some people are prone to depression:  their mental circuitry is arranged such that it “vibrates” most energetically in response to dark inputs.  And, unfortunately, as when a crystal wine glass resonates with an opera singer’s voice, sometimes these harmonics can cause a thing to shatter.

I’m probably pushing the analogy too far.

Anyway, the bottom line is that the editing of Unanimity is coming along well, though I still have a long way to go.  I think it’s getting better with each round of the process, so it’s pretty satisfying.  It’s quite nice to enjoy one’s own stories, after all…and I can pretty much say that I enjoy all of mine.  I think some of my earlier works really needed a bit more fine-tuning than they received, but I guess I can still go back and improve them in the fullness of time.  Life is always a work in progress.  As they say, it’s all about the journey, not the destination…which is pretty much trivially obvious, when you think about it, since the destination is always the same no matter what.

And even dark and forbidding scenery can sometimes still be cool to look at along the way, if you can just catch it from the right angle.


*I can’t really count depression as an ongoing excuse, since it’s more or less my baseline, and might even bring a kind of Goth/Punk/Horror coolness to my general attitude.  Okay, probably not, but it would be nice to think so.


***Though, to be fair, these examples are truly exceptional works, whereas my own writing is evocative to me mainly because it’s my writing.  If it doesn’t resonate with me, then there’s something deeply wrong.

For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth, action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech, to stir men’s blog

Desert desperado

Hello and good morning!  It’s another Thursday, and therefore time for another blog entry.  In fact, this morning, when activating my computer (which had self-restarted due to one of the seemingly endless “updates” from Windows…which don’t appear to engender any improvement of function whatsoever) I began, by force of habit, to seek out the last point at which I had been editing Unanimity.  Then I caught myself and remembered, “Wait, it’s blog day.”  Those were, as well as I can recall, my actual internal words.  Maybe I should re-christen this day of the week.  Who knows, if my writing eventually comes to influence the wide world enough, we English speakers might cast aside the traditional Norse name, which gives homage to a character now most widely remembered as being played by Chris Hemsworth.*

If I had a hammer…

It’s been a fairly drab and inauspicious week for me.  There’s not much going on that wasn’t doing so already.  I certainly haven’t been keeping up with current events or anything else floating around regular, virtual, or social media.  I occasionally go on the Google News “App”, just to skim through the headlines, but I don’t think I’ve so much as clicked on a single story in well over a week.  I haven’t even been listening to podcasts, or to Audible books, or even to music during my commute.  I just can’t seem to stir any interest in anything, even in books and shows and movies that used to enthrall me.  All this, despite months of ongoing treatment for my dysthymia/depression.

Oh, well, whataya gonna do?  The universe does not bargain, it cuts no special deals, and it makes only one promise to us all.

I have of course, as might be obvious from my comments above, been working steadily on Unanimity.  I’m approaching the end of the book for the second time (really the third, if you count when I wrote it).  Much, much works remains to be done, of course, but I’m still enjoying the story.  Thus, at least one person in the world will do so, and I suppose that’s a good enough reason to have written it.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I have a difficult time self-promoting, and I’m at least mildly embarrassed bordering on ashamed when I force myself to do it.  At times in the past I’ve rued this character trait of mine, and I’ve wished I could be much more of a sounding brass, but the advents of Kanye West and Donald Trump have reassured me that grandiosity is vastly overrated.**  There’s probably a happy medium somewhere (who runs a successful fortune-telling shop, one presumes), but if there is, I haven’t located it.

I’ve encountered a few germs of ideas for new stories this week—probably short stories—and jotted them down in my memo app, as I do.  That’s always pleasing in at least a small way.  There are many, many such little phrases, sentences, and paragraphs in the that file, but it’s difficult to predict how many of them will eventually become full-fledged stories.

I’ve also been diddling away at musical projects.  As I think I’ve said before, I’ve been working on a rebuild of Breaking Me Down, my personal best musical, or at least lyrical, expression of depression (sounds like a blast, right?).  I’ve learned a thing or two since I first threw it together, and I think it’s definitely improving.  I’ve also been working on a new song, which will be slower and will probably sound moodier than Breaking Me Down, but its words are much more…well, not entirely positive, but at least ambiguous, and its ending is, if not truly uplifting, at least hopeful…I think.

It’s a tough situation where you’re not even clear about the meaning of your own poetry.  Oh, well.

And that’s pretty much all I have to report for the moment.  Apologies if it’s not very gripping, but most days, and most weeks, are ordinary, after all.  I hope you’re all well, and that your futures are very bright indeed…but not so bright as to be blinding.


*Not to say he doesn’t do a terrific job.  It’s not easy to make Thor—the comic book character—cool, but he succeeds in spades.

**Especially by the grandiose.

My native English, now I must forgo; and now my blog’s use is to me no more than an unstringed viol…


Guten morgen, buenos días, ohaiyou gozaimasu, and good morning!  It’s another Thursday (or Donnerstag, Jueves, or Mokuyoubi, if you prefer), and time for my weekly blog post.  There’s not much new going on, really…which is partly why I decided to write my greeting in four languages instead of the customary one.  You’ve gotta pad these things out sometimes.

I received an interesting and amusing email from Amazon yesterday, telling me that certain authors whom I follow have released “new” books.  I use scare quotes because the second of that brace of notices was just about the release of a new version of a work by that great writer of graphic novels, Alan Moore, whose numerous works include Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and my favorite, Batman: The Killing Joke.

The first notice, though, was of a new story released by that obscure (but also great?) author, Robert Elessar.  Apparently, at some point in the past, I decided to follow myself as an author on Amazon.  This is unsurprising; I suppose all authors are narcissistic to some degree.  The very notion of writing a story and offering it to other people to read must entail a certain (benign) kind of hubris.  But it is amusing that Amazon doesn’t recognize—or doesn’t bother trying to recognize, more likely—that the person to whom they sent this notice is the author himself.

I suppose names like Alan Moore and Stephen King might be relatively common, when you think about it, and it certainly seems plausible that a person who shared a name with such a noted author might enjoy following their new works.  But there are plain few Robert Elessars out there.  I know.  I’ve checked.  Furthermore, Amazon could easily recognize that the email to which they sent the notice is also associated with my account as an author who publishes through their platform.

Again, I suspect that they don’t bother worrying about such trivialities.  Why should they?  They have a great many, very big fish to fry, after all.

On other matters:  I’ve been pleased with the feedback I received (on Facebook, mainly) for my song, Catechism.  Of course, that’s only made me itch to fix my earlier musical experiments to make them more presentable, as well as to continue working on the new song I have,* but I continue not to want such work to interfere too much with my writing and, more specifically, with my editing.  It would be soooooo lovely if I could release Unanimity before the end of the year, perhaps in time for the Yuletide holiday season.  Halloween would be better, of course—this is hardly a Christmassy story—but that’s almost certainly a pipe dream, unless some benefactor out there is so excited to read it that she or he decides to sponsor my full-time work on the project.

Alas, I have yet to hear from such a person.

I’ve received no feedback, one way or the other, on Free Range Meat.  That’s not unusual, of course.  Even among people who read a particular story and enjoy (or hate) it, very few will write a review, and even fewer will post comments on social media or on blogs.  It’s hard for me to feel justified in grumbling too much about this.  Even I, a firm believer in the value of rating and reviewing products, and especially books, only do it a relative minority of the time.  Modern life is just too busy.

It was easier when we were all hunter-gatherers, wasn’t it?  Sometimes I regret giving up that lifestyle.  Then I remember that no hunter-gatherer culture invented or used written language—and also that none of them invented cardio-thoracic surgery, without which I’d have been unlikely to survive past my early thirties—and I’m more conflicted.  The loss of written language, and all the stories and nonfiction books I’d thus have to give up, would be intolerable.  As for living past my thirties…well, that’s more debatable.  From a certain point of view, once my children were born—and certainly by the time I was forty—I was pretty much dispensable, even to myself.

Oh, well.  John Mellencamp was right about life, wasn’t he?

And on that cheery note, I’ll call it quits for this week.  I hope you’re all well, and that all manner of things are well for you in this most possible of all possible worlds.


*The words, melody, and chord structure are basically done—that’s the easy part

You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout till you have drenched our teeples, drowned the blogs!


Good morning, everyone!  Though “good” is relative; I was severely rained upon by a thunderstorm on my way into the office today, so I’m pretty much soaked to the bone as I write this, and I will probably be damp all the way up to quitting time.  Still, if that’s the worst trial I encounter today, I’ll be justified in considering myself lucky.

Today is, as I’m sure you know, another Thursday.  It’s also the first day of August in 2019, and this is my usual, weekly blog post, but as those of you who’ve been following will know, I’ve posted other items since my previous formal posting.  At the end of last week (ish), I released my song Catechism on Iterations of Zero and on my YouTube channel.  Then, earlier this week, I put a video version of it here on my main website, though I haven’t yet put it directly up on my Facebook page.

I must officially issue a caveat:  the “video” portion of the post consists merely of my Iterations of Zero icon.  I promise you, no one wants to watch me performing a song.  In any case, since I played all the several parts myself (recording them at various times before mixing) it’s physically impossible for me to do it.  I suppose, with a little work, I could do a music video that cut between shots of me playing different instruments and singing along with the recorded song (lip-syncing, keyboard-syncing and guitar-syncing, presumably), but I have no good location in which to do such a thing, and the software required to do it well would probably require significant money.  In any case, I’m far from photogenic enough to make it worth anyone’s time to produce such a video.  I know I don’t enjoy looking at my ugly mug, and it’s hard to imagine that anyone else would, either.

The song, Catechism, on the other hand, is not bad to listen to, and I’m a reasonably good singer.  The production/mixing are certainly better than my previous attempts, which leads me to the strong temptation—to which I will no doubt succumb—to remix Breaking Me Down, and probably to redo some of the parts from scratch.  I’ve discovered already, with a bit of tinkering on the original, that by taking the tempo up from 90 beats per minute to 100, I could not only shave about 40 seconds off the piece,* but also make it peppier, which would be good considering how dark the lyrics are.

I’ve also—somewhat frustratingly, though in a good sort of way—found myself driven to begin writing chords and formal music for another old song I’d sort of made up a long time ago.  I imagine this is a little like being a drug addict…as soon as I’m done with the last fix, and despite heartfelt promises to myself and others, I immediately begin working my way toward another one.  It’s a compulsion.  Still, if this is my worst vice,** I can consider myself not only lucky but actually blessed.

Still, my primary addiction remains my writing, and in addition to the musical release, I was true to my word about my latest story.  Free Range Meat is now available on Amazon, in Kindle format only.  For those of you who strongly prefer actual, hard copies of stories to read—and I sympathize with your preference—I can only say that this and all my other Kindle-only “short” stories will eventually be collected into Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, which will be available in hard copy.  I don’t know, though, how long it’s going to be before that happens.  Free Range Meat might well be the last story to be included in it, but I might decide to finish my novella (tentatively titled Escape Valve) first and include it as a never-before-published treat, if treat it will be.

But for the time being, my authorial energies will be focused entirely on Unanimity, which is a good thing, since I’m not even three-quarters of the way through its second editing run-through.  No matter how ruthlessly I cut, it’s going to be a long book in its final form.  I still like it, though, which is always a pleasant discovery.  Most importantly, I like the characters, even the “bad guy,” and I hope that readers will like them, too—even the bad guy.  It can be fun, of course, to find an antagonist you really hate, who’s just irredeemable and horrible, so you can feel real joy when (and if) the villain finally gets his*** comeuppance.  But it’s often even more fun to have a villain with whom you can at least empathize and maybe even sympathize, and—from time to time—with whom you can find yourself agreeing against your own will.  Who among us hasn’t occasionally secretly wished that Hannibal Lecter were around to punish certain severely rude people?

Maybe that’s just me.

Well, that’s my weekly update, and it’s been a busy week indeed, marred slightly by a virus of some kind that I’ve been enjoying since Saturday.  I wouldn’t call that a very high price to pay for getting done what I have in the last seven days.

As always, I’d enjoy getting any feedback you might feel like sharing, whether about my story, or about my song, or about anything else that strikes your fancy, in any of the venues which I haunt.  All I ask is that you try to be reasonably polite.

After all, how certain are you that Hannibal Lecter isn’t out there watching?


*which is currently longer than Hey Jude but with nary a “Na, na na nanana naaaaah” to be found.

**which I doubt.

***yes, most of my favorite villains are male, which I think is consistent with the real world, though perhaps I’m being sexist.  I tend to like strong (but not quite villainous) female characters, as is probably obvious especially from Mark Red, but also Son of Man, and even The Chasm and the Collision.  This pattern will not be broken in Unanimity.

“And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”


Hello, good morning, and welcome to another Thursday.  Today’s holiday is rather less prestigious than last week’s:  it’s International Convenience Store Day!  (Actually, I just made that up, but if it isn’t International Convenience Store Day, since in much of the world the date would be written as 11/7 rather than 7/11, then at least it ought to be National Convenience Store Day in the US).

I’m afraid my previous post wasn’t well-read, or at least it wasn’t well-“liked”.  Possibly this is because it was a holiday last week and people didn’t read blogs as much as usual.  Possibly, though, it’s because I was so serious and grumpy about what I was writing.  I do think it’s an important subject, but I guess people didn’t find it gripping.  Maybe it was just so obvious to everyone that it didn’t bear repeating…though given what we see in the nation I somehow doubt that.  Maybe I’m just whining.

That last proposal seems to be the most promising hypothesis.

Of course, I’ve continued to edit Unanimity as well as my short story Free Range Meat.  The latter is close to releasable form, and I’ll probably publish it before the end of July.  Cover design has yet to begin, but I have the general idea in mind, and I don’t think it’ll take much work to accomplish.

I’m pleased to find that I’m continuing to enjoy reading and editing Unanimity.  That doesn’t mean that anyone else will enjoy reading it, but at least it will have one fan in the long run.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I was nervous about this.  As I wrote it, and as it continued to get longer, I occasionally thought to myself that this thing feels like it’s never going to end…and not in a good way.  Rereading it, however, has been pleasurable, and I’m getting quite a lot done.

I particularly enjoy the fact that my villain, who is also sort of the main character, continues to be and act like a likeable, nice guy, even as he does horrific things, and he’s not just pretending.  I don’t know why it tickles me so much, but it does.

In other news, I’m sad to report that I’m still having trouble finding and reading new works of fiction.  Well, “finding” new works of fiction isn’t hard, they’re everywhere, but finding ones that get my attention, and which I can sit down and read and enjoy, has been very difficult for some time, and it seems to be getting worse.  TV and movies, despite the shorter required attention span, have likewise failed to grab my interest.  It’s even hard for me to go back and pick up books that I’ve read and loved before, which is truly bizarre.  When I do like a story, I tend to read it and reread it and reread it, over and over and over again.

As a case in point, when Book 6 of the Harry Potter series came out, I was one of the midnight buyers, and once I bought it, I devoured it rapidly.  I liked it so much that, by the time Book 7 came out, I had read its predecessor a full seven times, not counting the times I listened to the audio book while commuting.  Yet now, though I have the book handily available in my cell phone on Kindle at any time, I feel no urge to read it or any of the other books in the series.  Some of that may be partly due to negative associations; I enjoyed reading and discussing those books with my now-ex-wife, we both having first been introduced to them by our niece.  But that can’t be the whole story—at least I don’t think it is.  After all, I started reading The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, in junior high, if memory serves, and I’ve read those (and the first Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever) literally dozens of times, well into adulthood.  (I’m not talking about two dozen, either.)  Yet lately, I can’t get interested in them (nor, in the case of Thomas Covenant, the more recent sequels).

Here’s a particularly troubling case:  I recently was able to force my way through a rereading of Ender’s Game…but I couldn’t even get past the first fifty pages of Speaker for the Dead, which I recall as one of the best books I’ve ever read!

I’m too nervous even to try reading Shakespeare.  And I’m a person who once, in my undergraduate days, deliberately took two Shakespeare courses at the same time (and loved them)!

Bottom line, I’m a serious nerd/geek who has been losing interest in the things about which I am nerdy/geeky.  Even such instant gratification story-types as comic books and manga are hard to focus on.  I don’t have so much as a smidgen of curiosity about Game of Thrones, and I’m sure that in the past I would have been a delighted aficionado of those books and that series.  I haven’t even been able to get through the first season of Stranger Things, and if there’s a series that is more perfectly my kind of story, I’m not aware of it.

Thankfully, I still retain at least some of my ability to be interested in and to read about science, though even that is nothing like it used to be.

Oh, well.  Like I said above, I guess I’m a bit of a whiner.  Hopefully my kvetching isn’t too boring, since this anhedonia does trouble me, and I feel a strong need to share my sense of dismay.  Also, maybe I’m not-so-secretly hoping that some reader will have a magical answer for me, and things will turn around.  If not…well, I don’t even know.

Anyway, enough morosity.  (I know, that’s not a standard word, but I prefer it to “moroseness”, which is a standard word).  The woes and laments of a lonely author, blogger, and aficionado of various forms of fantastic fiction and nonfiction are of little real moment.  It just makes life tiring, and it’s hard for me to summon the energy to move forward.  Thankfully, one of my most enduring traits—unsurprisingly, I guess—is stubbornness.  But all things have their limits.



For it will come to pass that every bloggart shall be found an ass.

Good day, everyone.  It’s that morning for which you all pine each week:  Thursday morning, the morning on which I (usually) release my weekly blog post.  Rejoice!  You can breathe again.

Okay, well, anyway…I hope everyone in America had a good Memorial Day on Monday.  I always try to avoid saying “a happy Memorial Day,” since the point behind the holiday is to remember with gratitude the many military personnel who’ve fought and died in wars, etc., especially in World War II, and that’s not really a happy thought.

Of course, in a certain sense, we should be happy that these people did what they did—it’s good that the Axis powers didn’t win World War II, even despite the many missteps and mistakes the Allies and former Allies have made in the years since.  On the other hand, though, we can surely all agree that it’s lamentable that such destruction and loss of life was ever necessary.  If you stop and think about it, we should all hope for (and whenever possible, strive toward) a world in which neither heroism nor leadership are necessary, since leadership and heroism are generally required only when things are not going well.  At least, it would be nice to work toward a world in which conflict, leadership, and heroism exist in sports, in books, in movies, and in video games, but not in day to day life.

Is such a world possible?  In principle, I think it is.  In practice, who knows if it will ever happen?  I wouldn’t lay heavy money on it, more’s the pity.

On to lighter, or at least more personal, matters.  I’ve been fiddling around with sound editing/recording/mixing software, and it has continued to distract me a bit from my writing tasks, but not completely.  Though I haven’t written any new pages of Neko/Neneko for over a week, I have been editing away at Unanimity, and I’ve been pleased to find that there are some moving moments in it.  One would hope this was the case in a long novel, of course, but I’ve read a few books in which there are no such experiences.  It’s nice that, at least for the author, the book has some poignant, and goose-bumpy, and thrilling passages.  Hopefully, future readers will agree with my assessment.

I continue to entertain the plan of releasing the three short stories from Welcome to Paradox City as individual Kindle editions, and—in sort of a parallel opposite act—of releasing a collection of my more recent short stories, and possibly doing all of these before Unanimity comes out.  And, of course, before any of that, I’m going to be releasing Free Range Meat, my latest short story.  That should happen fairly soon, as the editing on it is going well, even though it’s only one day a week.

Amidst all these processes, one thing that I’ve fallen off on a bit—and which I was never terribly good about in the first place—is promotion.  Though I’ve never found it natural to advertise myself, I at least periodically used to boost some Facebook ads and the like, and I haven’t done any of that in quite a while.  It’s just contrary to my nature, at least as I am now, to shout out for attention, even when it’s perfectly reasonable, and even necessary, to do so.  Don’t get me wrong, I can certainly be pompous and arrogant in my own right (no, really!), but I’m not very good at talking myself up.  I usually feel that it’s rude to try to push myself into other people’s awareness.  This is not good, of course, for someone who’s trying to get other people to notice and read his books (or listen to his songs, or whatever).  And I myself often lament how much it’s the case that the assholes of the world make far more noise than the benign and positive people.

Of course, one ongoing way in which I do promote myself is by writing this blog (and Iterations of Zero, though that’s more esoteric).  But doing more than that is rather awkward for me.

I often envy the attitude expressed by a moment in “The Simpsons” when Marge flashes back to a two-year-old Bart walking down the hall, banging on a kitchen pot with a spoon and singing, “I am so great!  I am so great!  Everybody loves me, I am so great!”  And, of course, I’m well aware that a key principle of advertising is repetition, even to the point of irritation.  After all, if people are thinking and talking about how much of a pain you are, they’re talking about you.  But it feels like it’s all in such poor taste.

Then again, I write fantasy/sci-fi/horror, and in the latter genre, many things happen which quite a few people would say are in poor taste, or they would be if they really occurred.  Certainly, the fate that befalls the very well-intentioned and positively behaved main character of Free Range Meat could hardly be called a Capra-esque outcome.  Maybe Kafka-esque, but definitely not Capra, and definitely not tasteful.

Tasty?  Maybe.

There, that’s a little teaser for you to whet your appetite.  I can do this promotion thing.  Sure, I can.

Well, I could ramble on and on for much longer than I have, but I’ll save that for another time.  Always leave them wanting more, they say.  I wish for each of you the best of all possible outcomes from your point of view, with only the proviso that it not interfere with the best of all possible outcomes for others from their points of view.

And isn’t that the big problem of crafting a society even of thoroughly well-meaning people?