Inhuman Swill : September 2009

Printing postcards

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It seems, I'm afraid, that Cast a Cold Eye will just miss being out in time for the World Fantasy Convention in San Jose. But never fear! In the absence of actual books, I'm having postcards printed up for Derryl and me to distribute at the con. (I'm using Moo.com, which I love, and which is also where I got my business cards. And nowadays if you order from the US, your stuff ships from the US, which is a great improvement over waiting for a shipment from the UK.) Anyway, if you want to see what the front of the postcards looks like, check out this page I built to tout our book:

http://shunn.net/cast

I'm also having postcards printed up to advertise the story reading/dance performance taking place October 16th here at the WorkSpace. I'm very happy with the way the fortuitous way the color schemes of the photographs matched up with the illustration. Check it out:

http://shunn.net/medicine

If you're in Chicago, I do hope to see you on the 16th!

The plan

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I keep wanting to write a long entry about Blue Heaven 2009, but I keep not having enough time to put together something of appropriate length, depth, and breadth. (And also something that works as a sufficiently laudatory travelogue of Kelleys Island so Marvin will stay my friend.) Suffice it for now to say that I could not be happier with the feedback and suggestions that [info]hollailama, [info]rambleflower, and [info]secritcrush gave me on my novel-in-progress Technomancers. And I can't fail to mention [info]bondgwendabond, who lent half an ear to the proceedings, offered more great suggestions, and may well have renamed my novel to Endgame. (And I can't fail to mention [info]ccfinlay for putting everything together and making it so much more than just a week of critiques, and my great once and future[?] roommate [info]gregvaneekhout, and...)

Anyway, I thought, since I outlined my writing goals at the beginning of the Endgame project, I'd post an update about where I am on it and what I have left to do. 70,000 words into the novel, I realized I was only about halfway through the plot, if that. For a young-adult novel, this was rather unacceptable. With insufficient ruthlessness I was able to hack and revise that down to 60,000 before Blue Heaven, but there's more cutting and rewriting that needs to be done. That will come after I complete the current draft, though, which I'm already moving forward on. I'm giving myself 50,000 words and to the 30th of November to reach the end. Then I'll spend December reworking the problematic opening of the novel and cutting that first half down from 60,000 to, I hope, 30,000 words or fewer. That will give me an 80,000-word novel to start shopping. That's the plan, and a mere thousand words a day will get me there.

One of the consistent comments I got from my critiquers is that the book is pleasant enough but really starts humming around page 200. The faster I can get to that point, and the more humming I can coax out of it before that point, the better.

And now, back to executing my Endgame.

STRONG MEDICINE: A Program of Fiction and Dance
Writers Workspace, 5443 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640
Friday, October 16, 7:00 pm (doors 6:30 pm)

Writers WorkSpace is pleased to host a free evening of fiction and dance in the spirit of October, featuring sound-and-movement duo Microgig and science-fiction writer William Shunn. On a mission to bring dance to places it's not normally found, Microgig members Asimina Chremos (dance) and Fred Lonberg-Holm (sound) will stage their haunting improvisations in this unusually close and intimate setting. Bookended by chilling short stories read live by William Shunn, the evening will be one you won't want to miss. Space is limited, so arrive early. Light refreshments will be offered.

(See an earlier Microgig performance, from the beer cooler at Chicago's famous Hideout, below.)

The heavy lifting

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A poem that made me smile most broadly today is "Moving Day" by Ron Koertge. Read it—it won't take you very long.

So there's something of a meme on YouTube where people take that memorable scene of Hitler's meltdown in the German film Downfall and replace the subtitles. My favorite example of this used to be the one where Hitler rants about the changed ending of the Watchmen movie. That one's now been eclipsed by this more brilliant, pointed, and timely version:

Eight years later

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I consciously realized something this evening that has been nagging at me for a few weeks now, which is that tomorrow morning, when the new episode of my podcast goes live, there's going to be a line on the front page of my web site that reads "September 11." I'm not looking forward to seeing that.

It helped this evening that Laura and I had a good friend over, and that date was one of the subjects we chatted about on the back deck amidst the wreckage of banana daiquiris, white Russians, and Tomintoul 27yo served neat with water back. I was glad to hear that I'm not the only one who gets so angry that he has to withdraw from conversations of the sort that I had a few weeks ago, when a random stranger at a bar I like to frequent on Friday afternoon tried to tell me that the American government was behind 9/11. (It's not exactly a counterargument, but my favorite statistic to trot out in such circumstances is that Manhattan [a/k/a New York County], the very borough that was attacked by foreign nationals, voted 80% for Al Gore in 2004.)

Anyway, if you have some time, browse over to my survivor registry tomorrow, read some of the posts from that confusing day, and try to remember what it was like to feel the world changing around us.

Missing the mark

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I end up with some very interesting Google Ads showing up on the page for my Accidental Terrorist podcast. Just now there was a big splashy banner ad for the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute ("Gunfights don't give second chances"). Apparently the Googlemind doesn't want you potential terrorists going out into the world without firearms training!

Chicago rocked!

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Support Chicago radio personality James VanOsdol's history of the local '90s rock scene, Chicago Rocked! He's funding the project through Kickstarter.com and only has 13 days to raise another more than $10,000. Please pledge if you can, because I selfishly really, really want to read this book.

Reading tonight!

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Just a reminder of the reading tonight at Flourish Bakery Cafe, 1138 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago, IL 60660. I'll be appearing with five other authors and poets. What a bargain! For more information, please see:

http://tuesdayfunk.blogspot.com/2009/08/tuesday-funk-16.html

Here's a personal invitation:

When all my dime-dancing is through, I run to you Winter is not here yet, but it has definitely RSVP'd this past week. Summer had finally shown up after slumming somewhere down south but only hung out for a couple of weeks before autumn served it its eviction notice. I know that in a few months we'll be longing for temperatures in the 50s, but right now it feels cold as hell out there.

Fortunately, it was hot inside the Chicago Theater last night, once everyone thronging the sidewalks stopped taking pictures of the marquee and squeezed themselves through the doors. As part of their Rent Party '09 tour, Steely Dan is playing complete albums in a few cities. Chicago is fortunate enough to have gotten Aja last night, and gets Gaucho tonight and The Royal Scam on Thursday. I wish I could go every night, but Laura and I could choose only one, so we agreed on Aja.

It was a fantastic show, with an incredible cross-section of great songs. I won't be posting a full review, but I do want to note a couple of things. First, this was the first show we've been to in a long time, with the possible exception of AC/DC, where the majority of the crowd appeared to be older than we. (Definitely not the case at, say, The Dead Weather a few weeks back.) Second, having listened to it countless times over the past 32 years, I can't quite put my finger on why "Deacon Blues" made me all teary last night. Maybe I, I want a name when I lose.

Setlist (Aja tracks in bold):

  1. Black Cow
  2. Aja
  3. Deacon Blues
  4. Peg
  5. Home at Last
  6. I Got the News
  7. Josie
  8. Black Friday
  9. Time Out of Mind
  10. Daddy Don't Live in That NYC No More
  11. Bodhisattva
  12. Babylon Sisters
  13. Showbiz Kids
  14. Hey Nineteen
  15. Dirty Work
  16. Do It Again
  17. Don't Take Me Alive
  18. My Old School
  19. Kid Charlemagne

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