Inhuman Swill : Friends : Page 2

29

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So there's this meme going around on Facebook where you give someone an age and they write about their life that year. I was given 29.



29 ... 1996-1997. Probably one of my most transformative yet miserable years. It was my second year living in NYC, my second year out of the Mormon church, and everything about life in the city was exciting. I landed the job that year, at N2K Entertainment, that introduced me to some of the best friends of my life and set me on the path to success as a web developer. My desperate financial situation began to turn around. I was plowing like mad through books on Mormon history, gaining the foundation I needed to eventually write my memoir, and gaining as reputation as one of the angriest and most outspoken ex-Mormons on the web. But I was also living in Brooklyn with a sociopathic girlfriend who gave me none of the support I needed to get any writing done. That should have been the year I threw her out, but I was still insecure enough to think I wasn't going to be able to make it in New York on my own. The end of that year, my 30th birthday party at Mooney's Pub on Flatbush, was one of the best nights of my life that far, mostly because it showed me how many friends I'd made that year. You were there, and you, and you, and you. And you too!

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My town, kinda, Chicago is

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Laura and I were in San Diego a coupla three weeks ago for the World Fantasy Convention. (Yes, it was awesome to see you there too!) When we arrived, she was immediately captivated by the natural beauty of the area, and by the weather. "Ooooh, do you think they have a good business community here?" she asked. "Maybe we can move here."

You have to understand that neither of us is entirely sold on Chicago, still, though it's hard to pin down a precise source of dissatisfaction. We moved here four years ago from New York City. Laura got a great job right off the bat, and recently she started an even better one. We have a great apartment. And, I host a monthly reading series at a nearby bar, which means I meet a lot of local writers.

True, we've been slow to make close friends here, and our close-friend roster is still weighted heavily with New Yorkers, but that's starting to come along. For a while it was the case that we would make a very close friend here and then they would move out of Chicago, very far away, but that trend seems to be reversing. Now people we know are moving to Chicago, which is an encouraging development. And Worldcon is here next year!

Nevertheless, there's some undefinable thing that still nags at us, so I said to Laura, "You should talk to [info]gregvaneekhout this weekend and see what he thinks of living in San Diego."

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RIP Mark W. Worthen (1962-2011)

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Mark W. Worthen
My friend Mark Worthen ([info]nitewanderer) passed away unexpectedly yesterday. He was a horror, crime, and science fiction writer who worked tirelessly behind the scenes of the Stoker Awards for the Horror Writers Association and also served as HWA's webmaster. I wandered around in dark fog yesterday after hearing the news. I can't believe he's gone.

I first met Mark in 1993 when I joined a writing group called Xenobia in Provo, Utah. He was only a few years older than I was, and we bonded over a certain darkness and irreverence in our fiction and our worldviews. I wouldn't have expected it back then, but he's the person from that group that I stayed in closest touch with over the years. Through one circumstance or another, we both ended up moving out of Utah around the same time and leaving some misunderstandings behind. That was another thing to bond over, the feeling that we were outcasts and exiles.

While I went to New York City, Mark's path took him to South Korea. He was a brilliant linguist and specialized in teaching ESL. I was amazed by his adventurousness, but he had lived in Europe and South America already and from the stories he told later he took full advantage of his time in Asia.

Next I heard from him, he was in the Midwest, Missouri to be precise, with the love of his life, J.P. Edwards. It was probably around then that Mark asked if I'd contribute a story to his new online horror magazine Blood Rose (one of the earlier of its kind). I did, and actually ended up hosting the website for him (which I still do). It wasn't much later that I found myself traveling to Jefferson City for Mark and Jeannie's wedding, and found him happier than I'd ever known him.

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'Bye, "Boys"

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It was Laura who discovered the show in late 2006 and convinced me to start watching it with her. A sitcom about a female sportswriter in Chicago and her circle of male poker buddies. We were both hooked, not just because the group of friends were so damn nice and charming and funny, but because the lead character, P.J., seemed so much more like a real woman than most women on television. I guess the show reminded us of our circle of friends.

The second season of "My Boys" (later canonically folded into season one) started the same month we moved to Chicago from New York City. It was like a group of old friends welcoming us to the city, right down to the shot of Wrigley Field in the opening credits (which is where we saw The Police in concert the very week we moved here). If it wasn't already our favorite show, it took that slot then.

That summer season of "My Boys" ran a scant nine episodes, as has every season since. Like a butterfly migration, it arrives unexpectedly in the spring or summer and is gone again too soon. The gang's hangout, Crowley's Tavern, became for us the adult analog of Sesame Street—the mythical happy place we wanted to find and inhabit.

No more. It turns out that the season just ended is the "My Boys" swan song. TBS has canceled the series. We watched the two final episodes back-to-back last night, eating ice cream, happy for the characters' happy endings but mourning their exit from our lives.

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Difficult Times Francis

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I want to offer sadly belated congratulations to friend and former CD Mix of the Month Club compatriot Francis Heaney, who made his Sunday crossword puzzle debut in the New York Times this past, er, Sunday. Way to go, Francis!

Now if only I were a subscriber so I could test my mettle against Francis's by-all-reports-monstrous puzzle.

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We are trying to break your heart

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Moving ... again
The movers are here. The contents of the apartment are draining into the truck with disconcerting rapidity. There's not much about this neighborhood that we will miss, but one of our great regrets just walked past us up the sidewalk. Our neighbor John Stirratt, bassist for Wilco and before that for Uncle Tupelo, just ambled past pushing a stroller on his morning walk. He glanced at the open front door of our apartment, and at the hustling movers, as he passed by me and my armful of odds and ends, and it was probably just my imagination that he looked a little disappointed. We've said hello to him but never felt comfortable "bothering" him to try to strike up a conversation. We've struck up conversations with plenty of other people in the neighborhood, though none of those conversations ever led to making actual friends. But even given that dismal batting average, why did we shy away from even talking to the most obviously interesting* person on our side of the street? I feel very sad about this failure, and like a giant asshole. Maybe he and his family are lonely here too.


* I don't mean to imply that no one else on the street could possibly be interesting to talk to, just that Stirratt represents a subject I know already that I'm interested in.
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The end of summer

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Obsessing about politics is not all I've been up to lately. First and foremost, if you hadn't divined it from cryptic postings or from status messages on Facebook and Twitter, Laura and I are moving again this month. Not a huge move, just up to the northern end of Chicago, but we're hoping it will make all the difference for our Chicago-living experience. Humboldt Park turns out to be not the neighborhood we had hoped for, or thrive much in. (Even the fact that Wilco's John Stirratt lives a block down from us can't save it for us.) We're betting that the Andersonville/Ravenswood sorta area will be much better for us. We'll make the move just as the season changes.

We've also seen an uncommonly good deal of John and Shai Klima over the past week. On Saturday we drove to Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, and met up with them at the home of John's awesome parents. From there the four of us continued to Spring Green, where we saw a delightful outdoor afternoon American Players Theatre production of "The Belle's Strategem" by Hannah Cowley. We had dinner at a tapas joint called The Icon in Madison. Good times.

Then last night John and Shai braved oil-tanker accidents on I-88 to make the drive to Chicago. The four of us had an abundant Indian feast, after which we repaired to the House of Blues to see The Fratellis. Other than the slight hiccup of being barred from entering the House of Blues with a shoulder bag (what? no bag check inside?), we had a marvelous evening. I'm assuming that the Klimas made it back to Iowa in one piece after the show. (Didja?)

Meanwhile, I've been so wrapped up in packing the apartment that it didn't even register that two fellow Chicagoans are moving (in one case back) to New York! Congratulations (and no small amount of envy) to Deborah and [info]scottjanssens! We hate you. (But only a little.)

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I have quite a backlog of little items I've made notes about that I've meant to blog over the past couple of months, and maybe today or soon I'll start getting to most of them. Though before I get to the one immediately at hand, I just have to note that outside right now is raging the SECOND snowstorm of spring.

Now to the main monkey business. Laura and I are heading to New York tomorrow to spend a lazy weekend. The prime motivator of our trip is to see our friend Laura Peterson's new dance program Electrolux, at DNA (280 Broadway). You should come too. Seriously. Go buy tickets. The run starts tonight and ends Sunday.

Electrolux might look something like this rehearsal footage:

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Noted

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Let's hear it for some of my Blue Heaven cohorts this week.

Tim Pratt is interviewed this week at Sci-Fi Weekly about his burgeoning career, which includes selling film and television options to his Marla Mason stories and novels.

[info]paulmelko's excellent debut novel Singularity's Ring gets well-reviewed over at Sci-Fi Weekly as well, even if it's a bit of a slapdash writeup. You should go out and read this novel now. I loved it.

And last but not least, congratulations to [info]gregvaneekhout on selling his debut novel NorseCODE to Bantam! This is a terrific novel, too, or at least the earlier drafts I read were, and I have no doubt it grew even more awesome in revisions. In a perfect world, you would be able to go out and read this novel now too.

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Old shoe week

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John eat BRAINS!
Going home to New York City is as comfortable as slipping on an old shoe. I flew there Tuesday afternoon with just a backpack and the parka on my back, and I was immediately at ease and confident in a way I don't yet feel in Chicago. The only bad part was that I was alone, since Laura was on a concurrent business trip to Rochester.

But I wasn't solitary for long. I took a cab from Laguardia to my borrowed apartment in Astoria, Queens, dumped off most of the contents of my pack, and headed into the city. After a quick stop at my old office, I met John Klima, in from Iowa way, at the Tor offices in the Flatiron Building. I acquired an advance copy of Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, I chatted with Patrick Nielsen Hayden for a minute or two, and John and I hauled his bags back to Astoria on the subway.

We had a full evening ahead, but before I tell you about it I have to back up several months and remind you of the segment of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" that Laura and I caught back in July:

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
missionary
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William Shunn

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