Can’t Stop Listening to This

It’s no secret Walk Off The Earth is one of my favorite new bands. These guys are probably the most musical family I’ve ever seen and they rock their covers as well as kicking out a steady stream of new tunes.

Today “Can’t Feel My Face” features Toronto’s very own Scott Helman and I’m digging this groove baby all while pumping out the words.

What are you listening to? Link a youtube video to the tunes that carry you through the workday.

Galaxy Chronicles

Galaxy Chronicles

Not the final cover image

Some news, yes? A few of you may know already, but I figure since the manuscript is out there I’d go ahead and make a public service announcement. That’s right, this will go down on your permanent record. Oh yeah? Well don’t get so distressed. Did I happen to mention that I’m impressed?

Boys and girls, your’s truly snuck into the next-next edition of the Future Chronicles curated by Samuel Peralta. I signed a contract to write a story for Galaxy Chronicles less than a month ago and last weekend I turned in about 10k words. The book premier is expected early fall, sometime around September, and you can count on me to tell you when pre-orders are available.

SER PAN COMIDO will be appearing along side works from Jay Allan, Jasper T. Scott, Raymond Weil, GS Jennsen, Nick Endi Webb, Erik Wecks, Nic Wilson, Chris Reher, Jen Foehner Wells, Dave Monk Fraser Adams, Felix R Savage, Pippa LancasterJeff Seymour is editing and Samuel Peralta will manage all the production efforts. Early verdict is positive: “A gritty tale with a beautifully layered atmosphere, that kept me at the edge of my seat!”

In celebration of another publishing gig I’ve dropped the Kindle price of THE BIG RED BUCKLE. For a limited time you can get this story for 99 pennies.


Most pictures are worth about a thousand words. This one seems to be worth at least two. “How do you know this?” you ask. Well, because I just wrote another thousand and change because of it. Thanks again to Chuck Wendig for hosting these little teasers. Now that you’ve completed draft on your next novel let us see what you can do short form.


“As you can see the integrated rover housing can be adapted to a great variety of applications. Spacing of trees in your orchard isn’t ever a problem. We’ve sold these units to citrus farmers in the Republic of Cali and to apple growers along the Yakima. Additionally, the individual pollinators can also be changed out in whole racks. Not only does this make cross pollination possible, but it means you can mix your root stock and still get the job done before the sun sets,” said the stick-thin figure from the back of the hydrogen splitter.

The rig was shiny and it looked foreign. It purred like a barn cat with a mouse as it soaked in the sunshine converting water to fuel in its cells. I think everyone was eyeing the petro-plastic covering the six wheel wells on the skinny man’s truck, there had to be enough there we could melt it down and fashion a shed or a house or something. It was black too, which meant there was some sorta dye embedded in it. That’s the kind of stuff you want to use for a water heater or even irrigation. Everyone knew that. Everyone imagined tearing it off the side of the transport.

A hand rose from the middle of the crowd of men and boys that had packed into the alley near the General store, it was Martin Kenny’s. The skinny man noticed Martin and said, “Yes sir, are you interested in buying a Rainier Robotics Automated Pollination Platform?”

“No sir,” Martin replied, “I’m still trying to figure out what you’re selling, to be honest. You talk fast and use a lot of fancy words don’t none of us understand. But what I really want’ta know, would you be interested in selling me the plastic on your rig?”

The skinny man looked surprised and it appeared as if he’d lost his place in the script as he looked out into the gathered crowd of orchard men. With the question out there all we could do was speculate. It’s possible, where ever he hailed from, the petro-plastic along the side of that truck wasn’t such a scarcity. All we had was the kind made from potatoes and sump juice and it crumbled in the sunshine and melted in the soil. Using it to water an orchard is nothing but a waste of time because by the time you finish one end of an installation you’re likely ready to replace the end where you began. All of us work orchard lands above the river, and irrigation pipes is the only way to get water up from the river, so that’s just what we do. Last harvest my cherries fetched only enough in potato exchange for me to replace pipe in the upper orchard. This spring I’ve been doing nothing much more than patching and glueing getting ready for the dry spell.

Martin Kelly is renowned along the upper Wenatchee because the piss-plastic he cooks up behind his swine stables stands up better than most. Forgive my crudeness it’s just what we call it. So when he starts asking this stickman to buy the petro off the side of his rig everyone standing there starts to worry. The little fella standing on the tail gate of his rig, he just pushes on down the track like Kelly’s question weren’t no obstacle.

Something changes in the man’s demeanor like he’s suddenly remembered something important. He pulls a raggedy straw hat from behind a couple of large boxes and plops it on his head. Then he looks down at his shiny shoes for a moment and mumbles something none of us can understand.

“My apologies old son. I can’t help you much with your plastic problems. I’m here to solve your pollination problems,” the skinny man says direct to Kelly.

“And I have it on good authority,” he then proclaims like a Sunday preacher, “that all y’all have been doing your own blossom pollination for time out’ta mind.”

Now I can hear the difference I just saw in the skinny man, he’s a mimic and I suddenly don’t trust him. It’s like he went home and put on a nice clean shirt and new pants, even though he’s wearing the same damn clothes. He sounds something like the people along the Wenatchee. Everyone standing there notices the difference too, like night and day.

Toby Williams, the kid brother of Vance who owns the land along the Chumstick, pipes up without waiting to be called. “So your saying that lil box-thing does the work of spring time probing?” The kid has been ruffling feather ever since his big brother come down ill with the pox, but I say he stepped up and took on that patch of cherries. No one around Peshastin has near that many trees, I say let the kid be he’s proved his worth and knows his roots.

The skinny man beams a grin at Toby that for some reason seems to calm the clucking men. If there’s an inch of extra skin on this fellow it’s below his clean shaven chin, and it bunches up there as if to underline the smile. “Son, that’s exactly what I’m sayin’. This here machine does all the work bees and butterflies used to do.”

The sound of jaws hitting the crumble-stone beneath our feet is audible. Toby, young man that he is, responds skeptically. “Skinny man, what’s a bee?”

“Like this here petro-plastic bees just ain’t no more.” The skinny man turns away from the crowd for a moment, pokes at the machine. Out pops a long rack of intricate, little clockworks on a long arm. It looks something like a wall of tiny winter coats, each one the same and hung next to it’s neighbor. I estimate there has to be a thousand of them.

From the wall the skinny man bends over and picks a single device. He cups it in his hands and turns to the crowd. “Some ah y’all are probably just old enough to remember what a bee was,” he proclaims loud enough for all to hear. “Something like an apple moth, but it don’t eat fruit. In fact, before the time of probes and picks, these lil buggers made fruit. They’d just buzz around your orchard and do the probe work for you.”

It’s a distant, hazy memory, but I can still recall bees. Well, a bee. I find myself looking inside, sorting through years of rubbish, for that image of a kettle-bellied yellow and black body struggling at my feet. My Father had said it was a bumble-bee. That it was dying for some reason that I can’t recall. And that it wasn’t the only one I’d see die like that, but I can’t recall any others. The old men in the crowd, they’re all remembering too.

“Son, these insects, they’re all gone now, but they made orchard work easy,” said the skinny man. He opens up his cupped hands and the little clockwork begins to buzz. It hovers for a blink of my eye and then darts off into the blue.

Post PT Report: Part Deux

Okay, okay, yeah now I can see some value in this. Went back to the PT this morning and low and behold most of the pain I had been feeling in my back has diminished. Also, what do you know? My Pelvis is now moving much more.

Today we went through many of the same motions as the first session. Electro stimulation, ultrasound, aided stretching, self stretching, ice. Today it took significantly less time to complete the whole battery. Today I walked out of their office keenly aware of other aches and pains that have probably been bothering me.

The PT is continuing to encourage active recovery. Lots of stretching, rest, and engaging my core. I’m hoping in the next week or so that I can integrate some specific core exercise. We’ll see, my tendency is to start too soon, hit anything too hard. So I’m going to continue to repeat his directions like a mantra. “Stretch some, engage your core, and rest.”

I Watched SoTU like Football

Which means rarely and hopefully after the fact if at all possible. In large part this is because political parties, to me at least, are starting to seem very much like sports teams in the NFL. The conflict seems choreographed and, in the end, pointless. “GO SPORTS TEAM!!!!” So say the instructions, I’m just not compelled. Not even one little bit.

But any one who gives even passing attention to social media will invariably encounter third party accounts of both sporting and political happenings, days and even weeks after any notable “event.” For instance, my narrative of the Seahawks/Packers game has grown significantly in the interim. Fans of the game have made comments and thus added flesh to a time and place that would have otherwise remained skeletal in my recollection. I suppose this could be a zombie world view. If we speculate that the undead are in possession of conscious thought then perhaps they experience a vicarious existence, only encountering the experience and memories of their victims while gnawing on their brains.

Anyway, having spent a little time watching, I enjoyed the SOTU. Much of what President Obama had to say resonated with me starting with changing the political and tax structure of our nation for the better. I am glad too, that the President has recognized both the existence of anthropogenic climate change and the necessity of changing our behavior in the aggregate in order to maintain a human future on this planet.

But then there is the theater of the event. And that friends, is what we come to watch. I was rooting for John Boehner throughout the whole 59 minutes and 57 seconds of the speech. The guy looked like he desperately needed to make a trip to the latrine. Like there was a tsunami of effluent knocking down his back door and flowing over his flood barriers. I wanted to dress up in theater black and sneak onto the podium to momentarily hand him a couple of Imodium.

I chose to enrich my narrative by pitying this man because the alternative, the story line in which he spends the entirety of the President’s speech looking peeved and petulant, seemed to me scornfully abusive of him. It reminded me of how far we haven’t come, and how unlikely we are to reach higher. If the Speaker cannot find it in himself to respect the office, let alone the man, then what lowered standards of conduct should we anticipate from all those people who make this country work?

Then the curtain closes and we gather up our things and tuck our programmes into a pocket and head for the door. Right?

Not so fast, the main event is over, but the show must go on. The Republican response to the SOTU was fucking amazing sauce. A rich mine of theatrical and comedic who-ha, all the Presidential hopefuls tripping over one another and themselves in a mad rush to befuddle the masses. That’s like finding gold and diamonds in the same dig.

“Hah! Joni Ernst wore those bread bags during the Reagan administration!”

I hadn’t watched Joni Ernst’s official response speech until this morning, at which point I had to ask for help scraping my jaw off the floor. Really? Did you write that yourself? Did you bother to have anyone read it over before you stood up in front of the whole of the nation, nay the world, to foist that load of crap our way? Because it was cute, but that’s about all.

Honey, a fucking bus load of kids with bread bags on their feet means one of two things. It could be that the autobus de scolaire is designated transportation for patient-children suffering from Lionel Poilâne Syndrome. In that case find some butter and follow those nut jobs, you’re in for a gluten enriched célébration de pain. Otherwise, you’ve encountered the economic byproduct of a willfully ignorant electorate in adolescent form. Not being able to afford a second pair of shoes isn’t a right of passage, neither is it a situation we should hope to cultivate. The fact that this is part of the GOP narrative, that they constantly try to spin that line of bull crap, is evidence that indeed there is a culture clash going on in America. The hopelessly superstitious part of the country and the rest of us are trying to occupy the same space and failing.

“That’s the view of the people who live in the bubble-ville…. The whole point is that there is a real clash of cultures and there is a disconnect between people who live in the bubbles of New York, Washington, and Hollywood verses the people who live in the land of the bubbas.”
— Mike Huckabee on The Daily Show.

“God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy” may be a cultural norm in some parts of this nation, but not one I will ever want to emulate. I enjoy living in the 21st Century and none of those things seem to fit here. Add to this that this nonsense is only thinly veiled social injustice.

You can watch Ted Cruz’s epic flub on youtube, but beyond the first ten seconds there’s nothing terribly notable. Seems the only thing this guy is really good at is shutting down the government. I snickered and then moved on to the horror show.

Yep, Rand Paul remains the resident freak superior. He opens his response with a smile and then dives  head first down a rat hole.

Honestly, I didn’t get very far into this. When I was in the Army I knew a sergeant who liked to say “don’t piss on my boots and tell me it’s raining.” Paul has moxie. He’s got guts. And he must employ a team of writers and idea people because I spent the first couple of minutes of this fighting off the feeling that he was asking me to thank him for crapping on my shoes.

“America is adrift?” We need new leadership? Wait, hold on a second, yeah I couldn’t agree more, but you’ve “only been in office a short time.”

Clearly, if any of President Obama’s suggestions are going to be ignored by the prevailing political structure, it is without question going to be the one where he calls for improving the political dialogue in this country. Absolutely all of the GOP “response” speech has been simple repetition of the same tired bullet points they always spout off accompanied by homey, hackneyed anecdotes involving shoe shortages or pig balls.

The problem with hope

Some six or seven years in, depending how you count, our nation is now confronted by the problem of hope. There isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with the idea that we can hope for more or better. But hoping is meaningless without achievement. And sure President Obama has achieved plenty given the circumstances of his term of office. But I come away from this very optimistic SOTU feeling like I should aspire to that utopian vision we all mass hallucinated back in 2007 and 2008. That if I want it bad enough, if I work hard enough, I’ll somehow be able to educate the superstitious, willful and idiotic masses. That I’ll be able, through the power of my conviction that all human potential can be realized, to convince others to aspire to altruism.

“When you believe in things you don’t understand then you suffer.”

— Stevie Wonder, Superstitious

Which is why I choose realism. Every morning I ask myself, “What can I realistically do today?” Sure, I hear the proposals. I’d love some gub’mint help to go back to college, but is that likely? What is more realistic is that I’ll spend too much time arguing with the Veterans’ Administration over their snafus with my paperwork. Yeah, the same old crap in this machine. Nothing ever changes.

Now, back to real life. There’s a pile of dishes collecting on my kitchen counter, a geologically significant collection of laundry that needs washing, and I may need to visit the men’s room because as I write this I’m making that John Boehner face.

A Bevy of Concerns

It’s beginning to look a lot like xmas, and these days that means a news media chocked full of horror stories. Yes, they took a blind kid’s cane away in Kansas, American’s can now fuck with Cuba directly, a robot on Mars smelled an alien fart, and terrorists are running amuck in Afghanistan. Oh me, oh my have I forgotten anything? Why the mainstream media isn’t worried about an ebola epidemic anymore may be indicative of why they were so worried about it in the first place, but I digress because man are they concerned about the DPRK.

Another piece of troubling news gobbling up the airwaves. Possibly North Koreans a) have computers, b) potentially know how to use them well enough to penetrate Sony’s firewall, and c) they feel American Seth Rogen now qualifies as a “high value target.” Chuck Wendig is making too much sense over at Terrible Minds about this one. While I too am shaking in my slippers — I mean North Korea is a scary place — I don’t think this incident represents a credible “threat to our ability to create and share art.”

Truth be told, media distribution companies such as Sony, have been holding back plenty of art with far less cause. In fact, great heaps of stories never get told because they lack something critical. “Is it the quality of the art? The subject matter? The connections of the artist telling the story? Why?” you ask, “Why would anyone hold back a movie or a book from me?” It could be any number of components that Rogen and Franco seemingly had taken care of before a country which, while lacking orange juice, took it upon itself to hack the crap out of one of the world’s biggest, most financially capable, multi-national companies.

Not to give North Korea too much credit, but I think they may understand something basic about nouveau economic liberalism and the power of consumer culture that we, living in the thick of it, have seemingly missed. They have managed to pull our chain on this one and the funny thing is, we just let them.

DPRK hasn’t “won” anything, unless you’re a network security specialist looking for a new job. I hear Sony is hiring. No, parody movies mocking Kim Jung Un and his chubby, lovable, despotic cheeks will continue to be made. In fact, I imagine right now the writing staff at Saturday Night Live and College Humor are feverishly hacking together entertaining scripts on the topic of any number of ridiculous aspects of the “Supreme Leader.” And Sony will sit on this asset of a while, or they’ll sell it off. I predict that The Interview will eventually make it to the cinema.

Personally, I think what is scary about this situation is the news that we’re vulnerable to manipulative control. Sony didn’t withhold The Interview because they wanted to protect the consumer public. The threats of violence against their customers are an interesting pretext to the crumbling of this film, but I anticipate a rousing comeback in the near future. And funnily enough I don’t believe that it’s a potential revenue stream this company is protecting, it’s just not that important. Rather Sony and all those cinema companies refusing to show the film are suffering from a sever case of hypengyophobia. They’re shocked by the craziness of this whole cluster event in the first place and I believe that they’re trying to preempt any more crazy, in particular, they want to avoid responsibility for crazy, before it happens. Eventually, someone at Sony, or where ever the film gets passed, will realize that the heroic spin on this story demands that they get this comedy on screens.

So, meh. If you want DPRK to “win” then continue to crow that message. Otherwise, fly the bird for Sony and find a Kim Jung Un video on YouTube. Then play the crap out’ta that because freedom man. Laugh and laugh and know that you’re not living under the thumb of a petty, ridiculous commercial dictatorship who has the power to control your taste in media nor do you live in North Korea.

Media Dieting

“Someone who doesn’t read gets about the same education as someone who can’t. Where you get your information seems of vital importance to how you see the world.” – Matt Hart

This morning, while eating breakfast with Aral at a local cafe, I overheard someone bragging. The guy, sitting on the opposite side of a low wall just to the east of the diner counter, seemed to be employing this tactic to impress the woman across from him.

“I don’t read anything ya can’t trust,” he said in a bellicose drawl that appeared to lack volume control.

She countered, asking him what he knew he could “trust.”

Much of his answer was swallowed along with forkfulls from a heaping mound of biscuits and gravy, but I surmised that he was disinterested in the “lame-stream” media to such an extent that he chose only to get his news from a single source. You guessed it, FOX.

At first I had trouble digesting that any television broadcast might somehow be confused with reading. But then I recalled that we all build our own narrative and if the woman sitting across from this guy wasn’t going to say anything it certainly wasn’t my place to intervene.

Next up in my internal monologue, I started to think of my visceral reaction when I encounter something that a) I know is patently wrong — an obvious bald face lie told by straight faced liars in the hope of manipulating my narrative — and b) things that I suspect when I read them in particular because they conflict with the narrative of my life.

The former is actually less offensive to me. When it’s an obvious manipulation I guess it is also easy enough to roll over it like a speed bump. Regardless, if it’s snake oil or promises made to break, when I encounter this sort of misinformation I simply chart a course around it. My narrative stays intact, I stay happy.

The latter however can be problematic. Case in point, I’ve been using Hammer Nutrition’s Recoverite after longer runs and workouts for sometime. Their list of claims about what this product can do is short enough:

  • Restores muscle glycogen
  • Rebuilds muscle tissue
  • Reduces post-exercise soreness

What has been bugging me of late is the claim to reduce “post-exercise soreness.” The issue arrises because I can’t for the life of me find anything which medically supports this claim. Sure enough, glycogen can medically/nutritionally be shown to enhance recovery and whey protein isolate is known to be one of the best ways to quickly repair muscle tissue. And despite this claim I’m usually sore after a good long run through the woods. My inclination is to imagine how much more sore I might be if I didn’t dump 200 cc of what could be powdered money into two quarts of water and down them like an antidote to deadly poison. I know this is because I’m lazy.

Simultaneously, I crave and fear testing this hypothesis. If I need it in order to deal with DOMS, that without Recoverite would be world’s worse, self-testing is just going to suck for me. Yet, while I’ve been jogging along I’ve also caught myself wondering if I’m just wasting money on what amounts to little more than dried cottage cheese with strawberry flavoring.