Monthly Archives: November 2013

Going On The Account: Written Off

So, where was I during Blogtober 2013, aka NaBloWriMo, or whatever you want to call the NaNoWriMo protest?

No, I didn’t try and keep up with Sips of Jen and Tonic or Speaker7 this year.  I was working on doing some short pieces for professional consideration, building up my collection of rejection notices.  It kept me busy, off the street and out of some of the nastier watering holes.  And out of Walmart too, thankfully…


It gave me a chance to write, trying to avoid something that gets bad notices.  Although I have nothing to fear from BuzzFeed, not everyone is going to be as kind…  I also have the leisure because I’m not writing to deadline to re-examine my process, although I’m not going through the same trouble as Arnon Grunberg, getting all wired in like that…

Hopefully, I’ll soon have something to link to that in some small way makes me able to claim some professionalism, and maybe offset (however minuscule their payment) those looming college bills that Kido’s going to necessitate…

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Going On The Account: Damn You All To, Well, You Know…

So there’s word that just came out that the Warsaw climate talks achieved a breakthrough…

…by changing the term for the amounts to be paid to combat climate change from “contributions” to”commitments”…

My first thought at reading this?


That said, should we have another Superstorm Sandy, which at this rate may be by 2024, it means I won’t have to pay for a boat to make my way on out there…



I want to be less cynical, but some days…

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Going On The Account: None the Verse for Wear…

And I thought that my efforts to reach out to an audience were extreme…


So I’m working my way home through Midtown this evening, taking the transfer tunnel between two subway lines, the 7 to the B and D.  I’ve got mobile music blaring, volume up high as “Won’t Get Fooled Again” blasts through the ear buds in an effort to fool myself into feeling revolutionary despite having bought into everything Pete Townshend targeted in his song.  I’m weaving through the crowd, trying not to plow anyone not on the verge of a sprint to the ground or into a wall.


And I nearly knocked over the guy hunched up at a tray table with a small portable typewriter against the wall.


I slow down like an aircraft carrier, gradually as my displacement makes sudden stops difficult.   It’s a good twenty feet by the time I stopped, when I turned off the music to get a closer look.


And yes, what I saw at seven knots was still there:  A man with a manual portable typewriter, hunched over it.  Offering to type poems on requests, his sign reading “poetry while you wait” hanging from the table.

I asked him about his offer, and he offered to do me a poem on the spot, on a topic of my choosing.  I thought about it, and decided to ask him for one on the process of writing.


And in that instant, I found myself the recipient of a poem by Allan Andre.  It was a nice piece, which he read for me when he finished, the main copy from the roller while the back-up created with the piece of mimeograph behind the paper.
And as I think about it, needing to fling verse on the spot with a prep and turnaround time measured in seconds, stationed in an over-active passageway amidst the noise and crowd, nearly disappearing into a rush hour throng, using tools that thanks to the Information Revolution may seem to folks younger than I as akin to flint hand axes, I feel lazy by comparison.  Two novels online with a regular update schedule?  Yeah, compared with him, well…

I took my poem, a few minutes and a donation lighter, and re-entered the shipping channel, impressed by a writer with more extreme craftsmanship than I’ve shown so far…

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Going On The Account: Had A Say About A Few Things

This morning, I had the pleasure of being on Hour of the Wolf again, discussing Doctor Who with Carol Pinchefsky and Keith DeCandido in a forum hosted by Jim Freund.

It was a pleasure being with a group of very talented writers, who all had insightful things to offer regarding this program, which is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this Saturday.

As for me, well, every group needs cheep comedy relief…

Part 1 can be heard here


Part 2 can be heard here

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Going On The Account: Time And A Word…

I’m happy to announce that I have been asked to be a guest again on Hour of the Wolf, which can be heard on WBAI-FM, 99.5 FM in the New York market or online via this link.


The topic of this show is a look at Doctor Who, which I think I got the right to talk about after my last appearance.  I think I’ve noted a few times here what a fan I am of the series, which has its fiftieth anniversary this Saturday the 23rd, being noted in grand fashion, and if I’m lucky I may be able to share a few insights that might be worth hearing.


The show starts at midnight Eastern time on the 21st, and runs through 0300.  Hope you get a chance to listen in.


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Going On The Account: Have Spiel, Will Travel…

I did mention a little while ago that I had a talk coming up about pirates…


…which all said seemed to go pretty well.  I got a chance to turn my research notes for Raging Gail into a presentation, customizing it a bit for the audience (stressing that night the Jewish contribution to the Golden Age of Piracy, for an audience that was approaching the Age of Sail with a limited background).  I had a few technical issues with the venue, which is why I only have stills from the presentation as opposed to footage:

Photo courtesy of peter Mones

Photo courtesy of Peter Mones


Yes, I did come with visual aids; due to technical considerations, I had to bring physical materials as opposed to projecting files via a PowerPoint presentation.  Which was probably for the best, as one of the technical challenges was discovering the death of the sound system with moments to go before we started.


Out of this came a valuable lesson:  If you’re going to make a presentation, have two versions of your talk ready to go, as the version you hoped to give with a mic is just not going to work so well when you have to shout to the room…

Photo Courtesy of Peter Mones

Photo courtesy of Peter Mones


The one part of the speech that did go as I had rehearsed:  Yes, that’s a small bottle of rum on the podium.  Which I brought with me as a living artifact, as the history of mercantilism in the New World is best told by holding up as an example one of the main resulting products thereof, a bottle of rum.


No, I won’t go into what was said then right here; in fact, if you are interested in what a talk like this covers, I am willing to give a version of this at an event that is willing to book me.  The main body of the talk (about the history of piracy in the New World, covered in Raging Gail) can be amended to stress specific aspects noted in the novel, such as the influences that Jews and women had on the Sweet Trade.  The talk can also be geared towards material covered in the work The Pirates of New York.  As I said, the main body of the talk was geared towards people coming to this subject without an intense background, so it can serve audiences approaching this time and place cold.

If you wish, you can contact me via my Facebook page.

And as you can see, if I come to where you are, I will bring drinks…


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Going On The Account: Oh Captain, My Captain…

You know those odd, kinda long, a little embarrassing yet revelatory stories that begin with, “So I was ordering my third drink at the bar that night, when…”?

This one begins with, “So I just finished re-filing my comic books, when…”

No, I don’t usually talk about comic books too much here.  Most of the time, the ground covered in these books is a little outside of my wheelhouse, though the occasional title like Pirate Eye comes along that’s worth noting.  And of course I may be the only person who got into Tales of the Black Freighter as part of Watchmen, hoping to see a collection of the pieces from the series put into one place to read as its own stand-alone story.

But I’ve not exactly been staying away from people with abilities beyond those of mortal men, either.  I made it clear since Dr. Horrible premiered that I have an interest in this area.  Had it since I could tell the difference between Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko on sight, in fact.

And I think I’ve mentioned before that I believe that some of my work would pass the Bechdel Test, which means the film adaptation of Raging Gail would get a good rating in Sweden…


(Hey, does anyone here know how to write a good pitch letter in Swedish…?)

So, anyways, this is a sort of long wind-up before I get to the subject:


For those unfamiliar with the woman above, her name is Carol Danvers, who goes by the professional name of Captain Marvel.

Yes, yes, I know, she looks nothing like “the Big Red Cheese,” whom you might have thought I was talking about, who could be worthy of a whole other angsty whistful post another time; it’s not his turn here, even though Mary Marvel might get a write-up before he does…

Stop looking at me like that!  Just roll with me here a bit…

Anyway, the latest Captain Marvel, the latest stop on the road for Carol Danvers, a woman with a very, very long and convoluted history in comics, that even by the standards of comic-based operatic plotting is pretty messed up.  The whole mind-controlled-into-sleeping-with-your-kidnapper thing, for example; not what you call something to speak about with pride…

Despite that, Danvers ultimately gets to be the person who carries the name of Captain Marvel, something Marvel needs done every few years in order to keep their claim the trademark alive, which is a fairly convoluted tale in and of itself.

It seems fitting that a woman with a lot of adversity in her past should take up the difficult task of keeping the brand alive, and when her series started last year, it got off to a rousing start.  The character clicked with dedicated fans, many of whom were inspired by her; the need for strong archetypes for women has always been there, and her taking up the mantle unleashed a lot of pent-up demand, evidence of which runs throughout the Carol Danvers fan Tumblr.

And the run had some very powerful writing, especially the first arc where Danvers travels in time and meets some fictional WASPs and members of the Mercury 13, two groups from history that did not get a lot of the credit they were due.  Here was a title that promised not only that we weren’t just going to get another white dude in a cape and spandex, but that we’d see some of what came before to lead up to this character.  There was a promise that we’d have a heroine that not only was a strong character in her own right, but came out of a tradition that was finally going to get its due.

The last twenty four hours, the press has been abuzz about a new superhero, Ms. Marvel, a teenager of Pakistani-American descent who happens to be a Muslim.  A lot of press has been devoted to this story.  And her publisher is all set to promote her book, after teasing about it in the issue of CAPTAIN MARVEL released today.

Which happens to be the last issue of this series…

Apparently, so much press was generated about Kamala Kahn that word about Carol Danvers’ current run coming to an abrupt end seemed to have gotten lost out there.  I’m not sure I want to say it was intentional, though it does feel like Nero touting an urban renewal plan for Rome without discussing the fire…

Even if we agree on the whole ars gratsia pecuniarum imperative here, that the publisher needs to have a product that makes money at the end of the quarter, the way this all went down seems distasteful.  The subtitle on CAPTAIN MARVEL read “Earth’s Mightiest Hero,” after all; shouldn’t she have had a passing that got more attention, something that didn’t feel like a sleight of hand?

If nothing else, she deserved better than this.  And if you’re about to say, “It could have been worse,” then I’m assuming you’re going to bring up Kate Kane’s marital prohibition or Harley Quinn’s “suicide try-out” offer, which by comparison, yeah, it very well could have.  All we’d need to really ramp this up is a refrigerator to stuff someone in, something we’re all tired of by now.

Well, I am, since I got it out of my system…


But it still bothers me that, at a time when we should be opening ourselves up to contributions from new sources and recognizing that we can’t just expect to read or hear about folks drawn from the same limited pool of characters (a bunch of straight white dudes), especially as our culture changes to reflect new realities, that we’re seeing yet more of the same this late on.  Oh, this person can do amazing, superior things, even if he looks much the same as the last few enhanced heroes over the last half of the 20th Century.


And as I’m putting my books in order, noting that this series was not going to see an Issue # 18, part of me wants to go back.  Not to some golden time, or to some mythical place that may never have existed, no…

I want to go back to some notes I jotted down a while ago.  Like all writers, if an idea comes, I try and put it down somewhere, in case I need to revisit it or have a little time to entertain something.  I have bits of snatches I wrote down during the George H. W. Bush administration I might someday fall back on, and among my notes is something I looked at with new eyes tonight when I re-opened those files.

It might be a little while before this gets an official roll-out, and I did hope to hold this back for professional consideration, but after tonight, this may move up the list and get shared out there the way Abigail Sanders and Jenny DiNapoli’s tales were.

Because if this is what we’re going to get from the mainstream, someone new may need to step up and play the hero…

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Going On The Account: Seized Booty: Me Write Good

For the first time, I’ve re-blogged another person’s entry…
Let me introduce you to Speaker7, the woman who made a name for herself with her summations of Fifty Shades of Grey that allows you to understand that work without actually suffering through it, and re-introduced the world to the Hugo Man of 1000 Faces puppet, which frankly for everything the 1970s has haunted us with was relatively benign…


So why am I reposting her stuff here?  Other than for the fact that this was a particularly good piece, and that I had to offer some props to her for encouraging me to engage in the Blogtober stunt last year?


Well, there’s my professional standing amongst the Brethren of the Coast, Local # 180164 (hey me folks, arrrgh!).  I got a note from the shop steward-cum-first mate that it’d been too long since I’d seized a prize, and that for the sake of me professional standing I had to swoop down and grab me some booty to take with me that I then be bound to pull into port with where I was to then take her and…


…well, the rest of the requirement is both technical and graphic, so let’s leave it at that point and just say that after the swooping in and claiming of the prize, that I have renewed my right to carry on in the name of a proud tradition in place since the 1600s.


Or at the very least I can justify carrying on…

My thanks to Speaker7 for being a good sport, and hoping Mr. Speaker did well in his race for office tonight.


Now that I’m writing daily, I figured this was an opportune time to analyze who I am as a writer.

I am not doing this because I’m desperately looking for something to write about only three days into NaBloWriMo, but because….um…yeah, I can’t even finish this sentence.

Analyzing takes a lot of work and takes away from the time I should be watching my son while he sticks legos into the garbage disposal. Luckily there is a website that does it for me: I Write Like.

You likely have heard of this site because it became super popular three years ago–this is why this blog is on the cutting edge, according to a search I performed in AltaVista.

The basic premise is you paste some of your stuff into a comment box and presto! you are told you write like a great artist such as a Norman Mailer or…

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Going On The Account: Um, Really…?

Supposedly, Britney Spears music is being used to deter pirate acts off Somalia.


Not.  Saying.  A.  Word…

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Going On The Account: What Did I Know…?

I guess I’m in good company now.

H. G. Wells and Ray Bradbury had to contend with evidence that no, there are not advanced civilizations on Mars.  Gene Roddenberry never got the news that 40 Eridani was not found to be able to sustain a planet like Vulcan around it, though I’m not sure how he’d have felt about it.  William Gibson supposedly was very disappointed that after he finished writing Neuromancer, that he got himself a PC to start writing on and realized that he was a bit off-base in how he described the ways people interact with computers.

And when I wrote Red Jenny and the Pirates of Buffalo, I assumed only that there would be less food south of the Forty-Ninth, and that much of the remaining stuff would taste horrible.  Had the latest draft from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change been available back then, revising things down to show not a shift in food growing regions but an overall decline worldwide, about two percent lost per decade (possibly cumulative losses),  would have had a lot of hungrier people.  Hungrier people more likely to get nastier about it, with the observed connections between rising food prices and political instability hitting people even harder than they did in the book.  Hungrier people who might have been a bit more willing to kick the game board even harder, doing away with both countries and their support systems (their dollars and net nodes) on both sides of Lake Erie.

Y’know, you do your best not to be dated.  Charlie Jane Anders had something come true she didn’t consider before she had a piece published, which is a bit better than having something you assume get sunk from under you, but still.

I guess I can live with not having taken all of that up the first go round.  Besides, would the piece have been all that much better if we had it in the shadow of the war between New York and Ontario…?


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