30 January 2011

Events of the Week & "An Evening Out"

Hello again, everyone. Time for the weekly post.

Lots of exciting things going on. In reference to last week's post, all but two of the books I've ordered have arrived. I read Jordan Krall's Fistful of Feet, almost done with King Scratch, halfway through David Agranoff's Screams from a Dying World, finished Gina Ranalli's Wall of Kiss, and plan to start Christian TeBordo's Better Ways of Being Dead this week.

There's some other news, but it's family related and I do not believe I'm at liberty to reveal that quite yet. Waiting for the confirmation that everyone else has heard about it first.

Once again I was visited by Jehova's Witnesses, and once again I was annoyed. I was about two seconds away from throwing them the "Can I tell you about my Lord Satan?" or rolling my eyes into the back of my head and espousing the dark virtues of dead Lord Cthulu (long may He sleep) when I was saved by the wife. I am entirely too diplomatic.

Then we have the whole world watching Egypt. It's about time someone other than the US started a national uprising. When humans rise up of their own free will to exercise their inherent rights to freedom, I am a happy camper.

Now from the Pueschel's craptastic-why-did-I-waste-time-writing-this file I give you (and pardon the formatting, openoffice and blogger don't seem to mesh very well):

"An Evening Out"

It's been so long since I had a nice quiet evening with a lady. It would be a longer time still until I would actually have one. She's so lovely too. Deep blue eyes you just want to crawl into. Long auburn hair so soft it might not even feel like it's there. Too bad it's probably going to be a looonnngg night. Oh well. Might as well start up some conversation.

“So, this is a nice place.”
Oh shit. There's one now.

“Yeah, has a nice atmosphere.”
She certainly took that well.

“Wanna tell me why you just shot that man?”
Really well.

“He was a ninja.”
She raises an eyebrow, “A... ninja?”

“Yeah, my grandfather pissed off a whole clan of them back during the war.”
“So they want to kill... you?”, the eyebrow still stands at attention.

Oh fuck.
Look around, everyone staring as usual, but no objections.

“Yeah something like that. They got grandad years back. Poor guy, he was in the bathroom. They just keep coming, though. Sins of the father and all that.”

She leans back in the chair, eyebrow resting for the moment, “What about your dad?”
Ow. Barrel of the gun tries to blister my leg through the napkin on my lap. I've go to remember to bring along a hand towel or something next time.

“They'll get him eventually. They've backed off on him. Prefer to focus on me. Fortunately I'm the last.”

Is that? Maybe?
“How many have you killed?”
Collect my thoughts. Check the clip. Ten rounds.

“Sorry, ummm... that makes three tonight.”
She gives me that uniquely feminine “you dumbass” look, “I mean altogether.”

Pop the clip back in. Quickly feel under my jacket for the spares.
“I dunno. Couple hundred maybe.”

“Doesn't it take years to train a ninja?”
What's with all the damn questions? I mean yeah, having a contract on your head is interesting, but it's a pretty straightforward thing.

“Normally, yeah.”
They're not backing off tonight. Oh well.

“So where are they coming from?”
Duh. Japan. Where all the honor-bound psycho killer ninjas come from. I'm really starting to think trying to get laid isn't worth it anymore.

“Not real sure, actually. I think dad and grandad got all the really good ones. I think they just pull anybody off the street nowadays. I know for damn sure I'm not good enough to take on real master ninjas.” I look to the gun in my lap, “Especially with a pea shooter like this.”

“Must make life interesting for you.”
Yeah, yeah. Real fucking interesting. Haven't slept a full night in years, not to mention relationship difficulties. I probably shouldn't mention that.

“Eh... Not really. You get over the adrenaline rush of killing another human being after the first hundred or so. Now its like putting on your socks.”

“That's cold.”
No shit.
“The truth usually is. So. You want some wine? Try the house vintage, it's exceptional.”

Dammit, here comes another one. She may be on to something. Where the hell DO they get all these guys?
“I dunno... This is really weird.”

Reach behind me. Get the second gun.
“Nah, nah, come on. Here. I brought one for you too. If you see any waiters coming at me with a steak knife, just point and click. Like checking e-mail.”

Like checking e-mail? Where do I come up with this crap?
“Look, I'm sure you're a really nice guy...”
Here we go...

“I've heard that one before.”
Mother Fucker!
“But I should probably go...”

Like I didn't see that coming. Well, guess I better warn her.
“Well, alright. I understand. Look, just remember you've been seen with me, so they'll probably come after you too.”

Her eyes light up, “Excuse me?”
“Yeah, you know. Hostage situation. Just giving you a heads up.”
“But I barely know you...”
"Yeah, well, they don't know that. They should. But they don't”

“What am I going to do?”
“Well, the way I see it, you've got two options. One, taken from the cheesy action film bible, you stay with me and stay alive.”

“And option two?”
“Take the gun and go home. They'll quit bothering you after the first five or so you take out. Should blow over for you by morning.”

“But I don't want to kill anybody.”
How many times have I seen that flabbergasted look?
“They want to kill you. Head down!”

“I don't care!”
“Neither do they.”
“Fine. Look. Just take me home.”
Throw number two back in its place. Now for the most important question...
“Do you get sick on rollercoasters?”
“Good. Just checking.”

23 January 2011

Post-mortem: Afterbirth

I tried to come up with something new this week. Well, that didn't work. Sure there's plenty of stuff irritating me, there always is. The local NAACP chapter is being more of a disservice to the community than a help; American Idol started again and that always annoys me; and work sucks. I think that you don't want to read me whining about things that are far beyond my powers to change. So I guess I'll go to something more positive, and perhaps a little spammy.

First some background. A little over a year ago (2009, actually) one of the publishers I try to promote had to close up shop, Afterbirth Books. I won't go into details about the whys and wherefores, as it is not my place to say. Suffice it to say this was quite a shame, as all of the books they have put out are excellent and deserve a wider readership. As of this past December that will not be possible as their entire catalog went out-of-print.

So how is the closing of an awesome outlet for some highly creative authors a positive thing? In some ways it is not. A lot of readers will now never know the absurd joy of Ray Fracalossy's Tales From the Vinegar Wasteland or the wild and weird trip that is Gina Ranalli's Chemical Gardens. Then there's Vic Mudd's Deity, and Vincent W. Sakowski's Not Quite One of the Boys. In all, 19 titles that are now on the endangered species list.

When the news came it hit me like a punch to the gut, then there was the big "Oh shit." that ran through my mind. I had spent roughly a year not buying any books from my wishlist, even though the Afterbirth titles were at the highest priority. With the out-of-print announcement it seemed my procrastination had finally cost me dearly. When it comes to my books I am quite the obsessive-compulsive. Maybe that's not the right term, but it's the closest I can think of right now.

So we come now to how all this anxiety and fear are a good thing: because it gave me the perfect justification to purchase the handful of their titles yet to make it into my collection. Thanks to some generous friends and family at Christmas, the remaining titles are on the way and I couldn't be more excited. Sure, I could have bought the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader like I had originally planned, but I'm still a fan of paper and to my knowledge the Nook has yet to become obsolete and out-of-production.

Most of you reading this know me personally out in the analog realm, and know all too well how strange I am. If you looked at my primary Amazon wishlist it becomes even more apparent that "the boy ain't right". That's okay. I've been comfortable with my quirks for a very long time, and you still associate with me despite this. But if I might ask a favor:

Go to Amazon and purchase a Bizarro Starter Kit anthology. There are three (Orange, Blue, and Purple). I would suggest the BSK:Orange as it was my first and I believe best represents the core of what Bizarro is. Also it features a couple of the aforementioned out-of-print titles. Read it, don't read it, that's up to you. If you decide not to, then pass it on to someone who you think will. Also, I know all too well that money is an issue for everyone nowadays, so I understand if you can't. All I can do is ask.

The stories are exceptionally weird, and I'll admit not for everyone. That can't be helped, and is in fact one of the selling points. I ask this of you because I do not want to see these stories die. They are exceptionally creative and engaging in a way that mass-market fiction can not hope to imitate, and if I had the know-how and financial means to do so, I would love to resurrect all of Afterbirth's titles myself. Lord knows I have the time. Regrettably, this won't happen, so instead I'll just ask you all to help me further immortalize a small part of Afterbirth as best I know how.

Until next week, be well.

15 January 2011

The Family Tree

Before the fiction begins, I just wanted to thank everyone who've been stopping by and offering their two cents. It's good to know my words are being seen by anyone other than myself.

Also, in keeping with the resolutions, I need to play a little catch-up. I have read a new book and listened to a new album.

The book is Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern. Here's the review I put on Goodreads:

Reading this book was difficult. Not because of any grammatical or narrative flow issues, but rather I had to stop after every few paragraphs or quotes to finish laughing before continuing. It is, as Chelsea Handler is quoted on the cover, "ridiculously hilarious".

Justin Halpern's family reminds me of my own. A little dysfunctional in a fun way. Each anecdote reminded me in some small way of my own father, and my own experience growing up with him. While my dad will reserve his more colorful language for moments of extreme irritation, like Sam Halpern he is a man of principle and possessed of his own unique wisdom.

While I am not usually inclined to purchase NY Times bestsellers, having been a fan of the original Twitter feed I could not resist picking up this gem. It is touching in a weird way, and a good laugh all the way through. A short, but solid collection of wit, wisdom, and humor.

As to the music selection, it was Alice in Chains' 1990 debut Facelift. The one single everyone will be familiar with is "Man in the Box". Honestly, I was not impressed with the album as a whole. The aforementioned track is really the only one (to me) that expresses the depth of Chains' talent and sound. Their 1994 EP Jar of Flies for the moment remains my favorite.

And now, may I present for your reading enjoyment, "The Family Tree":

It was a perfect day down on the farm. Wide-open spaces everywhere you looked. Blue skies, green grass. A picturesque farmhouse right out of a Rockwell. Out front, under an old oak tree, sat a young lad of not quite ten.

Alone, the boy had his multi-tool knife in hand, a thumb-thick twig in the other. Slowly, meticulously, he cut away the unwanted wood with the swish-chip that was more tactile than actual sound.

Swish-chip. Swish-chip. Swish-chip.

He leaned against the base of the oak and sighed a little, admiring his work. The boy twisted his wrist this way and that, examining his craft from every angle. He wasn't sure what it was going to be, but he knew it would be something good.

Ever so gently, a nearly-naked branch creaked and bent around to the boy's level near the ground. The cluster of twigs at the end wound around like a hairpin, bringing into focus the only leaves on the limb. They grouped in the shape of a face, like a medieval woodcut of the green man, though feminine in form.

Without so much as causing the boy to raise his eyebrows, the wind rose and passed through the leaves, giving the face a rustling voice familiar to his young ears.

“So, what're you doing there, hon?”


“On what?”

“A twig you and the family dropped this morning.”

“Really? And what are you making?”, the branch pulled in close to get a better look.

The boy held the twig between his thumb and forefinger, staring at it intently as he spoke, “Well, I'm really not sure. I'm just kinda letting my hands do what they feel is right.”

More of the ancient oak's branches began gathering over the boy's head. The collection of visages were silent as the wind could only blow one direction at a time. A grizzled, spanish moss-bearded branch joined the others.

The branch addressed the newcomer, “What do you think, Dad?”

The grandpa branch twisted up, down, and all around. He looked at every bit of the boy's handiwork before giving his two cents, “Looks like a peanut to me.”

The boy laughed heartily, “Grandpa! It's not a peanut!”

The branch came to within an inch of the boy's nose, “And how do you know? You just said you weren't sure what you were doing!”

He kept giggling, “Well, I know it's not a peanut.”

The grandpa-branch turned to the other branch, “He's your son. Why'd you ask me for?”

The stodgy old branch ruffled his leaves in irritation. He went back to facing the sun's warmth near the top of the old oak.

Before anything else could be said, the boy's father came out of the front door, “Henry, it's time for lunch. The family isn't bothering you too much are they?”

“No, Dad. Mom just wanted to know what I was doing.”

“Well, come get your sandwich. What are you doing, anyway?”

“Just carving on a stick the family dropped.”

The man addressed the mother-branch, “So that's what caught your mother's attention.”

The branch turned to the father, “What? I can't take an interest in my son?”

“Well, you are dead, dearest. Current incarnation notwithstanding.”

The leafy face smiled, “Hey! I resemble that remark.”

“Dad! Mom is not dead! She's as alive as you or me and everybody else.”

“I know son, I know.”

The woman-branch crossed her twig-arms and gave the man a look only a wife can throw.

The father looked to his wife-branch and returned her amused glare with an equally amused “what?” expresssion, “Son, go on in and eat your lunch.”

“Okay, Dad.”

The mother-limb called to the child as he walked toward the house, “Enjoy your lunch sweetie.”

“I will Mom!” he called back.

She bent back to her usual spot near the middle of the tree's canopy. Father and son walked into the house, the elder's arm around the boy's shoulder.

“So can you tell me?”, the man asked his son.

“Tell you what?”, the boy shot back.

“What are you carving?”

“Something special.”


“You'll see.”

Really the boy wasn't sure what the twig would become. He did have an idea. He hoped his small hands and his knife were up to the challenge he had made for himself.

He quickly ate his lunch, practically inhaling the sandwich in a manner only the young could manage. After washing the sticky bread and peanut butter from his mouth with an equally hasty glass of milk, he went back to his seat at the base of the tree.

Swish-chip. Swish-chip. Swi-i-i-ish-chip.

“Careful you don't cut yourself, nephew.”, an aunt-branch had com forward, “I'll still want my lashes pruned this week.”

Henry giggled a little, “I know Auntie. I'll be careful.”

“I know you will. For all your mischief you're still a good boy.”

“Thank you, Auntie.”

“Are you any closer to knowing what your hands are making?”

“I think so. But I don't want to say. I might spoil it.”

“Is it that important, nephew?”

“I think so.”

The aunt-branch knew she would get no farther with the boy, and so joined the others for some afternoon sun.

Swish-chip. Swish-chip. Swish-chip.

The afternoon passed quickly for the boy, and before he knew it the sun was setting on the horizon.

The little twig Grandpa called a peanut still looked like a peanut, though now it had little nubs at the middle and end. Henry was proud of what he had done, though he was not yet finished.

His father had come out on the porch, watching the young boy's progress. He had an idea of what Henry had done, and could not have been more proud.

“Hey Dad!”, Henry called from his seat.

“Yeah son?”

“I think I'm done, but I need your help! Can you get me some tape from the kitchen drawer?”

“Sure thing. I'll be right out.”

The man disappeared into the house and returned a moment later with the tape. He gingerly crossed the yard to hand the young child the roll.

He called to his mother-branch, “Mom, could you come here, please?”

The mother-branch was quite tired, as gathering sunlight was an exhausting exercise, but she made the effort anyway, “Honey, it is far too late for you to be out. Isn't it time for dinner?”

“I know Mom, but I have a present for you.”

“Is that what you've been working on? That's very sweet of you, but I don't need anything.”

“But you did say you always wanted another child. And I've always wanted a brother or a sister. So here you go.”

Henry took his blade and scraped a little bark away from the mother-branch's neck. He then gently took the small twig-peanut-thing and carefully placed it against the moist wood, wrapping it carefully with the tape.

As he tore the tape from its roll, the little nubs of the peanut began twitching. The mother-branch cried dewdrops from the corners of her acorn-eyes.

The whole family drew their branches near the boy's handiwork. His father stood behind him, hands on his shoulders, eyes slightly red in that joyful sort of way.

“You did good, son.”

The twig-fetus gave a shrill little cry as the sun laid to rest behind the horizon.

08 January 2011

Something that has bothered me this week...

Well, it's time for my resolution-fulfillment post for the week. Those of you who actually stop by Fuzzy Theologic probably noticed the template change. Yes it's Blogger-standard, but I like it and the space needed sprucing up a bit.

On to what's bothering me. Most of you are (or now are) aware that I consider myself a tripod conservative. The legs of this tripod are fiscal, social, and national defense. This does not mean that I agree with Homeland Insecurity's policies, or the current crop of Republicans' definition of fiscal conservatism, and most certainly not all social policies. Does this make me a bad conservative? I don't think so. In fact (boosting my own ego here) I believe this defines me as the ideal conservative.

Here's what's got me going on this tangent: this week in Charlotte, NC a local city councilman by the name of Bill James (R) went on our local talk radio station (News/Talk 1110am WBT) and expressed his view that homosexuals are sexual predators. His logic went something like this:

Men who have sex with little boys = sexual predators :: Men who have sex with little boys = homosexual :: Homosexuals = sexual predators

Now, any rational human being will automatically see the flaw in this logic. Namely that grouping all homosexuals in the sexual predator category is not only asinine, but just damnably ignorant and irresponsible. Especially coming from the mouth of an elected official. However this is par for the course for Mr. James. A few years back he referred to predominantly black residential neighborhoods in Charlotte as "moral sewers". You would think that stuff like this would get a man ousted from office, but oh no, not in Charlotte, no sir. He was re-elected after that little faux-pas. As much as the movers and shakers in this town would like to think that this city is as cosmopolitan as New York, it's crap like this that keep "Dueling Banjos" playing in people's heads whenever Charlotte is mentioned in conversation.

My take as a tripod conservative is this: while the science for homosexuality is still inconclusive (i.e. genetic v. conscious decision) it is a factor in our culture and society. Sexual preference is protected by the same laws that guard against discrimination of other forms; be that race, religion, age, or gender. This falls under the category of protecting individual liberty, something that all who would call themselves conservative should hold as part of their guiding philosophy. This is not to say that you have to like it, make friends with every gay person you meet on the street, or even be tolerant of it. It does mean that if you hold the belief that homosexuality is a sin, or a disease, or whatever; keep it to yourself, discuss it with like-minded groups of people, or rally against it with said like-minded individuals, you have a Constitutional right that protects that.

But for the love all that is reasonable don't go running for (and winning) a political office spouting off crap like this. Not only does it color people's perception of the area you represent, it also affects the larger group you choose to be affiliated with.

In short, an elected conservative should only be concerned with keeping the budget balanced, through that keeping social policies in check, and by further extension keeping the citizenry safe. Beyond that, your opinion on other matters is irrelevant.

As to arguing against Mr. James' position, what's to debate? My family and myself have people we work with and some we consider friends who to varying degrees of disclosure are gay. Pardon my descent into vulgarity, but they aren't trying to fuck me or my wife, and they aren't trying to rape my children. Could there be some individual out in the wider world that would? It's very likely. But as to brazenly calling people I choose to associate with sexual predators? I have but two words for you: Fuck You.

In closing, I know I go around saying the cliche "I don't discriminate. I hate everybody." I say this to get a weak laugh from those around me, but this is not completely accurate. I only hate stupidity, which Einstein accurately pointed out is infinite when it comes to humans. Bill James (regardless of how much education he may have) is stupid.

I feel better now. I'll feel even better if and when Mr. James is ever removed from office.

01 January 2011

The Sleeper Shall Awaken...

I started this blog almost two and a half years ago. I realize only a few friends, if anyone, pay any attention to it. But no posts in all of 2010? What a waste. With this in mind, on this first day of two-thousand and eleven, I choose to post my resolutions for the new year.

I have several to list; the idea is that if I have a lot of resolutions then in theory I should be able to successfully accomplish at least one (if not more) of them.

1. I shall endeavor to post something to Facebook and Twitter every day. I know the minutiae of my life is rather insignificant, but at least some of you out there may feed on it. Or not.

2. I shall post something to Fuzzy Theologic at least once weekly. It may be a carefully considered editorial on some issue I find amusing, or perhaps a selection from one of my fictional works. Or I may just rant incoherently.

3. I shall enroll in college once more. I have sat upon fifty percent of an English degree for almost ten years now. As I am starting to go gray I feel that I should quit wasting what little time I have remaining. No, I'm not dying of a dread disease. "Little time" is in reference to the grand cosmic scheme of things.

4. I shall wake up at 06:30 every morning and use every moment in pursuit of something other than sleep.

5. I shall quit all of my many vices. Most likely this will involve trading some for others, but hopefully healthier ones. Company insurance sucks too much to trust my life to.

6. I will get some piece of my work published. I don't care how big it is, or how big the publisher is. I don't even care if I get paid. I just want to move on from my self-styled status of "writer" and into the realm of "author".

7. I will remember to wish everyone I know a happy birthday, on their birthday, when they make it known. Whether it is Facebook reminding me, or somebody close whom I should remember anyway.

8. I will do my best to remind my family that I love them every day. I am generally a very reserved individual, and as such do not require reminders or praise. Conversely I do not offer such reminders and praise regularly. I must remember that my psychological state is not shared by everyone around me.

9. I will do more writing. Not just as a National Novel Writing Month participant, but as a serious writer. Even if it is only a couple hundred words each day.

10. I will read one new book each week, and listen to one new album. I am always open to suggestions.

11. I will do more to support the Bizarro fiction genre. I have been very lax this year in my book purchases. I can take the easy way out and say it was money related, and to a point it was, but I think I could have fought a little harder for twenty to thirty dollars every month. As part of this resolution I will also retroactively review any Bizarro book that I have read and post these musings on Goodreads, Amazon, and anywhere else I can to get the word out.

12. I will strive to constantly remind myself that much to my chagrin, I am only human. Though I will indulge in god-complex thoughts every now and then. One must keep their ego fed and healthy, after all.

So there it is, friends. Three hundred and sixty five (six? not sure.) days to better myself, and perhaps better those around me through these goals. Being a cynical bastard, I can't help but acknowledge that there will be failure on my part; but nothing ventured nothing gained, right?

Until next week, I bid you all good night and a happy and prosperous new year.