#Weeknotes S03 E07

Sorry this is a day late. Better late than never, although I apologize if this feels like a rush job this week.

Boskone was the highlight of my week! I’ve enjoyed a history with that particular con, and was particularly bummed that I had to bow out of it in 2019 and 2020. But the times being what they are, COVID needn’t have stopped me in 2021!

I know there were all sorts of virtual cons last year, but I just didn’t have the spoons to Zoom for my dayjob and then keep Zooming in my off time. I could only do without live nerd talk in my life for so long, though. And while I was confident the folks running it would do a great job, they actually did exceed my expectations. And I say this as someone who, like most folks I imagine, had to put up with his share of Zoom mishaps over the past year.

I thought this would be my write up, but I don’t want to short-change the con. I’ll put those up later, probably.


  • This week’s writing chain: 7 days
  • Days in February: 12
  • Longest chain in 2021: 13 days

Slowly rebuilding the chain. I’m doing better than I did this time last year, that’s for sure.

Turns out you can’t even go to an online con without picking up recommendations. I knew nothing about Brian K. Vaughan’s PAPER GIRLS, set in a fictional suburb of Cleveland in 1988. I figured, “Hey, I lived in Cleveland in 1988!” so I picked up the collection of the first 5 issues and have enjoyed the first one so far.

I’m really digging THE DAYTON ANTHOLOGY so far.

F*CKFACE by Leah Hampton is not con-related, but Rust Belt adjacent. That’ll probably be next.

Jazz legend Chick Corea died last week. I’ve always been a trumpet guy, but you have to respect any keyboardist that could hang with Miles during his electric era. But of course Corea was so much more than that. He was a new-to-me discovery when I started haphazardly exploring the world of jazz just before college. In fact, the Akoustic Band record was one of the first jazz albums I ever owned, which is why “Morning Sprite” is a favorite song of mine.

All hail the Queen and the Crown Prince on their throne!

#Weeknotes S01 Extras

Some end-of-the-year website cleaning prompted me to do something about two post drafts from months ago that I never finished. Yes, I’d see them every time I log on, but I put mental orange construction barrels around them. Until today!

DELETED SCENE: 4TH STREET. This was a post that for some reason never got past the draft stage. But I thought it’d be a shame to waste this picture a friend of mine took at the 2019 4th Street Fantasy convention.

The panel was “Fantasy About Everyday People.” Probably the most fun I’ve had on a con panel!

DELETED SCENE: CHANNELING MY INNER ERIC BOGOSIAN. This was a post I was preparing ahead of a scheduled appearance at last year’s Boskone that I had to back out from unfortunately. I’d signed up for the third time in a row for their annual Open Mike.

I’d decided to post the piece I did for the second open mic in 2018, complete with pictures that represented actual props I used.


“Custodial Interference”

Hey, you found us! Craigslist, huh? Gotta love it, right?

Uh, so look, I’m sorry you missed out on the cauldron and the curved knives. And most of the candles, but there’s still a LOT OF STUFF left. In fact, I saved some the best stuff JUST FOR YOU! Because I can tell from your emails that you’re a SERIOUS collector. You want real super-villain memorabilia? I got some right here, in the back of my Dad’s van!!

That’s right — MY DAD, also known as The Satanic Panic!

Look, just please tell me you’re not some kind of reporter or writer, trying to cash in. This stuff is personal to me. These are MEMORIES.

I remember him reading me his manifesto when I was 10. At bedtime. I didn’t really understand it at the time. But I was going through his stuff after he died, and I saw where bits and pieces of it came from. Check this out…

I know, I know, “It’s just a game.” But to my dad, this was a BIBLE. And I’ll tell you, you go through this and see all the highlights and with notes in the margins… it’s just like Mom’s actual Bible.

And there’s more — see all those boxes? Books. Files, too. He kept FILES on his enemies, you know — “heroes.” You got names. Statistics: how strong they were, how smart they were, how wise they were, how dexterous they were.

And, MAPS — just keep digging they’re all in there. Hideouts he had in different cities like Detroit and Los Angeles. Different ISLANDS. All sketched on graph paper, and you can even see where all the booby traps were.

He’d make me learn them every other weekend after the divorce, when he had visitation. And even in-between… he’d show up randomly at school and sign me out. Mom would get SO PISSED. But it was bonding time, you know? Father and son.

He had a lot of stories about his exploits: Fires on Devil’s Nights? That was him. Tainted Halloween candy? All him. Inspiring kids to express themselves however they needed to, wherever they needed to — in the woods, sewers, tunnels, with makeshift swords and armor…

I know people wanna judge, but in his mind he was fighting the system. The system that gave him Vietnam, Watergate, high gas prices, got him divorced, all that stuff. He really was the hero of his own story.

He was to me, at least. I know; what do you want, I was 10.

Actually — you wanna talk about MEMORIES? Let me tell you about this… this is a TREASURE, I don’t care what my mom and her Pastor says…

EH?? A lot of things made sense when I found this.

After the divorce and the restraining order, mom said I needed help. She tried her church first of course, but that was just people touching Bibles to my forehead. Then I got in trouble a little bit, and Social Services came in, and made her take me to see a bunch of kid shrinks. One time, I got HYPNOTIZED and a bunch of things came FLOODING BACK that I’d totally forgotten!

Flashes, really. My Dad, and some of his friends in costumes — ROBES and GOAT MASKS. I didn’t get one — I guess I was naked? I’m not sure, but the THERAPIST SAID I was, so okay. I guess there was some blood and chanting and… well, I dunno, it kinda fades after that.

Funny thing is, when I wrote Dad asking about it (which technically violated the restraining order — OOPS.), he swore up and down he had no idea what I was talking about.

Anyway, flash forward 33 years later. Dad dies and his OLD VAN gets towed to our driveway with all his stuff. Mom sees it and FREAKS. “I want this stuff out of here. You ain’t keeping it. Not under MY ROOF…” blah blah blah, I mean, Jesus, I’m 43 years old, I’m a certified goddamn accountant, and I live here too… I’m keeping the van, though, I don’t give a shit what she says.

Anyway, when I saw this, I got a flash of something. I’m back in that room, and I SWEAR, now I remember a voice saying, “This is your legacy! You are the son of The Satanic Panic.” You are the Son of Satanic Panic… I am the Son of Satanic Panic…

So… anyway… Actually I have MORE stuff, if you’re interested. Just down the way, at the storage place. I can show you. C’mon, hop in the van… what, you just got here, you got time.

Oh, c’mon… wait, look, hey…

I got candy.

(c) 2018

Don’s Boskone 55 Schedule

I know, I know — this is a really cheap way to do this. Life’s been busy. Not too busy, however, to pass up an opportunity to once again take up space in the program! Here’s where you can find me…

And if you don’t catch me at these panels, I’m sure you’ll catch me at others or roaming the halls or in the con suite. Step up and say hi!

Thanks, Boskone 54!

I think I had the most fun I’ve ever had at Boskone as a part of this year’s program. I probably could’ve done a better job moderating “So You Wanna Be a Time Lord.” Things got a little heated near the end, but I think most folks walked out with smiles. “The Horror Boom and the Second Wave” and “Fear Factor” panels were great fun and I’m wondering if that was so because my point of view on these topics was that of a fan, and not so much as “a fantasy/sf writer.” I did have occasion to let that perspective sneak in a couple of times; that was cool, too.

I was down with OPP (Other People’s Panels) this year, too. I probably need to lay off the various “writers on writing” panels at cons, though — not because I feel I have nothing to learn but really, my further learning needs to be about doing at this point. Still, I did pick up a couple of real gems.

Caught a couple of films, too. I’d heard of, but never watched David L. Wolper’s 1963 documentary STORY OF THE WRITER on Ray Bradbury. I wish someone would’ve tied me down CLOCKWORK ORANGE-style and made me watch this when I started writing. I ruminated on this video for most of the ride back from MA to NY for a many reasons, not the least of which is because this is a snapshot of Bradbury’s life at 43 (like someone else I know). I know, I know, can’t compare yourself to other people, least of all a legend in the field. But got’damn, if this isn’t yet another call to get my ass in gear…

The other was Roger Corman’s 1963 adaptation of THE RAVEN. C’mon, who doesn’t like that one? I’d actually forgotten that Richard Matheson wrote the screenplay, and that a very young Jack Nicholson was in it, too!

I succumbed to Boskone Twitter’s (implied) dare to adopt the busted Baphomet statue I found in my apartment complex’s laundry room and use it as a prop for the piece I performed for the Villains Open Mic slam.

This is the second year in a row that someone suggested I do something with the pieces I performed. Maybe this year, I’ll listen. I wonder what I’ll have to cook up next year?

See you at 55!

Don’s Boskone 54 Schedule

I’ll be at Boskone in February for two out of its four days and again, they’ve allowed me to take up space in the program! Here’s where you can find me  — come say hi!


7:00 PM
So You Wanna Be a Time Lord
Jim Mann, Don Pizarro (M), Kate Baker, John Chu, LJ Cohen
Marina 4
The time for a new Time Lord is fast approaching. Peter Capaldi is on his third season, which means his stint as The Doctor is likely nearing an end. We’ve seen speculation about casting the next Doctor, but maybe Capaldi isn’t ready to go, especially since his character is starting to gel. What are our hopes for the future? Do we want to keep Capaldi? Whom would we like next? Maybe we can even ask our panelists why they might make a good Time Lord….

(Oh, I will ask. I will…)

8:00 PM
The Horror Boom and the Second Wave
Jack M. Haringa (M), Don Pizarro, Christopher Golden, John Langan, Grady Hendrix
Harbor II
Horror boomed in the 1970s and 1980s, before fading into subplots within romance, SF, and fantasy, as critics proclaimed, “Horror is dead!” Fortunately, horror is too clever — and necessary — to be beaten by Death. In fact, horror is back, bigger and badder than ever! The Second Wave of horror is hot, and it’s unabashedly horror again. What drove the first horror boom? What “killed” it? What fearsome forces are driving this Second Wave?


12:00 NOON
Fear Factor: “What Are You Scared Of?” “I Don’t Know!”
Gregory Feeley (M), Trisha Wooldridge, Grady Hendrix, Don Pizarro, Jon Hunt
Marina 2
H. P. Lovecraft says, “The oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” Peter S. Beagle says, “It is the shadow that terrifies, not the monster it hides. The monster is an actor in a monster suit. The shadow is always real.” Should moviemakers reduce screentime for their favorite CGI monstrosities? Should horror writers concentrate on explaining the really scary stuff less? What storytellers excel in making us jump at shadows?

8:00 PM
Open Mic: Villains!
Kenneth Schneyer (M), Linda Addison (M), C. S. E. Cooney, Kate Baker, Milton Davis, Ada Palmer, Vincent O’Neil, Don Pizarro, Tom Kidd, Julie C. Day, Emma Caywood
Live from Boskone… enjoy the unsavory stylings of our program participants and audience members. They share their open mic skills in the second annual Boskone Open Mic, which this year features our favorite fictitious villains! Each person gives his/her best 5-minute villainous performance — story, poem, song, skit, interpretive dance, or whatever!

If I don’t see you at any of these panels, you’ll see me at others because holy crap, this programming is packed full o’ goodness! Or, I’m sure you’re bound to catch me walking to/from the bar…

Boskone 53 Quickie Recap

Photo credit: Brenda Noiseux

I’ll always remember Boskone 53 as “The one where the Guest of Honor bought me drinks, to say nothing about all the other connections and, more importantly, the re-connections I made with folks. I don’t think I knew just how much I needed that.

Between that and participating lots in the program, I had a great time! If nothing else, the mask I wore to the Superhero Open Mic (where I did a monologue from a Cleveland hero) helped me purge decades of negative feelings about never having a decent Halloween costume that would accommodate eyeglasses!

God willing and the creeks don’t rise, see you next year!

ICYMI: a Con and a Publication

BOSKONE 53. In case you missed it, I’ll be in Boston this weekend, doing the panel/reading/drinking thing. I won’t be hard to find, so come say hi!

COMING SOON. A short essay of mine will appear in THE CLEVELAND NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDEBOOK by Belt Publishing, which drops in May. It aims to be “… the most useful, least authorized resource for Clevelanders, Cleveland ex-pats, visitors, and potential new residents.” And to that end, I plugged a small corner of my former patch of Greater Cleveland.

Where I’ll Be at #Boskone

Gonna be at Boskone 53 the weekend of February 19? I am. Here’s my mini-interview with those fine folks, and here’s where I’ll be…

What’s New In Comics?
Friday 17:00 – 17:50, Burroughs (Westin)
Accessing information about DC and Marvel releases is pretty straightforward. But what are the other must-read comics that might be flying under your radar? Whom should you keep your eye on? The comics universe is always expanding; which are the new voices you mustn’t miss?
James Moore (M), A.C.E. Bauer, Robert Howard, Don Pizarro

Reading: Don Pizarro
Friday 19:00 – 19:25, Independence (Westin)
(…wait, wut?)

Hidden Heroes
Saturday 10:00 – 10:50, Harbor III (Westin)
Sometimes the hero of a story isn’t its true protagonist. A commonly accepted example is Sam Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings, who more and more centers the action as the story concludes. What other examples occur to us? Why might an author choose to focus on someone other than the hero? Can the hero ever be the antagonist?
Michael Swanwick (M), Chris Irvin, Mary Kay Kare, Don Pizarro, Beth Meacham

How You Get the Word Out: Starting and Running a Successful Podcast
Saturday 14:00 – 14:50, Harbor III (Westin)
Podcasting gives us an outlet to share our thoughts and ideas with the world, and everyone seems to have something (perhaps a lot) to say. But is podcasting right for everyone? How do you go about “bootstrapping” a podcast? What do you need and what do you need to know? How do you attract and keep an audience? Where do you find a place to host your site? Successful ‘casters pass on their secrets.
Steve Miller (M), Kate Baker, C.S.E. Cooney, Don Pizarro, Brianna Spacekat Wu

How Binge-Watching Could Change TV
Saturday 16:00 – 16:50, Marina 4 (Westin)
The binge-watching phenomena has clearly changed the way we watch television, in-genre or out. Is it also altering the way they create it? Marathon viewers are a mindful audience, who retain more information and understand longer story arcs. Is this leading to more complex characters, more complicated plots — more compelling shows?
Ginjer Buchanan (M), Garen Daly, Daniel M. Kimmel, Don Pizarro, Steven Sawicki

Superhero Open Mic
Saturday 21:00 – 22:20, Marina 1 (Westin)
Kapow! Live from Boskone … enjoy the knock-out stylings of our program participants and audience members who share their open mic skills in the first-ever Superhero Open Mic. Each person gives his/her best 5-minute superhero performance – story, poem, song, skit, interpretive dance, or whatever! OPTIONAL: For extra appeal, feel free to come dressed as a superhero!
Walter H. Hunt (M), Kenneth Schneyer (M), C.S.E. Cooney, Carrie Cuinn, E.C. Myers, Garth Nix, Don Pizarro, Lauren Roy, Mary Ellen Wessels

Come say hi!

A Write-Up in Record Time: #Boskone 52

The anger of the Norse Frost Giants that turned Boskone into “Snokone” conspired to make me arrive late and leave early.  On the other hand, thanks to programming (who did an AWESOME job!), I did more in the short time I was there than at past cons.

Since my time was short and sweet, so shall my write-up be.  Here are the panels I was on or attended, and what I took away.

OFF THE AIR: I was off the air for this one, much to my regret. Heard it went well, though.  Curse you, Boston traffic!

FATHER, YOU MADE ME: Archetypal/non-archetypal parent-child dynamics. Fathers creating/spawning children from nothing (rather than a mother), eating them or risk being eaten. Mothers who are either evil queens and rivals, or absent. There are created fathers in the Hero’s Journey, where are the replacement mothers? In fact, why have a story structure where a parent abdicates and is replaced?  Market concerns?  And where did the Female Hero’s Journey go, anyway?  Parenting “then” is different from parenting “now”… isn’t it? What can speculative fiction do that literary fiction can’t vis-a-vis depictions of parenting relationships. A good amount, it turns out.  Also, first time I’ve ever moderated a panel but it felt like cheating to have an all-star crew; it practically moderated itself.

READING: Yes, my first official con-sanctioned reading.  Two short pieces and an excerpt and people showed up!

FINDING DIVERSE FICTION: Google is your friend.  But thank small-press/independent publishers going against Publishers’ (capital P) professional knowledge (i.e. self fulfilling prophesies) on “what sells “.  How do you get Pulitzer Prize-winning literary authors of color and well-known genre authors of color for your anthology created with an eye toward increasing diversity?  Apparently, just ask.  Writers, keep writing.  Readers, keep reading AND financially backing AND BUYING!

WHAT’S HOT IN COMICS?:  No, it’s not zombie comics anymore because some don’t feel the need to keep up with THE WALKING DEAD on TV and comics, or just said, Fuck it.  It’s a mix: Brian K. Vaughn’s SAGA, G. Willow Wilson’s CAPTAIN MARVEL, Matt Kindt’s MIND MGMT and others.  TV/movies (especially from Disney/Marvel) being the introduction of the casual fan to comics.  The smart things Disney/Marvel do vs. WB/DC.  [Not discussed, but popped into my head just now: TV/movies generating for comics what they know in pro wrestling as the “smart mark”?]

NON-WESTERN FOLKLORE: This was the only panel outside of my own that I got to attend: Fairy tales vs. folklore vs. fables. The hacking of folklore; reverse-engineering written lore (back) to oral traditions.  “Authenticity of”, “Ownership of” — both colonized concepts?  How great was the Great Wall before Westerners called it great?  Transformation.  Unequal power differentials vis-à-vis appropriation, IP, copyright issues (i.e. what can be copyrightable? Says who?).  Would’ve sucked for Ovid creating THE METAMORPHOSES.  [Possession really is 9/10ths of the law.]  Modern tabloids as repositories for modern folklore [i.e. a lore of the people, rather than folklore curators]?

THE JODOROWSKY EFFECT: Much like Jodorowsky’s attempt at making DUNE, a great panel that could’ve been, that couldn’t happen because of external realities.

My #Boskone Schedule

Yes, I’ll be at Boskone this weekend, weather permitting.  And not just barconning it, either.  I have actual panels AND a reading!!

Off the Air
Friday, February 13, 7:00 pm, Marina 2

Why does good television fail? Panelists talk about SF/F/H TV shows that died too soon, including Firefly, Alphas, The Tomorrow People, Millennium, Jericho, Almost Human, and more. Were they as good as we think? What are we missing?

Stephen P. Kelner (M), D. Lynn Smith, me, Ken Altabef, Susan Jane Bigelow

Father, You Made Me
Friday, February 13, 8:00 pm, Harbor III

From Dr. Frankenstein and his monster to Darth Vader and his son, speculative fiction uses fantastical ways to explore the special relationship between fathers and sons. What about the relationships between mothers and daughters? Panelists explore notable parental relationships within fiction and how those relationships shape characters and the choices they make.

Me (moderating–can you believe it?), ML Brennan, Theodora Goss, Max Gladstone, Alexander Jablokov

Friday, February 13, 9:00 pm, Independence
(My first official con-sanctioned, non-guerrilla reading!)

Finding Diverse Fiction
Saturday, February 14, 12:00 pm, Marina 2

There is a clear desire for increased diversity within SF/F fiction and fandom. There are also a lot of emerging writers who are bringing diversity to the genre, but many of them are still flying below the publicity radar. Authors and publishers come together to share their “must read” lists and tips on where to find some of the new up-and-coming authors.

Charles Stross (M), Susan Jane Bigelow, Bill Campbell, me, Lauren Roy

What’s Hot in Comics?
Saturday, February 14, 1:00 pm, Marina 2

Now that the zombie craze has peaked, and every major comics publisher has delved into horror-related titles, how has this impacted the mainstream’s monthly superhero titles? Does rampant fan interest in The Walking Dead eclipse the latest issue of Superman, Batman, X-Men, or Avengers? We’ll take a look at current comics trends, to see what types of comic books are winning the battle for readers.

Brenda Noiseux (M), Craig Shaw Gardner, Christopher Golden, me, Thomas Sweterlitsch

The Jodorowsky Effect
Saturday, February 14, 10:00 pm, Burroughs

Alejandro Jodorowsky, a Chilean filmmaker, author, and surrealist, influenced some of the greatest cult SF/F works of the last 60 years. He directed the first midnight cult film (El Topo), his comic series The Incal inspired The Fifth Element, and he spearheaded a failed effort to film Dune — “the greatest SF movie never made.” Jodorowsky’s production art for Dune inspired Star Wars, Alien, Heavy Metal, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and others. His other work is also critically acclaimed and hugely influential. Panelists discuss Jodorowsky’s legacy, his “Psychomagical Realism, ” and his influence on contemporary work.

Paul Di Filippo (M), Carrie Cuinn, Daniel M. Kimmel, me, Steven Sawicki


Come find me and say, Hey!