Weeknotes S04 E07: TBR

It’s fall, and around these parts that means the October Friends of the Library Book Sale. It’s where I was last weekend instead of writing this. I always find a treasure there. Always. And it’s probably one of the few places I’ll buy a dead tree book–not because I have anything against dead tree books. We just don’t have the space, and ebooks are the only way I can practically read in the interstices of an otherwise busy life.

I usually focus on two sections before I start wandering around the place: the science-fiction/fantasy section and the literary short story section, which is where I scored what I discovered was the inaugural issue of the lit mag NOON, edited by Dianne Williams and Christine Schutt. Then, I’ll wander around the other sections and finish off at the CDs. The big score here was a recording from Return to Forever’s 2008 RETURNS tour, the first album from this classic jazz fusion band in over 30 years. I remember freaking out when I first saw the YouTube videos of the Montreux part of the tour. They didn’t lose a step, that’s for sure!

I picked up a copy of the HEAVY METAL soundtrack as a lark, and the interaction I had with the older volunteer who sold it to me made it totally worth the price. She goes, “Great soundtrack! Blue Öyster Cult… I was actually listening to them before I came here today.” Rock on, auntie!

There are two other conditions where I’ll buy a dead-tree book: (a) When I want something that’s only offered in that format and (b) I want it right the fuck now and don’t care if it’ll end up in an ebook later on. That doesn’t happen very often and when it does, I tend to forget when I pre-order them. So this week I got, not one, but two pleasant surprises from past me.

I guess if I go another month between Weeknotes, we’ll know why.

#Weeknotes S04 E06

There was a time when skipping Weeknotes for three weeks in a row would’ve been a source of shame and self-abnegation. I’m over that. Mostly. Life happens, yes — fam, dayjob, a couple days of feeling under the weather, not to mention general exhaustion.

I’ve been feeling like the dude in the picture in the next section.

I saw this picking up a late lunch one day and say a very relatable dilemma. I mean, at a place that’s open 24 hours where you’re gonna have to get this done sometime (whatever this was), I guess broad daylight would work just as well as the middle of the night?

I feel you buddy, I really do.

Can’t keep track of what I’ve seen on which streaming service anymore, but it’s been a month of binge-watches.

  • It’s been interesting watching GRIMM and BLEACH: THOUSAND-YEAR BLOOD WAR, what with all the random German getting thrown around.
  • I finally had a chance to check out what all the fuss about RUSSIAN DOLL was about. I get it! I mean, I find Natasha Lyonne’s work enjoyable anyway. The part where her character describes herself as a cross between Andrew Dice Clay and Merida from BRAVE. I see Sam Kinison, myself.
  • The highlight of my binging was DOCUMENTARY NOW. I missed it when it first came around, but when I saw the episode “Long Gone” being a take on Bruce Weber’s LET’S GET LOST, I regretted it. A send-up of CHEF’S TABLE with Jonathan Gold and David Chang doing cameos? A little Spalding Gray (-ish) thing? Where was this all my life?
  • Awhile back I found the complete IN SEARCH OF… series from the ’70s featuring Leonard Nimoy on DVD for five bucks that I’ve been slowly going through. More reliving my youth, I guess.

I’ve been slacking lately. By slacking, I mean “not knocking out 2-3 books in a weekend.” But like a true book addict, that didn’t stop me from adding two new sci-fi novels from friends of mine, a short story anthology, and a couple of non-fiction books. Because, why not?

Hopefully it won’t be three more weeks, with life happening — the fam, dayjob, a couple days of feeling under the weather, general exhaustion — until the next post. But you know, all that happens when I do manage to keep this up weekly, so exactly what goes on in these fallow periods of mine? I’ve been trying to break that down and I don’t have anything close to an answer yet. Maybe I’ll have one next time.

#Weeknotes S04 E05: Pressed for Time

I had a couple of “vacation from the vacation” days but after that, this past week was all about getting back on track with daily life. I still haven’t gone through all the photos I took from Boston.

Okay, you know what? Let’s start there, then. I have just the thing, a metaphor for how I’m feeling — a little pressed.

Life-sized diorama of a "pressing" taken at the Salem Witch Museum.

Yeah I feel you, buddy.

Anyway, one of the places we visited was the Salem Witch Museum, which starts off with “an immersive look into the events of 1692” using life-sized dioramas and narration that sounded like it was recorded in the late 1970s — kind of like the intro from Tales from the Darkside — to underscore the prejudice and injustice behind it all.

Yes, this is where I got that Margaret Hamilton photo I posted a couple weeks ago.

I haven’t gotten a lot of reading done, beyond poking away at Garielle Lutz’s complete story collection after finishing ESSAYS by Wallace Shawn, which I talked about the other day.

I did make a little movement on this front, though! There were a couple of calls for submissions that I noticed last week, so I put something together for one and am in the process of a new piece for another. Because, why work on the other things you have going right now, when you can just start new shit on the spot, right?

You know, I think that’s all I’ve had in me this week. Along the lines of stuff from the 1970s, maybe what I need now is to rebuild some Cognitive Salubrity…?

#Weeknotes S04 E04: More Than a Feeling

Last week’s undisclosed location was Boston, MA where I took a much-needed long-term mental health break with the fam. This was the first time in a long time where I took one before (just before) the wheels fell off. My therapist was proud!

This was the first non-convention related trip to Boston (I forget how many Readercons and Boskones it’s been at this point) in over a decade. I guess for that matter, this was my first post-pandemic trip, too. Lotta firsts on this trip. I’ve got enough pics and video, not to mention thoughts and reflections, for several weeks’ worth of blog posts that I’ll probably dribble out slowly. You might’ve noticed I did some experimenting with dribbling out posts over the past week. That’s where the one pier picture came from, btw.

Oh, you missed the pier picture? Not to worry. Here’s a recap.

Still working on THE COMPLETE GARY LUTZ and QUANTUM CRIMINALS. The latter, I’m savoring slowly, like Cuervo Gold. (See what I did there?)

Like most readers I know, though, I added to the long backlog with DREAM TOWN: Shaker Heights and the Quest for Racial Equity by Laura Meckler. I grew up a couple of ‘burbs over, so a tiny bit of my history overlaps with this, so I thought it’d be interesting. And, randomly, I pulled something up to the front, ESSAYS by Wallace Shawn. I dunno, I think it bubbled back up to the surface because of all the YOUNG SHELDON reruns I’ve been watching lately with Wally in them. I’ll push my thoughts out sometime this week.

Back to the dayjob tomorrow, so I’m going to finish out the weekend reminiscing about the trip to what cultural scholar Carl Brutananadilewski calls The Ultimate Song

#Weeknotes S04 E03: Livin’ In Sin with a Safety Pin

This week’s episode is being broadcast from an undisclosed location. I’ll talk more about that next week.

Even at the undisclosed location, I find once again that where I’m from tends to sneak itself into wherever you are.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Margaret Hamilton (December 9, 1902 – May 16, 1985) was a schoolteacher turned actress, best known for her portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film THE WIZARD OF OZ.

This comes on top of a couple of other Cleveland-related things that have come across my transom this week.

The name Dick Goddard probably doesn’t mean much to anyone not of a certain age who came up in the 216 a couple of decades after the river caught fire. But, behold the ancient wisdom of a legendary Clevelander!

In addition to its winter forecast, Farmers’ Almanac also shared “20 Signs of a Hard Winter Ahead,” which was curated by famed late Cleveland weatherman Dick Goddard. The list was first featured in the 1978 Farmers’ Almanac, “and it is still relevant today,” according to the almanac.

–via cleveland.com

It’s that fuzzy Midwestern feeling of when a local boy does good. And speaking of local boys who done good, there’s a fall event being organized, in part, by Ursuline College’s Rust Belt Humanities Lab — okay, wait, let’s back up. First off, there’s a Rust Belt Humanities Lab!!

Anyway, Superman’s Cleveland: Lineage and Legacy will be celebrated in the place where the Neverending Battle began.

Superman’s Cleveland is a city-wide celebration of the heritage of Superman, the world’s first comic book superhero invented in 1938 in Glenville by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, two Jewish high school students.

This Fall, scholars and comic book lovers will join interested Clevelanders in book discussions, comics-making workshops, live interviews with creators, and a rich lineup of programs exploring the lineage and legacy of Superman and Cleveland.

Finished Christine Schutt’s collection A DAY, A NIGHT, ANOTHER DAY, SUMMER. I’m still plowing away at THE COMPLETE GARY LUTZ, with only moderately less mental and emotional distress than I experienced when reading Lutz and Eric Bogosian at the same time.

I’ve always enjoyed so-called Minimalist fiction. I’ve read who (I think) most would think of as “the big names,” like Carver, Hempel, Hannah, Beattie, Robison. But there’s another strata that I’m only now getting to: Sam Lipsyte (whose story collections I read before I came back to blogging), Gary Lutz, Christine Schutt, Noy Holland (her stuff is next on tap), etc. These writers’ work is definitely different. The language is playful, which seems to make their stories (in my opinion) more brutal.

Since I’m back on my bullshit here, I thought I’d dick around with some of the other ancient tools from yesteryear, what with everyone retreating into newsletters, blogs, or other older platforms. I was never really much of a LiveJournal guy, but there was a time when I Tumblr’d 4 ya quite a lot.

Anyway, don’t mind me…


#Weeknotes S04 E02: Cognitive Salubrity

I’ve finished Eric Bogosian’s 100 MONOLOGUES. I’ve flipped back and forth between monologues, kind of like how your average Catholic flips around the Bible randomly, but I took the time to read these 100, cover to cover from start to finish. I took two things away from this experience:

  1. Some of these pieces go back 30 or 35 years, and it’s scary how some of the reactionary characters depicted must’ve somehow time-traveled forward to 2023.
  2. Reading 100 MONOLOGUES while concurrently reading THE COMPLETE GARY LUTZ might not have been good for my mental and emotional health. I mean, the collection includes a book titled, PARTIAL LIST OF PEOPLE TO BLEACH, so I’m sure you can imagine.

I’ve still got a ways to go before finishing Lutz’s stuff, while still picking away at Christine Schutt’s A DAY, A NIGHT, ANOTHER DAY, SUMMER. But I’ve got a huge to-read pile, so I’ve moved QUANTUM CRIMINALS: RAMBLERS, WILD CAMBLERS, AND OTHER SOLE SURVIVORS FROM THE SONGS OF STEELY DAN by Alex Pappademas and Joan LeMay up the queue.

Even if you’re someone who’s inclined to shit on Steely Dan you might still enjoy the snark that’s so cleverly (and at some points, lovingly) laid down on Donald and Walter.

In the ’70s, Donald [Fagan] favors a preshow Valium and two immediately preshow tequila shots before taking the stage. But the Cuervo Gold and the fine anxiolytics can only go so far in terms of making the night a tolerable thing.

This is the type of local history that always fascinated me. I’ve always said that the first time I visited this zone of “10 square miles surrounded by reality” almost two decades ago, I knew I’d found my place. Stuff like this is why…

The Witch on Horseback Institute for Cognitive Salubrity was a short-lived new age education center and performance space founded in Trumansburg, New York in the nineteen-seventies by former employees of the Moog synthesizer company. These forgotten recordings with disgraced Ithaca experimental psychologist Noving Jumand were discovered at a library sale in Ithaca, New York in the early 2020s, and have been restored from the original LPs by the musical entity known as Witch on Horseback, named in the Institute’s honor.

My home state, much like a broken clock, can be right twice a day…

“Ohio voters reject Issue 1, scoring win for abortion-rights supporters ahead of November” from The Columbus Dispatch.

There’s this coffee shop at my (dying) local mall that’s been around for a few years. It’s all right. It’s small, it’s local. The food and drinks are decent and the folks who run it are nice. The furnishings came from the Borders that left the mall when it closed down. They gathered dust in the closed storefront for years, before being moved to a new space to be re-used.

I spent hours at the old Borders cafe doing a lot of writing. I’ve likely sat on every chair and at every table (including the couches you don’t see) at one point, so it’s kind of like visiting old friends and seeing if I can recreate the old writing magic we once had.

#Weeknotes S04 E01: Back on My Bullshit

I come up here and I do the best I can. I give you the best I can. I can’t do better than this. I can’t.

–Eric Bogosian, “I’m Here. I’m Here Every Night”

I used to be one of those people who would come back to their blogs after a prolonged absence, all self-conscious about it, wanting to explain, to pledge to post more regularly, to get on a schedule. I’m over that.

So, the only question is what to write about after so long? I cast an eye inward, but then decided to just let the Story Cubes put my thoughts together.

I’ve been on a huge reading binge lately. I’ve got about 5 or 6 books going on right now, but the top 3 this past week:

The thing that’s helped me do all this reading is the Nook Glowlight 4e that I decided to splurge on a couple of weeks ago. Maybe it’s my aging eyes, but my laptop, tablet, and phone screens just weren’t cutting it anymore. Between that and the fact that reading at night no longer keeps me up and is thus improving the quality of my sleep, Nook is the first single-use media device I’ve had in my EDC kit for a very long time.

All this reading has definitely unlocked something. It’s filling me up on the old magic, helping me rediscover things that make me smile. Things like Nathasha Lyonne doing an Eric Bogosian monologue…

#Weeknotes S03 E33

It’s been awhile, folks. But I explained it all last time–life transition in progress! But the only place I have to go from last month with respect to writing is up. Heck, if put in two more days of writing, I’ll have beaten September. I’ll aim higher of course; it’s just going to take a bit to get there.


  • This week’s writing chain: 2 days
  • Total writing days this week: 3 days
  • Pieces out on submission: 1

I remember complaining incessantly about having to reinvent the wheel every time there’s a break in my writing flow. This time I’m taking a different approach by considering the possibility that reinventing the wheel is an inevitability, just like the occassional break, and running a little experiment to see what happens if I just lean into it instead of fighting it.

I’ll let you know how all that goes next week. Until then, I’m doing something I haven’t done in years and am planning to participate in NaNoWriMo :gasp: ahead of time! I’ve even decided on a strategy, which will probably involve extensive use of The Story Engine deck.

If you’re doing NaNo too, let’s connect!

I was into NEVER SAY YOU CAN’T SURIVIVE by Charlie Jane Anders until the book IF DISNEY RAN YOUR HOSPITAL was recommended to me during my sojourn into other healthcare arenas. Wish I’d had this book a few years ago but it’ll serve me well where I’m going!

A lot of things to tie up my brain while stressing, starting out with TIDYING UP WITH MARIE KONDO. I do not understand how anyone can give her last show shit, causing her to change it up, but at least that didn’t stop her from coming back.

I’ve been catching up on the past 4-5 years of NCIS, partly because I got sick of relying on cable reruns to catch up to where I needed to be.

I didn’t think ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING was going to be my jam, to be honest.

Couple weeks old, but it just reminded me about how I used to wear suits all the time, even when I didn’t have to.

#Weeknotes S03 E32

Really short this week because I’m not feeling it. Quick content warning for talk about depression.

I’m in an all-too-familiar depressive slump right now. It’s okay though–I’m okay! Because it’s different when I treat it as a period of time I can and will pass through. And I know I’ll pass through it (eventually) because of a continued regimen of medication and therapy, as well as a year’s worth of data points that tell me so.

Doesn’t mean I’m doing great, though. By which I mean I’m “not doing great” mentally and emotionally the same way I’d be “not doing great” if I’d had the flu or a sprained ankle, or anything physical keeping me from functioning 100%. That’s not to minimize my depression, either. YMMV but for me, comparisons like that help me remember that what feels like a black hole doesn’t have to be one, like it has in the past. In my case it’s something that, all things being equal, will likely pass once the chemicals in my brain right themselves.

When I remember that, I realize I don’t have to spend every waking moment trying to fight my way through it, fail, feel like a failure, fight my way through it, rinse and repeat until it’s been three months since I’ve written anything while I’ve been decompensating in other areas of my life. And I’ll get back on the horse the way I’ve always gotten back on the horse–even when all that stuff did happen.


  • This week’s writing chain: 1 day
  • Total writing days this week: 2 days
  • Pieces out on submission: 1

Got a story rejection the other day and I need to figure out where to send it next. That, with the other numbers do not indicate a good writing week. But I’m not complaining. Nor am I apologizing or justifying. This week was what it was.

Haven’t been reading much aside from picking away at NEVER SAY YOU CAN’T SURIVIVE by Charlie Jane Anders. I wish I could say I’m focused on this book because it’s apropos for this fallow period I’m in, but the truth is I started this while I was on a writing streak. Still a recommended read, though!

This is the ultraportable writing kit. Whenever I feel like I need to strip down to basics and get out into the world with the barest minimum writing gear, it’s just a few bits of gear all centered around using my Chromebook Duet to draft a project or just poke around my brain. And that’s about all I’m good for creatively at the moment. Thing is, it’s usually the start of the way back…

#Weeknotes S03 E31

It’s a holiday weekend and I really should’ve just bagged on weeknotes altogether, but it’s okay. I wouldn’t be doing this right now if I really didn’t want to.

The tank just ran empty last week. Could be the time of year. The start of Fall semester is always rough at work, even without a pandemic. But between that, the holiday, some minor medical stuff I’m getting taken care of (see below)… well, yeah I only got as far as I got this week.


  • This week’s writing chain: 4 days
  • Total writing days this week: 4 days
  • Pieces out on submission: 2

No word one way or the other about the pieces I have out at the moment. That’s okay. I got 4 days in and I actually got some things out of the 3 days I didn’t do anything. In fact, you could say I fucked around in order to find out if there was a better strategy for dealing with moments like this without letting it drag on for weeks and months on end, like I used to.

The first thing was finally recognizing certain cues about this mood I can fall into that makes writing feel impossible, and deciding to just sit and be with them.

There’s something else that I realized tends to happen at times like these: a huge amount random ideas that pop into my head that I write down and file away. I’m pretty sure you could correlate these non-writing times with the volume of stuff I file away in Evernote. Now, I know in my heart of hearts that at least 75% of that stuff is no good. But some of it like, “Okay, maybe… one day.” (Although I’m looking last week’s notes over and just spotted two separate entries that might have a common theme…)

Another thing is the random shit I tend to notice and document, things that could turn into a story of some kind. Like a theory about Gen X music, a random collection of words that made me stop what I was doing, or random scenes that just raise a lot of questions…

Basically, what I found out from fucking around is that maybe, just maybe I don’t have to always try to boostrap, GTD, Pomodoro, or power my way through an empty tank. That maybe I can just let it refill however it’s supposed to without trying to force it to happen, anymore than I can make myself get over a cold.

It was a week of non-invasive medical interventions involving steroids and narrow band UVB radiation. Which to a geek like me has all the makings of a superhero origin story! Or, maybe a super-villain story. Hey, either or….

That’s all I got for this week. See you next time!