I've been remiss in announcing that at long last, the anthologyBibliotheca Fantastica, is finally out from Dagan Books! Here's my introduction to the book. Trust me, this one is worth the wait! (Not that I'm biased or anything...)
You can pick it up through Amazon for your Kindle, or in a DRM-free format--the epub file epub, mobi, (which also works on your Kindle), or PDF either individually or as a bundle!
I'm so not used to having a Monday off after a con that I forgot that I'd put in to have today off. That's okay, because it affords me some much-needed extra sleep and the chance to do my Readercon write-up in what is, for me, record time!
That doesn't mean I have the brainspace for anything coherent. I'm doing this while I'm awake, typing up little bits here and there, and then I'll set it to post after I get to bed. Then once I've had more sleep and time to reflect, I might talk about some panels later.
We're still 18 years away from 2031 when, if I'm still around, I'll be 58 but still look the way I do now depending on what sort of genetic and/or cybernetic modifications I'll be able to afford. But that doesn't stop me from feeling like an ancient relic now.
But believe it or not, I'm in a better space than I was this time last year. Just.
Just got word that my presentation proposal, "Singing the Body Electric: The Symbiotic Relationship Between The Twilight Zone and the Literature of Speculative Fiction" was accepted for the 2013 Rod Serling Conference!! Now to finish constructing it--it'd been on the back burner for a bit.
The conference, up until my previous go 'round, had always been held in town here, where Rod Serling lived and taught. This year, the conference will be out in Los Angeles where Serling worked. I knew this beforehand and thus, no WFC or Dragon*Con for me this year unfortunately. But I'll still be at Readercon!
My goals for the past Memorial Day weekend are clearly stated in the first two verses of this song. And got'dammit I needed it because the pace of my life has been breakneck. Two days back at work, and it almost doesn't feel like I've had a break.
In his introduction, editor Paolo Chikiamco spells out the payoff and the problems involved in putting together an anthology of remixed Filipino myths. "We are a nation of many indigenous cultures--numbering anywhere from sixty to over a hundred, depending on who you ask--with distinct oral traditions." There are resources and strategies aimed at sussing all this out (see the appendices at the end of the book); guideposts to avenues of research in which even some Filipino scholars fear to tread. In the end though, the most meaningful way to relate to these myths (or those of any culture's, for that matter) is through story.
Some stories were weaker than others, as can be expected, but even these had something to offer--one in particular that I thought might've been the weakest might have had the best writing. These stories seemed to share a similar overall flaw IMO: the focus on the inscrutability and strangeness of the supernatural characters who didn't seem to be too bothered by it one way or the other. (An attitude that seems distinctly un-Filipino).
The anthology really picks up steam in its latter half, though. The better stories weren't just simple retellings, but remixings and straight mash-ups of various myths, time periods, genres, and even modes of storytelling. One of my favorite pieces has an ending which cleverly hinges on the blending of Christianity and folk belief for which the Philippines is famous.
I could've gone a lot of places with my answer, starting with my extensive knowledge of Norse mythology in third grade, starting with Marvel Comics' The Mighty Thor, through my extensive cross-referencing with The Encyclopedia Brittanica and poring through the footnotes of every mythology book I could get from my grade-school library. But, that would've just been geeking out instead of answering the question. And when the big kids at SF Signal offer you a seat at their table and ask you a question, you best answer it!
I knew this week was going to be bad. It's started off even worse. But I'm getting by. My coping mechanism of the day has been playing this video on a loop. It's Joe Walsh playing "Funk #49" with Daryl Hall.
Yes, you read that right. And your brain is short-circuiting at the cognitive dissonance, isn't it? It's that short-circuit that keeps me from falling into a black hole of depression, because who can not get fired up hearing that guitar riff?
Last Friday was apparently Yuri's Night. I had no idea Yuri's Night is a thing. Definitely, worthy of a toast. So, having had a hard day, I had two much-needed pints of Great Lakes Brewing Company's Edmund Fitzgerald Porter at the bar hosting the event, and went to the upper lounge to enjoy a presentation and slideshow from a member of Cornell's Department of Astronomy.
The most interesting parts of the presentation were the more mundane details, like how my phone has a more storage and a more powerful camera than the rovers that went up years ago, or just how ridiculously easy it is to shoot something to Mars and miss it.
When I complain about the cognitive disconnect of working in a place where people are beaming shit to and from Mars while there are spots on campus where I lose cell service, this is what I'm talking about. Still though, the photos from the show, especially the ones from Mars, are pretty cool.
It's that time of year once again where I celebrate that one special aspect of my cultural and religious heritage...
SAN FERNANDO, Philippines–Catholic zealots in the Philippines re-enacted the last hours of Jesus Christ on Good Friday, whipping their backs and nailing themselves to crosses in a grisly Easter ritual that persists despite Church disapproval.
Probably the only thing Harvey Pekar and I have in common is the city of Cleveland.
It's supposedly the hipster thing to do nowadays to declare Pekar a genius while admitting you've never read his work. Fine, guilty. But at least I'm not one of those folks who came to his work as a direct result of watching the American Splendor biopic (still haven't seen it, but soon). Anyway, my previous experiences of Pekar were his appearances on David Letterman in the 80s. (As a kid, it seemed for years that the only guests Letterman had were Pekar, Fran Lebowitz, and Howard Stern. More likely, these were the only guests that were memorable, having held my interest and attention.) The fact that he was from Cleveland and talked about Cleveland didn't mean that much to me at the time.
It's to my everlasting regret that I never came to underground comics at an earlier age. I just couldn't brave the densely-drawn comics in "that section" of the comics store where American Splendor, Heavy Metal, and others were shelved, near the porn comics. But better late than never, and I'm glad my first real taste was from Harvey Pekar's Cleveland.
The fact that the book gives a good-enough history of the City of Cleveland over the years is almost beside the point. It, like most of Pekar's work in American Splendor is really about Pekar alone and his observations. It just so happens that there are years where his observations on Cleveland and mine coincide.
When he talks about the things that happened in the late 80s/early 90s--Toby Radloff's 5 minutes of fame, the decline of Cleveland schools to the point where the State of Ohio took them over, the hospitals taking over the local economy, etc.--he's talking about a time when Cleveland was my home, during years when there was every chance that we might've bumped shoulders walking down Coventry, or up the steps of the main branch of the Cleveland Public Library. Some of the times that were his own, like the experience of running up the stairs of Cleveland's (Old) Arcade, I independently experienced (as did a lot of Clevelanders) 40-some years later. To me, Pekar isn't to be praised just for speaking general truth, but for speaking some truths that I can verify.
So, I have to give Cleveland a very biased 5* out of 5.
I'm actively juggling plates. That, and fighting off whatever Andromeda Strain I might've picked up at work, hence the extended absence. But these are plates that put me more and more in a position of having to (temporarily, at least) set aside the things that threaten to derail my momentum if any of the seeds I've sown are to bear any fruit.
I've been doing my best giving those things the Dikembe Mutombo treatment when necessary...