Why Readers Rule

February 26, 2013 Writing Comments (0) 64

File:NyarlathotepI spoke with an old friend at a party Saturday night, and got a very nice compliment. I’d sent him a story a few months back, a Lovecraft homage that I had a feeling he would dig. He told me he’d really enjoyed it, but that his wife had also seen it around and picked it up. He told me she enjoyed it, which was great, but he also told me it had impacted so much that she took a couple of days before she was ready to talk about it.

That’s like crack cocaine to a writer, let me tell you. I’m already hard at work on another story that had been simmering for a while, but seems like it might appeal to similar tastes.

Meanwhile, I’ve had no luck so far finding a market to publish the original story in question. I totally get why a Lovecraftian weird tale might be hard to publish–there are, after all, a lot of people writing them–but this is a really good Lovecraftian weird tale. Or so I’ll believe for the next few days, at least, until my insecure writer’s brain resumes telling me I’m no good.

Exactly like crack cocaine–including the need for a regular fix.

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Quaker Philadelphia, Robber Baron New York

February 14, 2013 New York City, Personal, Philly / Pennsylvania Comments (1) 124

Mulberry Street NYC circa 1900

Since moving from Philadelphia to New York City, one thing I’ve really had trouble with is the culture around money. Mind you, I’m a professional fundraiser, so the subject of money isn’t a strange one; but there’s a real difference in the way money, and wealth, make their presence known. In all the wealthy cities I’ve visited, including Toronto and Corona del Mar, I have never felt as low on the totem pole as I do in Midtown Manhattan. Almost every day, I walk past one or more businesses aimed at people wealthier than I could ever hope to be.

In a city with the world’s second highest population of billionaires, money is always going to make itself known–but I find something vulgar in the way New York obsesses over wealth. It isn’t the number of businesses that cater to the super-rich, so much; it’s the number of businesses that specialize in making a fuss about how wealthy their clients are. Continue Reading

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Be mine, Ser

February 14, 2013 Pop Culture Comments (0) 93

Game of Thrones valentines by Chris Bishop

Game of Thrones valentines by illustrator Chris Bishop.

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Download Toll Road FREE at Smashwords!

February 14, 2013 Personal, Writing Comments (0) 73

Toll Road, a short story by Christopher Keelty, is now available!Happy Valentine’s Day!!

You can now download my e-book short story Toll Road free of charge at Smashwords! Give someone you love the gift of dystopian short fiction!

Or you can give me a little present and pay ninety-nine cents to download it at Amazon.

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Race cars, lasers, aeroplanes

February 13, 2013 Pop Culture Comments (0) 102

httpv://youtu.be/i6-brapfeSM

Neat article at the Onion A/V Club about the business motives that created Duck Tales, the way the show kicked off the era of high-quality animated afternoon TV (including the Disney Afternoon, which I admit I grew up on) and how Disney is largely to thank for the changes to the TV business that killed the very genre they’d advanced.

“It’s an understatement to say DuckTales was a hit. Not only did it lead to a huge number of additional Disney animated shows that entered the “Disney afternoon” syndication package—shows like Chip ’N’ Dale Rescue RangersTaleSpin, and Darkwing Duck—but it led to other studios raiding their own cabinets to see what could be reworked into programs that would entertain America’s bored latchkey kids. With the rise of two-income households, there were more and more kids out there who couldn’t be bothered to do their homework until someone made them, and an army of shows marched onto TV to entertain them, including legitimate classics like Animaniacs and Batman: The Animated Series.”

Even as a kid, I remember thinking the Disney animated shows, like Gummi Bears and Duck Tales, Tale Spin, and so on were just better than other animated shows. The animation looked cleaner, smoother, and more vivid, the stories were better, the concepts were cooler, etc. I didn’t know enough then to put my finger on it, but it’s interesting to go back and read the motives.

…and I still want to dress up for Halloween some year as Don Karnage.

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Steamed Crap

February 13, 2013 New York City Comments (0) 95

Neon Sign: Steamed Crap

Mmmmm. Delicious steamed crap.

Apparently Strongbad runs the fish shop down the block.

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NYC Trivia: New Amsterdam, Old Slip, and Secession

February 12, 2013 New York City Comments (0) 224

Map of Dutch settlement of New AmsterdamLiz and I spent a couple of hours reading up on New York City’s history. This isn’t research for a book or anything, it’s just because I’m a huge nerd. We were walking around the city and got talking about NYC’s Dutch origins as New Amsterdam, and how Harlem (originally spelled “Haarlem“) was settled around the same time, while the area now comprising midtown and the East and West sides weren’t settled for centuries.

I realized I didn’t know much else about the region, but a few hours diving down the Wikipedia hole helped that. Here’s some of my favorite New York City trivia:

  • The Dutch established settlements all over the East Coast, within a wide territory called New Netherland that was basically just wilderness and a few villages, and of which New Amsterdam was the capital. The first settlement was at Governor’s Island, but in the roughly 50 years before the English took over New Netherland, the Dutch established cities along the Hudson River, around the Greater New York City region, and in modern-day Delaware and New Jersey. A few of the many cities and neighborhoods named by the dutch are Harlem, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Long Island, Flatbush, and New Dorp.
  • New Dorp may be my favorite awful place name ever. And yes, I’m well aware there is a city in Austria called Fucking. That’s still not as terrible as having to tell people you’re from “New Dorp.” Continue Reading

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The origin of the Darkspear Troll?

February 11, 2013 Pop Culture Comments (0) 158

Mask from Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

Seen in the Pacific Island wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

And in Azeroth.

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Bingles

February 10, 2013 New York City, Pop Culture Comments (0) 96

BinglesSeen at the local Pathmark, shelved beside Hostess facsimiles with familiar names like “Cupcakes” and “Snowballs.”

My uncle tells me Blue Bird has acquired legal rights to the Hostess name and various trademarks, and will soon be putting Hostess back on the shelves. I guess they don’t yet own the rights to the name “Twinkies.”

But really, “Bingles” is a pretty good try, don’t you think?

 

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NYT on Alan’s Alley Video Store

February 9, 2013 In The News, New York City Comments (0) 93

Alan's Alley Video Store in the NYT

A charming NYT article and video about the last remaining indie video rental joint in Chelsea, the proprietor, and some of the customers who keep them in business.

The shop is open seven days a week, 365 days a year. “It’s like having a convenience store,” said the shop’s owner, Alan Sklar. “Everyone needs milk.”

Message boards, blogs, and e-zines allow us to connect with people who share our interests–but while me may have friends on other continents, we may not meet the ones next door. We stream video instead of going to the movies or the video store, we download books to our e-readers instead of going to the book store or the library, and buy our records on iTunes instead of at the local record store. We lose the connection to fellow fans, but more than that we lose the curators–the librarians, checkout boys, and store managers who immersed themselves in their medium and knew our taste better than us. Sure, AllMusic and iTunes Genius can recommend albums based on our tastes, but there’s nothing like the first time someone tips you off to Pink Floyd’s The Wall or Captain Beefheart.

I remember discovering Meet the Feebles, a recommendation from a friend who worked at a video store, back when it was unavailable in the US and could only be viewed on a worn-out hand-me-down VHS tape. There’s an air of mystery and possibility there, that can’t be had from a download or streaming video.

It’s encouraging to see some people willing to spend money to keep this alive.

h/t to @imseanavery for the link.

 

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