Monthly Archives: November 2008

Apparently, the bats are very organized…

I have been taken hostage by bad poetry bats. Apparently, there are far more of them than anyone could have predicted. They have me in a very high, undisclosed location.

There are hundreds of them. Their leaders – I have named him Lord Byronesque – is the size of a small minivan.

Horatio managed to escape. I hope he is taking good care of our bestiary in my absence.

to secure my release, Horatio, get fifty large jars of kosher dills, and a hundred copies of Poetry Magazine. Take them to the big dumpster behind the Benbrook Public Library. Leave them in styrofoam coolers, next to the dumpster. Include a note of apology.

I am – I assure you – very, very sorry for attempting to capture a bad poetry bat.

They plucked me off the ground and carried me away.

I should mention that failure to do so will make them light my ears on fire with their tongues. After some time with these strange creatures, I’m not sure if that’s a metaphor or exactly what they are going to do.

The conversation, however, in rhyming iambic pentameter, is forced and dull enough to make me think it is both a metaphor and a fact. If I have to listen to anymore discussions about the good qualities of different sorts of pickles in dreadful, rhyming iambic pentameter, I think I will burn my own ears off.

Ahem. Hail Lord Byronesque. His poetry is VASTLY superior to mine. Yes. Yes, he is probably going to read this message, and I want to make sure everyone knows.

Anyway. Horatio, please provide the pickles. And the magazines.

I am alive and unharmed, and etc.

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Bad Poetry Bat Hunting Redux

After a long week of waiting, our pickled poetry collections were extricated, damp and stinking of vinegar, from the jars in the back of the pantry. Horatio and I had very large clothespins over our noses to protect our delicate nostrils, but odor still crept through. Worse, it watered our eyes with the pickle-y weight of damp paper.

We put then in sealed bags. We drove in the wee morning hours to the swampland at the edge of all the poorly landscaped corporate grounds and golf courses. We set our traps.

Tomorrow, we shall return. Even walking away, I saw their shadowy forms fluttering through the sky, attracted to the pickled verse.

Horatio expressed a concern. What if we catch more than one Bad Poetry Bat? We simply do not have the constitution to maintain the number of jars of thick pickle juice-drenched anthologies to feed a swooping herd of bad poetry bats.

And, who knows what kind of awful guano might result from such a toxic combination of bad poetry and pickle juice stewed inside the guts of a bat?

In the morning, we will check our traps. Hopefully, we’ll only have caught exactly one.

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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

That is all.

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stop surfing the internet and do something with your फॅमिली!


Thanksgiving is like tomorrow!

Go bake a pie, at least!

Get Off the Internet! (I’ll meet you in the street!)

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The Statuary Beetle

Geophagy is often relegated to the realm of earthworms. Few other insects enjoy devouring the raw essence of life in rocks and stones.

The Statuary Beetle is a wonder. Shaped like a long fingernail, with a back mottled like a piece of granite, the Statuary Beetle will only eat marble dust. Natives of Crete, they hitched rides to the United States in the crates of Greek and Roman statuary. They plague museum curators with their nibbling teeth and acidic spittle.

They rarely mate. They rarely need to. The acidic spittle that makes it possible for the Statuary Beetle to derive sustenance from stone also makes them utterly toxic to anything that might eat them. Their only natural enemy is the curatorial staff of museums, who quietly hide the secret of the beetles’ existence to prevent any endangered species organization from discovering this rare beetle in time to stop the genocide.

Fortunately, on a recent trip to a museum with Horatio, I noticed an infant beetle in the dark corner of a marble sarcophogus. I distracted the staff by threatening to touch a priceless coin. Horatio quickly recovered the tiny insect, and stuffed it among some rocks in his pocket.

We keep the beetle in the same cage as the Snaggletooth Spider. They don’t seem to notice each other. One eats marble, the other eats dentition. They wait, patiently, for their meals, and say nothing to each other.

I placed a marble hand from a garden statue in the cage. The Statuary Beetle hides under the stone palm. It has begun eating the elegant pinky finger.

The Snaggletooth Spider wandered over long enough to deduce that the white stone was not tooth-related. Then, it wandered back to its familiar corner of the cage, awaiting it’s nightly meal of dentures and bits of toothpaste.

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All right, everyone over the Twilight thing, yet?

Look, lots of people have had lots to say about the Twilight series, and the mediocrity of it. I couldn’t stomach it. I don’t like to talk mck about anyone, and the only thing I’m going to say is that lots of people liked it, and I am not one of them.

Now that all these young ladies have gotten their first taste of vampires, why not give them a book about vampires that actually allows young women to be thoughtful, active participants in their own dangerous lives?

F’r instance, Rachel Caine’s very successful and very cool Morganville Vampire Series. For my money, this is the talented Ms Caine’s best work to date, though I admit I’m only three books in.

I’m all for people reading just for the sake of pleasure, and reading stories that might be nominated for a World Fantasy Award. These are light books, that aren’t aspiring to literature. But they’re still fun. The vampires really are vampires. The young women in the stories participate in their own strange lives, and don’t just sit around mooning over a boyfriend.

I think it’s great Stephenie Meyer wrote something that so many young women could identify with and enjoy. But, I hope al those young people make a habit of reading, and continue exploring the very deep and diverse well of vampire literature. Rachel Caine is a fantastic next reading step.

Also, don’t neglect your classics, kids. Classics exist because people of all ages, and for nor easons of academic requirement, pick up a book in the store and read it for pleasure, though generations have passed.

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lurking under stadiums

I went lurking below the stadium seats long after dark, butterfly net in hand, and spilled sodas, spilled nachos, dropped hot dogs, and all sorts of unspeakable trash. Night was long upon us. Early morning twiilght was a thin sheen on the horizon.

I lurked for my prey, ready with my flashlight and my butterfly net.

There, shimering in the glow of my flashlight, the spectacular North American Nightwing Moth. The wings of the moth sparkle with real gold. This mystery of science somehow creates real flecks of gold out of its embryonic mutations. It isn’t much, mind you – only a half a teaspoon full on a real glorious moth – but it is an alchemical miracle unmatched by science or nature.

They are often lost to the eyes of the general public. They are nocturnal, and live in shadows.

These moths are also addicted to a substance in fake nacho cheese. Like heroin-addicts, they hunt for drops of cooled, congealed nacho cheese below the stadiums of the world, where few bookish lepidopterists venture for sporting entertainments.

I captured my moth. It’s body is strictly black – jet black, like the night. The wings shimmer and sparkle with gold.

Another wondrous creature for the bestiary, suckling bits of melted velveeta, and flashing its wings in the dark corner of its cage in my closet.

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to catch a poetry bat, perchance to dream

I gave up on tiny slips of haiku. No matter how dreadful, the haiku and the pickles were unsuccessful. My traps remained empty. Flies and dragonflies feasted upon the discarded pickles. I saw the signs of the bad poetry bats everywhere. Teenagers scrabbling in magic marker their hideous protests of love have their messages nibbled off the benches and picnic tables and trees. The tired cliches of poetry of yore, a checkered shade, a leaf falling, a pool of water, all showing the toothmarks of the bad poetry bats.

In the morning, we shall try again, Horatio the Mute and me. We shall bring with usinstead old high school literary magazines, and the strange anthologies created by the nefarious scamsters at and other self-published tomes of shame and infamy. We shall drench them for a week in pickle juice from all our empty pickle jars. We shall then try again in the swampy fields and parklands and golf courses.

In the mean time, Biter, our cave squirrel, has started chewing his own tail in frustration. We are building him a dark, secretive cage with no light whatsoever that we will fill with damp rocks. Hopefully, Biter will calm down a little when placed in an area close to his natural habitat.

Dimble is, as always, sleeping, and biding his time for afternoon cups of coffee, and licking crumbs and whipped cream from Horatio’s moustache. He bristles adorably in his dreams. His fur all tumbles and sheens in silver. He does not suspect for a moment the spider lurking up to his tiny teeth.

If you will excuse me, I shall put the Snaggletooth Spider back in the cage, and this time I shall find some better locking mechanism than peanut butter. Spiders are surprising in their craftiness.

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An aside about something cool

This year I volunteered to serve on the Novels Jury for the Nebula Awards through SFWA.

It is basically the coolest thing I have ever volunteered for. My job has been to try to read every single science fiction and fantasy novel that I can get my hands on that came out in 2008. Which is physically impossible, but really, really fun to try.

Many of them stank. And, I didn’t have to finish the ones that stank. Too many other things to read without grammar errors, plot holes, and hilariously terrible prose. (I won’t name names, so don’t ask. I don’t like to smack down other working writers. The job is hard enough without haters.)

Many of them were good. T A Pratt is doing exciting things with his urban fantasy series. Nancy Kress could very likely take over the niche Michael Crichton left behind. Ladies and gentlemen, Ben Bova has still got it. Elizabeth Moon is better than Battlestar Galactica when it comes to military SF. Elizabeth Bear could probably write anything, and do it at a very high level.

Some – a small number, indeed – of the books were so good that I couldn’t believe it. And, I wouldn’t have discovered them if they hadn’t been foisted upon me in the mail, with a note that said… “Please consider X by Y Z for the Nebula Novels Jury Nomination”.

Basically, this has been so much fun. So much fun.

And, we’re getting close to the not fun part. We’re actually going to have to pick just one. Only one.

That’s going to stink.

Horatio the Mute is shaking his head at me right now. We have to prepare our traps for another long morning hunting bad poetry bats, and I’m on here scribbling away about the novels jury.

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Hunting Failed!

We spent all morning, Horatio and me, slogging in waist-high rubber boots through the murky swamps of Benbrook, TX. (Though Benbrook is not famous for murky swamps, merely attending any golf course or wild area beside a poorly landscaped business-complex leads to plenty of murky swampness, where water run-off pools indifferently among the long grass…)

Alas, we tried kosher dill, dill, and bread & butter pickles. (I admit, Horatio and I ate most of the bread & butter pickles. We were hungry after all that stomping around.)

We used all sorts of elaborately bad haiku, all composed by me. Some of my gems:

Victorian pants
Riding crops, boots, and pirates,
I Am Fabio!

A dying leaf falls
in a puddle of water
when you touch yourself.

Alas! My pickles were pickle-y enough. Horatio assures me the pickles passed his inspection for the capture of bad poetry bats. My haiku, however, was simply too good!

I can’t suck even when I’m trying.

Can anyone donate bad feeding for the capture and continued feeding of the bad poetry bats?


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