Monthly Archives: March 2010

old stories are good stories

Black Orpheus (1959) is a fantastic movie.

If you haven’t seen it, check it out.

I’m hard at work at stuff like this – reimagining of greek myths – so I’m scouring the wires for anything else that could be a good reference, or tips on what to avoid because it’s been done before. Plenty of Orpheus and Eurydice out there – of which Black Orpheus is probably the best – but not much for characters like Arachne, or Persephone, or Ganymede.

Know anything good, drop me a line.

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with apologies to emily…

microscopes are a fine invention
when people can see
but faith is prudent
in an emergency

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missed connection

We meet, perhaps for the first time,
on the L-train, above the city. Neon lights
like coral reefs but dirtier, unreal
in that way that artificial
things seem more real than coral.

We’re standing. I’m in a suit and tie. My hand
clings to the noose.. The L-train bobs.
The reef teems with citizens and cars;
minnows, speeding turtles. searchlights
flood the glass. Your face reflected there, serene
as manta rays. Headphones, a face absent of gaze.

Where do people meet in this city? Your hand
so close to mine, we could be touching if the train
just jumped enough, a rock on the tracks or a stroke
of lightning – a crazed commuter shoving people around
might knock someone who knocks someone who knocks
you just enough to make the skin of our hands brush.

Messages in a bottles. A woman in a car shouts
*I saw you I saw you I saw you*… driving your blue car,
two eyes locked – woman and man – but there’s no way to speak
in cars, then the highway bends the lanes apart. A man
in a grocery store describes your summer dress, the way
you touched your beautiful son’s hair,
and he couldn’t think of things to say in time because you
were already loved by a man – your younger one. Another
man stumbled in all the rings on your hands,
dozens of beautiful rings, and we don’t know
what they mean, but he describes a tattoo, where dolphins
swim in circles around your navel, their bodies
curved like chasing each other’s tail. You’re looking
for him at the gym, where he hides inside his headphones,
like you do
with me,
on the train.

Was your smile on the train something real, or a memory of fish
spinning off into open water? Caterpillar camouflage, perhaps?
“If I smile I’ll escape…” she said, about the sharks
Was it real? Was any moment missed
where two people met on a train?
There’s the tower where they filmed that movie.
We curve around it in our train. When you look up at the red light
flashing on the antenna, do you hold my gaze in the reflection?
Did we look into the opposite of each other’s eyes?

I’m writing to you now from work. I share an office
with three other men. We have to be
careful when we stand up from our desks.
We might bump into each other.
We work all day long.
We talk, sometimes; we meet after work for a beer.

Sometimes, I think I can smell their cologne, when I’m working.
Sometimes, I think I can smell your perfume.


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Sometimes I can’t sleep

And I stay up late, searching the internet for something…

Until I stop and decide to write something…

Until I stop and try to lie down and stare at the ceiling, and wait for morning…

Until I get back up again and search the internet for something…

Until I stop and decide to write something…

Seeing a pattern, here?

Well, I’m breaking the pattern now. I’m going for a walk.

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Already interviewed…

Suvudu, the Random House SF/F Blog, has already interviewed me about MAZE, mosaic novels, and other neat stuff.

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While I’m busy..

Maze is part of the tradition of OZ/Wonderland stories. From our world, and into the next. I wonder what Disney would do with my take on the matter, though… Hm… Troubling.

While I’m busy doing final edits, enjoy some little head trips courtesy of a talented person calling themself Pogo.

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Just put the signed contract in the post.

MAZE, a mosaic novel, will be forthcoming from Apex Books sometime in 2011(?). They are also going to pull LAST DRAGON back into print.

J M McDermott’s MAZE, in which four intertwining lives find other survivors in a huge otherworldly maze, where trolls hunt the halls, minotaurs are meat, and light gives life to a woman that falls from an embryo in a sleeping man’s lung.

I’ve mentioned it a little bit here, here, here, and here

All those abandoned fragments of imminent worlds, rewritten, repurposed, or removed, have been popping up here and there in this blog.

MAZE is coming. It’s been coming a long time.

If light speaks to you. If it comes to you in the night. If it says “Put me in your lung”. If it speaks and has a name. Don’t do it. Even if you want to help it, don’t.



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I wrote my senator regarding Dr Watts’ recent conviction

And, here is the response I got. To which I say, WTF, Republican Saxby Chambliss?

Dear Mr. McDermott:

Thank you for contacting me regarding S. 1536, the “Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting by Drivers (ALERT) Act of 2009.” It is good to hear from you.

S. 1536 was introduced on July 29, 2009, and referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. This legislation would require each state to ban the sending of text or e-mail messages while operating a car, bus, or truck. If a state does not comply, it would risk losing 25% of its annual federal highway funding each year. I will keep your comments in mind should this bill come before the full Senate.

If you would like to receive timely email alerts regarding the latest congressional actions and my weekly e-newsletter, please sign up via my web site at: . Please let me know whenever I may be of assistance.


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Before she was a spider, she was in art school

I had all these portraits of women with thin, narrow faces, and conservative clothes. Their faces were too small for their bodies. The portraits were drawn flat, like German Expressionism. Dignified women, with dignified, cold demeanors. Under the hands of the women, I jabbed sewing needles into the canvas, with malformed knitting projects – crooked scarves in ecstatic colors, pirate skull and bones, and little sweaters too small for anything but dolls, or too large for anything human.

They were awful. I couldn’t stand them. They were jagged. The ideas didn’t meld together, and there was nothing I could do about it.

I sketched protoplasmic shapes, like sea creatures being born in loamy water. I painted precise, whimsical shapes. But, I didn’t just throw them onto canvasses. I shaped them into classic iconagraphic poses. Madonna and child. Mona Lisa. The Last Supper. Christ Blessing. Francis Assissi with the animals. All of these bestial, animal, water shapes, like what I had seen in the cafe, but sharper at the edges, and no colors at all – just charcoal and pencil and blank canvas.


Describing art inside of a work of art is always strange because ultimately, you will never get to see these works of art. Arachne’s art must be spoken of, to tell her story, but you will never see it. I pause. I try to explain enough of it so you get the gist. I try to keep it short.

I think her work with knitting needles is probably really beautiful and cool. I think the protoplasmic shapes turned into icons are probably a little blah. Who knows? I’ll never see them.

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Trying to Make Sense of the Peter Watts conviction…

So,Peter Watts was flagged for a random, stopped, and then got beat up, maced, etc., without any sort of meaningful provocation on his part. He is facing up to 2 years in prison for making the very reasonable statement to the border guards that were assaulting him without provocation: asking the officer who had just been punching Dr Watts in the face for no reason to please explain what the problem was that was getting Dr Watts beat up, maced, handcuffed, arrested, etc., and apparently the only threatening thing he did was ask questions like “So… What’s the problem, officer?” and holding his arms out at his side and saying something like “Seriously, like, why are you beating me up without any provocation on my part? I come in peace! I have no weapons! Search anything you want!”

Yet, a jury felt he was legally non-compliant because he didn’t move fast enough to get on the ground after a 51-year-old man had been punched in the face by an armed border guard. The jury convicted, not the assaulting officers who acted without meaningful provocation, but Dr Watts. Presumably he was guilty of assault for bruising Beaudry’s knuckles with his face.

Any sane, rational human being realizes the statue of the law states that citizens have to comply in the course of lawful orders and lawful acts. Being assaulted is a non-lawful act. Being beat up, maced, etc., without any sort of reasonable cause of peril to the police officer is not a lawful act. Actually, the border guards involved in this fiasco ought to be the ones on trial for assault, and not complying with the people who spontaneously decided to beat you up, drag you from your car, and mace you is part of what makes someone sane.

Which is to say that the jury f***ed up, and now someone’s facing jail-time for it, undeservedly. The whole point of having juries is to make sure some thoughtless, indifferent judge doesn’t do something like that.

Read about it here… here… and notice how the news article gets this wrong in the first sentence, because it was clear that the only thing Peter Watts was guilty of was an interpretation of non-compliance, not assault, and not obstructing: here…

I, for one, think asking a police officer who’s just beaten you in the face for no reason why he is hulking out is a pretty reasonable thing to ask. If I were Dr Watts, I’d be concerned for my safety getting on the ground, where I am defenseless against the unprovoked assault that this border guard was engaged in providing a normal, unarmed, non-violent individual.

When, the f***, did we become a police state?


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